The idea to establish an organization that would document life of children and their families living in crisis stricken areas of the world came in 2000 when photographer Martin Bandžák and Denisa Augustínová spent 3 months in Cuba in a medical facility for the victims of the Chernobyl disaster.
Martin Bandžák: "It seemed to us that it is increasingly necessary to bring the real stories and fates of families to the wider audience and to show the public the real world. In the early years, we organized three large exhibitions of photographies which we presented in a quite unusual way at the time – in emerging shopping centers. In 2002 during a visit to Cambodia we found HIV positive children in the local orphanages tethered to beds, without medication and any attention. It ignited our determination to not only document the hardships these children faced, but also to create a system that could help them."
MAGNA was established in Slovakia in 2001 as a civic association. Since 2002, it has been actively devoted to providing medical and social assistance to children and their families in need. It was one of the first organizations that began to provide the antiretroviral treatment (ARV) to children in Cambodia in 2003. Shortly after, MAGNA started sending its teams of workers to crisis stricken areas of the world and providing medical, nutritional and material help to children in need on 3 continents of the world.
The campaign “Asia Today” accompanied by an exhibition of oversized pictures in the shopping center Aupark Bratislava which draws attention of the wider public and makes people aware of the problems Tibetan refugees face and of their life in exile.
The campaign “Focus on Children” draws attention of the wide public to the problems of the refugee children, the children of war and the children living on the streets. A part of the campaign is also a documentary film series “Hope for Children without a Childhood”. Documentary film about Agent Orange in Vietnam directed by Vlada Balka receives an award for best documentary film at the Festival AFO 2003.
MAGNA launches its first public collection and a campaign to help children with HIV/AIDS in Cambodia where despite stagerring numbers of the growing infection, there is not any project for children providing them with medical care and ARVS treatment.
MAGNA opens its first humanitarian mission to help children with HIV/AIDS in Cambodia. Its first child patient is prepared for ARV treatment.
MAGNA starts a program “Support a Child” that directly involves people in the support of children included in the projects of Magna Children at Risk in Cambodia. The program is supported by a campaign “Don't let me die” and held under the auspices of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Eduard Kukan and a personal involvement of Mrs. Adriana Sklenařiková-Karembeu who decided to support MAGNA activities.
MAGNA begins to increase actively the number of patients in its HIV program in Cambodia. We also open an education center for children with HIV/AIDS here.
We help the victims of a tsunami in southern India where we are focusing mainly on a provision of psychosocial help to those children who were strongly affected by the trauma of losing their parents or relatives. MAGNA also provides educational tools for children and for the construction of community and educational centers and libraries.
In Cambodia, we launch the biggest maternity hospital and in some medical facilities also a project to stop mother-to-child transmission of HIV virus. The King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni visits the MAGNA Center in Phnom Penh and brings gifts for 236 HIV/AIDS children who are being provided with medical and social care by MAGNA. During his visit to Cambodia, Bill Clinton meets with the representatives of MAGNA.
In cooperation with the Clinton Foundation and the National program for the fight against HIV/AIDS, we open a program for the treatment of children with HIV/AIDS in Chey Chumneas hospital in Takhmao where we also start a nutritional program for children. We open the second orphanage for HIV/AIDS children in Cambodia.
MAGNA opens offices in the Czech Republic and Austria.
We launch our first operation in Africa. In the West of Kenyan province of Nyanza we open a mission and start a project to stop the transmission of HIV virus from mother to child in two local hospitals.
We also open a mission in Nicaragua where we start with a mobile clinic in remote parts of the country to help the relocated original population of Indians. In the mobile clinic, MAGNA´s medical staff provide primary health care to children and their families and also to pregnant women. We also build wells and dry toilets in local settlements.
In Cambodia, we extend our activities with a new operation of a Pediatric Patient Ward in the Chey Chumneas hospital in Takhmao.
Myanmar (Burma) is hit by the cyclone Nargis. MAGNA sends its own team of volunteers to the affected area. The humanitarian intervention division of MAGNA provide aid to people in the affected area of the Irawada delta in the South of the country. We distribute basic foodstuff on hired boats and we also bring medical material to the country which we provide through non-government clinics in the delta area. We provide aid for more than 250,000 people.
In the West of Kenya we provide food and material help to victims of the post-election riots where we also expand our medical and nutritional care for HIV/AIDS positive patients in the local hospital Kombewa.
In Nicaragua, in addition to the assistance of our team and material help during the floods, we expand the program for malnourished children care.
In Cambodia, we start the project to stop the transmission of HIV virus from mother to child in Khmer Soviet Hospital and with the cooperation of the Institute Pasteur Cambodia we diagnose children born to HIV positive mothers in the first days after birth.
In February, we open a mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The aim of the mission is to implement our projects for HIV/AIDS affected patients, including the provision of treatment and programs to stop the transmission of HIV from mother to child as well as treatment of acute malnutrition and assistance to the victims of sexual violence.
In Kenya MAGNA hands its HIV/AIDS project over to local authorities after 3 years of operation in the Nyanza province. We move our focus towards the health and social care for HIV/AIDS affected and malnourished people to the East coast of Kenya.
In Nicaragua we expand our activities by including the project of HIV/AIDS prevention. In addition to the project concerned with prevention and testing, MAGNA continues to operate its mobile clinic in Nicaragua.
In Cambodia we continue to provide primary health care to the children in the Chey Chumneas hospital and carry on with the activities aimed at helping children affected with HIV/AIDS and malnourished children.
Our medical teams operate in Haiti hit by a devastating earthquake. Apart from dispatching a health care team, MAGNA provides psychosocial help to the victims of the earthquake and helps with the construction of health center for mothers with children.
MAGNA reacts to a drought and famine in the Northern part of Kenya on the border with Somalia. For the first time after 30 years, famine is again declared in the area and massive droughts are made worse by the situation of Somali refugees, who come to Kenya in the thousands. In the Garissa area, MAGNA opens nutrition centers to provide therapeutic food for children and women.
We open a mission in southern Sudan, focusing on primary health care, the treatment of infectious diseases and the care for the mothers and children.
We open a mission in Myanmar (Burma), focusing our activities and projects on combatting child malnutrition, maternal health and primary health care.
After the typhoon Hayian, we send our team to the Philippines and on the fourth day after the disaster we distribute humanitarian aid.
In South Sudan affected by ethnic violence at the end of the year, we provide medical assistance to the victims of violence in Juba.
MAGNA is registered in the United States as a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt organization.