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The Montfort Social Institute and the Earth Charter

Montfort Social Institute (MSI) was started in 2000 with the vision to “create a reliable and acceptable mode of ‘social regeneration’ by initiating a people’s movement for basic necessities and empowering the masses for self-awakening, resulting in the integrated development of the adopted areas and society at large” (Annual Report, 2001-02). The organization was engaged in integral human development for social transformation in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, by undertaking developmental activities aimed at reconstruction of village societies for the advancement of individuals, families and communities; eradication of the high prevalence of child labour; and ensure basic education and health care for all through a rights based approach.  Formation of Neighbourhood Parliament, Young People’s Initiatives (YPI) and Children’s Parliament helped harness the human potential for collective action and to create a democratic ethos in villages. Sustainable agricultural methods, cooperative farming by women and vocational education were introduced.

The urban counterpart of the rural work was taken up from Hyderabad, where programs were initiated to protect the rights of those who migrated to the city for work, and the urban poor in general. The organization (then called Sanghamitra) worked along with other city-based organizations like Campaign for Housing and Tenurial Rights (CHATRI), A.P. Domestic Workers Movement (APDWM) and Human Rights Forum (HRF). From 2011, the name of the Organization was changed to Montfort Social Institute (Centre for Human Rights, Sustainable Development and Good Governance Education) in order to reflect its global character and focus issues.

Our Mission

We are inheritors of a legacy 
Of commitment to the promotion of a world where,
All enjoy human rights;
All life forms are valued, respected and sustained;
And the values of good governance are adhered.
The Institute pursues this commitment through training, research, and grass-root interventions on behalf of the marginalized.

Our Objectives

  • Training people, especially the young in the knowledge, skills and attitudes enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Earth Charter and the Social Teachings
  • Identification of emerging social issues and critical contribution to alternatives
  • Documentation and publication
  • Facilitation of People’s Movements for the protection of the rights of the urban poor, domestic workers, women, and other marginalized people
  • Creating a Platform for Young people for international understanding and peace through exchange of ideas, experiences and visits
  • Documentation and creation of data base on Montfortian Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) commitments
  • Support and resource creation for Gabrielite Secretariat for Justice and Peace (GSJP)

Earth Charter and MSI
Montfort Social Institute is an affiliate of the Earth Charter since 2008. The Institute has particularly been involved in promoting Pillar III (Social and Economic Justice) and Pillar IV (Democracy, Nonviolence and Peace) of the Earth Charter through different programs.
Programs

Montfort Social Institute works at different levels from grass root mobilization and activism for protection of rights of the poor and vulnerable groups, to advocacy and networking at the national and international level. Some of the programs MSI is currently involved in are:

Grass root activism

  • Sensitization, awareness building and organisation of domestic workers in eleven towns and cities in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (Nalgonda, Suryapet, Wanaparthy, Mahboobnagar, Pattancheru, Sanga Reddy, Uppal, Ramanthapur, Vizianagaram, Rajam and Bhubaneshwar).  We work under the banner of MSI- Domestic Workers Forum India (MSI-DWFI)
  • Housing Rights Campaign of the urban poor – campaign against forced displacement and evictions in four cities in Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam, Warangal, and Kurnool). We work under the banner of MSI – Housing Rigths Network (MSI-HRN). 
  • Awareness building and organisation of people in slum communities in Hyderabad with water and sanitation as focus areas. The Program is called MSI – Joint Action for Water

Research, Advocacy and Policy Formulation

  • Study on the impact of Rajeev Avaas Yojana (Government of India Scheme for slum free cities) on the life and livelihood of the urban poor in 100 slums in four cities (Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam, Warangal and Kurnool) and campaign to protect their rights. Grass root organisation of the urban poor, promotion and training of leaders to enable them to participate in policies and programs that affect them is an important component of the work of t he MSI.
  • As a member of the Task Force of the Ministry of Labour, Government of India on Domestic Workers, MSI has been helping in the formulation of policies and legislations for the protection of domestic workers
  • MSI has been engaged in campaigns for the adoption of ILO Convention on Domestic Workers, and its ratification by Governments
  • Thanks to the intervention of the MSI, the Earth Charter  has been included in the Education Policy of the Brothers of St. Gabriel, a faith based organisation engaged in school, vocational, special and university education through hundreds of institutions and programs in 34 countries all continents of the world.

Training and Publications

  • During the last one year, MSI organised 82 training programs for heads of institutions, teachers, human rights defenders and community leaders on human rights, sustainable development and good governance. The principles and values of the Earth Charter formed an integral part of all these training programs.
  • Development of resource material on human rights (HRE) and sustainable development education (SDE). MSI recently brought out a 38 minutes long documentary film titled, Human Rights – Passport to Dignity aimed at the education and training of school and college students on issues of  human rights.
  • MSI has produced resource materials on issues such as housing rights, rights of domestic workers, and other areas, for training at grass root level as well as others.
  • Thousands of copies of the Earth Charter have been printed and distributed to educationists, students and community leaders during the last three years.

Networking

  • MSI is an Affiliate of the Earth Charter International
  • MSI offers opportunities for young people from India and abroad for internship, training and exposure to social issues. The Institute has received students and young people from Norway, Germany, France, Belgium and other countries, besides India for prolonged periods of exposure and immersion to the Indian reality.
  • Facilitation of institution to institution (schools and colleges) twinning for building intercultural understanding and international relations. 24 students and five teachers from San Gabriel, St. Laurent, France, spent ten days in Hyderabad recently as part of such exchange program.

Human Rights Education Program

On 11 December 2012, the Centre for Human Rights, Good Governance and Sustainable Development Education of MSI launched a Human Rights Education Program as part of its celebration of  the Human Rights Fortnight.

The Programme was launched by Justice P. Rama Krishnam Raju, Former Judge of A.P High Court and former member of A.P Human Rights Commission, at a specially organised program for government schools at the Little Flower College Auditorium in Hyderabad.

Bro. Varghese Theckanath s.g., Director, MSI, welcoming the gathering, stressed on the duty of everyone to not only protect their own rights, but also to take responsibility for the protection of the rights of others. He said, the work of the Montfort Social Institute is assuming a new dimension with the launch of the Human Rights Education Program for high schools, colleges and civil society organisations.

Varghese Theckanath s.g.
Director
Montfort Social Institute (MSI)
Hyderabad, India

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