Our history

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How MAGNA was born

The idea of founding an organization that will bring testimonies and provide medical assistance to people in times of humanitarian disasters came in 2000. That’s when photographer Martin Bandžák and psychologist Denisa Augustínová returned from a medical facility for victims of the Chernobyl disaster in Cuba. They spent several months on the spot, documenting the stories of children from Ukraine and Belarus who, even 15 years after the tragedy, suffered from various anomalies and serious illnesses. The “Tarara” facility was located a few kilometers from the capital city of Havana and was used to hide these children from the world. Their stories then shocked the public and were published in many Slovak and Czech media.

Based on this experience, the MAGNA organization was founded, whose basic pillars are:

  • Freely choose a place to provide health and social assistance.
  • In times of humanitarian crises, to intervene quickly where it is most needed and help people, regardless of their ethnic, religious or political interests.
  • Create innovative healthcare projects to help individuals.
  • To document the fates of disaster victims and bring testimonies from forgotten parts of the world that would otherwise not reach the general public.

MAGNA was founded in Slovakia in 2001.

First mission

AIDS in Cambodia – In 2002, thousands of people fell victim to the AIDS pandemic that hit the country and caused a huge loss of life. Parents who succumbed to the disease – it is reported that up to 250,000 people died of AIDS-related diseases during this period – were left with orphans, many of whom were infected at birth and died on the streets without any medical help. There was no medical aid in the country, international organizations such as Doctors Without Borders or Doctors of the World gradually started treating adults, while others just watched. The dysfunctional health system and the extreme poverty of the families from which the children came did not allow them to take care of them. Infected children, so-called “second wave”, there was no one to provide the necessary treatment and care.

Martin Bandžák and Denisa Augustínová became eyewitnesses of this tragedy. Pragmatically and with great commitment, they began to solve the situation and opened a facility for the treatment of infected children in the capital, Phnom Penh. They provided them with antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, which saved many lives. They called teams of medical professionals from Slovakia to the country, trained local doctors and involved them in the work. In a few months, MAGNA started treating its first patient and became one of the first organizations to start treating HIV/AIDS children.

MAGNA today – a global organization

Over the past two decades, MAGNA has grown from a group of a few volunteers to an international organization with hundreds of field workers who provide more than 300,000 health consultations every year in dozens of hospitals around the world.

The core values of humanism, independence, neutrality and impartiality that united the first members and volunteers in 2001 continue to drive our work.

How do we use the funds?