Horn of Africa People’s Aid Northern Ireland (HAPANI) is a non-governmental organisation which supports individuals in Northern Ireland from the Horn of Africa (HoA): Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Republic of Sudan and South Sudan. It does so regardless of ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender or social origin.
HAPANI was formed in 2011 by individuals from HoA communities in Northern Ireland, with the support of committed local residents. Registered as a company limited by guarantee, it has charitable status and offices in Belfast. HAPANI works in an honest, open and transparent way and will partner with individuals and organisations that do the same.
HoA refugees in Northern Ireland face problems of access to service providers, due to language and knowledge barriers. There are problems with housing, particularly in the private rented sector. There are challenges in securing employment, even when refugee status is granted. There are health issues, including those stemming from trauma in the region, ranging from mental ill-health to FGM. For some, the asylum process itself can cause trauma given the immense uncertainties and the risks of destitution and deportation. And there are difficulties with family reunification, with further issues in terms of the entry of children into school.
Leading members of HAPANI bring first-hand experience as asylum seekers fleeing from crises in the HoA who have secured refugee status. Their voluntary activism and advocacy on behalf of refugees and for development projects in the HoA mean they appreciate the cultural diversity of HAPANI’s target communities and have earned their trust.
HAPANI enjoyed the assistance in kind of the Institute of Conflict Research in conducting research in 2011-12 on the needs of individuals from the HoA in Northern Ireland. It has sought subsequently to be driven by the articulated needs of its users. This has however led to the dilemma of the organisation being captured by the pressures of day-to-day casework. In the coming strategic period, HAPANI is determined to ensure statutory agencies address their responsibilities in this regard and that the organisation is able to focus on its larger goals of advocacy to tackle the issues which underlie individual cases. We will maintain our focus on supporting the HAPANI youth and will also seek to develop capacity within our membership.
To support the self-actualisation of individuals from the Horn of Africa in Northern Ireland, on a basis of equality between women and men, and to foster mutual support and integration vis-à-vis the host community.
HAPANI is governed by a board comprising individuals with direct knowledge of the HoA and/or with specific competences in the areas of its concern. It meets approximately eight times a year and establishes such working groups as required
The association is democratically controlled by those it seeks to serve, including through its annual general meeting, and its activities are thereby aligned with the needs of its users. In this context, HAPANI will support a HAPANI women’s group. This will be largely driven by the participants and will provide opportunities including access to training. HAPANI will also support participants willing and able to advocate on behalf of other members and by doing so will encourage participants to become agents of change.
HAPANI will continue to recruit and retain volunteers both from within and outside the organisation and will seek to celebrate their commitment. We aim to provide a quality experience for volunteers and will encourage their own progression.
HAPANI takes care to liaise with local and national organisations dealing with immigration issues as well as other ethnic African organisations, to avoid duplication of effort and competition and to maximise the benefits of partnership and collaboration.
HAPANI depends largely on voluntary effort but draws on support from a range of public and charitable sources. In this strategic period, it will endeavour to strengthen the core resources of the organisation, including the resources on which a well-supported team of volunteers depends.
HAPANI serves as an advocate for HoA refugees in their dealings with the authorities, developing a team of dedicated personnel and advisors. As resources allow, the association will pursue an education and awareness programme with schools, public authorities and organisational partners. It seeks to secure increased media coverage of the issues that affect the lives of HoA individuals.
HAPANI maintains quantitative records of its work for the purposes of audit and accountability. The association also engages in continuing dialogue with donors, supporters and other stakeholders, including statutory agencies.
HAPANI has established a substantial pool of volunteers. These volunteers offer an important resource for reviewing the work of the organisation and potential board membership, as well as the contribution of members via the agm.
HAPANI is a Charitable Company based in the UK – Northern Ireland Charity number: NIC101637