The beginnings from 1988 until 1990
During 1988 Dr. Peter Edvi together with some friends started to help refugees from the deceasing communist German Democratic Republic who via Budapest were seeking for personal freedom in the West. For more than one year a merely loose alliance of highly motivated volunteers, this group rapidly became famous for its success. Thus, they also received information about the hair-raising conditions in Rumanian orphanages. For the first time after the collapse of the totalitarian Rumanian regime Dr. Edvi and his friend Dr. László Kövér were given the opportunity during the 1989 Christmas-days to convince themselves of the saddening truth right at the scene, to obtain first-hand evidence and to verify reports by their Transylvanian friends. All efforts to render help on a private basis proved completely insufficient. It was absolutely necessary to turn to the public and to organize help; hence the International Children's Safety Service was founded in Hanover/Germany. The members initiated a comprehensive press-coverage in March 1990; together with moving photos of the misery of the institutionalised Rumanian children the articles went around the world and produced a wave of international help.
In Budapest, too, volunteers became organised. In a historic hour, the constituting session of the first free-elected Hungarian Parliament on May 2, 1990, a group of politicians decided during a session-break to found a charity organisation to help children beyond all political, religious and nationality-related aims. Among the founding-members were well-known politicians as Dr. Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, Dr. László Kövér, speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary, Dr. Gábor Demszky, Budapest former Chief Mayor and Dr. Gábor Fodor, former Minister of Education and later Environmental Protection.
ICSS patrons are Dr. Heinz Fischer, former president of the Republic of Austria, Dr. János Áder, President of Hungary, Dr. László Sólyom, former president of the Hungarian Republic and Horst Köhler, former president of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Goals and Organisation
Under ref. No. 6.PK.63395/1. the Budapest civil court registered the "International Children's Safety Service" (ICSS) as a Hungarian association on July 3, 1990. Its non-profit status
was recognised under the taxation-No. APEH 7120286376.
The statutes and articles postulate the priority of giving financial, social and health-related support and subsistence to children in need, irrespectively of national, political or religious affiliation.
After a modification of the statutes the organisation is directed by a nine-member chair. The two co-presidents Dr. László Kövér and Dr. Peter Edvi have five deputies: Mr. Attila Antalóczy, Dr. László Csáky, Dr. Sándor Csányi, Dr. Gábor Demszky, Mr. Péter Harrach, Mr. Gábor Kuncze and as secretary Péter Fáth.
ICSS currently has 317 members from all parts of society. Among them we find members of the actual Hungarian government as well as of the former governments, e.g. the former Minister of the Interior Mr. Gábor Kuncze, many former ministers, leading members of all political parties elected into the Hungarian Parliament, moreover famous Hungarian artists as well as professors of medicine and therapeutic pedagogy.
In order to co-ordinate the international charitable work, another non-profit organisation, the ICSS Foundation was registered by the Budapest civil court under the ref. No. 9.PK.66561/2. on October 16, 1991, and it was granted the status of a charity under the taxation-No. APEH 7120773904. Since then Dr. Peter Edvi as president and the other four board members Erik Bánki, Dr. László Madarász, Károly Szadai, Dr. József Szájer have managed this foundation.
On January 4, 1991, the independent organisation "International Children's Safety Service in Rumania" was founded. It was admitted and registered by the civil court of Timişoara/Rumania under the ref. No. 35/PJ/1995. Its non-profit status was acknowledged by the district authorities under ref. No. SC096003564. The Rumanian ICSS closely co-operates in relief actions with its Hungarian sister organisation.
For six years the German ICSS in Hanover had worked as a non-registered association with legal capacity according to German laws it was founded anew in September 1996 in order to obtain its registration which was done by the Hanover civil court under ref. No. 7155 on December 23, 1996. It was granted the non-profit status by the Hanover-Nord revenue-office under the taxation-No. 2520640361 on March 6, 1997. The founding of other independent organisations in compliance with the ICSS ideas, functions and missions has been envisaged for Austria, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, and the US.
The ICSS is financed in small parts by member fees, mostly however by honorary activities and donations. Single projects are sponsored by companies, banks, artists and sportsmen.
Fundraising is regularly done at benefit-events: in his life on the occasion of his birthday pianist Zoltán Kocsis - well known beyond Hungary - recited each year at the Budapest Art Center. At Christmas-time there is a performance for the benefit of ICSS on the Hungarian State Opera stages or in the Comic Theatre of Budapest.
In March 1995, ICSS for the first time organised the 'Ball of Balls' in the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts.
In financial co-operation with the city of Budapest ICSS organises the annual events with several hundred thousand participants on the occasion of the International Children’s Day. It also organises annual Christmas celebrations for 4.000 to 5.000 children of low income families and special gift-actions for some 300 other.
Despite its nation-wide activities, among them a branch office in the town of Pécs and Pápa, ICSS limits its number of staff to the minimum. Therefore it can guarantee that 95% of its receipts are employed for the persons in need whereas only 5 % of the receipts are used for organisation and management. The annual audits are open to everyone and they are published.
Over the years ICSS has been established as one of the most important non-government welfare organisations in Hungary. The scope of its work is extremely versatile:
1. Healthcare Programme
ICSS covers the costs of remedies, medicines and medical aid and meets the needs of Hungarian and foreign children for their examination and medical care as well as for their hospital care or operations.
Starting in September 1995 ICSS has operated its own dental ambulance-bus in Hungary and in the neighboring countries. This mobile dental practice is completely equipped including an X-ray apparatus; it is self-supported and independent from localities. The bus is employed for dental examinations and treatments of children and juveniles to secure dental basic care.
International Children's Safety Service opened its free specialist outpatient surgery for children in need in September 2002. At present we offer paediatrical and child neurological specialist's consultation, special therapy for hyperactive children and for children having behaviour problems. Depending on our financial situation we would like to start our child ophthalmological, child gynaecological, dermatological and orthopaedic consultation.
2. Children Feeding Programme
ICSS pays for and ensures the lunch of children of socially deprived families in schools and kindergartens. For many of them it is the only chance to get at least one hot meal once a day.
3. Foster-Parent Programme
ICSS in a self-financed pilot program supports Hungarian children from state-owned orphanages in rural areas who are now raised by foster-parents.
4. Codification Programme
ICSS has published a collection of international legislation and guiding documents dealing with child protection during the period prior to the creating of the child welfare law. Between 1992 and 1994 together with the Prime Minister's office we have been creating and running a Child-, Youth- and Family-Law Codification and Deregulation Committee which in co-operation with the Ministry of Welfare has developed a child protection law, approved by the Parliament in 1997.
We have suggested and together with the Ministry of Law we have developed a modification of the Penal Code concerning the early jailing of youth, our modification was accepted by the Parliament. We have approached the appointed responsible by Parliament on the matters of citizens rights, asking for commenting on whether the fact that the national highway codes did not include the issue of compulsory child seats, would not harm the citizens rights of children, by including experts in the investigation. The responsible body appointed by Parliament has agreed on the suggestion and has accepted it.
We have initialised the modification of the child welfare and media law and we have participated in the development of the modification.
5. Holiday Programme
ICSS ensures the opportunity of organised holidays for institutionalised or otherwise disadvantaged children.
6. Educational and Post-Graduate Programme
ICSS offers training-courses for foster parents. It also furthers the post-graduate training of foreign doctors, paediatricians, therapeutic pedagogues, laboratory technicians, and staff-members of child-care institutions. ICSS supports the education and intellectual development of children in state-care or of other disadvantaged children.
Through our scholarship programmes we help the maintaining of talents of children in need, by providing scholarships and support for educational equipment.
Through our Riding for the Disabled programme we organise training courses for instructors with theoretical and practical training.
7. Relief Shipments
ICSS takes relief shipments mostly to Romania and to the territory of ex-Yugoslavia, but has also carried out relief actions in Bangladesh, Russia, and Ukraine. It also gives long-term support to various foreign - mostly Rumanian - institutions. In 2010-2011 we provided significant help and support for families affected by the flood in Northern Hungary and by the toxic sludge catastrophe.
8. Co-operation with and Support of Other Organisations
Employing the precise Central-Eastern European knowledge of its members, ICSS frequently assisted other relief organisations. Hence e.g. it took part in preparing the UNICEF and UNESCO programmes for Romania and established the proper contacts and conditions for many Western European relief convoys.
ICSS helped in the planning of reconstructing or reorganising hospitals and children's homes and secured the logistical background. One of the most ambitious projects was the reconstruction of an orphanage at Sinmartin/ Rumania in 2003: this co-operation with Austrian, German, Rumanian and Swedish organisations runs up to costs of DM2 Million.
ICSS organises events for Christmas-time, Children's Day, Mother's Day, etc. to entertain children who in case of indigence are guests of ICSS. Each year several concerts and other events at the Hungarian State Opera House are organised for the children's benefit.
10. Programmes for Information and Advice
ICSS regularly gives information and advice to children, youths and children's institutions about legal, medical and other issues concerning children. A publication-series dealing with legal questions, self-organisation and planning of life, drugs, smoking, and sexual education was started in 1995 and will be continued with publications on other child-related topics. ICSS organized from 1998 several international conferences on the “Effects of the Media on the Children and Young people”.
11. Film, Television and Photo Documentation
The everyday life of socially disadvantaged children as well as the problems, which arise in child welfare on the part of hospitals, schools and other institutions for children are documented in a tv-serie every year.
Late in 1996 the ICSS-owned 'Centre for Infant Development' in Budapest was taken over by public authorities and Hungarian health insurance companies. This centre had been designed and founded as well as financed and operated for more than five years by ICSS. Its physicians, psychologists, therapeutic pedagogues and teachers treated physically and/or mentally handicapped children. The big success of this centre did not only justify the conception and its realisation; its integration into the public health-care proves that ICSS’ ideas and the transition into pilot-projects can trigger off public initiatives.
If you want to support the work of ICSS, please do it as a visitor to one of our events, or as a member (minimum annual fee for private members HUF 1.200).
In case of any questions please contact the following address:
International Children's Safety Service (Nemzetközi Gyermekmentő Szolgálat)
- Hungarian registered non-profit association -
H-1066 Budapest, Teréz körút 24 I./1.
Banking account No: IBAN HU87 1179 4008 2002 2002 0000 0000
BIC Code: OTPVHUHB