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Blantyre, Malawi – The Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) recently celebrated the 50th birthday of its Executive Director, Victor Mhango, with a surprise event that highlighted his significant contributions to human rights in Malawi.

The celebration, organized discreetly by CHREAA staff, saw Victor Mhango visibly surprised and touched by the recognition. During the event, Ruth Kaima, CHREAA’s Programs and Litigation Officer, praised Mhango for his mentorship and unwavering dedication to defending the rights of the vulnerable. “Victor has been a great mentor to many of us and has tirelessly fought for the rights of those who are often forgotten,” Kaima said.

In his heartfelt speech, Mhango expressed his gratitude to the CHREAA team for their continuous support and dedication, emphasizing that their collective efforts are the driving force behind the organization’s success. “The unwavering support and dedication of the entire CHREAA team have been instrumental in driving our mission forward,” he remarked.

Under Mhango’s leadership, CHREAA has achieved several significant milestones. These include the declaration of rogue and vagabond laws as unconstitutional, a major legal victory that advanced human rights protections by eliminating laws used to arbitrarily harass and detain marginalized individuals. CHREAA, in collaboration with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), also successfully challenged the “sweeping exercise” in court, a practice where police indiscriminately rounded up and detained people without due process. Additionally, the organization challenged the Ministry of Education’s hair policy, which had prevented Rastafarian children from attending school due to their dreadlocks. This advocacy led to a court ruling that reformed the policy, allowing Rastafarian students to attend school without compromising their cultural identity. Mhango has also been a vocal advocate for better health care in prisons, pushing for increased funding and improved services to prevent the spread of diseases like tuberculosis and HIV among inmates. Furthermore, under Mhango’s leadership, CHREAA secured observer status with the African Union Commission, enabling a broader impact on human rights issues across Africa​.

Mhango holding the gifts he received on the day.

Victor Mhango’s 50th birthday celebration was not just a personal milestone but also a moment to reflect on the strides CHREAA has made in promoting human rights and justice in Malawi. The event underscored the profound impact of Mhango’s leadership and the collective dedication of the CHREAA team.