AMURT (Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team) is one of the few private international humanitarian organizations founded in India. Since its inception in 1965 its original objective was to help meet the needs of the affected population after disasters that regularly hit the Indian sub-continent. Over the years AMURT has established teams in thirty-four countries, to create a network that can meet disaster and development needs almost anywhere in the world. In 1985 we broadened our goals to include long-term development. We feel that we can play a useful role in helping vulnerable communities break the cycle of poverty and gain greater control over their lives. For us, development is human exchange: people sharing wisdom, knowledge and experience to build a better world.
- Every human being has the right to meet his or her own fundamental needs such as nourishment, accommodation, medical care, clothing and education. The resources of the earth should be used in a just and appropriate way to meet those needs.
- Every human being regardless of race, creed, gender, color or social status is a dignified member of the human family and should be treated with understanding and respect.
- It is only by showing respect for women, and ensuring their integration and active participation in the development process, that a harmonious growth of the family, community and society as a whole can be achieved.
- Development is a balanced process that maintains an equilibrium between industry and the environment, urban and rural growth, human needs and available resources. Development should lessen the gap between the rich and poor and provide opportunities for all.
- Appropriate development begins within the social and cultural framework of each community. It enables underprivileged communities to gain a greater degree of independence to determine their own future.
We seek local solutions. AMURT understands that there are no ready-made solutions to problems of poverty. Every situation is unique and requires its own local solution. Because AMURT field directors are already based in the areas they serve, they are better able to promote a solution that is suitable for each particular set of circumstances. This translates, for example, into small business cooperatives for poor urban women in the Philippines, neighborhood homes for abandoned children and infants in Mongolia, drinking water supply programs in Ghana and pre-and primary schools for underprivileged children in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mongolia, Nicaragua and South Africa.
Meet some of our amazing and dedicated program directors.
Tor Bjoernsen (Dada)
Tor has been with AMURT and its affiliates since 1977. He is AMURT’s community organizing specialist. Under his guidance 26 communities in the Volta Region of Ghana have built and maintain an extensive water distribution network since 2000 called the Mafi-Zongo Area Water Project. In 2003, Tor and AMURT Ghana partnered with the communities to start the Mafi-Seva Community clinic, another community-owned and community-managed project, which includes a primary health clinic, maternity ward, and a diagnostic laboratory. In 2007 Tor and AMURT Ghana partnered with the communities to start the Kekeli program, training of women village health promoters (Kekeli women) and traditional birth attendants (Kekeli TBA’s). Currently, fifty-three women are involved in health promotion and care touching 40 nearby communities.
Dolci Donata (Didi)
Didi has been working for AMURT and its affiliates since 1980. Prior to coming to Thailand in 1986, she worked in Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. Her present project in Sangklaburi, Thailand near the Myanmar border started with the purchase of a land for a children’s home in 1990. From two children back then, there are now 153 abandoned children under her care in the Baan Unrak project. Didi received the Volunteer of the Year award from the Thai government in 2004. Apart from the home Didi’s project includes a women’s outreach program, day care centre, women’s weaving cooperative, bakery, internet café, herbal garden, wellness centre and retreat centre.
Jitendra runs AMURT’s largest service network in the world, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Since its inception in 1993, AMURT Kenyahas started and manages 15 projects around Kenya that benefit 1.5 million people. Many projects centre around medical services for HIV/AIDS victims as well as providing them with livelihood opportunities and training. The primary health care centre operating from its Nairobi headquarters treats 130 patients daily at a 50% discounted rate. AMURT’s other projects are in Mombasa and Kisumu. Recently AMURT received a grant of $US1.5 million as a partner with USAID in a 5 year project that envisions to support 3000 orphans, 1000 HIV patients, 1000 caregivers through income generating training and support and HIV awareness messages to 1 million people focused mainly on the Coast, Nyanza and Central Provinces.
Cristita V. Racosalem-Epal (Tara)
Tara is the Executive Director of one of AMURT’s oldest partners, the Baba’s Foundation Incorporated (BFI), based in Mindanao, Philippines. Tara has safely guided BFI for the past 17 years. BFI is AMURT’s leader in Micro-Credit programs having switched to that activity after 12 years of direct social service programs through consumer and producers cooperatives, pre-schools and sustainable agricultural models. BFI now has 3000 Micro-Credit clients spread throughout 193 centres in 5 branches of Mindanao province. Its unique and widespread insurance schemes for the poor ensure that its numbers will continue to outpace others in the competitive field of micro-credit.
Kurt has been with AMURT since 1998 and is our disaster construction specialist. From his background in law and insurence emergencies he plunged straight in to the aftermath of the Yogoslav war of 1999 as a progam director. In Kosova he directed the reconstruction of several schools dealing with everything from de-mining to hyperinflation of building materials. His next large assigment was 3 years in the aftermath of the Asian Tsunami based in Aceh near the epic center of one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. In Aceh together with an international team and local staff he supervised an arrey of reconstruction projects vallued at over $3 million. This included several schools, orphanages and family dwellings. From 2008 -2010 he was assigned to Myanmar following the deadly cyclone Nargiis. With his local team he has supervised the construction of several schools and more than 500 houses.
Demeter is the manager of AMURT’s biggest disaster relief and development projects in the Western Hemisphere, covering a wide range of different welfare activities. A native of Bulgaria, US educated, Demeter assumed directorship of AMURT Haiti in August, 2004 whose main area of focus is in the North West region of Anse Rouge. His work entails fundraising and managing an integrated development program, impacting more than 80 villages and at times employing up to 1,600 people daily in reforestation, soil conservation, public works, etc. He also headed three disaster relief operations in 2004, 2008 and 2010 where a massive earthquake left more than 200,000 dead and a million people displaced and in need of emergency assistance.
KL Chew (Kalyanii)
A relative newcomer to the AMURT/AMURTEL staff, Kalyanii co-managed AMURTEL’s relief response in Aceh, Indonesia from 2005-2006, which included income-generating projects for women, computer and internet education program for junior high school children, and school reconstruction projects. Kalyanii manages AMURT & AMURTEL’s SE Asian Coordination office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where she focuses on fundraising activities for projects. She is currently working for the Padang, Indonesia earthquake response.