About us

  • Mission

    AMURT’s mission is to help improve the quality of life for the poor and disadvantaged people of the world, and those affected by calamity and conflict. We encourage and enable individuals and communities to harness their own resources for securing the basic necessities of life and for gaining greater economic, social and spiritual fulfillment, while honoring their customs, language, and religious beliefs.

    Principles

    • 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.

    Solutions

    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.

    Background

    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.


  • Food distribution in Haiti
    Child Friendly Spaces in Myanmar
    Training in Ghana
    NFE

Our People

Meet some of our amazing and dedicated program directors

Tor Bjoernsen (Dada): Vocational seeds of youth

When he was 17, Dada got a job as a baby sitter, and discovered a passionate vocation. He loved spending time with the baby, whether he was sharing time with him in the peaceful forest, or feeding him. In fact, Dada felt such an affinity for the baby that he had nightmares about losing him.

Unbeknownst to Dada, in those years of baby-sitting a seed was being sewn that would lead to projects that care for thousands of babies. Dada’s professional work in the field of maternal health started in Burkina Faso in 2001 with the training of village midwives in the remote north of the country. Then he traveled to Ghana to promote maternal health in underserved villages.

In 2010, rich with experience, he came to Nigeria to take on the greatest challenge: establishing a maternal health network in villages were none existed. Six years later the results are impressive: over 4000 births in 6 health centers where none existed before. That’s a lot of happy mothers with healthy babies.

Dada feels joy when he sees mothers with their babies. “I enjoy the serenity of the post-birth period,” he says. “There is a special presence in the air. It is a privilege to participate in someone’s birth.”

After 6 years of hard work, the challenges keep coming: life-threatening obstetric emergencies, and the need for more administrative sophistication as the project expands. Dada has a huge responsibility: if the health team doesn’t perform well, lives can be lost. “I have to find a balance,” he says, “between being fully responsible, yet not getting too affected when death occurs. After all, people die even in the best hospitals.” When a death does occur, which is rare, the team investigates the cause and modifies procedures if required.

When asked what motivates his staff to work tirelessly every day, Dada responds, “We have created a culture of service. People are eager to serve. Our approach is patient centered. Only when we put the patient first can we face the many challenges on a daily basis.”

Reflecting back on his past, Dada remembers a song he used to sing in primary school in his native Norway, a song that has since become a theme song for his life:

Den største gleden du kan ha, Det er å gjøre andre glad:  TThe greatest happiness you can have –Is to make others happy.

Jitendra Kumar (Dada JK),  Executive Director, AMURT in Kenya

Nine years ago, Dada JK a vision that AMURT Kenya would have the capacity to serve the needs of marginalized people throughout the country’s 47 counties. Since then, he has worked tirelessly to establish local development hubs in 11 counties that serve as engines of growth for the surrounding communities. By integrating itself into a community, AMURT can better understand the true needs of its residents, implementing “needs based project development.”

Dada JK gets tremendous satisfaction from this work. Recently, for example, he wrote a pile of checks to support the school fees of 5000 orphaned children (AMURT supports the basis needs of 40,000 orphans). During the two-hour process he felt the happiness of facilitating the growth of others. He also gains satisfaction when patients go back home after being cured at the 4-story AMURT health center in Nairobi, when the “tearful eye becomes the cheerful eye.”

Dada JK has changed his management style to suit AMURT’s growth. Now he delegates more authority to others, allowing staff to evolve in their jobs and build capacity. He identifies himself as an executive director who also serves as a guardian to others.

His service-mindedness is rooted deep in his past. As a 13-year old student, he co-founded a youth club in his native Orissa (India) called Ambedkar Yuvak Sangha. Their first act of good citizenship was to make a nursery plantation in the village that provided seeds and saplings for local farmers and for roadside plantations. In 1984, in appreciation of their work, club members were given a black and white TV, the second in the village, which they used for public entertainment.

He and his young friends also engaged in activism. The local government system of distributing subsidized goods such as wheat, rice and sugar to poor people had become corrupted. Dada JK and his friends exposed this corruption and were able to get the distribution system changed for the better. He was expressing the fighting spirit in his family: his grandfather was a freedom fighter for the independence of India from the British.

Dada JK bases his life on principles of generosity, wise resource-utilization, inclusiveness , nd dignity. With such principles, he will certainly witness the continued ability of AMURT to support the people of Kenya.

Jitendra Kumar with staff at the Nairobi hospital

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.

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.

Kurt Behringer

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 Russafov

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 early childhood education programs in Indonesia..