Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team, or AMURT, readily admits “that there are no ready-made solutions to problems of poverty. Every situation is unique and requires its own local solution.”

In 1965, AMURT was founded as one of the few private international volunteer organizations in India. The original objective was to meet the needs of Indians of the sub-continent after the many natural disasters that strike there every year. This specificity of relief became the backbone for the expansion that this organization has seen over the last four decades. The U.S. contributes over 1.9 million dollars annually to this organization. The U.N. recognized it as an international NGO in 1991.

The AMURT office network now extends to over thirty-four countries and the field network covers 180 countries through its ashrams. Acharya Bhaveshananda Avadhuta, the public relations secretary of Ananda Marga, says there is “a band of over 5000 trained whole-timers of which 2000 are women.” All AMURT field directors are from the areas they serve. Due to this they are much more able to promote a solution to fit the particular circumstances of a local disaster.

Most recently, these disaster relief efforts have helped over 15,000 Syrians fleeing from the war in Lebanon by providing food, warmth and schooling for displaced children. In February of this year, when super typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines, AMURT responded across five islands, feeding cooked food and bottled water to tens of thousands people who had suddenly been thrust into poverty. In 2013, when Northern India and the surrounding area experienced torrential floods, AMURT responded with 20 locations across the area providing food, non-food item and medical attention.

Disaster relief may have been the foundation, but AMURT relief extended its reach in 1985 to include long-term development. AMURT feels that it can play a very important role in breaking the cycle of poverty by helping vulnerable communities. “For us, development is human exchange: people sharing wisdom, knowledge and experience to build a better world.”

Some of these programs have educated thousands and others are still educating today. In Romania the “Transitional Housing Program” has helped several youth find housing, motivational counseling and life skills. In 2010 AMURT began a community healthcare system in Kenya aimed at reducing maternal mortality rates. They have also established similar programs in Burkina Faso and begun the “Access to Water” program within the country, partnering with Water Shed Management.

The list of positive steps towards the elimination of poverty on a global scale will continue to go on and on for AMURT. It attributes much of the success to its well-defined mission statement and principles. Its 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.”

If you would like to find an AMURT office near you or donate money to their disaster relief cause please contact AMURT at or by phone at 1-301-738-7122.

Frederick Wood II

Sources: AMURT 1, AMURT 2, AMURT 3, AMURT 4LifePositive,, The New York Times
Photo: Flickr

Since its founding in India in 1965, Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT) has been dedicated to implementing disaster relief and development solutions to impoverished communities around the world. Instead of a cookie cutter based approach where every community receives the same aid regardless of circumstance, AMURT strives to localize solutions based on each community’s unique needs. With relief teams now set up and helping in 34 countries, here are 4 crisis zones where AMURT is making a major difference.

1. Ghana – Safer Water & Healthier Villages

Through the Mafi-Zongo Area Water Project, surface water from a seasonal river is treated with a variety of filters to make it safe for drinking. It is then pumped down a mountain through 45 pipes. Ghanaians pay about 2 pennies for a 20 liter bucket of water, the cost of which goes towards water treatment staffing and running the generators. Because of AMURT’s project, 9,000 people now have access to disease-free water that is not contaminated by the Guinea worm which is very prevalent in the area.

2. Syria – Help for the Displaced

The current civil war in Syria has led to a humanitarian crisis where more than 2 million refugees are fleeing to surrounding countries. The number of people increases daily, yet supplies for the displaced are dwindling. AMURT is now in Lebanon distributing precious, basic items to Syrian refugees. These goods include stoves, bedding, medicine, and 40 kilograms of food. Though it may not seem like much, these basic items mean everything for the survival of refugees.

3. Kenya – HIV/AIDS Assistance

As part of an initiative to help people living with AIDS in Kenya, AMURT has created a home-based care provider program to improve lives through “nursing care, nutritional education, [and] counseling.” These local providers are trained through the country’s Ministry of Health, and they make routine visits to AIDS patients’ homes when they are too sick to move. With this program, over 100 care providers have already been trained who are making a difference in the lives of thousands of patients and their families.

4. Haiti – Earthquake Relief

In the time since the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, AMURT raised over $4.2 million to help with the social and structural redevelopment of the country. Their main project worked on restoring well-being to Haitian children’s lives through nutritional assistance, motivational activities, and various kinds of educational enrichment. Since its inception, the psycho-social support program has reached 4,000 impoverished youth. In addition, AMURT helped thousands of people in displacement camps throughout Port-au-Prince with water filtration, cholera prevention, and even microfinance projects.

AMURT has proven that one organization can help tackle any disaster by utilizing local solutions and long-term development ideas. To find out more about AMURT and their wide-array of relief projects around the globe, visit their website.

– Caylee Pugh

Sources: AMURT, Haiti Aid Map
Photo: Flikr