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The Valley Reporter
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Donations to help cyclone relief

05/15/2008

To The Editor:

Many have been asking what Amurt/el is doing to help with the cyclone relief in Myanmar (Burma). Current reports are putting the estimated number of dead between 50,000 and 100,000 with more than a million left homeless. Those numbers could go up as assessment teams reach the affected areas.

With the difficulties many aid agencies are facing, we were fortunate to have one of our disaster coordinators already in Myanmar before the cyclone hit, supporting a school and feeding program. We now currently have two foreign coordinators inside and another two are on the way. We have 10 local staff and around 20 volunteers. We have successfully tapped into the community power of our school parents and Buddhist monks we'd been partnering with for our school programs.

The situation has been compounded by the reluctance of the ruling party to limit international aid, and the pressing worry of diseases such as malaria, cholera and dysentery. There is a great concern for disease breaking out on an epidemic proportion.

These are some of the things our team will be challenged with. But we have not only experience and well-trained coordinators on the ground, we are working with a group of highly motivated, hard-working and honest people who are volunteering around the clock to get aid to those most effected.

With the Myanmar reluctance to allow U.S. citizens in to help, our best response from here is to collect funds to help those that are already there. Amurt/el is a small NGO -- and in this case it has worked to our benefit.

We are able to work under the radar, as it were, getting a lot of work done with minimal government interference. To help, you can send tax deductible donations to Amurt/el at P.O. Box 232, Warren, VT 05674, and know that these funds will go directly to aiding the victims of this heartbreaking disaster.

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Joni Zweig, president

Amurtel, North America

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