Amurtel’s annual International Boutique, typically held at the Masonic Lodge in Waitsfield has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“But good news just arrived this past week! A longtime boutique patron heard about the cancellation, saw how stressed we are about the plight of the program and found a way to help. She is matching all donations through the end of the year, up to $20,000,” said Joni Zweig, Amurtel president and event organizer.
The International Boutique, a local preholiday staple, draws people from all over New England with its colorful display of carpets, clothes, crafts and jewelry from around the world. The event raises funds for Amurtel’s programs supporting women and children in Vermont and around the world This December marks the 37th year for the event.
“After much soul-searching, we made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s boutique. We explored multiple options for holding the sale while keeping people safe, but with the increase of COVID-19 in Vermont, we are not willing to risk anyone’s health. We also acknowledge, with all that’s going on, we don’t have the resources or bandwidth to take it online,” said Zweig.
The pandemic affects Amurtel in other ways. Over the past nine months, Amurtel increased community outreach in numerous countries where people couldn’t earn enough for even a single meal. In India, Amurtel and its partner Amurt provided over one million hot meals to hungry families. In Peru, Venezuela, Haiti and Greece, Amurtel added food distribution and medical care to support those left without work. For some families, these provisions are their only access to food.
Until last February, the women in Amurtel’s micro-credit and self-help groups in Haiti made great strides in lifting their families out of poverty. After the pandemic hit, they found themselves with no work and reduced access to food. After the country shut down, the cost of what little food was available increased by over 400%. Amurtel’s country director reported, “The women are not able to provide food for their children and thousands are facing extreme hunger and malnutrition.”
“The global situation during this pandemic strengthens our commitment to the people we work with. Amurtel depends on the proceeds from the boutique to support our grassroots programs, which makes it that much more painful to cancel this year,” Zweig said.
To support Amurtel, make a tax deductible donation either through the website at www.amurtel.org or with a check to AMURTEL, P.O. Box 232, Warren, VT 05674.
“Perhaps you might consider making a donation as a gift. Just let us know the name and address of the person you would like to honor, and we will send them a card. We hope next year will bring us all together again for a joyful reunion. Thank you so much for your support and we look forward to seeing everyone in 2021,” Zweig added.