The annual International Boutique opens December 7 with clothing, crafts and gifts from around the world. The weeklong event is a fundraiser for Amurtel, a nonprofit that works with and helps women and children the world over.
“What a year for the programs Amurtel supports, thanks in part to all who come to the International Boutique,” said Amurtel president Joni Zweig.
Here are some of the highlights.
In Haiti, Amurtel reached another 300 women, bringing the number who benefit from Micro Credit and Self Help Groups to almost 1,500. These women are now able to provide at least one meal a day for their family and can buy medicine when a child gets sick. While poverty is still severe, participating in these programs is giving them a roadmap for a better future.
“The plight of children in Haiti can be heartbreaking. When a child is brought to us, we always first try to see if there is a way to keep that child with some family member. If that’s not possible, we embrace them with welcoming arms and a place at the table. This year, 10 more children have found their way into our home, bringing that number to 32. We were able to provide scholarships for 10 of the older children to begin classes at one of the most prestigious music schools in Port-au-Prince, and the powerful positive effect this had on them encouraged us to hire a music teacher to come to the home to instruct all the children. Our budding orchestra has been putting on impromptu concerts for the community as people deal with the stress from the ongoing violence in the country,” Zweig said.
In India, work continues on construction of a girls’ high school and college in rural West Bengal. This is a region where girls have little access to education and poverty is a constant for families without even the most basic necessities. Amurtel already has an elementary school in the area, and this new school will allow many more girls to continue their education.
In Greece, the Amurtel Mothers and Babies program has expanded and provides a safe place for women refugees to seek pre- and postnatal care, access to health educators and meet other women who are facing the similar challenges.
In the U.S., Solar Outreach Systems (SOS) units are being used in a number of places. One trailer in Chico, CA, is on standby for fire and other emergencies. Another SOS unit is being used on the Lakota reservation in Pine Ridge, SD. Three are stationed in Puerto Rico and three others are on the East Coast, ready to use in case of local disasters.
“Our programs in countries all over the world are working hard to meet the needs of those struggling from the effects of poverty, war and natural disasters. It seems each year stories of hardship increase. It is hard not to feel overwhelmed or burned out with the work we do, but then we are again bolstered by the amazing support that is given by so many,” Zweig added.
“The hardship so many people are experiencing, both here in Vermont and around the world, is increasing and we need to respond to that need. And so the International Boutique will continue to bring beautiful things to our little corner of the world, sharing good cheer while raising funds that bring aid and hope to many,” she concluded.
This year the International Boutique begins Saturday, December 7, and runs through Saturday, December 14, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge on Route 100 in Waitsfield.
To find out more, go to www. internationalboutique.org. or www. amurtel.org.