In October 2019, three powerful earthquakes shook Mindanao Island in the Philippines, damaging and destroying buildings. Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes, staying in evacuation centres or with host families. Those who had been hit the hardest stayed in makeshift shelters and were not expected to return home for up to six months.
Veronica lives at the very top of a mountainous barangay in Mindanao. Along with her family, she was one of the thousands of people affected by the earthquakes. Speaking to the ShelterBox team when they returned to Mindanao to do post-distribution monitoring in December 2019, Veronica said she is proud of where she lives. She added that it is very beautiful with two rivers flowing either side of her home and lots of colourful flowers surrounding it.
The team were unable to get to see her homesite as it was still unsafe for vehicles other than motorbikes to get up there. Fortunately, Veronica’s husband Rodolfo was able to go to up on his motorbike and capture some images of their home that had been rebuilt using ShelterBox tools and tarpaulin.
Veronica told the team she was in her home when the earthquake, which measured 6.6 magnitude, hit on the 29th of October at 9am. She first felt the shaking and then cement started to fall from the ceilings and from the walls. She instantly ran outside until the initial shaking stopped. Her priority was then to run to the school further down the hill to go and see how her youngest daughter was. “I was so scared not knowing how the earthquake had hit the school,” she said. “I ran as fast as I could to get there.”
The school had been severely damaged with parts of it collapsing. The teachers left to go home and see if their families were OK, and what might have happened to their homes.
“Many of us here thought that as Christmas was near, no more earthquakes would hit us,” said Veronica.
At the time of the earthquake Rodolfo was working on their farm. The farm was badly affected, and a large crack appeared through the land. Fortunately, he was able to return to the family unharmed.
“Our house was unsafe to live in,” Veronica explained. “Two walls had collapsed, and the aftershocks meant that cement kept falling from the ceiling.” After the earthquake, the only form of shelter the family had was one tarpaulin. To ensure the whole family was protected from the weather they had to borrow another tarpaulin from Veronica’s brother. This meant they were living in cramped conditions.
Two weeks after the earthquakes hit, the family received aid items from ShelterBox. This included a shelter kit with two tarpaulins, two solar lights, two blankets and a bag to put everything in. They used these items to build a new shelter close to their damaged home until it was safe to return.
“We are so grateful for the ShelterBox tarpaulins as they are so much better than the ones we had,” said Veronica. “We feel that come rain or shine we are able to feel comfortable inside the home we have made with them and as a result we are now sleeping better.”
Despite the hot weather the tarpaulins keep her family cooler in the day. Veronica said that all the community members at the top of the barangay had used their aid items. Their community does have electricity, but they experience frequent black outs, so the solar lights are used a lot. In case of another earthquake, Veronica said she has prepared a grab bag for the family to take: “We used the bag to carry items back from the distribution, but now we store emergency clothing and other important items in it, just in case another earthquake happens, and we have to leave the area quickly.”
They are not too sure what the future holds for them as they cannot access the farm due to the risk of landslides. But now that they have somewhere to live, her husband is able to focus on looking for a temporary job until the farmland becomes safe or they find an alternative site.
All of our lives are being affected by Covid-19 in some way, but those living in refugee camps or in makeshift settlements are particularly vulnerable.
We live in strange and challenging times. The Covid-19 outbreak is affecting everyone to some degree. Rightly, our priority is the health of our staff, volunteers and supporters. We encourage everyone to follow directives from government sources, stay safe and healthy.
Here in Australia, we are lucky: we are well-resourced and have a world-class health system; we are able to self-quarantine at home and care for ourselves and each other. But for people who are already homeless due to conflict or disaster and no access to healthcare, Corona virus is a new and deadly threat.
How can we help? Tents and shelter are now more important than ever to help people isolate themselves when they have lost their homes and help to limit the spread of Coronavirus. ShelterBox remains committed to reaching the most remote communities and to support them to get through the current outbreak.
Much of our protracted work is largely unaffected in the short-term: our work continues in Syria and Somaliland and upcoming projects in Cameroon and Ethiopia remain on course. Travel restrictions may affect our ability to respond to sudden-onset disasters, but we have aid strategically pre-positioned and our deployable roles are set-up to work remotely.
So, challenging times ahead; but as a disaster relief agency, we are determined to maintain and protect our ability to respond.
This month’s quote comes from Jimi Hendrix, “”Before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.”
Many thanks for your support
CEO ShelterBox Australia
0459 959 501
Philippines – Typhoon Kammuri
A response team member demonstrates how to use a Luminaid solar light.
In early December Typhoon Kammuri, known locally as Typhoon Tisoy, ripped through the Philippines and many people across Northern Samar were severely affected. Coastal communities were hit the most and beaches were covered in the debris of destroyed homes. Electricity was wiped out, roads washed away and scores of fishing boats, the main source of livelihoods, were smashed to pieces.
Working through our Philippines office and local Rotary clubs, we supported over 2,500 families whose homes were either damaged or totally destroyed. NSW-based Response Team volunteer, Anthony Keating has recently returned from Northern Samar as part of a Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEAL) team.
The team undertook post-distribution monitoring activities, including surveys and conducting focus group discussions with communities who received a ShelterBox aid package. They were also able to evaluate the cash element of the project with communities who received a cash component.
Unfortunately, due to restrictions introduced by the Philippines due to Coronavirus, the team were unable to visit some of the communities where they had planned to undertake PDM activities. Due to this, the team departed early before areas of the Philippines entered a lock down period.
Somaliland – Drought
Ongoing drought and conflict have forced communities to move increasingly large distances to find fresh food for their animals, creating an estimated 2.6million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The first phase of distributions to 1,200 households is now complete. A second phase is planned to support around 540 households, with the aid for the second phase currently in transit.
A team recently deployed to Somaliland to review the response and consider the changing context with our project partner ActionAid, as well as with the government and other humanitarian agencies. The team also joined a distribution of ShelterBox aid with the ActionAid team.
Syria – Conflict
The ongoing civil war in Syria has left over 13 million people in Syria in need of humanitarian assistance. In 2020, there has been renewed air-strikes and artillery incursions focused on the last rebel stronghold, Idlib. This has resulted in additional mass displacement of civilians fleeing from the violence in Idlib. A ceasefire has been in place since early March, which is currently still holding. Since 1st Dec 2019, it is reported that 950,000 people have been displaced.
ShelterBox has helped over 50,000 families fleeing the conflict and plans are well underway to support a further 4,233 households. Work will continue with our partners, Relief Aid and Bahar Organisation.
“We lost our livestock”, said 40-year-old Safiya as she sits next to her temporary house. Speaking to ActionAid, ShelterBox’s implementing partner in Somaliland, she said she had to carry their limp bodies from her home out to a field every time they passed away. The harshest drought to hit the Horn of Africa in two decades has killed off all of her sheep and goats. “Even our donkeys have died”, said Safiya.
Dharyaalay village in the eastern part of the Togdheer region of Somaliland, where Safiya had lived for the past 20 years, suffered from the most extreme drought in recent history. The drought resulted in hundreds of thousands of vulnerable rural communities in Somaliland losing their livelihoods.
“We’ve had droughts there in the past, but I don’t remember one as bad as the one that has forced me to become displaced”, said Safiya as she pointed towards her temporary house.
Safiya is living with hundreds of families in a camp for internally displaced people. She said they all agreed that they are used to seeing a shortage or lack of rain, but insist that they have never experienced one as hostile as the one that has killed their livestock and forced them leave their homes.
“We have no proper shelter. Until only recently have we been able to build a temporary house out of cartons and plastic bags”, she said.
Safiya has nine children, five daughters and four boys. They find it difficult to sleep in their current shelter. They either sleep outside under the stars, or together inside with no comfort or privacy.
“I have no choice, it’s me alone who is the head of the house and takes care of the children”. Her husband passed away four years before, but she gets some help from her relatives. With this help she manages to get the basic necessities of life including water and food. “Sometimes we don’t get enough money to buy batteries for the small torch we use for lighting”, said Safiya.
“We had two blankets only and we used to share them. Every night there were disputes as everyone needed a blanket to keep them warm. At times, I did not sleep day and night as my house was not protecting me from the cold and the two blankets were being used by my children. I used to worry whenever the sky collects clouds fearing the rain would smash my temporary house.”
In August 2019, Safiya collected a ShelterBox which contained two tarpaulins, rope, solar lights, mosquito nets, five blankets, a water filter and a kitchen set. Upon collecting the aid item, she said:
“This has helped my family a lot in getting light, giving enough blankets, and preventing security risks. Now I don’t have to worry as everyone has a blanket, the whole family can gather in one place and chat each with the help of the solar lights, thank you to those who donated this important kit.”
Support families affected by disaster and crisis. Please ………..
EFT: Bendigo Bank: ShelterBox Australia: BSB 633 000: Account no. 166 780 163 (please email email@example.com to notify us of your donation and receive your tax receipt).
Cheques can be mailed to: ShelterBox Australia, PO Box 254, Parramatta, NSW, 2124All donations above $2 are fully tax-deductible.
Another great blog about our partnership with Rotary International …..
By Carla Sateriale, member of the Rotaract Clubs of Hampstead, Hendon and Golders Green in England and 2018-19 Communications Officer for Rotaract in Great Britain and Ireland
ShelterBox delivers boxes of aid in disaster zones, right? That’s what I used to think. Since I got involved in Rotaract in 2014, I’ve heard various people sing the praises of ShelterBox, as it is a popular charity for clubs to fundraise for. However, it was not until I was invited to attend the “Understanding ShelterBox Operations” (USOps) course in 2019 that I really started to appreciate what a truly remarkable organisation ShelterBox is. It’s about supporting people with the tools they need to recover. And getting shelter can be the start of so much more – it can bring families back together, be a place to share meals and restart studies or work.
So, thus began my journey. On a mild…
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There’s a great new post on the Rotary Service in Action blog about our latest deployment to Malawi ….
Emergency shelter charity ShelterBox is celebrating signing up for another 3 years as Rotary International’s Project Partner in Disaster Relief. For almost 20 years, this unique humanitarian alliance has supported families with a place to call home after disaster.
ShelterBox provides emergency shelters and other essential items to support families who have lost their homes in disaster. Rotary is a global network whose members take action to make a lasting difference in their communities – and worldwide.
What began as a local connection with one Cornish Rotary Club has led to an international movement that’s has responded to over 280 disasters in 95+ countries.
First adopted as a millennium project by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard in 2000, the support of Rotary members and clubs around the world saw ShelterBox become Rotary’s Project Partner in Disaster Relief in 2012. Since then, the partnership has helped transform ShelterBox into an internationally recognised disaster relief charity, supporting families with emergency shelter after disaster.
The partnership extends far beyond financial support. Around 1,000 Rotary members are involved in ShelterBox as volunteers, staff or response team members. And clubs worldwide offer valuable, practical assistance to help ShelterBox reach more families fleeing disaster or conflict.
This has recently included support for families in Malawi flooded from their homes by Cyclone Idai and communities in Lombok devastated by the 2018 earthquake and tsunami (quotes and details at the end of this release).
Caroline White, interim Chief Executive at ShelterBox, said: ‘Whenever disaster strikes, Rotary is beside us. From the earliest planning stages to final evaluations, Rotary members help ShelterBox make community contacts, organise logistics, and reach disaster-affected families in remote areas who might otherwise go without.
‘This partnership has helped ShelterBox become who we are today. Our global network of 17 ShelterBox affiliates, who raise funds and awareness worldwide, evolved from Rotary relationships.’
Speaking about the partnership renewal, General Secretary of Rotary International John Hewko said:
‘ShelterBox has been Rotary’s Project Partner in Disaster Relief since 2012, and we are excited to renew the partnership for another three years.
‘Through this project partnership, Rotary members around the globe can collaborate with ShelterBox to support communities in desperate need of emergency temporary shelter and vital supplies following natural disasters. Additionally, Rotary and ShelterBox will continue to expand cooperation efforts through preparedness training and stockpiles of prepositioned aide in disaster-prone regions.’
Rotary club presidents around the world have also commented:
Ace Robin, President of the Mataram Rotary Club, Indonesia, was caught up in the deadly earthquakes that hit Lombok in 2018. Her home survived, but many around her were destroyed. Through an agreement with the government-led response, Ace’s club was central to bringing ShelterBox aid to Indonesia.
Thanks to their support, vulnerable members of the community received vital emergency shelter, including families with elderly relatives, pregnant women or new mothers.
Ace said: ‘Working with ShelterBox taught us a lot – they showed us how to build shelter and select families to help. It also gave us a chance to show what Rotary is to local people.’
After floods triggered by Cyclone Idai left tens of thousands homeless in Malawi this March, Rotary members connected ShelterBox with communities in the Blantyre region, helping them understand local needs and culture. Members helped deliver emergency shelter to almost 2,000 families. And ShelterBox supported the Rotary Club of Limbe to join the wider disaster response, enabling the club to deliver food to communities whose entire crops had been destroyed by the floods.
Rotary Club of Limbe President Eric Chinkanda said: ‘It was a great experience to work with ShelterBox. We have not only walked a mile in reaching out to the many Malawians who faced hardship, but we restored confidence in the displaced people that all was not lost!’
James Kingston, Club President of the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard, in Cornwall, said: ‘The members of Helston-Lizard Rotary are delighted that Rotary International continues to recognise ShelterBox.
‘I joined the club a few months before the Millennium Project began, and I’m so pleased we’re still involved. It has been wonderful to see the charity grow into an internationally recognised, professional disaster relief organisation.’
Last year ShelterBox Australia received support from 279 Rotary Clubs throughout Australia
Here’s another great blog about Rotary and ShelterBox working together, featuring our very own Katelyn Winkworth ………
By James Bolton, Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland in collaboration with ShelterBox
Organizations such as Rotary and our project partners ShelterBox may have an adult profile, but the momentum is growing among a younger generation to create the next big humanitarian wave. ShelterBox had its origins in the Rotary movement 18 years ago, and now is Rotary’s project partner in disaster relief. Rotary members leave a lasting legacy on the lives of young people, with a number of programs and activities to support them in unlocking their potential. ShelterBox also provides young professionals an opportunity to make a lasting impact on communities.
‘Do it! I would encourage any young person to look further into this.’ That is the rallying cry from Katelyn Winkworth, a young Australian who trained as a ShelterBox Response Team Volunteer to help families caught up in war or natural disaster.
Katelyn shares her experience training to…
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