Toby Ash (UK) is an experienced ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member currently responding to the ongoing Syria crisis. Although he cannot reveal his location due to security concerns, he reflects on his experience in the field.
‘I’m currently on deployment for ShelterBox – but I can’t tell you where.
‘Why? Well, life in the field for an SRT volunteer is not always about lugging green boxes and putting up tents in the aftermath of major natural disasters that you hear about in the news. The deployment I am on now involves working in a complex and challenging political and security environment, trying to work out the best way to channel aid to the hundreds of thousands of desperate and displaced people in Syria. Myself and a fellow SRT member are based close to the Syrian border building ties with local partners who are able to distribute our aid in the most out of reach and often dangerous corners of the war-torn country, partners who we trust to help us get the job done on the ground effectively and quickly.
‘Alleviate humanitarian calamity’
‘We can’t even tell you what country we are working in because to do so might bring unwanted attention that would not only risk our work and that of our trusted partners in Syria, but also other charities trying to alleviate the humanitarian calamity that’s happening just a few short miles away from where I am sitting. Sometimes you just have to work ‘below the radar’ to get the job done.
‘The world is becoming an ever more complex and potentially dangerous place – and no more so than here in the Middle East. This is challenging for charities trying to help those affected by disasters, but, as I am discovering at first hand, is a challenge that ShelterBox is extremely well set up to respond to. ShelterBox is not a rigid, faceless, cumbersome organisation. It’s a community of extremely bright, resourceful individuals, often volunteers, focused on a single goal of helping those who have lost everything – wherever they are, and however hard it is to reach them. This makes ShelterBox such an exceptional and unique charity.
‘Positive difference in darkest corner’
‘When I return home and invariably watch the latest horrors unfold in Syria on my TV, I can take some pride and solace knowing that I am part of an organisation that is doing its utmost to help the innocent people caught in the cross fire and that we are making a positive difference in the darkest corner of the world today. It’s just that this time, we can’t go out and shout about it.’
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