ShelterBox is proud to be Rotary International’s only official project partner worldwide. Now, with the relationship being extended into 2016, Alison Wallace explains why this is such a strong ‘circle of friendship’
In 2012 ShelterBox received the accolade of becoming Rotary International’s first-ever official Project Partner. Now it has heard that this unique partnership will be renewed until at least March 2016.
ShelterBox CEO Alison Wallace says, ‘I’ve often thought that the phrase ‘what goes around, comes around’ suits Rotary ideally. Rotary has a circular emblem, and the notion of life having a circular karma – that personal acts of kindness will be returned to you via the kindness of others – seems to capture Rotary’s global spirit.’
‘The ShelterBox team shares that spirit, because there is no greater calling than helping people in distress. Time and again Rotarians work alongside ShelterBox – many of them within it. So I am delighted that Rotary International has extended our official project partnership, further strengthening a circle of friendship that reaches around the world.’
The agreement offers opportunities to collaborate and combine resources to provide emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families around the world affected by disasters and humanitarian crises.
Fundraising efforts by Rotarians and their clubs worldwide make up a large proportion of the donations received by ShelterBox. Rotary clubs also provide invaluable support to field operations in disaster zones, by acting as consignees for aid, helping with transport, accommodation, providing vital local knowledge and an ability to cut through red tape. Many ShelterBox Response Team volunteers are Rotarians, and every one of ShelterBox’s international affiliate organisations was set up by Rotarians or Rotaracters.
Alison adds, ‘The importance of Rotary to ShelterBox can’t be overstated. Just a handful of examples – it was a Rotary contact that alerted us to the monsoon floods in Malaysia this Christmas, and introduced our team to the country’s Prime Minister. We are one of very few western agencies able to operate in North Korea, due largely to liaison through a Rotary contact in Shanghai. Rotarians in Jordan have been essential to our work there helping Syrian refugees, and in May 2014 local Rotarians helped us to reach flood-stricken families in isolated parts of Serbia.’
‘The list of our collaborations is continuous and endless. But I also think it is the individual acts of support that exemplify this special relationship, such as Medway Rotarian Ann Livings, who recently walked up Snowdon despite having severe arthritis, raising funding for two ShelterBoxes.’
Back in 2012, Iquitos Rotarians in Peru alerted ShelterBox to Amazon River flooding. They worked with ShelterBox Response Team Malcolm Shead and Rachel Simpkins, provided translation, funded transport of ShelterBoxes up the river, and helped get aid to remote communities. By the end of the deployment ShelterBox and Rotary had provided 171 boxes to families in this inhospitable landscape.
For nearly a century Rotary clubs in the Philippines have been creating positive change. The first Philippine Rotary club was created in Manila in 1919, and in 1979 Rotary funded the immunisation of six million children to help eradicate polio. Now the Philippines’ 800 Rotary Clubs have stood alongside ShelterBox and its charity partners in a year-long response to Typhoon Haiyan, helping to create more resilient shelter so communities become less reliant on international aid after tropical storms.
Alison says, ‘In 15 years ShelterBox has grown from one Rotary club’s adopted project to become the largest global partnership in Rotary’s 100-year history. Last October I welcomed RIBI President Peter King to our Helston HQ. We both felt that the alliance of 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide with ShelterBox’s international reach had built a major force in humanitarian aid.’
‘It is great to see our partnership flourishing, and its official endorsement continuing for another year.’