Since late December, ShelterBox response volunteers have been in Malaysia helping provide shelter for people who have lost their homes after some of the worst flooding seen in at least 50 years.
In the eastern state of Pahang, where more than 130,000 people had been evacuated, a team made up of volunteers Torstein Nielsen (NOR) and Ben Julian (UK) found that the effects of the flooding have reached further than the waters themselves.
While people have been helping each other as well as they can, repairing and cleaning community centres, schools and homes, the team learnt about remote communities situated in the jungle inaccessible by road that had also been badly affected by the floods. They travelled by road and boat to see if ShelterBox could be of help.
Torstein said: ‘We met people who live the traditional way that their ancestors have for thousands of years and are used to managing their natural environment, but have never seen such high flood waters in living memory.
‘While people in the lowlands had time to evacuate, people living further north in the highlands didn’t have much time before the waters reached their villages.’
In the village of Kuala Sat, the response team met Zul Kefli, in what used to be his family house. Despite having a strong building made of concrete, his home wasn’t able to stand up to the massive power of the floodwaters and now only the floor remains.
The family managed to leave in time, but had to leave all of their belongings behind. When Zul returned to his home three days later, he found that the house had been completely washed away, along with all of its contents. His family all survived, but they had lost everything.
Just a few hundred metres away, the team met Farizul, whose house had been totally submerged by the flood. While the house was still standing, it was structurally unsound and too dangerous to go inside. All of the contents had been destroyed by mud and water and the family were sheltering in poor, cramped conditions.
Both families, along with others in this remote part of Malaysia, have now received ShelterBoxes. They contain essential items such as a tent, blankets and cooking utensils and will provide people with a safe, comfortable shelter while they rebuild and repair their homes.