ShelterBox working closely with Rotary in the Caribbean following Hurricane Irma

Irma caused devastation on the British Virgin Islands (image courtesy VI Free Press)

Hurricane Irma made landfall on northeast Caribbean islands during the early hours of 6 September, affecting Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, St Barthélemy, St. Martin, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, US Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos. Two million people were exposed to winds in excess of 120 km/h.

Livelihoods, housing and infrastructure in the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, the US Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos have been severely affected. 70%-90% of infrastructure has been destroyed on Anguila and Barbuda. 1,600 Barbudans were evacuated to Antigua. 34,000 people have been displaced in Dominican Republic and Haiti alone.

As our Response Teams in the Caribbean monitor the incoming Hurricane Maria and Tropical Storm Lee, here’s an update of our activities so far:

Antigua and St Kitts and Nevis: 500 ShelterKits have been shipped from Panama with the Red Cross National Societies. 300 ShelterKits are now in Antigua and the remaining 200 have arrived in St Kitts and Nevis. A team is in Antigua and will begin to oversee assessments and form distribution and monitoring plans, once the current storms have  tracked through. The team is in close liaison with Rotarians from District 7030 on Antigua.

British Virgin Islands: Team has arrived in Antigua and is currently in hibernation protocol until the next storms pass. ShelterBoxes have arrived in Tortola awaiting the team’s arrival (Transport provided by Virgin Atlantic).  The team is liaising, through the District 7020 Disaster Committee, with local Rotarians to work together as assessments are undertaken by team. See attached photo of ShelterBoxes arriving on island.  

Past President Ryan Geluk of the Rotary Club of Road Town hard at work as ShelterBox hits the ground in the British Virgin Islands.

 

Dominican Republic: There is an identified gap in emergency shelter so we have signed an agreement to partner with Habitat for Humanity and we’re hoping to provide another 500 ShelterKits from Panama, along with training on how to use them. Habitat for Humanity oversee recovery efforts beyond this emergency phase, ensuring maximum benefit for the families we are helping. A ShelterBox Response Team is due to arrive next week (weather dependent) and has reached out to Rotary District 4060 in advance of their arrival.

 

Barbados: A Response team is in Barbados to work in the coordination hub there (which includes organisations like DHL Disaster Response Team, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency). We have established a ShelterBox hub on Barbados, to work on the complex logistics of getting aid to the families who desperately need it.  The Team is focused on coordinating safety for teams in the region due to inbound storms, as well as logistics and onward transport for aid, given current access constraints and high demand.

The team is also considering further potential response locations and capacity across the region – resources permitting.

For up to date information, keep an eye on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

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Raising funds in Burra – one bite at a time!

Young scout Trystan Readman made a promise way back in February to raise enough money to house a family in need of shelter after a disaster – Trystan achieved that goal and more as part of his Promise Badge as part the 1st Burra Scout Group in Burra NSW.

‘When Trystan approached ShelterBox, and said he wanted to fundraise for ShelterBox we were immediately impressed by his passion and his determination. We’ve been watching his endeavours with great interest over the last few months and have all been amazed by his effort said Paul Roger, ShelterBox Ambassador from Jerrabomberra.

Trystan’s initial goal was to free the world from hunger but this admirable goal was scaled back a little to provide a home to at least one family affected by disaster. ShelterBox was chosen to support as a leading international disaster relief organisation that provides emergency shelter to families devastated by floods, landslides and disaster.

Trystan was determined that he could raise $1000 to buy a ShelterBox and decided to raise funds by baking cupcakes, fudge (his favourite), protein balls, and chocolate chip cookies. With the help of his sister Meisha, they baked their way to raising over $1200 in total from selling their baked goodies at $1 each.

“The cookies were a massive hit at my workplace and there was much anticipation each week by my colleagues.’ said his mum Elvira Readman.

Trystan with ShelterBox Ambassador, Paul Roger

Trystan’s recipe is a closely guarded secret but one that has brought much joy to his customers and soon to a family in need. ‘Trystan is a classic example of one person making a huge difference’ said ShelterBox CEO Mike Greenslade. ‘We are indebted to all our fundraisers across Australia that build community service into their busy schedules just like Trystan has done’.

After selling 1000 cookies Trystan realised his goal of raising $1000 for a full ShelterBox and with a morning tea at his mum’s workplace, Paul Roger gave a presentation on the real impact that Trystan’s money will have on families. ‘This huge effort by Trystan will make a lifelong difference to a family who has lost everything. By providing a home to someone who has absolutely nothing is the greatest gift in such a terrible time. We are all very grateful to Trystan and his customers’.

There’s no stopping Trystan – his next goal is to raise enough money for a ShelterKit!

Diane and baby Yokimi in front of their ShelterBox tent.

You can make a real difference to those affected by disaster!

Do you have a great fundraising idea? Do you want to help families affected by disaster and crisis? Start your won fundraising page here: https://nfp.everydayhero.com/au/shelterbox-australia

Water filters to combat cholera – ShelterBox aid in Somaliland helps families facing drought and disease

Three years of drought in the African state of Somaliland has now left it in the grip of a cholera epidemic caused by dwindling and polluted water supplies. ShelterBox has been distributing water filters and carriers, as well as shelter materials to its nomadic population

Like much of the horn of Africa, Somaliland is enduring failing crops, a parched landscape, and now the scourge of cholera as water sources are contaminated by waste and rotting animal carcasses.

But one thing it doesn’t share with its neighbours is conflict – Somaliland is a peaceful agricultural republic. Most of its 4.5 million people make their living driving cattle in a constant search for water and fertile grazing land. Now, with more than half their livestock wiped out by the unprecedented three-year drought, people drink whatever water they can find.

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Dave Raybould has just returned to Somaliland. He says, ‘This will be ShelterBox’s third deployment to Somaliland in as many months, and since we were last there the focus has moved from drought to disease, though the two are interconnected.’

‘The search for water is bringing the nomadic rural dwellers into the towns, where overburdened water sources are becoming a source of cholera. Cholera is an entirely treatable disease contracted through polluted and stagnant water, but with some areas reporting 500 cases a day Somaliland’s health resources are overstretched. Among ShelterBox’s aid package is the ‘thirst aid’ water filter, which rapidly makes dirty water safe to drink, a great help in halting the spread of waterborne disease.’

Cholera has not been seen in developed countries for over a century. Without treatment those infected quickly become dehydrated, but the condition can easily be treated using an oral rehydration sachet.

Thirst Aid Station water filters remove dangerous bacteria and viruses from water, making it safe to drink.

Dave says that ShelterBox has already distributed water filters and water carriers to hundreds of families, and their current visit will discuss a continuing aid programme via in-country partners ActionAid. The familiar green ShelterBoxes used in Somaliland contain the water kit, plus tarpaulins, tools, cooking utensils, solar lights, mosquito nets, blankets and groundsheets.

Adapted ShelterBoxes, containing tarpaulins instead of tents are distributed in Somaliland

Dave explains, ‘The standard ShelterBox dome tent is not needed in Somaliland as their traditional nomadic dwellings are made from found and recycled materials stretched over tree branch frames. So the tarpaulins we supply add to the resilience of these conventional shelters.’

ShelterBox is pleased to report that families who have already received its aid have found all of the contents instantly useful and practical.

Dave adds, ‘Somaliland was already struggling with drought and food insecurity, and the outbreak of cholera is an added blow. We will do all we can to help them with their thirst, with the battle against disease, and with their need for shelter.’

To help those affected by drought and natural disaster PLEASE DONATE 

Laen’s ShelterBox bike ride raises over $1,000!

 

Laen with sponsor, Mike Latimer from Transition Cycles in Ballina, NSW

Laen with sponsor, Mike Latimer from Transition Cycles in Ballina, NSW

When 12-year old Laen Wilkin learned about the work of ShelterBox during a presentation at his local school, the Alstonville Primary student decided that he wanted to do something to help those affected by disaster and humanitarian crisis.

With the help of his mum Nell, he was soon planning a bike ride from nearby Ballina to Byron, towing one of the charity’s iconic green ShelterBoxes. In addition to raising money on his personalised fundraising page, Laen planned to stop off along the way a deliver presentations on ShelterBox to other primary schools along the way. The ride was to take place over three days, with Laen camping out at night, sleeping in a ShelterBox disaster relief tent and utilising the contents of a box to fetch water, cook and keep warm.

Come 1st August, Laen was all set and headed off from Transition Cycles in Ballina to speak to the children at Ballina Public School before riding to his first camp site at Flat Rock Tent Park.

Laen at Flat Rock Tent Park

Over the next day, Laen rode to Lennox Head, where he spoke at the local public school and received a boost to his fundraising when the staff at the Kiosk café and the Lennox Gelato & Coffee Co donated their tip jars! Then it was on the Byron Bay for another presentation at Byron Public School, before culminating his ride at Cape Byron’s iconic Lighthouse.

 

Lean at the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse, at the completion of his ride

Laen said, ‘I created and completed my fundraiser because I thought it was the right thing to do’.

Laen received great support from his family along the way, his mum, Nell said, the experience ‘strengthened Laen’s independence, awareness and communication in how to practically create change for the better for all people in times of need. Determination, self-belief and compassion to support others are qualities I’ve been lucky to see Laen express during his ShelterBox journey

I think we can all admire the efforts of this impressive young man, determined to make a difference. Well done Laen!

Start your own fundraiser here: Fundraise For Disaster Relief

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Laen would like to thank the following for their support: Transition Cycles (Ballina), Just Ride Cycles (Lismore), Northern Rivers Family Garden, Flat Rock Tent Park, The Kiosk (Lennox Head), Lennox Gelato & Coffee Co, North Coast Holiday Park (Lennox Head), Byron Holiday Park, Ballina Advocate, Northern Star

ShelterBox and Rotarians serve devastated communities around the world

Here’s a great article on just how much the partnership between ShelterBox and Rotary International can achieve……..

Rotary Service Connections

By Alex Youlten, Rotary Partnership Manager for ShelterBox, and Ellina Kushnir, Supervisor of Service and Engagement for Rotary International

As the 2017 Rotary year came to a close last month, Rotary and ShelterBox reflected on our most recent collaborations to save lives and help families and communities devastated by conflict and natural disasters.

Over the past year, Rotary groups around the world have raised the equivalent of US $2,846,956 to help families who have lost everything following disaster.  The funds enabled deployments to disasters in 12 countries (Afghanistan, Cameroon, Columbia, Ecuador, Fiji, Haiti, Iraq, Mozambique, Niger, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and Syria) and relief efforts included responding to floods, political conflict, landslides, earthquakes, hurricanes and cyclones to help more than 20,150 families.

Natural disasters

Responding to flash floods and mudslides in Peru, ShelterBox worked closely with Rotarians and Rotaractors to conduct an assessment of affected communities in April 2017. As…

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HRH The Duchess of Cornwall takes a saw to a ShelterBox!

It’s only a very important person that would be allowed to deliberately damage a ShelterBox. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall took a saw to an edible ShelterBox to celebrate her 70th birthday, and to mark the opening of a brand new Disaster Relief Visitor Centre in Truro, Cornwall.

Photograph by Emily Whitfield-Wicks
HRH opening the new ShelterBox visitor centre in Truro, Cornwall.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is President of international disaster relief agency ShelterBox, based in Truro. On 19 July she officially opened ShelterBox’s new headquarters, and its new public exhibition, the ShelterBox Disaster Relief Visitor Centre.

As part of the celebrations staff and volunteers gathered to sing happy birthday, and to present her with a cake in the shape of a green ShelterBox and contents including a teddy, a solar light, and tools that help families repair or replace homes damaged after disaster.

Photograph by Emily Whitfield-Wicks
HRH with ShelterBox CEO, Chris Warham exit an AMG Relief Tent

The Duchess laughed as she sawed into the cake, which was baked and sculpted by Ali Marsh from Alibachs Cornish Cakes. The cake was then shared by the invited guests, including the charity’s volunteers and fundraisers.

HRH also surprised everyone by making an impromptu and unscripted speech before departing. She said, ‘That’s the first time I’ve cut a cake with a saw! But it doesn’t surprise me. ShelterBox are always coming up with something new. I just wanted to say how wonderful all of you are who work for ShelterBox.’

Photograph by Emily Whitfield-Wicks
ShelterBox CEO, Chris Warham explains how ShelterKits can be used to build emergency shelters.

 

The Visitor Centre is open from Monday to Saturday and any ShelterBox supporters visiting Cornwall are encouraged to pop in and say hello!

To find out more about ShelterBox or make a donation please visit; www.shelterboxaustralia.org.au

As Mosul is retaken, ShelterBox stands by to help families that survived the epic battle.

Mosul1As nine months of bloody battle end in the routing of Islamic State resistance, aid agencies, including ShelterBox are standing by ready to support families who were trapped in a destroyed city

The long wait is over. Military reports indicate that the final enclaves of IS resistance in Mosul are now in retreat, signalling the end of the largest and longest urban battle anywhere on the earth since World War 2.

It is three years almost to the day that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a Caliphate in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and since last October the UN estimates that 855,000 people have fled the city.

Emergency shelter experts, ShelterBox and its partner aid agencies, most based in the city of Erbil 50 miles from Mosul, have faced huge challenges in responding to one of the world’s most unpredictable sieges – not knowing when people would flee, in what numbers, and in which direction. Displacement camps in the area have long been over capacity, so ShelterBox has tailored much of its aid to be highly portable, meeting the needs of families on the move in this hostile environment.

There are reports that as many as 100,000 people remain in Mosul, no longer held under IS control as human shields, but undoubtedly traumatised from years of warfare, starvation, and living without power, healthcare or fresh water. Those civilians who managed to escape have been rescued, hungry and severely shell-shocked. How many remain huddling in bombed-out buildings in daytime temperatures of 50° daytime is unknown.

Near Mosul, ShelterBox has worked with partners ACTED to:

  • Support 8,000 households / 40,000 individuals since the start of the offensive in October 2016 (5,682 households have been sheltered, additional households received individual items).
  • We have around 3,000 kits standing by now to be distributed when needed.
  • Our aid offer is adjusted with the changing seasons. Iraq is subject to extremes of temperature, over 50° c in summer, and below freezing in winter.

 

A ShelterBox team is in Erbil now making plans to respond to whatever displacement is triggered by the military endgame. Operations Coordinator Sam Hewett says, Although we have prepared for this stage over many months, it is still unpredictable in size and scale. We don’t yet know exactly how many tens of thousands remain in Mosul, what their needs are, and whether they can be met by staying in Mosul. The Old City has suffered extensive damage, with little power or water infrastructure surviving. While relative peace is to be welcomed, we are also concerned about underlying tensions in the region and what they mean for longer-term stability.

ShelterBox and its partners will have to act quickly but cautiously in responding to this latest phase in a very long story.’  

Mosul6

Meanwhile ShelterBox continues its five-year intervention in Syria, where the city of Raqqa is the focus of a final military offensive. ShelterBox is not able to act here directly with teams on the ground because of the volatile and dangerous security environment, working instead through implementing partners such as Hand in Hand for Syria and ReliefAid. Other partners cannot be named for security reasons.

SyrChem1

ShelterBox has been responding to this conflict since 2012, providing shelter and lifesaving items to households in neighbouring countries Jordan (2012, 2013), Iraq (2013-2017) and Lebanon (2012, 2013) and to families transiting through the Greek islands (2015). In Syria itself a total of 24,404 households have been supported. Now ShelterBox is gearing up for its biggest ever single aid push into Syria. Details of locations and routes cannot be given because ShelterBox must do all it can to protect its people and its partners.

In 2016 across Iraq and Syria ShelterBox aid reached an estimated 230,000 people.

You can help those displaced b y conflict by donating here: PLEASE DONATE