Unexpected lessons from my disaster relief experience

Here’s a great little story that involves the The Rotary Club of Morisset , NSW and the Rotary Club of Truro, Cornwall via ShelterBox Australia and ShelterBox HQ ……..

Rotary Voices

Yannis Comino with ShelterBox aid supplies.

By Yannis Comino

Over my summer break at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, I decided to trade in the warmer weather of Australia for an English winter. Why, you might ask, would I do such a thing? Well, the only way I can explain it is — I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. During my New Generations Service Exchange at the headquarters of ShelterBox International in Truro, Cornwall, I gained priceless insight and first-hand experience in disaster relief management.

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From Kosciuszko to Kathmandu – ShelterBox Australia’s newest board member trains for the Trek

Paul Roger is a Rotarian, a ShelterBox Australia Ambassador and was recently voted on to the board. A member of the Jerrabomberra club, in Queanbeyan, south-eastern New South Wales, Paul was the first person to sign up for the Nepal Trek. The Trek is a fundraising initiative run in conjunction with Inspired Adventures that will see a team of ShelterBox supporters trek the Annapurna range and experience the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu.

Paul said, ‘As part of my preparation for the Nepal trek in September I had an idea that I should put a tick in the box for the highest place in Australia.

‘People told me the Mount Kosciuszko walk was a nice pleasant 13 Km round trip after taking the chairlift up from Thredbo village to the Eagles Nest terminal.  However I also heard that the more adventurous could leave out the chair lift and instead hike up the Merritts Nature Track which basically ascends 600 or so metres. Merritts track is classed as ‘strenuous’ over 4km and estimated to take 2-3 hours. We did it in 1hour and 50 minutes and it was indeed a steep and strenuous climb. After a short rest at Eagles Nest we joined the rest of our party who had (sensibly) taken the chairlift and off we went on the trek to the summit, a pleasant 6.5 Km gradually ascending another 300 or so metres.’

The gallery below shows some of the Merritts trail within the bush and then the amazing scenery once we were above the tree line. Yes we took lunch and a bottle of red, and enjoyed a picnic before the return journey, where we all took the chairlift down the last phase.  All in all the day saw us walk over 21 Km, do almost 30,000 steps (8,600 of which registered climbing up the Merritts Nature Trail) and apparently climbed 269 floors or just under 1000 metres.

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There are still places available to join Paul on the Nepal Trek, which departs in early September. Seven other adventurers will discover the majestic Annapurna region of the Himalaya’s, including Peter Pearce, OAM, a veteran of 20 deployments with ShelterBox as a Response Team member and Johanna Johns, ShelterBox District Chair for Rotary District 9685. You don’t have to be a Rotarian to join us, you just need a sense of adventure and a desire to help those affected by natural and manmade disasters around the world.

For details visit: https://inspiredadventures.com.au/events/ShelterBox-Nepal-Trek-2018/

Like Paul, you will find it a life-changing experience.


World Rotary Day 2018 – Thank You Rotary!

Rotary was integral to our response to hurricanes in the Caribbean in 2017

ShelterBox began life as a Rotary Club project back in 2000. Since its humble beginnings, with the help of Rotary International and Rotarians around the world, it has grown to become a world leader in emergency shelter provision . In 2011, ShelterBox was granted Project Partnership status by Rotary International, cementing the special relationship between the two organsiations.

ShelterBox Australia’s CEO, Mike Greenslade, a Rotarian from the Alstonville club in Northern NSW, said,

I’ve been involved as ShelterBox Response Team member since 2006 and have deployed 22 times with ShelterBox. On nearly all of those deployments, Rotary have been essential partners on the ground, providing useful local knowledge, accommodation, transport, translators, warehousing and personnel. Moreover, Rotarians always offer us warm hospitality wherever we go. In fact, the first Rotary club meeting I attended was in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, on my first deployment; we shared a meal and great camaraderie and talked about customs clearance and transport options. Nothing would have happened in PNG without Rotary.’

Help from the Rotary Club of Rabaul was essential in PNG in 2006

‘The support we get from Rotary Clubs in Australia is no less important. Most of our volunteers are Rotarians and clubs give a significant amount of our funding. Today is a day to say ‘thank you Rotary!’ There are over 1.2 million disaster-affected families that are better off because of you!”

Thanks to all our Rotary Ambassadors and volunteers!

ShelterBox establishes its first operations base outside the UK in time for typhoons in Philippines

New Philippines base in the path of Typhoon Alley has ‘already improved our ability to respond to this season’s storms’

Disaster relief agency ShelterBox set up its new operations base in the Philippines in time for tropical storms Kai Tak and Tembin.

A team from ShelterBox has been working with the Philippines Government and the Rotary Club of Biliran Island, focusing on the municipalities of Caibiran, Almeria, Naval and Biliran which suffered serious flooding, mudslides and loss of homes and livelihoods when two months of rainfall fell within two days. ShelterBox aid distributions have been carried out on the island of Biliran, providing families with vital weather-resilient tents, shelter kits for waterproofing damaged properties, and other desperately needed items including solar lights, water carriers, blankets and mosquito nets.

ShelterBox and Rotary worked together to help those affected by Tropical Storms Kai Tak and Tembin

The more than 7,000 islands of the Philippines sit right in the firing line of one of the world’s most deadly storm systems, known by meteorologists as ‘Typhoon Alley’. On average, ShelterBox responds to disasters here around twice a year and it is intended that the new office ‘ShelterBox Operations Philippines’ sited at Cebu, the first of its kind for the UK-based organisation, will help get vital emergency shelter to vulnerable families even more quickly.

Dave Ray, an experienced member of the UK-based Operations team, has recently returned from Biliran Island, and says, ‘Since Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 the Philippine Government has strongly favoured agencies that are registered and sited in the Philippines, as well as those sourcing their aid from within the country. ShelterBox Operations Philippines, with its aid supplies for 1,000 to 2,000 families, has already improved our ability to respond to this season’s storms, and when it is fully staffed and operational later this year its local expertise will make us even more efficient and effective.’

‘Of course, it was always likely we would be called into action before our new office was fully open. The pre-positioned aid items and local contacts were already there, and our response team was on the ground with Rotary partners able to act faster because of our new in-country status. A new Philippines project Office Development Manager has also joined the organisation recently.’

Shelterbox camp at Biliran

ShelterBox is a UK-based international disaster relief charity specialising in emergency shelter.,Since its start in 2000 it has helped more than 1.1 million people worldwide rebuild their lives, and it has fundraising affiliates cross the world. However, whilst ShelterBox pre-positions aid in storage hubs such as Panama, Dubai and Malaysia, all operational activity including deploying aid and volunteers to disasters zones has always been coordinated from the UK headquarters in Truro.

ShelterBox has responded to catastrophes in the Philippines more frequently than to any other country in the world – 24 times in the last 13 years. Located on the island of Cebu, one of the areas worst hit by the record-breaking Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, ShelterBox Operations Philippines already stores enough shelter items to help around 2,000 families, with capacity for far more in the future.

ShelterBox Chief Executive, Chris Warham says,‘This is a first for ShelterBox, and a huge achievement. It shows ShelterBox’s flexible and agile model at work. We have assessed and understood the situation of some of the most vulnerable communities in the world, and come up with a different approach to make sure we are best placed to help quickly whenever disaster strikes. As a charity with limited resources, having teams and aid ready where and when they are needed will be more efficient, which is also an absolute priority for us.’

Aid is deployed by any means necessary. “Whatever it takes”

ShelterBox Operations Philippines was created by working closely with local Rotary groups. ShelterBox is Rotary International’s official Project Partner in disaster relief, and together they form one of the world’s most effective humanitarian collaborations, with many Rotarians around the world volunteering and raising money for ShelterBox. The fully trained team for the new base will be in position soon, a new arm of the HQ Operations staff in the UK.

Meteorologists refer to the West Pacific as ‘Typhoon Alley’ with good reason. Tropical storms gather out at sea with almost no landfall to slow them down before they hit South East Asia. Between 2000 and 2014, 41 super typhoons were recorded there. That’s almost four times as many as are generated in the Atlantic.

Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, the deadliest typhoon on record killing 6,300 people, triggered major changes in how the Philippines responds to its constant barrage of tropical storms. The Philippine Government now requests international assistance less often, limiting tax-free importing. They also now strongly favour agencies that are registered and sited in the Philippines, as well as those locating their aid from within the country.

You can support those affected by disaster by donating here: ShelterBox Australia

Same old same old – only worse this year

Some New Year thoughts from the CEO of the ShelterBox Trust ….

Chris Warham

It’s that team of year when retrospectives and predictions come to the fore.

Does it really matter who will win this of that or whether the Wall St will finish the year at a new high or not?  Most I can ignore or spend just a few moments on.

But IRIN news – the well respected humanitarian news organisation – gave some chilling stats for their 2018 predictions.

If last year was one of the most difficult years for humanitarian crisis ever then 2018 looks likely to be even worse. IRIN News’ Top Ten for 2018 doesn’t make good reading .
irin news

  1. Syria – after 7 years of war humanitarian need is not going away
  2. Democratic Republic of Congo is unravelling with huge population displacement – 1.7 million people abandoned their homes.
  3. Yemen famine gets worse by the day.  8.4 million on the verge of starvation
  4. South Sudan looked like an…

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After Irma and Maria – The road to recovery in the Dominican Republic

Yanira, aged 23, and their two daughters, aged five and sevenYanira’s Story

Yanira, aged 23, her husband and their two daughters, aged five and seven, live in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Their house backs on to a river, which flooded the surrounding area during Hurricanes Irma and Maria. When the river rose, the ground fell away under the concrete foundations of their house causing it to crack and a huge hole emerged.

Yanira said: ‘The river flooded through the house. It was at least a metre high. The walls cracked, there is a hole in the floor, which you can see the river through. We need to stay here until we can find a house further from the river, but it’s not safe.’

ShelterBox is working with fellow aid agency Habitat for Humanity to support people affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Dominican Republic. ShelterBox are providing the emergency shelter component of this response.

A ShelterKit comprises 2 large, strong tarpaulins plus tools and fixings

ShelterBox provided Yanira and her family with a ShelterKit, containing the materials needed to repair damaged structures and create emergency shelter, such as tarpaulins, tools and fixings. A team, made up of Habitat for Humanity, ShelterBox and local community members, used the kit it to build a temporary shelter from scratch in front of Yanira’s house.

A ShelterBox Response Team member helps construct a shelter

Yanira and her family will stay in this until they find a house further from the river. The team built the temporary shelter for Yanira’s family as a way of exploring, with the community, how the ShetlerKit tools and materials could be used in a way that suited the needs of the community. The shelter will also be supplemented in places, using materials from Yanira and her husband’s old house.

Yanira said: ‘I feel better. I feel safer and more comfortable than what we had before. In the other house, we were too close to the river. I feel afraid of that.’

Milagro’s Story

Milagro is a single mother of three children between the ages of three and 11. Her daughter suffers from chronic sickle-cell anaemia, a serious health condition.

Milagro and her children live in Miches in the Dominican Republic, which was hit badly by Hurricane Maria, a fierce storm that came hot on the heels of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose. Their experience of the hurricane was terrifying.

She said: ‘The wind removed the roof of my house. The river washed through it from one side, and sea rose up from the other, bringing a boat crashing against the back wall, causing a floor-to-ceiling crack in the concrete.’

ShelterBox, Habitat for Humanity and World Vision are working together in Miches to support communities affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

In addition to receiving ShelterKits, people in Miches were also given training so that the community could learn about the different items and explore different techniques for using them.

They then did a practical demonstration, where a team made up of Habitat for Humanity, ShelterBox, World Vision and local community members, used a ShelterKit to repair Milagro’s roof, with supplementary pieces of timber.

Milagro said: ‘The repaired roof will change my life a lot because whenever it rained my bed got wet. It was too uncomfortable to stay in that situation.’

‘I’ve learnt so much today. Now I know how to repair my house myself, I am planning to repair the roof in the other rooms as well.

‘I am very happy because I am a part-time cleaner so I wouldn’t have the money to mend my roof without this. But because of the project this is possible.’

ShelterBox continues to help families in the Dominican Republic and other parts of the Caribbean affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria

To donate please click here: PLEASE DONATE

ShelterBox Australia Newsletter – November 17

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar for sanctuary in Bangladesh

 

As world news continues to be dominated by the Rohingya Crisis in Bangladesh and Myanmar, I’m proud to say that newly qualified Australian ShelterBox Response Team Volunteer, Tommy Gray has deployed to help continue our response. Tommy typifies our volunteers, having already given up 2 weeks of his time to SRT selection and training, completed 50+ hours of pre-course study and put his hand up to help out with our recent USOPs course (see details below). He will now spend the next 3 weeks in Bangladesh helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Many of our other volunteers have been busy promoting ShelterBox and raising much-needed funds for disaster relief. These volunteers, like our donors, are an essential part of the ShelterBox team. If you would like to give some time to helping those affected by disaster, check out our website at:

https://www.shelterboxaustralia.com.au/  You may like to become an Ambassador, a Club Advocate or trek the Annapurna and raise funds. Whatever you chose, we’d love to have you on the team!

This month’s quote comes from H Jackson Brown Jnr, “Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”
 

DEPLOYMENTS

BANGLADESH – Floods and Rohingya Crisis

Recent Monsoon rains in Bangladesh were reportedly the worse for four decades, with a third of the country affected by flooding. According to the Shelter Cluster, overall response to the floods has been slow, with much effort diverted to the Rohingya Crisis in the South of the country. ShelterBox was one of the few actors responding to the floods in the North. Distributions are now complete, with 3000 families provided with emergency shelter and essential items like mosquito nets and solar lights. Our response would not have been possible without the help of The Rotary Club of Dhaka Kawran Bazar, The Rotary Club of Rhangpur and the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

Recent violence in Rhakine state in Myanmar has prompted a rapid exodus of ethnic Rohingya across the border into South Eastern Bangladesh. According to Relief Web, 621,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh since August 25th. ShelterBox is working with the International Organisation for Migration, who has distributed 8000 tarpaulins, blankets, water carriers and 8000 Luminaids. We are now looking to partner with local NGO, BRAC to further expand our response. Australian SRT volunteer, Tommy Gray has deployed to Bangladesh as part of this response.

CARIBBEAN – Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Hurricane Irma made landfall on northeast Caribbean islands during the early hours of 6 September. Two million people were exposed to winds in excess of 215 km/h.

ShelterBox Response Teams in the Caribbean continue the complex task of evaluating need and delivering emergency shelter to the families that desperately need it. In Antigua and Barbuda we have provided 147 ShelterKits and 123 tents, as well as household relief items such as water purifiers and carriers, solar lamps and mosquito nets.These efforts will support Barbudan returnees as they work to repair and rebuild their homes. 300 additional tents are in transit.

In Dominica the team is conducting post-distribution monitoring across the four communities in ShelterBox’s area of operations. Gaps not covered by the first distribution of ShelterKits have now been filled, with 498 households having benefitted from our support. The team has distributed 1435 solar lamps and other aid Items to affected households in the same communities.

In the Dominican Republic, the Habitat For Humanity team has been in the field for the past week, continuing training and distribution, and conducting post-distribution monitoring to ensure families are using the kits in the best way and progressing towards recovery. Latest confirmed numbers are 335 Shelter Kits distributed to families

Cameroon – Conflict

The militant group Boko Haram has been waging an insurgency in Northern Nigeria since 2009. Violence has since spread into the border regions of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Since 2015, ShelterBox has been supporting remote distributions in Cameroon with the help of our in-country partner, IEDA Relief. Distributions have focussed on Minawao Refugee Camp and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) just outside the camp. 862 semi-durable shelters have been constructed (888 more will be constructed in the coming months). 445 AMG tents and other essential items have been distributed in Minawao camp. In addition, 100 SchoolBoxes, 5000 packs of school supplies and 1,032 Hygiene Kits have been distributed.

ShelterBox is also active in Somaliland, responding to drought and disease, and the Chad Basin, and Niger responding to conflict and displacement. Our long-term projects continue to help displaced families in Iraq and Syria.

FUNDRAISING & AMBASSADOR NEWS

Do you want to do something to help those in need?Join us on the ShelterBox Nepal Trek 2018 and help ensure no family goes without shelter following disaster or humanitarian crisis.

Trek the majestic Annapurna region and raise funds for ShelterBox. Every step you take you helps us rebuild communities after disaster strikes.

ShelterBox Australia has partnered with Inspired Adventures to bring you an enlightening and engaging experience. For details see:

https://inspiredadventures.com.au/events/ShelterBox-Nepal-Trek-2018/

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH FRIENDS WHO MAY BE INTERESTED

Rotary Club of Tenterfield – Jazz in the Bush

Tenterfield Rotary’s annual ‘Jazz in the Bush’ was held earlier this month with ShelterBox the chosen beneficiary. The event took place at the historic Steinbrook Hall and attendees were treated to champagne on arrival and a 3-course lunch with entertainment provided by jazz combo, The Essential Collective. The event was supported by local wine makers, the Brass Monkey Brewery and local food producers. Club members worked hard to create a fantastic event at a great location. It is hoped that the event will have raised over $2000 for disaster relief!

Understanding ShelterBox Operations (USOPs) Course, Brisbane

ShelterBox Australia held its first ‘Understanding ShelterBox Operations’ Course from 17th -19th November at the Allawah Scout Camp, near Ipswich, QLD. Otherwise known as ‘USOPs, the two and half day course aims to immerse participants in the complexities of disaster response and experience scenarios from real deployments. ShelterBox Australia CEO, Mike Greenslade said, “USOPs is a great opportunity for our volunteers and donors to get some hands experience with some the aid we deploy and gain an insight into the workings of a disaster relief deployment. We plan to run similar courses in the future at different locations around the country so that we can cater for our volunteer and donor base.”

If you’re running in the event and want to raise even more money for ShelterBox, why not create your own fundraising page at: Create Your Own Page

Have you held a successful fundraising event or are you planning one? Please send me the details, including images, for inclusion in the next newsletter and promotion on the ShelterBox Australia Blog at:

mike.greenslade@shelterbox.org.au