Nepalese Rotaract member witnesses ShelterBox aid from both sides

Anisha Thapaliya is a student from Nepal, studying nursing at Curtin University. Anisha was recently awarded a ‘Friends of Rotary’ membership badge by the Rotary Club South Perth-Burswood for her help with club projects, including attending every day of the recent Perth Royal Show representing ShelterBox.

Past District Governor D 9465, Melodie Kevan with Anisha and the President of the Rotary Club of South Perth- Burswood, June Wade

Past District Governor D9465, Melodie Kevan with Anisha and the President of the Rotary Club of South Perth-Burswood and ShelterBox Australia Ambassador, June Wade.

Below, Anisha tells her story of how she became aware of ShelterBox and how she experienced both sides of the disaster relief coin.

When two major earthquakes hit Nepal in 2015, I was working as a nurse in a teaching hospital. Everyone worked tirelessly to help people who were victims of the earthquake and who had suffered loss of family members and homes. I visited a couple of villages for distribution of relief materials through the Rotaract Club of Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences (KUSMS). It was amazing to see people working with great efforts to support each other. There were large numbers of international volunteers with great supplies of relief materials, food, tarpaulins and utensils, and health services. The incident left me with a question. “How do they get supplies to distribute for free to those in need? Are they that rich?’

ShelterBox ShelterKits being distributed in Nepal

ShelterBox ShelterKits being distributed in Nepal following the 2015 earthquakes

Then I came to Australia for my further studies and luckily got the chance to meet with Rotarians from the Rotary Club of South Perth-Burswood, Perth, Western Australia. I was very happy when I got the opportunity to volunteer for fundraising programme for disaster relief package – The ShelterBox. It was very special to me because I had heard Rotaractors mentioning ShelterBox during the earthquake relief programme in Nepal.’

‘My questions were answered at the Perth Royal Show when I volunteered for fundraising. I realised that people have big hearts and great empathy, which enables them to raise money to buy the stuff needed for disaster relief. They are not rich with money but with a feeling of wanting to help others.’

Anisha at The Perth Royal Show

Anisha at The Perth Royal Show

‘And ShelterBox, what a great idea and effort! Tent, stove, sleeping bags and a lot more that a family needs when displaced. I have no words to express how lucky I am to see the other end of the help offered.

I am very thankful to the Rotary Club of South Perth-Burswood for providing me with a great chance to know and volunteer for ShelterBox, a great way to help disaster victims restore their shelter and dignity.’

To learn more about ShelterBox or to donate, please visit: www.shelterboxaustralia.org.au

Nepal Earthquake One Year On

Nepali woman with shelter kit on her shoulder

Surya Maya Danwar collects a ShelterBox shelter kit following the catastrophic earthquake in Nepal last year.

 

One year ago, a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Gorkha, Nepal. The quake killed thousands of people, flattened entire villages and knocked out vital infrastructure like roads and bridges.

Despite difficulties getting into the country, a ShelterBox team arrived within two days of the quake and quickly started distributing aid from prepositioned stocks in the country.

In Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, we supplied tents for hospitals that had been badly damaged and were treating patients in the open air. Here, our tents provided much needed covered space in which to carry out minor treatments, while in rural clinics, medical staff used tents to sleep in so that they could provide round-the-clock treatment to people injured in the quake.

As we were able to transport more aid and more teams into the country, we focused our efforts on the rural mountain communities that had been worst affected by the quake. Many of the villages we helped were incredibly remote, and we had to use a mixture of trucks and helicopters to reach them.

One of these remote areas was Phataksila, home to Surya Maya Danwar. Surya was at home eating a meal when the earthquake struck. Her father-in-law was outside and shouted to her to get out of the house, but she didn’t make it in time. The roof fell in and trapped Surya. If it wasn’t for her mother and father-in-law, who rescued her, she would have died.

When Surya was able to stand again, she started searching for her son, who wasn’t at home when the quake took place. She was very worried, but thankfully her son had been in a field by the river when it happened – if he’d been at home, he might not have survived.

The family were able to salvage very little from the house, as many things were completely buried in the quake, but they created a makeshift shelter from old pieces of corrugated iron and wood.

However, Surya received a shelter kit from ShelterBox, as did all of the other families in her area. The shelter kit included heavy-duty tarpaulins and tools that can be used in a variety of ways to mend and create shelters. The family used the tarpaulin to make their shelter waterproof, which provided them with a sturdy temporary shelter before they created their new home.

Surya and ShelterBox response team member Mike Greenslade stand outside her new home.

Surya and ShelterBox Response Team member, Mike Greenslade stand outside her new home.


Surya not only used the tools included in the kit to help secure the structure, but to dig the fields. Many crops were damaged and destroyed during the earthquake, so being able to tend to the fields and start growing produce again is very important.

Along with ShelterBox equipment, people were also shown how they could use the kits to build back safer homes, that would be more resilient to future quakes.

Surya said: ‘If another earthquake happened, it wouldn’t be like before. The new shelter it safer and I wouldn’t be trapped again.’

We’ve now helped provide shelter for more than 67,000 people in Nepal since last year. However, our work never stops. Disasters and conflict around the world mean that there are families in need of shelter 365 days a year.

In Ecuador, communities have been devastated by another 7.8 magnitude earthquake – one measuring exactly the same strength as the deadly quake in Nepal.

One of our ShelterBox response teams is on the ground, facing aftershocks, landslides and blocked roads to assess the level of destruction. We are primed to provide the best possible type of aid to exactly where it is needed, but we need your help to do it. Please donate today to make sure that no family goes without shelter.

Reinforcing Family Foundations In The Philippines

images of smiling Filipino children

Children from the Capangpangan family in the village of Binay, Philippines.

 

Typhoon Melor tore through the Philippines last December, leaving 14,400 families with damaged or destroyed houses – houses that were no longer fit to live in. However, your support has helped us provide the vital tools needed to rebuild homes and repair communities.

One of those homes belonged to the Capangpangan family in the village of Binay. Robert and Jennibeth Capangpangan have eight children aged between four and 15. We recently returned to the Philippines to see how the family are recovering after the typhoon.

When the typhoon first passed over their village, the family sought shelter in their house made of coconut tree trunks covered in coconut leaves. Once the winds gained full strength, the house began to shake and the family had no choice but to flee to the nearby church

The family’s possessions were lost; all that remained were a few floorboards

Under the strain of the typhoon, the house began to fall apart and the foundations collapsed. The family’s possessions were lost; all that remained were a few floorboards.

They not only lost their home and belongings, but their income too. Robert was a coconut farmer, but with the majority of coconut trees lost in the typhoon, his livelihood has gone. As a result, his wife Jennibeth has had to leave the family to work in the capital Manila.

When the winds died down, the family returned to their home and Robert tried to construct some new walls out of coconut leaves and tarpaulins provided by the local authorities. The shelter held, but it didn’t feel safe and secure enough for the family.

However, at the start of January, Robert received a shelter kit from ShelterBox, containing corrugated iron sheeting and a range of hardwearing tools. The kit enabled the family to start rebuilding their home.

Rebuilding the family home helped us get our lives back to some sort of normality

Melor
Robert said: ‘The kit means everything to us. I’ve lost my livelihood and my income, so without this kit, I wouldn’t have been able to rebuild my family’s home.’

The materials in the kit meant that Robert could start rebuilding a stronger home that was more resilient than the previous house. They were able to reinforce the foundations and build a much sturdier roof.

Robert added: ‘Rebuilding the family home helped us get our lives back to some sort of normality. After the typhoon hit, the children were ill, but now we have a proper home again, they are well and back in school.‘

In total, your support has enabled us to distribute 900 shelter kits to help people rebuild their homes again.

Video: Growing Up In The Shadow Of War

Shadow

 

With no end in sight to the war in Syria, living in emergency camps and temporary shelters has become an everyday reality for many children.

Even though thousands of families flee Syria each year, there are many more that are unable to leave, families that have become displaced in their own country.

ShelterBox has been working with implementing partners in Syria for two and a half years, supporting people newly displaced by fighting with shelter.

As the war has raged on, people who were forced from their homes by fighting have found themselves living in camps for long periods of time. Inevitably, exposure to the extremes of Syria’s climate has taken its toll on these temporary shelters, meaning that children are growing up in tattered tents, exposed to the elements.

This is why ShelterBox has been working with several organisations, such as the Violet Organization, to replace old tents with ones that are durable and resilient to harsh winters and strong sun.

In this video, we meet some of the families that we have been providing with new tents to see what a difference it has made to them.

To donate click here: PLEASE DONATE

Laying The Foundations For Safety And Shelter In Tanzania

Training local trainers to pitch tents in Tanzania. (ShelterBox/Steve Crabtree)

Training local trainers to pitch tents in Tanzania. (ShelterBox/Steve Crabtree)

 

ShelterBox is working with other aid agencies to create two new refugee camps in Tanzania, as the latest round of political violence in neighbouring Burundi causes thousands to leave their home and their country.
 
Since April, the African country of Burundi has suffered some of the worst violence since the end of the 12-year civil war in 2005. The unrest escalated with protests against the third-term bid of the country’s president Pierre Nkurunziza and has continued since his re-election in July.
The fighting, which has led to the death’s of more than 200 people so far, has forced more than 210,000 people to flee the country. Half of these people have crossed the border into neighbouring Tanzania.
Tanzania is already home to Nyarugusu, one of the largest refugees camps in the world, and the influx of refugees has pushed the camp well past capacity. Therefore, ShelterBox is working in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), along with a range other organisations to create two new camps in the region.
These sites will create emergency shelter for the 30,000 people who are currently living in tightly packed, flood-prone areas of the existing Nyarugusu camp. They will also have space to accommodate at least a further 20,000 people escaping conflict and turmoil in Burundi.
ShelterBox, in partnership with IOM, will initially be providing UN specification tents to accommodate around 1,000 of the most vulnerable families. Additional tents are being provided by Medecins Sans Frontieres and the UNHCR, the UN agency for refugees.
ShelterBox response team member Amber Cottrell-Jury demonstrates how to pitch our UN specification tents. (ShelterBox/Steve Crabtree)

ShelterBox Response Team member Amber Cottrell-Jury demonstrates how to pitch our UN specification tents. (ShelterBox/Steve Crabtree)

 

A Response Team, made up of Amber Cottrell-Jury (NZ) and Steve Crabtree (UK) recently travelled to Tanzania to oversee the arrival of the first 300 tents, which are currently in the process of being put up, while a further team are due to arrive this weekend with the remaining 700 tents. They will also be assessing whether there is a need for additional support.
Amber said: ‘We first sent a team to Tanzania to assess the need for shelter back in June, following the first influx of refugees. There was a clear need for additional shelter, so we are incredibly happy to help support the creation of these new camps.
‘There is no end in sight to the political unrest that has forced people to cross the border into Tanzania, but we want to prevent people from sleeping in over-crowded, mass shelters and are working to ensuring that families can stay together in their own space.’
While Steve and Amber were in Tanzania, they carried out train-the-trainer sessions with local staff. This means that when all 1,000 tents have arrived in the country, people will be able to pass on the skills needed to pitch the tents quickly and efficiently.

Refugee Crisis In Europe – The Suffering On Lesbos Makes Headlines Again

Refugees disembark an inflatable boat on the shores of Lesbos, a man carries two children to shore

 

The Greek island of Lesbos has become a focus on the refugee trail again, as wet weather, illness and lack of shelter make conditions miserable for families arriving from Turkey.  ShelterBox is considering a return to Lesbos, but is finding barriers to helping its refugees.

In September disaster relief agency ShelterBox left the island of Lesbos – one of the Greek entry points for refugees fleeing the Middle East – after weeks of providing shelter and shade in respite camps, and generally improving conditions on an island overwhelmed.

Now Lesbos is one of the refugee hotspots making headlines again, as journalists, broadcasters, medics and politicians highlight the continuing suffering playing out on European soil.

Last week broadcaster and writer Lliana Bird quoted a doctor on Lesbos saying,‘There are thousands of children here and their feet are literally rotting, they can’t keep dry, they have high fevers and they’re standing in the pouring rain for days on end. You have one month guys, and then all these people will be dead.’ Lliana noted that, ‘There is very little visible support or help from large charities or governments.’

Now UK Labour MP, Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Opposition’s refugee taskforce,has written to David Cameron urging him to offer ‘immediate’ humanitarian aid to Lesbos after witnessing shocking scenes first-hand. After a visit she reported that there were just two ambulances serving the whole island, doctors working twenty hours a day, children sleeping amidst the rubbish, and fears among aid workers over an outbreak of cholera.

The UK Government has offered to resettle 20,000 refugees from over five years and has offered £100 million in aid. But Yvette Cooper has asked the Prime Minister for the Department for International Development to intervene on Lesbos rather than rely on volunteers and charities. Today UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening has announced a £5 million funding package for a group of humanitarian organisations to fund the distribution of sleeping bags, towels, rain wear, hygiene kits, nappies, food and clean water for refugees in Greece, Serbia and Macedonia.

Former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, now President of the New York based International Rescue Committee, had also visited Lesbos in September where he said he found ‘appalling neglect’.

ShelterBox has been hard at work on the refugee trail for over three years, providing shelter in refugee camps and for displaced families in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan and deep into Syria itself. Right now ShelterBox is providing aid in Syria through its in-country partners, and a team returned in October to Kurdistan to evaluate and improve long-standing provision.

But CEO Alison Wallace explains that the refugee crisis, particularly in Europe, is fraught with challenges and frustrations for aid agencies like ShelterBox. ‘The humanitarian need is obvious, and reports like those in the press make heart-breaking reading. But providing help to refugees within Europe is far from straightforward.’

‘On Lesbos the provision has grown ad hoc, and at times our response teams were caught up in the havoc caused by unmanageable numbers and slow registration procedures. Even now Greece’s government and the UN are finding it hard to identify land where respite camps can be legally placed.’

ShelterBox has access to many more of the large UN-style tents that it had already deployed in camps such as Kara Tepe near the island’s capital and main port of Mytilene. But Moria camp was already beyond capacity, and the lack of co-ordinated organisation could have exposed both ShelterBox teams and their beneficiaries to harm.

Alison adds, ‘With winter months approaching, shelter and warmth will be as important to refugee families as medicine, food and clean water. But all are hampered by a lack of local resources, a lack of available land. There is also decreasing political will, with many European countries exercising strict border controls.’

‘ShelterBox keeps the situation under daily review, and wherever we find an unmet need and a government willing to let us operate within their country, we will do all we can to respond.’

ShelterBox is preparing to mobilise a response team to evaluate need on Lesbos in the coming weeks, and is in touch with colleague agencies and local and government organisations on the island.

As The Vienna Talks Begin, ShelterBox And Its Partners Continue To Reach Out To Displaced Families In Syria

Young Syrian boy holding a ShelterBox sign in from of tent

© Violet Organisation

 

Of all the families on the refugee trail these are the hardest to reach, and the hardest to help – Syria’s internally displaced, people caught in the crossfire within their own country. But aid is getting through, as ShelterBox and its partners deliver with determination.

The world watches hopefully as talks begin in Vienna, bringing to the table the power-brokers who are backing rival sides in Syria’s civil war. The aim is to close the gap between the US and its allies, who support the rebels, and the key foreign allies of the Syrian government, Russia and Iran. This is the first time that Iran has been involved in diplomatic moves towards conflict resolution.

Four years of war in Syria have left a quarter of a million dead, and forced half the country’s population – around 11 million people – from their homes. Hundreds of thousands of them now live under canvas in fast-growing encampments, mostly in the north of the country.

ShelterBox has been working across Syria and its geographical neighbours all this time, helping refugees and displaced families in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraqi Kurdistan and well into Syria itself. Getting aid into this volatile war zone has meant very careful negotiation of so-called ‘aid pipelines’, the discreet movement, distribution and allocation of equipment, and effective in-country partners who can operate cautiously in hostile conditions using their local knowledge.

Among these are London-based Hand in Hand for Syria (HIHS) who were the first to take humanitarian aid into Syria shortly after the conflict began in 2011. HIHS and ShelterBox have supported newly displaced people in northern Syria for over two years, and even managed to deliver school equipment into war-torn Aleppo. A new shipment of aid for a further 1,000 families is now being dispatched.

ShelterBox’s newest partner is the Violet Organisation, a Syrian non-governmental organisation  shown in the photos accompanying this press release. 350 large UN specification tents and tarpaulins have been transported to Syria, bound for distribution in camps.

Volunteers from the Violet organisation erect tents donated by ShelterBox

© Violet Organisation

200 UN tents supplied by ShelterBox have also just been distributed by theInternational Organisation for Migration (IOM), mostly to replace those damaged by time and climate over the years of conflict.

Operations Co-ordinator Sam Hewett has recently returned from the Iraq / Syria border territories, where he and ShelterBox colleagues were assessing conditions in many long-established refugee camps, and helping to plan new provision for Iraq’s own internally-displaced population.

Sam says, ‘ShelterBox gives you a global perspective on the refugee crisis – from its origins within Syria, to border territories such as Iraq and Lebanon, and on into Europe where we were recently providing respite for thousands of families arriving on the Greek islands.’

‘At every stage these are stories of great hardship and desperation. The scale of it can overwhelm, so we focus on what is achievable, and where the aid provided by our generous donors can help best. As these photos show, our in-country partners make it possible for ShelterBox to reach those trapped within Syria, whose lives are uncomfortable, uncertain and unsafe.’

Air strikes across Syria have intensified in the last month as the Russians have flexed their air power. The UN says 120,000 people fled from Aleppo, Hama, and Idlib provinces between 5 and 22 October, the places where most Russian bombing has taken place and where Syrian Army ground pushes have occurred. The Russians claim that no civilians have been killed, but they have been using cluster munitions that western air forces shun for their indiscriminate effect.  

It is estimated that almost half of Syria’s population has now been displaced, but that six million of them remain within Syria’s borders. Only those who cross borders are classed as refugees, and therefore entitled to the support of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The internally displaced do not enjoy even that status.

You can help by donating to our Syria Refugee Appeal here: PLEASE DONATE

 

ShelterBox On Standby As A Massive Earthquake Rocks Afghanistan And Pakistan

Image of Afghan man in front of collapsed building

 

Disaster relief agency ShelterBox is monitoring the unfolding situation in north-eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan

Initial reports are of over 100 deaths as a powerful earthquake hit the mountainous Hindu Kush region of north-eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tremors from the magnitude 7.5 quake were also felt in northern India and Tajikistan.

The high magnitude is similar to the Nepal quakes of April and May, but the epicentre is far deeper at 213 km.

ShelterBox Operations Team Lead Alice Jefferson says, ‘This region is difficult to access, and volatile. It is unknown at this time whether ShelterBox assistance will be required, but damage is expected.’

The quake happened at 9.10 this morning GMT. 12 of the reported victims were schoolgirls killed in a crush as they tried to get out of their building, with a further 25 injured. The earthquake had its epicentre 45 miles south of Faizabad, says the US Geological Survey.

Buildings have been evacuated and communications disrupted in many areas. Deaths and injuries have also been reported in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. In Pakistan, the disaster management authority said 94 people had been confirmed dead in the north of the country.

The US Geological Survey says that such faults and their resultant earthquakes in this area are the direct result of the convergence between the India and Eurasia plates. This collision causes the uplift that produced the highest mountain peaks in the world, including the Himalayas and Hindu Kush ranges.

Alice adds, ‘We are awaiting more information on damage reports in Afghanistan and north-western Pakistan through news alerts. We will continue to monitor and engage with partners operating in the region.’

ShelterBox already has an existing contingency plan to provide a number of UN/IFRC spec tents to northern Afghanistan with a pertner organisation. The Logistics and Operations Teams are checking whether this shipment can be expedited if a major aid push is called for in the quake-hit region.

ShelterBox On Standby As Mexico Braces Itself For The Arrival Of ‘Potentially Catastrophic’ Hurricane Patricia

Patricia-1

 

ShelterBox is monitoring the course of Hurricane Patricia, expected to make landfall later today – evacuations and port closures are in progress along Mexico’s Pacific coast. The US National Hurricane Centre has described the category five storm as ‘potentially catastrophic’.

International disaster relief agency ShelterBox is closely monitoring events on the Pacific coast of Mexico, where a state of emergency has been declared across three states as Hurricane Patricia approaches. Wind speeds of up to 185 mph have already been reported by the EU’s emergency response co-ordination centre, in what is said to be the Pacific’s largest hurricane since 1997.

James Luxton, ShelterBox Operations Team Lead, says, ‘We will continue to monitor, and utilise our in-country contacts in Mexico, to be ready to react if required. We are preparing a response team, and will have them on standby.’

‘This is a significant Hurricane, but at this stage it is hard to gauge at what strength it will make landfall. Predictions are anywhere between category 3 to 5.’

In October last year ShelterBox responded to a force 3 to 4  hurricane in Mexico, but on that occasion found that the Mexican government and in-country NGOs were well prepared with an adequate response.

Patricia formed in the eastern Pacific Ocean three days ago. It started moving west, intensifying, and gradually turning northwest parallel to the Mexican coast. The hurricane is now forecast to approach the coasts of Colima and Jalisco States later today, making landfall between Cabo Corrientes and Manzanillo.

Mexican authorities have begun moving residents and closing ports. Some 400,000 people live in the hurricane’s potential path, according to Mexico’s National Disaster Fund. It could bring torrential rain, triggering flash floods and mudslides, with the possibility of coastal flooding in areas popular with tourists. Shops and businesses are boarding up their windows in Manzanillo as rain has started to fall.

At the beach village of Boca de Pascuales authorities have taken 70 people to a shelter. ‘We are patrolling communities on the coast in the Puerto Vallarta area as well as Melaque and La Huerta, urging the most vulnerable population to get to safety,’ Jalisco state civil protection director Jose Trinidad Lopez Rivas told local television. Schools have been closed, and two dams in Jalisco and Michoacan are being drained.