SchoolBoxes Distributed To Orphanages In Earthquake-Stricken Kathmandu

Happy children accept their SchoolBox from SRT volunteers

Happy children accept their SchoolBox from SRT volunteers

 

Disaster relief charity ShelterBox has now used a range of its aid in its Nepal earthquake response ShelterBox tents as medical facilities, Shelter Kits to get aid swiftly to mountain villages, and now SchoolBoxes to bring some sense of recovery and normality to children in Kathmandu.   

The Nepal earthquakes affected vast areas of urban, valley and mountain terrain, presenting unique challenges to aid workers. From the city of Kathmandu to high altitude villages perched on narrow terraces, ShelterBox and its partners have had to use ingenious solutions – a variety of aid, and every form of transport from helicopters to trucks to trekking by foot.

In the early days after the first quake ShelterBox tents were used as medical facilities outside damaged city hospitals, or as field hospitals in the foothills. Then a steady flow of Shelter Kits containing tools and waterproof tarpaulins were the ideal choice for helping remote mountain communities to start rebuilding their homes. Over 15,000 people have received ShelterBox aid so far, much of it delivered in partnership with other international organisations, Rotary and the Royal Gurkha Rifles. 

Now, an initiative by a local Rotary Club has focused on children in need. The Rotary Club of Bhadgaon is less than a year old, but has taken on the massive project of supporting over 200 orphanages across the Kathmandu Valley a task which the earthquakes made even more urgent.

Bhadgaon (also known as Bhaktapur or Khwopa) is a city in the Kathmandu Valley with some of the finest temples and religious architecture in Nepal, though much of it has now been damaged or destroyed.

A response team from ShelterBox – Tim Osburn from the US, Jimmy Griffith from New Zealand, Torstein Nielsen from Norway and Jessica Kim from Canada – helped to source and deliver SchoolBoxes containing enough school materials for up to 450 children. Each orphanage looks after between 25 and 50 children – some are admitted when only a few days old, and they may remain until the age of 18. The Rotarians have also brought in psychiatrists to help children traumatised by the quakes and ongoing aftershocks.

Torstein says, ‘It was wonderful to see how the older children were taking care of the younger children. It was evident that the staff fostered a healthy, inviting family environment.’

His colleague Jimmy Griffith added, ‘It was great to see our SchoolBoxes in action and to peek in on how the children are enjoying a little bit of a distraction from their very difficult experiences.’

In another initiative a ShelterBox tent has provided an adaptable space for a local children’s art therapy organisation in Balaju Park in Kathmandu. This has created a fun, friendly environment where children can overcome the trauma of the earthquakes. It provides them with a place to play, sing, dance and draw, where they can receive one-on-one therapy too. It will also be used to train counsellors and volunteers committed to helping children overcome their experiences.

ShelterBox CEO Alison Wallace says, ‘It is no surprise that a widespread disaster like this has required many different responses, and the use of different types of aid. We have been fortunate to team up with excellent partner charities, with Rotarians and the military to reach as many people as possible. And it is good to see the needs of these children being part of that mix.’

‘Now, with the monsoon creating very wet conditions for the next few months, we are sourcing more tarpaulins to help as many people as possible to rebuild or to shelter. Flexibility and resourcefulness are needed in such testing circumstances, and I am proud to say ShelterBox is dedicated to doing all it can to continue helping the people of Nepal.’

Eva Doerr is now leading the ShelterBox team in Nepal. Eva says,‘Despite logistical challenges the team in Nepal is continuing to make a relentless effort in providing those families affected by the earthquake with shelter and recovery material. With the monsoon season just around the corner, we can expect another emergency and even more need.’

 

ShelterBox Ambassador Recognised For Outstanding Service

ShelterBox Australia relies on a network of volunteer Ambassadors to help spread awareness and raise funds for disaster relief. One of our longest serving Ambassadors is Western Australian, Gordon Cargeeg. Gordon, now in his nineties, is a Past District Governor of the Rotary Club of Melville in Perth and was recently awarded a Certificate of Gratitude for his voluntary work, promoting Shelterbox.

The award was presented at the Melville club’s changeover dinner on behalf of the Board of ShelterBox Australia by District 9455 ShelterBox Representative, David Brockway, . David said that Gordon’s “magnificent efforts to promote ShelterBox have resulted in many hundreds of ShelterBoxes to be funded and subsequently deployed to many areas of need around the world.

L-R D9455 ShelterBox Rep, David Brockway and PDG Gordon Cargeeg with his award

L-R D9455 ShelterBox Rep, David Brockway and PDG Gordon Cargeeg with his award

Upon receiving the award, Gordon said, ‘My first contact with ShelterBox was in the Rotary Year 2004-5.  DG John Iriks, on returning from a meeting in the Eastern States, having seen the ShelterBox Programme, asked me if I would obtain further details.  I contacted  them (ShelterBox) and they arranged for a complete box to be sent West.

Since then the box and contents has been shown extensively throughout the state.  eg  All  District conferences, Club meetings. Royal & local shows (in conjunction with Scouts)

 This has given much publicity, resulting in valuable contributions & support over the ensuing years.

ShelterBox has gone from strength to strength in Western Australia, with the Rotary Club of Melville alone funding more than 42 boxes, the most recent of which were deployed to the Philippines. A big thank you to Gordon, the Rotary Club of Melville and all our supporters in Western Australia.

To find out more about Shelterbox visit www.shelterboxaustralia.org.au

 

More Than Shelter In The Philippines

Response Team volunteers Eric DeLuca and Peter Pearce help fix some fishing boats on Kinatarcan island to enable fishermen to return to work quickly to earn money to buy materials to rebuild their homes well, January 2014, Philippines.

Response Team volunteers Eric DeLuca and Peter Pearce help fix some fishing boats on Kinatarcan island to enable fishermen to return to work quickly to earn money to buy materials to rebuild their homes well, January 2014, Philippines.

 

ShelterBox is helping in more ways than providing shelter for Typhoon Haiyan survivors in the Philippines. The international disaster relief charity is also helping communities to rebuild their livelihoods, particularly the fishing industry, according to Response Team volunteer Anne Seuren, who was in the Asian country earlier this year.
‘On Kinatarcan island we met Jeresita Piamonte, a young mother with her three children. Her husband is a fisherman. He spends all night at sea while Jeresita looks after the children. They explained that fishermen have more success at night because they hang their kerosene lanterns over the side of the boat, which attracts the fish, making it easier to catch them by net.
‘Many of the fishing boats in these communities were destroyed during the storm, and as fishing is practically the only economy on the island, many families were forced to spend the first few months trying to rebuild their boats. Most are using the materials aid agencies had given them before they could start earning money to purchase materials for their houses.
Jeresita with her three young children, including her youngest Elzed holding the hammer who is trying to help rebuild their house that is pictured behind them, which was damaged by Typhoon Haiyan, Kinatarcan island, Philippines, January 2014.

Jeresita with her three young children, including her youngest Elzed holding the hammer who is trying to help rebuild their house that is pictured behind them, which was damaged by Typhoon Haiyan, Kinatarcan island, Philippines, January 2014.

 

‘Whilst Jeresita’s husband spent the time rebuilding his boat, Jeresita was trying to rebuild their house in the spare time that she had, after taking care of the children, cleaning and cooking. She was using gathered wood and used pieces of corrugated tin when we went to visit. Her youngest son Elzed was also doing his best to try and help, swinging a hammer in the air with no avail.
‘Overwhelmed’
‘She told me how bad she felt that her young children were having to live in a house that didn’t protect them from the rain, even though she was trying to fix the roof as quickly as she could. Therefore she was overwhelmed when we told her we were giving her and her family a ShelterBox tent the next day.
‘She was speechless and said: ‘Thank you miss.’ I explained to her that it wasn’t just me giving them that tent but it was also thanks to many people worldwide who have helped by donating money. She was amazed that so many people cared.
Response Team volunteer Peter Pearce helps fix some more fishing boats on Kinatarcan island, January 2014, Philippines.

Response Team volunteer Peter Pearce helps fix some more fishing boats on Kinatarcan island, January 2014, Philippines.

 

‘For me it was heartbreaking to see how grateful the Philippine people are. On the other hand it was so good to see they are starting to rebuild their lives. Even knowing how hard it is to have her children sleep in a shack, Jeresita and her husband decided it was the wise thing to do to use the little money they had for materials to first fix their boat.
‘Dry warm place to sleep’
‘It feels good that we can help this family, giving them a dry warm place to sleep until they have saved enough money to repair their house.’
Thank you.

 

 

 

In Pictures: Philippines 3 Months On

Much of Tacloban is still in the clear up stages, Leyte, Philippines, January 2014

Much of Tacloban is still in the clear up stages, Leyte, Philippines, January 2014

 

‘The closer you get to the path of the typhoon the greater the destruction. This can happen within 20 kilometres. Within that short distance you can go from little or no destruction to 95 percent of everything being completely obliterated. It is this amount of destruction we are expecting from the worst hit areas.’ 
ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) volunteer John Cordell was part of one of the first SRTs to arrive in the devastating aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines to assess the need for emergency shelter and other vital aid. From his description, it’s no wonder that three months on rebuilding efforts continue, particularly in Tacloban, where around ten percent of houses were left standing.
This latest slideshow is a collection of photos highlighting some of ShelterBox’s relief efforts in the country:

ShelterBox has helped nearly 5,000 families in total across various Philippine islands, some more remote than others. Thanks for helping us make a difference to the lives of other in need. 

 

‘I Miss My Home’ Says Syrian Refugee, Farouk

Syrian refugee Farouk Abdallah with his four sons in their ShelterBox tent, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, November 2013.

Syrian refugee Farouk Abdallah with his four sons in their ShelterBox tent, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, November 2013.

 

‘I’ve been in Lebanon since January 2013. It was snowing at the time. There were too many problems in Syria, continuous shelling being one of them. Our children were watching this. They were terrified about being hit by a shell that could kill them so we decided to come to Lebanon until the situation calms down, then we can go back.’
Farouk Abdallah shares a similar story with over an estimated million other Syrian refugees currently living in Lebanon. Many, like Farouk, have fled conflict and violence in search of safety and shelter but have arrived in Syria’s smallest neighbouring nation with nowhere to go, few possessions and are struggling to survive in the harsh winter conditions.
‘It was a hard journey here’ continued Farouk sitting in his ShelterBox tent with his four young boys, who are marked with dust and dirt wearing clothes too small for them. They are in an isolated area of the Bekaa Valley amongst one of the small tented settlements that now have become part of Lebanon’s landscape.
‘The children were left on their own’
‘I came with my wife, children and the few possessions we had on a bus. However my wife was refused to cross the border. She had all of our identification documents but they wouldn’t let her pass. I therefore had to leave her there, travel with the children to drop them here, then return to pick her up. We then had to travel back to our hometown in Syria to prepare other identification documents. We then returned to the border where the guards let us cross. It took a week; the children were left on their own here. When we returned we tried living with relatives but the room couldn’t accommodate all of us.’
Two of Farouk's youngest sons standing in front of what is now their home, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, November 2013.

Two of Farouk’s youngest sons standing in front of what is now their home, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, November 2013.

 

Farouk and his family were given a ShelterBox tent after speaking to one of the international disaster relief charity’s implementing partners in the Bekaa Valley.
 
‘It’s good to protect us against the rain’
‘As soon as I said we had been sleeping in the rain they bought it to us immediately and set it up with mattresses and blankets. It’s good to protect us against the rain and it’s warm.’
Farouk has built other makeshift rooms onto the disaster relief tent providing more space for the family and a separate area for the children to sleep in.
‘I’m going to build on it even more with other covers as the winter is hard here.’
Farouk has done all that he can to make their tent as homely as possible. Trinkets are displayed, rugs are laid down and he even has a television.
His children all share expressions of sadness. They do not go to school. Farouk and his wife both do agricultural work when it’s available for a small wage, mainly planting potatoes, like many other Syrian refugees in the area. But Farouk also shares something else with many other Syrian refugees – hope.
‘I miss my home’
‘I’m not afraid of anything, why should I worry? I have my wife and children… relaxed and waiting… for the situation to calm down for us to return to Syria… If it calm’s down we won’t sleep here, I miss my home… My hope lies with my children’s future.’
As reports state the refugees now outnumber the Lebanese residents in some villages, particularly near the border, ShelterBox aid has been released through customs in Beirut. Through its local implementing partner network, ShelterBox is able to continue to help the growing Syrian refugee population throughout Lebanon by bringing them shelter and other vital aid to help keep them warm this winter.
It’s also thanks to you that refugee families, like Farouk, can be safe and together under one roof as they wait to return to their hometowns in Syria.
You can still help by donating here.

 

 

Ask ShelterBox CEO Your Question Of The Week

From left to right: Alison Wallace, Response Team volunteers Liz Odell and Sally Fletcher, Philippines, February 2014.

From left to right: Alison Wallace, Response Team volunteers Liz Odell and Sally Fletcher, Philippines, February 2014.

 

ShelterBox CEO Alison Wallace is currently in the Philippines seeing for herself how ShelterBox aid is helping communities devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, what she describes as ‘ShelterBox’s most testing disaster response ever.’
This Thursday 6 February ShelterBox is hosting its ‘Question of the Week’ through Twitter at 10am GMT, where anyone interested has the chance to ask Alison anything about her trip while she is there. Perhaps you would like to know about a beneficiary story that stands out to her, or you want to know how the debris clear up is going? You also will be able to pose questions to the ShelterBox team accompanying her.
If you would like to join the discussion, you will need to follow @alisonwallaceSB and@ShelterBoxTeam on Twitter.
ShelterBox’s Facebook Question of the Week will continue as normal on Friday 7 February but will run along the same theme, where you can post questions to Alison and the team, who will then post their replies throughout the following next week.

 

ShelterBox Trains In Other Shelter Solutions

Corinne Treherne is the IFRC Senior Officer at the Shelter and Settlements department and is one of the Shelter Kit course trainers, Predannack, UK, January 2014.

Corinne Treherne is the IFRC Senior Officer at the Shelter and Settlements department and is one of the Shelter Kit course trainers, Predannack, UK, January 2014.

 

ShelterBox staff and Response Team volunteers from around the world are undertaking a familiarisation training course this weekend in the UK, delivered by shelter specialist the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on their Shelter Kit.
Natural or manmade disasters typically result in damage or loss to housing, leaving hundreds of people homeless, displaced or without adequate shelter.
In the initial stages of a disaster shelter is critical to survival, and beyond that, security and safety are also important in sustaining family and community life.
Since ShelterBox’s inception in 2000, the international disaster relief charity has responded to over 220 disasters and has provided shelter in the form of a custom-designed disaster relief tent big enough for an extended family. Fourteen years on, it is looking to add other shelter solutions, and is now working with the IFRC to achieve this.
‘This weekend, staff and Response Team volunteers will be undertaking a familiarisation course, delivered by two trainers from the IFRC, on their Shelter Kit,’ said ShelterBox Academy Senior Trainer and Response team volunteer Mark Boeck, who will be one of the twelve candidates attending the course.
‘Make repairs’
‘The Shelter Kit contains plastic sheeting or tarpaulins, as well as basic tools, rope and fixings, such as nails, and will enable households to rapidly provide their own shelter solutions or to make repairs to their damaged houses in the aftermath of a disaster.
ShelterBox Operations staff members on Day 1 of the IFRC Shelter Kit course, Predannack, UK, January 2014.

ShelterBox Operations staff members on Day 1 of the IFRC Shelter Kit course, Predannack, UK, January 2014.

 

‘Understanding the principals and different ways that these kits can be utilised will enable ShelterBox to provide an alternative shelter option to more people, more quickly rather than waiting for the provision of a tent or other temporary shelter.’
Corinne Treherne is the IFRC Senior Officer at the Shelter and Settlements department and is one of the course trainers:
‘Strengthen knowledge and capacity’
‘There are three main objectives of the course. Firstly to acknowledge the shelter response that the IFRC applies; secondly to strengthen knowledge and capacity as it applies to supplying adequate emergency shelters, to promote good practices, and to inform on the practice and utilisation of the Shelter Kit. Finally the course aims to train people in providing technical assistance of the shelter kits to beneficiaries, like a train-the-trainer programme.
‘By the end of the three-day course, all participants will know how to fix a tarpaulin the best way, build a temporary shelter and be aware of the standards. Their knowledge will be improved on how to reinforce a home and how to make recommendations on how to improve the shelter kit. They will also be able to assist other community members with the techniques to build a temporary shelter in the event of a disaster.’
The course is being held at ShelterBox’s training centre at Predannack in Cornwall in the UK, not far from ShelterBox headquarters.

 

 

ShelterBox CEO, Alison Wallace Visits Philippines

Alison Wallace at 'The Day the Bombs Fell' book launch, London, November 2013.

Alison Wallace at ‘The Day the Bombs Fell’ book launch, London, November 2013.

 

Alison Wallace, Chief Executive of ShelterBox, is travelling to the Philippines to see for herself how ShelterBox aid is helping communities devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. 
 
In less than three months ShelterBox teams have worked tirelessly to bring shelter and vital aid to nearly 4,500 Filipino families who lost their homes to the devastating Typhoon Haiyan on 8 November.
This is part of the international disaster relief charity’s commitment to provide 1,685 ShelterBoxes, 4,607 tents and 1,516 midi tents, which in total will help over 7,800 families. The remainder of this aid will arrive in fortnightly consignments over the coming months.
ShelterBox distributions are continuing on many islands, including Bohol, Leyte, Bantayan and Panay, and now Mindanao.
Chief Executive Alison Wallace flew in with colleagues yesterday. Her aim is to check progress, talk to partner organisations, and meet beneficiary families.
‘Collaboration key to efficiency’
‘In terms of the number of Response Teams required, and the complexity of getting to remote island communities, this has been ShelterBox’s most testing disaster response ever,’ said Alison. ‘Collaboration is key to efficiency, and we have had valuable support from partner aid agencies such as Plan International and Handicap International, and from the British, Australian and Philippines Navies.’
Aid distributed includes ShelterBox’s specially-designed family tents, mosquito nets and water filtration kits to protect against disease, and solar powered lighting for personal security. Tool kits also allow the long process of rebuilding to begin.
‘I visited the Philippines last year before Haiyan struck, when ShelterBox was responding to another typhoon,’ added Alison. ‘Our people are well-practised at providing aid in this part of the world, so we have been able to deploy extremely well-experienced individuals. While I am here I will see the full range of our work, from the urban devastation of Tacloban to remote islands such as Bantayan and Panay.’
‘I’m sure it will be an eye-opener’
‘It will be a privilege to report back to our donors, whose generosity has made this disaster relief possible. I am sure it will be an eye-opener, both in terms of scale and the international aid response. I’m looking forward to meeting some of the recipient families, and our hardworking response teams who will continue to help them until the job is done.’
Follow Alison in the Philippines through her twitter account and get the latest updates through the ShelterBox team account.

 

‘Rebuilding Likely To Take Years’ In Philippines

Response Team volunteer Marie Vincent with members of the Esperanza family and some of the other villagers in Cancajara, Leyte, Philippines, January 2014.

Response Team volunteer Marie Vincent with members of the Esperanza family and some of the other villagers in Cancajara, Leyte, Philippines, January 2014.

 

‘The immense devastation on Leyte island is difficult to comprehend,’ said ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Marie Vincent. ‘At first glance when you scratch the surface you soon learn that the typhoon also destroyed people’s livelihoods and has left the survivors with traumatic psychological scars. There are children who cannot make eye contact, individuals who are struggling to find the motivation to move on and an underlying anxiety that it will happen again. The economical and human recovery will take years rather than months.’
It may be nearly three months since Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines but the people have far from forgotten. Aid agencies like ShelterBox are still finding pockets of previously unrecognised need to address and continue to bring shelter and vital aid to communities who have been left with nothing.
‘As the scale of the disaster area is so vast, we’ve been working in partnership with other organisations to join resources and maximise our combined reach,’ said SRT member Steve Crabtree. ‘In this instance we joined up with Handicap International (HI) who were already assessing some hard-to-reach areas to the west and south of Tacloban, on the island of Leyte.’
One of the villages where ShelterBox and HI have been working together is Cancajara in the Pastrana municipality. It is a deeply rural area where the main source of income is agriculture though the local cocoa plantations have suffered heavily from the storm. As a result, rebuilding is likely to take years for a family.
Tacloban still in devastation after Typhoon Haiyan, Leyte, Philippines, January 2014.

Tacloban still in devastation after Typhoon Haiyan, Leyte, Philippines, January 2014.

 

This is the case for the Esperanza family. 80-year-old Dora is a mother of two still caring for her sons who are both in their fifties and work as rice and cocoa farmers. They had lost their home in the storm and had built a dangerously unstable makeshift shelter that did not meet the minimum humanitarian needs requirements. This is where ShelterBox came in.
‘Regain sense of normalcy’
Sophie Meingast is Handicap International’s Project Manager in their Emergency Response Division:
‘Providing a ShelterBox as emergency shelter following typhoon Yolanda has been great for the most vulnerable households,’ said Sophie Meingast, HI’s Emergency Response Division’s Project Manager. ‘Including items such as kitchen sets and toys for the children in the box allows families to regain a sense of normalcy following the catastrophe.’
Marie added, ‘In Pastrana we distributed ShelterBox aid to some of the most vulnerable families. This may only be a small contribution to the overall recovery but the family hugely appreciated the help. One of the sons kept repeating ‘salamat, salamat, salamat’ meaning ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’. It is important to pass on this thanks to our donors.’
 
Thank you
On behalf of the families in the Philippines, we would like to say a big thank you to all of our donors and supporters who have helped us bring shelter and other vital aid to nearly 4,500 families. Thank you!

 

 

ShelterBox Responds To Flooding In Indonesia

Photo by Kate Lamb. Children play in floodwaters in last year's floods in Jakarta, January 2013.

Photo by Kate Lamb. Children play in floodwaters in last year’s floods in Jakarta, January 2013.

 

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is travelling to Indonesia tomorrow to assess the shelter needs of the tens of thousands of people displaced by monsoon rains that have caused flooding in the capital Jakarta as well as landslides in North Sulawesi province.
More than 30,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes in Jakarta, leaving their homes, possessions and livelihoods as the capital becomes more and more inundated from heavy rains.
As floodwaters have reached three metres in some districts, Indonesian soldiers have arrived to help residents in the sprawling city of 10 million people.  Families can be seen wading through shoulder deep floodwaters to seek safety in temporary shelters, including schools and mosques.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (NDMA) said the floods have already caused about US$80 million in damage.
There are now further reports of heavy rains hitting other parts of the archipelago, including North Sulawesi province where flash floods have taken lives and left tens of thousands more homeless, according to the NDMA.
Power is down in most parts of the region and communication lines are disrupted. SRT member Jamie Adams will be joining Vensentius Dwijatmoko, an SRT member from Indonesia, to carry out needs assessments in the most affected areas. Vensentius’s local knowledge and language will be an asset to ShelterBox’s disaster relief work there.
 
‘I can only imagine how bad it will be.’
‘I’m making final arrangements now at home for my deployment tomorrow to Indonesia in response to the flooding and landslides,’ said Jamie. ‘I can only imagine how bad it will be. Information is still coming in on where the most affected areas are and there is a Response Team member already in the area. I am really confident that ShelterBox will be able to make a difference.’
Further heavy rains are forecast for the coming days, potentially worsening floods and already bad living conditions.