Mindanao Earthquake – Veronica’s Story

 

In October 2019, three powerful earthquakes shook Mindanao Island in the Philippines, damaging and destroying buildings. Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes, staying in evacuation centres or with host families. Those who had been hit the hardest stayed in makeshift shelters and were not expected to return home for up to six months.

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Veronica lives at the very top of a mountainous barangay in Mindanao. Along with her family, she was one of the thousands of people affected by the earthquakes. Speaking to the ShelterBox team when they returned to Mindanao to do post-distribution monitoring in December 2019, Veronica said she is proud of where she lives. She added that it is very beautiful with two rivers flowing either side of her home and lots of colourful flowers surrounding it.

The team were unable to get to see her homesite as it was still unsafe for vehicles other than motorbikes to get up there. Fortunately, Veronica’s husband Rodolfo was able to go to up on his motorbike and capture some images of their home that had been rebuilt using ShelterBox tools and tarpaulin.

Veronica told the team she was in her home when the earthquake, which measured 6.6 magnitude, hit on the 29th of October at 9am. She first felt the shaking and then cement started to fall from the ceilings and from the walls. She instantly ran outside until the initial shaking stopped. Her priority was then to run to the school further down the hill to go and see how her youngest daughter was. “I was so scared not knowing how the earthquake had hit the school,” she said. “I ran as fast as I could to get there.”

The school had been severely damaged with parts of it collapsing. The teachers left to go home and see if their families were OK, and what might have happened to their homes.

“Many of us here thought that as Christmas was near, no more earthquakes would hit us,” said Veronica.

At the time of the earthquake Rodolfo was working on their farm. The farm was badly affected, and a large crack appeared through the land. Fortunately, he was able to return to the family unharmed.

“Our house was unsafe to live in,” Veronica explained. “Two walls had collapsed, and the aftershocks meant that cement kept falling from the ceiling.” After the earthquake, the only form of shelter the family had was one tarpaulin. To ensure the whole family was protected from the weather they had to borrow another tarpaulin from Veronica’s brother. This meant they were living in cramped conditions.

Two weeks after the earthquakes hit, the family received aid items from ShelterBox. This included a shelter kit with two tarpaulins, two solar lights, two blankets and a bag to put everything in. They used these items to build a new shelter close to their damaged home until it was safe to return.

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“We are so grateful for the ShelterBox tarpaulins as they are so much better than the ones we had,” said Veronica. “We feel that come rain or shine we are able to feel comfortable inside the home we have made with them and as a result we are now sleeping better.”

Despite the hot weather the tarpaulins keep her family cooler in the day. Veronica said that all the community members at the top of the barangay had used their aid items. Their community does have electricity, but they experience frequent black outs, so the solar lights are used a lot. In case of another earthquake, Veronica said she has prepared a grab bag for the family to take: “We used the bag to carry items back from the distribution, but now we store emergency clothing and other important items in it, just in case another earthquake happens, and we have to leave the area quickly.”

They are not too sure what the future holds for them as they cannot access the farm due to the risk of landslides. But now that they have somewhere to live, her husband is able to focus on looking for a temporary job until the farmland becomes safe or they find an alternative site.

ShelterBox eNewsletter March 2020

All of our lives are being affected by Covid-19 in some way, but those living in refugee camps or in makeshift settlements are particularly vulnerable.

We live in strange and challenging times. The Covid-19 outbreak is affecting everyone to some degree. Rightly, our priority is the health of our staff, volunteers and supporters. We encourage everyone to follow directives from government sources, stay safe and healthy.

Here in Australia, we are lucky: we are well-resourced and have a world-class health system; we are able to self-quarantine at home and care for ourselves and each other. But for people who are already homeless due to conflict or disaster and no access to healthcare, Corona virus is a new and deadly threat.

How can we help? Tents and shelter are now more important than ever to help people isolate themselves when they have lost their homes and help to limit the spread of Coronavirus. ShelterBox remains committed to reaching the most remote communities and to support them to get through the current outbreak.

Much of our protracted work is largely unaffected in the short-term: our work continues in Syria and Somaliland and upcoming projects in Cameroon and Ethiopia remain on course. Travel restrictions may affect our ability to respond to sudden-onset disasters, but we have aid strategically pre-positioned and our deployable roles are set-up to work remotely.

So, challenging times ahead; but as a disaster relief agency, we are determined to maintain and protect our ability to respond.

This month’s quote comes from Jimi Hendrix, “”Before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.”

Many thanks for your support

Mike Greenslade

CEO ShelterBox Australia

0459 959 501

mike.greenslade@shelterbox.org.au

 

Philippines – Typhoon Kammuri

A response team member demonstrates how to use a Luminaid solar light.

In early December Typhoon Kammuri, known locally as Typhoon Tisoy, ripped through the Philippines and many people across Northern Samar were severely affected. Coastal communities were hit the most and beaches were covered in the debris of destroyed homes. Electricity was wiped out, roads washed away and scores of fishing boats, the main source of livelihoods, were smashed to pieces.

Working through our Philippines office and local Rotary clubs, we supported over 2,500 families whose homes were either damaged or totally destroyed. NSW-based Response Team volunteer, Anthony Keating has recently returned from Northern Samar as part of a Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEAL) team.

The team undertook post-distribution monitoring activities, including surveys and conducting focus group discussions with communities who received a ShelterBox aid package. They were also able to evaluate the cash element of the project with communities who received a cash component.​

Unfortunately, due to restrictions introduced by the Philippines due to Coronavirus, the team were unable to visit some of the communities where they had planned to undertake PDM activities. Due to this, the team departed early before areas of the Philippines entered a lock down period.​

Somaliland – Drought

Ongoing drought and conflict have forced communities to move increasingly large distances to find fresh food for their animals, creating an estimated 2.6million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

The first phase of distributions to 1,200 households is now complete. A second phase is planned to support around 540 households, with the aid for the second phase currently in transit.​

A team recently deployed to Somaliland to review the response and consider the changing context with our project partner ActionAid, as well as with the government and other humanitarian agencies. The team also joined a distribution of ShelterBox aid with the ActionAid team.​

Syria – Conflict

The ongoing civil war in Syria has left over 13 million people in Syria in need of humanitarian assistance. In 2020, there has been renewed air-strikes and artillery incursions focused on the last rebel stronghold, Idlib. This has resulted in additional mass displacement of civilians fleeing from the violence in Idlib. A ceasefire has been in place since early March, which is currently still holding.​ Since 1st Dec 2019, it is reported that 950,000 people have been displaced.​

ShelterBox has helped over 50,000 families fleeing the conflict and plans are well underway to support a further 4,233 households. Work will continue with our partners, Relief Aid and Bahar Organisation.

Safiya’s Story

We lost our livestock”, said 40-year-old Safiya as she sits next to her temporary house. Speaking to ActionAid, ShelterBox’s implementing partner in Somaliland, she said she had to carry their limp bodies from her home out to a field every time they passed away. The harshest drought to hit the Horn of Africa in two decades has killed off all of her sheep and goats. “Even our donkeys have died”, said Safiya.

Dharyaalay village in the eastern part of the Togdheer region of Somaliland, where Safiya had lived for the past 20 years, suffered from the most extreme drought in recent history. The drought resulted in hundreds of thousands of vulnerable rural communities in Somaliland losing their livelihoods.

We’ve had droughts there in the past, but I don’t remember one as bad as the one that has forced me to become displaced”, said Safiya as she pointed towards her temporary house.

Safiya is living with hundreds of families in a camp for internally displaced people. She said they all agreed that they are used to seeing a shortage or lack of rain, but insist that they have never experienced one as hostile as the one that has killed their livestock and forced them leave their homes.

We have no proper shelter. Until only recently have we been able to build a temporary house out of cartons and plastic bags”, she said.

Safiya has nine children, five daughters and four boys. They find it difficult to sleep in their current shelter. They either sleep outside under the stars, or together inside with no comfort or privacy.

I have no choice, it’s me alone who is the head of the house and takes care of the children”. Her husband passed away four years before, but she gets some help from her relatives. With this help she manages to get the basic necessities of life including water and food. “Sometimes we don’t get enough money to buy batteries for the small torch we use for lighting”, said Safiya.

We had two blankets only and we used to share them. Every night there were disputes as everyone needed a blanket to keep them warm. At times, I did not sleep day and night as my house was not protecting me from the cold and the two blankets were being used by my children. I used to worry whenever the sky collects clouds fearing the rain would smash my temporary house.”

In August 2019, Safiya collected a ShelterBox which contained two tarpaulins, rope, solar lights, mosquito nets, five blankets, a water filter and a kitchen set. Upon collecting the aid item, she said:

This has helped my family a lot in getting light, giving enough blankets, and preventing security risks. Now I don’t have to worry as everyone has a blanket, the whole family can gather in one place and chat each with the help of the solar lights, thank you to those who donated this important kit.”

 

Support families affected by disaster and crisis. Please ………..

EFT: Bendigo Bank: ShelterBox Australia: BSB 633 000: Account no. 166 780 163 (please email sbaoffice@shelterbox.org.au to notify us of your donation and receive your tax receipt).

Cheques can be mailed to: ShelterBox Australia, PO Box 254, Parramatta, NSW, 2124All donations above $2 are fully tax-deductible.

 

 

ShelterBox and Rotary celebrate the power of partnership

Emergency shelter charity ShelterBox is celebrating signing up for another 3 years as Rotary International’s Project Partner in Disaster Relief. For almost 20 years, this unique humanitarian alliance has supported families with a place to call home after disaster.

ShelterBox provides emergency shelters and other essential items to support families who have lost their homes in disaster. Rotary is a global network whose members take action to make a lasting difference in their communities – and worldwide.

Working with Rotary in the Philippines

What began as a local connection with one Cornish Rotary Club has led to an international movement that’s has responded to over 280 disasters in 95+ countries.

First adopted as a millennium project by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard in 2000, the support of Rotary members and clubs around the world saw ShelterBox become Rotary’s Project Partner in Disaster Relief in 2012. Since then, the partnership has helped transform ShelterBox into an internationally recognised disaster relief charity, supporting families with emergency shelter after disaster.

ShelterBox and Rotary in the Philippines

The partnership extends far beyond financial support. Around 1,000 Rotary members are involved in ShelterBox as volunteers, staff or response team members. And clubs worldwide offer valuable, practical assistance to help ShelterBox reach more families fleeing disaster or conflict.

This has recently included support for families in Malawi flooded from their homes by Cyclone Idai and communities in Lombok devastated by the 2018 earthquake and tsunami (quotes and details at the end of this release).

Caroline White, interim Chief Executive at ShelterBox, said: ‘Whenever disaster strikes, Rotary is beside us. From the earliest planning stages to final evaluations, Rotary members help ShelterBox make community contacts, organise logistics, and reach disaster-affected families in remote areas who might otherwise go without.

‘This partnership has helped ShelterBox become who we are today. Our global network of 17 ShelterBox affiliates, who raise funds and awareness worldwide, evolved from Rotary relationships.’

At the Rotary International Convention, Toronto 2017

Speaking about the partnership renewal, General Secretary of Rotary International John Hewko said:

ShelterBox has been Rotary’s Project Partner in Disaster Relief since 2012, and we are excited to renew the partnership for another three years.

Through this project partnership, Rotary members around the globe can collaborate with ShelterBox to support communities in desperate need of emergency temporary shelter and vital supplies following natural disasters. Additionally, Rotary and ShelterBox will continue to expand cooperation efforts through preparedness training and stockpiles of prepositioned aide in disaster-prone regions.’

Rotary club presidents around the world have also commented:

Ace Robin, President of the Mataram Rotary Club, Indonesia, was caught up in the deadly earthquakes that hit Lombok in 2018. Her home survived, but many around her were destroyed. Through an agreement with the government-led response, Ace’s club was central to bringing ShelterBox aid to Indonesia.

Thanks to their support, vulnerable members of the community received vital emergency shelter, including families with elderly relatives, pregnant women or new mothers.

Ace said: ‘Working with ShelterBox taught us a lot – they showed us how to build shelter and select families to help. It also gave us a chance to show what Rotary is to local people.’

Lombok 2018

After floods triggered by Cyclone Idai left tens of thousands homeless in Malawi this March, Rotary members connected ShelterBox with communities in the Blantyre region, helping them understand local needs and culture. Members helped deliver emergency shelter to almost 2,000 families. And ShelterBox supported the Rotary Club of Limbe to join the wider disaster response, enabling the club to deliver food to communities whose entire crops had been destroyed by the floods.

Rotary Club of Limbe President Eric Chinkanda said: ‘It was a great experience to work with ShelterBox. We have not only walked a mile in reaching out to the many Malawians who faced hardship, but we restored confidence in the displaced people that all was not lost!

ShelterBoxes collected by beneficiaries. The delivery lorry can be seen in the back ground.

James Kingston, Club President of the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard, in Cornwall, said: ‘The members of Helston-Lizard Rotary are delighted that Rotary International continues to recognise ShelterBox.

I joined the club a few months before the Millennium Project began, and I’m so pleased we’re still involved. It has been wonderful to see the charity grow into an internationally recognised, professional disaster relief organisation.’

Last year ShelterBox Australia received support from 279 Rotary Clubs throughout Australia

THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIP: SHELTERBOX AND ROTARY EXTENDING OUR PARTNERSHIP IN THE PHILIPPINES

ShelterBox and Rotary International are Project Partners in Disaster Relief. By working together, we are ensuring that no family is left without shelter after disaster. Not only do Rotary and Rotaract clubs around the world support ShelterBox financially, but on many of ShelterBox’s deployments local Rotarians, Rotaractors and Response Teams work closely together at an operational level. Rotarians often have great connections with communities and authorities that can help Response Teams understand the situation and respond better together.

Recently, in the Philippines, ShelterBox and Rotary have taken this partnership to the next level. ShelterBox has responded in the Philippines on twenty-five separate occasions. We are always looking for ways to innovate and improve our responses. One way to innovate our responses in the Philippines was to set up ShelterBox Operations Philippines as an in-country organization with aid stored locally so that we can respond more effectively.

Dave Ray, Horizon’s Lead at ShelterBox said: “Rotary has been involved in the creation of the new agency in the Philippines since way before its actual invention. We have worked with Rotary in all of our responses in the past in the Philippines and so it is a very natural thing for us to go to Rotary and to ask for their advice when we were beginning the process.”

ShelterBox Operations Philippines, a locally registered ShelterBox office was set up with a plan to create a network of local Rotarian Coordinators. In this way, when a disaster hits in the Philippines our response can begin almost immediately.

When Tropical Storm Urduja hit the Philippines it caused flash flooding, landslides and destruction. The Rotary Club of Biliran Island started their response shortly after the storm passed providing food, water, and health kits. They were quickly in contact with the Local Coordinators who “coordinated with HQ Operations and the in-country Response team, who then started the ShelterBox Operations Philippines response”.

The Club also began planning for a Village Project, which would give transitional housing to sixty families. Dindin Morillo, Past President of the Rotary Club of Biliran Island said:

“Although we had already identified the next phase of the response for transitional shelter solutions, ShelterBox’s timely arrival provided emergency shelters and rebuilding tools which we recognized as an immediate solution. Without ShelterBox it would have taken time to find interim shelter solutions.”

As families were sleeping in crowded schools and public buildings, without adequate space, privacy or supplies, having immediate emergency shelter was very important. Fifty-seven families were provided with ShelterBox tents as well as blankets, mosquito nets, solar lights, kitchen sets, tool kits, water carriers and more.

Our Oase tents are specifically designed for use in the Tropics

A further nine-hundred families received ShelterKits to start rebuilding their homes as well as blankets, solar lights, mosquito nets, and water carriers. The Rotary Club of Biliran Island was instrumental in the distribution of this vital aid, as their local knowledge insured ShelterBox could reach the most remote and most vulnerable families.

Enisa with her solar lights

Greg Pastor is the President of the Rotary Club of Biliran Island. Of the partnership between ShelterBox and the Rotary Club of Biliran Island, Greg said:

“ShelterBox’s response to Tropical Storm Urduja sets the bar on the level of relief operations and assistance for affected families. The kind of assistance ShelterBox gave to the affected families prepares us to plan and implement the Rotary Village Project as continuing support for these families. Because of honest and genuine service, ShelterBox and Rotary were able to deliver effective and swift assistance to affected families.”

This response was made more effective because ShelterBox Operations Philippines was in place, so aid was already stored in the Philippines, and we were able to start the response immediately. Dindin Morillo said: “ShelterBox extended help that meets the needs of the people. We Rotarians, especially those on Biliran Island have local knowledge of whom to help, including who to talk to in order to bring the help in a timely manner. Thus, rather than being sucked into bureaucratic processes, working together expedited the help and we are very thankful.”

Dindin Morillo, Anna Dixie, Greg Pastor and Jane Diu at the Almeria Tent Site

Whilst this alone is a great example of how effective the partnership between ShelterBox and Rotary can be, responding immediately to disasters with high quality emergency shelter aid, on this response, we were able to take the partnership one step further.

The Village Project run by the Rotary Club of Biliran Island involved legally procuring land, construction of sixty transitional shelters, hands on training, and legal ownership documentation for families receiving the homes. Families were provided with technical training through TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) to build their homes. In this way, not only will they have a safe place to live, but they also will have accredited training and a certificate which can help them gain employment in construction.

Workers building the Almeria transitional homes which they will live in. 

The Rotary Club of Biliran Island helped secure the land, and provided the funding for the materials. ShelterBox was able to provide the roofing sheets for one of the Rotary Village sites, further strengthening our partnership while helping families recover.

Jane Diu, Dindin Morillo and Stephanie Christensen at the Almeria Rotary Village Site

 

Disaster recovery is a process. When ShelterBox and Rotary work together after disasters, having ShelterBox’s technical expertise, and Rotary’s community connections and knowledge side by side, mean that families are given the best tools and support that they need through each step of the process to recover and rebuild.

ShelterBox is currently busy in the Philippines once again, this time responding to Super Typhoon Mangkhut in Luzon.

 

ShelterBox is a registered charity independent of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation. ShelterBox and Rotary are project partners in disaster relief.

 

ShelterBox and Rotary – inspiring young people to take action

‘Do it!’ – Young people call other young people to join them in humanitarian volunteering with Rotary and ShelterBox

Does charity work appeal to young people? Organisations such as Rotary and ShelterBox may have an adult profile, but the momentum is growing among a younger generation to generate the next big humanitarian wave. Meet four people who enthuse about a youthful future for volunteering.

‘Do it! I would encourage any young person to look further into this.’ That is the rallying cry from Katelyn Winkworth, a young Australian who has recently qualified as a ShelterBox response volunteer, and keenly awaits her first deployment to help families caught up in war or natural disaster.

Aged 23 when she attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards in 2014, Katelyn subsequently set up a Rotaract club in Brisbane with colleagues. Rotaract – literally Rotary in Action – had its roots in American universities and local communities, beginning in North Carolina in 1968. Now it has over 11,000 clubs worldwide and 253,000 members. For young men and women aged 18 to 30, it is badged as ‘a global effort to bring peace and international understanding to the world.’

Katelyn on completion of her pre-deployment training with Shelterbox

Katelyn’s enthusiasm for humanitarian work began with Rotary. ‘My Rotaract Club volunteered to help at a fundraiser for ShelterBox. When I learnt about the work that Rotary and ShelterBox were doing together, I immediately wanted to become further involved. A Rotary mentor passed on the details of an Australian Shelterbox contact, and my journey began.’

‘Humanitarian work can be very specialised and it can feel hard to get involved, but these organisations are well established, with support all around the world. ShelterBox can go into nearly any country, and be assured that there are Rotarians there who will provide invaluable support for their humanitarian work. Both organisations are supportive and provide incredible training opportunities.’  

Does Katelyn feel that enough is done to attract young people to the cause? ‘Bridging the gap between older members and younger members is important! It can be a good idea to support any young person that wishes to come along to Rotary, perhaps dedicating a Rotarian to make a special effort to welcome newcomers.’

Katelyn adds that young people may assume they have to be a lot more experienced or progressed in their career before joining the ShelterBox team or volunteering. But, in fact, a quarter of ShelterBox staff are aged under 30, and two thirds under 40. She thinks visibility is key. ‘For both ShelterBox and Rotary more advertising and promotion is required, as people won’t get involved in things they simply don’t know about! Getting the word out is important.’

‘It’s so important to engage young people’

ShelterBox had its origins in the Rotary movement eighteen years ago, and now is Rotary’s global project partner in Disaster Relief. Rotary clubs have plenty of outreach programmes which support young people. The Rotary Club of Truro Satellite often meets at ShelterBox HQ, and it has had particular success in taking school computer equipment and furniture to the Romanian city of Targoviste.

Cathie Shipwright, Secretary of the Rotary Evolution Club of Truro, says, From a Rotary perspective it has been a hard sell to engage young people in getting involved with a longstanding international service organisation. With the support of Rotary International, we are able to offer a different approach to Rotary membership – with a monthly Saturday morning meeting over coffee and cake. We then get involved with other charities in supporting them with events such as collecting, marshalling etc.’

Rotary clubs have been active in the international eradication of polio, and on the creative side hold art and photography competitions at local schools.

‘I believe in this modern world of technology, instant communication and social media that young people are much more aware of issues locally and internationally, and we have to find ways that allow them to get involved and engaged in an innovative and interesting way. Life for young people is very busy and they find it difficult to commit regularly, but anything that allows them to dip in and out is useful.’

‘With regard to ShelterBox – this is a great example of how Rotary can make things happen. It has become a worldwide phenomenon. The nature of its work I believe appeals to younger people and the chance to work and volunteer with the organisation is a great opportunity.’

‘Both organisations give me an opportunity to help society and people in need, which gives me immense satisfaction.’

Ashish (left) and his Rotaract colleagues were instrumental in ShelterBox’s response to the 2015 Nepal earthquakes

Ashish Chaulagain lives and works in Kathmandu, Nepal, and first became aware of ShelterBox in 2007 at the age of 19. He explains, ‘My home club the Rotaract Club of Kathmandu had helped a ShelterBox deployment in the far western region of Nepal to support families affected by flooding. Later in 2008, when there was another flood in the country, I contacted ShelterBox HQ asking for help. ShelterBox sent a response team of four with 624 ShelterBoxes to the flood affected victims.’

Ashish was also first to notify ShelterBox in 2015 when a massive earthquake struck Nepal. Now a Head of Department at Thames International College in Kathmandu, he has also been a team leader on Rotary’s literacy mission in Nepal, and presented a paper entitled the ‘Call of Youth’ at the World Forum Conference in 2014.

Asish’s connections with ShelterBox continue today, and he is one of the most enthusiastic advocates of attracting young people to humanitarian ethics. He says, ‘ShelterBox is an amazing organisation to work with. I know of only a few organisations that push themselves beyond their boundaries to help people in need, and ShelterBox is one such organisation.’

‘I give most of my free time to Rotary and ShelterBox. Both organisations give me an opportunity to help society and people in need, which in fact gives me immense satisfaction. I have made my family and employers clear on my passion for community service, so it’s easy for me to get time from them and from my other appointments. They are also proud of my involvement.’

Ashish feels he brings the particular skills of communication, cross-cultural adaptability, negotiation, and above all, friendliness. Looking to the future for both Rotary and ShelterBox he sees, ‘More opportunity to involve more youngsters, with the right communication and training and development for them.’

Yanni found working at ShelterBox HQ inspirartional

Yannis Commino, from Newcastle in Australia, is one of ten Interns that ShelterBox has offered training to in the last year. He says, 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.’

‘As I walked through the doors of ShelterBox headquarters, I was greeted by a youthful, vibrant, and enthusiastic team. I was impressed by their morning meetings, as they sit in front of four large television screens analysing the current deployments and tracking global news of the day.’

‘I truly believe this was the beginning of a lifetime of experiences.’

New Generations Service Exchange is a Rotary short-term programme for young university students or young professionals up to age 30, who are interested in humanitarian work. More details here.

All these young people, and thousands more like them, are discovering that working or volunteering in the humanitarian sector is exciting and fulfilling. As Yannis says, ‘This kind of work will enable me to merge my two passions: helping others and exploring new destinations and cultures.’

 

 

ShelterBox and Rotary are project partners for international disaster response. A registered charity, ShelterBox is independent of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.

To find out about volunteering with ShelterBox Australia, please visit:

https://www.shelterboxaustralia.org.au/volunteer-with-us/

 

ShelterBox Team in Kenya Following Severe Floods

‘Access to affected communities is challenging’ – ShelterBox team in Kenya to assess shelter needs after major flooding and a burst dam

Flooding in Kenya has so far claimed 170 lives. Last week a dam in the Rift Valley burst unleashing reservoir waters that careered into two villages killing more than 50 people. ShelterBox is now in Kenya to see if it can help, as an estimated 300,000 people have now been forced from their homes.

Across Kenya heavy rain and landslides have caused over a quarter of a million people to leave their homes. Some in remote communities needed rescuing by helicopter.

A dam burst on a commercial flower farm in Kenya’s Rift Valley has killed more than 50 people in two villages, half of them children. The reservoir, situated on top of a hill 120 miles from Nairobi, gave way a week ago today as nearby residents were sitting down to their evening meals. The deluge swept away powerlines, homes and buildings, including a primary school. The search through mud for bodies is still continuing.

International disaster relief agency ShelterBox is expert in providing emergency shelter for displaced communities, and can supply essential items such as solar lighting where power is down, tools and tarpaulins for rebuilding, and water filtration where there are fears of water-borne disease.

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Rachel Harvey is currently in Nairobi, and says, ‘The rains this year have been heavy and protracted. The cumulative impact on roads and other infrastructure has been severe which makes access to affected communities challenging. Even when the flood waters recede the damage will take time to repair.’   

Two ShelterBox response volunteers flew out to Kenya yesterday to talk to government agencies and the aid community to see whether there is a role for ShelterBox in this ongoing disaster response. Operations Coordinator Jo Arponen says, ‘Initially it seemed the local authorities and the Kenyan Red Cross had enough resources to manage the flooding situation. But now we are hearing that stocks of high quality shelter materials are running low. So our team will be working out what is needed where and how long it might take to get ShelterBox aid into the country. We need to make sure that any aid we send is appropriate and timely.’

ShelterBox has responded in Kenya several times over the years, including in 2010 to flooding in the Turkana region, to widespread drought in 2011/12 when 7,000 tents were supplied, and to help families fleeing conflict in neighbouring countries in 2006 and post-election violence in 2008.

ShelterBox Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

We’ve had a lot of questions and enthusiasm about the news that ShelterBox has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. We are truly honoured to be able to confirm that this is true.
We’ll keep you updated with any further news – the winner is announced in October 2018.

Building Peace

Every minute, more families – just like yours – lose everything in the chaos of conflict. Their homes, their livelihoods, and even family members are brutally snatched away.
When missiles and mortars leave cities in ruins, when troops storm villages, when families fear for their lives – we believe that shelter can cut through the chaos.
Shelter is more than a roof. It is protection from the cold, the rain, the sun, dangerous animals, disease. It is the foundation for life, for family, for community. It’s a space to feel safe, to have privacy, to heal and start the long road to recovery.
Right now, we’re providing aid to families with houses left in tatters by bombs and fighting. We’re helping families caught in some of the world’s most extreme conflict zones, including the Syrian conflict and the Lake Chad Basin, and also in some of the world’s largest refugee camps like Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.
Our work keeps families and communities together, increasing feelings of stability and togetherness during a time of unprecedented global conflict and displacement.
We can’t give back what was lost, but we can provide the tools for families and communities to start their own recovery, promoting stability in the face of such huge trauma.
We can give tents, tarpaulins, ropes and nails and other vital tools to rebuild a home. Solar lights so children can see their parents in the dark night and communities can combat isolation at night. Blankets to keep warm; mosquito nets, water filters and containers to protect from disease; cooking pots to provide meals.
All vitally important when suddenly you have nothing and you need to rebuild your home and your place in the world.

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.

View original post 439 more words

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