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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Response To Devastating Earthquakes Evaluated By ShelterBox

Shelterbox recently returned to Nepal to evaluate its response to the 2015 earthquakes. The team was led by ShelterBox Australia General Manager, Mike Greenslade with the evaluation conducted by Response Team volunteer, Jo Reid (UK) and Head of Training and Development, Nicky Richardson (UK). The team visited sites where ShelterBox aid was distributed, to conduct interviews with beneficiaries and gain a better understanding of the impact the aid we distribute has on affected families.

ShelterBox personel conduct interviews outside a UN-spec tent

SRT members Jo Reid and Nicky Richardson conduct an interview with ShelterBox beneficiaries in Pipaldanda, Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. ©ShelterBox/Mike Greenslade

Bel Bohadur Sapkota is a subsistence farmer from the hillside village of Pipaldanda, in the Sindhupalchowk district, east of Kathmandu. He was inside his house when a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on 25th April 2015. Luckily for Bel, his wife and 3 children were not with him in the house as the walls and ceiling fell in around him. Outside, his twelve year-old daughter held his baby son in her arms as the earth shook for two minutes. Thinking that he would surely die, he lay trapped in the rubble for 3 hrs before being rescued by friends. Bel was lucky to escape with his life. Many others in Pipaldanda were not so lucky. The earthquake left several dead and many more injured as every house was either completely destroyed or critically damaged.

Bel spent two days in hospital, as his wife and children shared a communal shelter with a hundred others. After two weeks, his family received a UN-spec tent from ShelterBox. Working in conjunction with the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS), ShelterBox distributed 384 UN-spec tents in Pipaldanda, one for each family.

Bel said,

“It was very marvellous (to receive the tent) as no other help was there. We feel safe in the tent, there have been many aftershocks and I am concerned for my family”.

Bel Bohadur Sapkota (34yrs) received an IRFC tent from ShelterBox in conjunction with the NRCS following the earthquake.

Bel Bohadur Sapkota (34yrs) received an IRFC tent from ShelterBox in conjunction with the NRCS following the earthquake. ©ShelterBox/Mike Greenslade

So concerned is Bel after his lucky escape that he has taken out a Rs 6 million loan (around US$6,000) to construct a concrete and brick house, built to government specifications. Whilst government grants may be forthcoming in the future, Bel has taken a big financial risk to protect his family. With no salary to repay the loan he may have to sell some the land he farms to service the loan. Tellingly, Bel’s is the only new house under construction in the village at present.

Elsewhere, in Sindhupalchowk District, ShelterBox worked with the NRCS to distribute Shelter Repair Kits. Each kit consists of 2 6 x 4m reinforced tarpaulins and a tool kit that includes a shovel, hoe, hammer, saw, pliers and tin snips, 15m of nylon rope, tie wire and a variety of nails. The kits enable families to construct temporary shelters or repair damaged homes.

Lab Bahadu Khadka (60yrs) is a retired government employee from the rural village of Yamuna Danda. Lab’s house was a traditional 3-storey house built from stone, mud and timber. It was completely destroyed by the earthquake. Utilising elements of the Shelter Kit, Lab has constructed a variety of shelters to house his family, store food and protect his livestock. Lab said,

“The items were very useful in clearing rubble and building the shelters along with materials what I could save from my old house”.

 Lab is using his savings to fund building a single-storey transitional shelter, with a low, stone and mud wall and a wooden frame. The window frames are recycled from his old house and the timber milled from the family’s own trees. The house will be finished before the monsoon season arrives and will provide a safe dwelling for his elderly mother. In the future, when finance permits, Lab plans to build an earthquake-proof house. The memory of last April’s disaster looms large in everyone’s mind.

Image of Lab and his wife in front of their new home (under construction)

Lab Bahadu Khadka (60 yrs) and his wife are using their saving to build a transitional shelter, primarily for his elderly mother. ©ShelterBox/Mike Greenslade

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.

ShelterBox helps to plan HRH Prince Harry’s Royal visit to Nepal

round table meeting with HRH Prince Harry and his aides

 

ShelterBox has met HRH Prince Harry twice in the last year, once in New Zealand last May and again at the Royal Film Performance in London, last October. With its long experience of responding to Nepal’s earthquakes, little surprise that ShelterBox was invited to help plan the Royal tour.

HRH Prince Harry of Wales is visiting Nepal for the first time, undertaking a tour until Wednesday 23rd March. Nepal suffered two major earthquakes in April and May 2015. Prince Harry’s website says, ‘He has a huge amount of admiration for the resilience of the people of the country, particularly in response to the earthquakes last year.  During the visit he will learn how the country has been recovering over the last twelve months.’

This is an official visit on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, marking the bicentenary of bilateral relations between the two countries.

Cornwall-based ShelterBox, a disaster relief agency specialising in emergency shelter after natural disasters, responded to the quakes with months of aid provision and partnership working. Their teams took tools, repair kits, tents and school materials to many sites across Nepal.

In May 2015 ShelterBox also formed an alliance with Royal Gurkha Rifles Light Role Battalion to provide aid to very remote mountain communities. On Tuesday Prince Harry will be introduced to the home of the Brigade of Gurkhas, saluting the extraordinary bravery and commitment they have shown over 200 years. HRH served with the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles during his tour of Afghanistan in 2007-8, observing, ‘When you know you’re with the Gurkhas, there’s no safer place to be.’

Soldiers form the Royal Gurkha Rifles help to distribute ShelterBox aid in Phataksila, Nepal.

Soldiers form the Royal Gurkha Rifles help to distribute ShelterBox aid in Phataksila, Nepal.

ShelterBox was very honoured to be invited by Prince Harry’s aides to a recent meeting at Kensington Palace to help plan the current Royal Tour of Nepal.

Operations Team Lead Andrew Clark attended, as one of ShelterBox’s in country co-ordinators during the charity’s response to the earthquakes. Andrew is a former Parachute Regiment army officer, and his previous roles have included Chief of Operations during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He has also worked as a Defence Consultant advising NATO and mentored Afghan National Security Forces on missions in Helmand Province.

ShelterBox’s Interim Chief Executive Chris Warham says, ‘It was a great honour for ShelterBox to be called on to advise on this Royal Tour, and for our experience in Nepal to be recognised at this level. Last year ShelterBox was invited to benefit from the proceeds of the Royal Film Performance as a result of our role in helping the Nepalese people to recover from last year’s tragic events. Andrew and his response team colleagues are very experienced in this area, and it is a great credit to ShelterBox to be able to share that experience with Royal aides.’

Last May HRH Prince Harry also met one of ShelterBox’s response team volunteers, Jimmy Griffith. This was at the New Zealand Governor General’s reception in Aukland’s Government House, part of a week-long Royal visit following Prince Harry’s month’s training with the Australian armed forces. It followed ShelterBox’s response to Cyclone Pam which devastated the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. 

In Nepal Prince Harry will highlight the importance of conservation-based tourism in Nepal, and towards the end of his visit will learn about Nepal’s future through its young people and the challenges and opportunities they will experience in the years to come. Alongside its shelter-based aid, ShelterBox also distributed School Boxes to Nepal’s orphanages, each containing education equipment for fifty pupils. A tent was also given to a local children’s art therapy organisation creating a safe, friendly resource where children could overcome the trauma of the earthquakes.

At the end of the tour on Wednesday, HRH will visit the Kanti Children’s Hospital in Kathmandu, where he will meet child patients who were injured in accidents at camps for families displaced by the 2015 earthquakes. In April 2015 the immediate use for ShelterBox tents already stored in Kathmandu was as outdoor clinical space for damaged hospitals.

The tour will end with a reception at the UK Embassy in Kathmandu, hosted by H.E. Ambassador Richard Morris.

Learn more about ShelterBox at: www.shelterboxaustralia.org.au

Truckloads Of Tarps Arrive As ShelterBox Continues Its Aid Push In Rain-Swept Nepal

Nepalese villager help unload a truck of Shelterbox aid

Local volunteers assist in delivering ShelterBox aid to the people of Pipaldanda in Nepal

 

Intense rainfall, flash flooding, landslides, and difficult  traveling conditions. Nepal, devastated by two major earthquakes, is suddenly in the grip of its monsoon season. But international disaster relief charity, ShelterBox, in the latest phase of a response that is now into its third month, is on the way with urgently needed equipment to help communities shelter and rebuild.

ShelterBox’s team in Nepal has just taken delivery of three truckloads of aid that have made the long overland journey from Delhi in India. The 12,000 waterproof tarpaulins are now safely stored in a Kathmandu warehouse operated by partner organisation, the Agency for Technical Co-operation and Development (ACTED).

A further shipment of 2,500 tarps has arrived by air from ShelterBox stock in Dubai, and is now bound for the rural district of Sindhupalchok, close to the epicentre of the first earthquake.

This is the latest phase in ShelterBox’s response to the two Nepal earthquakes. ShelterBox volunteers have now been in-country continuously since 27 April. The earliest distributions were of prepositioned stocks of ShelterBoxes used to create clinical space for damaged hospitals.

Subsequently ShelterBox distributed thousands of shelter kits to high altitude communities – including some deliveries made in partnership with the Royal Gurkha Rifles – and of UN specification tents. And, more recently, orphanages across the Kathmandu Valley received school equipment in SchoolBoxes, as part of a joint project with the local Rotary Club of Bhadgaon.

So far an estimated 15,000 people have received ShelterBox aid. Now, with three months of monsoon downpours underway, waterproof tarps are in great demand.

ShelterBox’s In-Country Coordinator Toby Ash says, ‘The needs we are meeting are many, various and constantly changing. We also have to work within Nepal’s own rules and import restrictions, and have to be patient with bureaucracy and paperwork. So our team welcomes these latest consignments of practical and highly portable aid, and we’re discussing with partners how best to get them to the remote communities who need them most.’

In the longer term ShelterBox is talking to ACTED about ways to reach areas of Nepal that have not yet received assistance, and a possible future project to create quake-resistant dwellings.

Toby adds, ‘As is so often the case, even though a humanitarian disaster has slipped from the headlines, there is still plenty of aid work to be done. In Nepal ShelterBox remains focused on helping people who are living in poor conditions with inadequate shelter.’

You can support the work of ShelterBox by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

 

Video: Keeping crucial medical care going in Nepal

A patient at a medical facility in one of the mountainous regions north of Kathmandu (Liam Arthur/ShelterBox)

A patient at a medical facility in one of the mountainous regions north of Kathmandu (Liam Arthur/ShelterBox)

When the earthquakes shook Nepal earlier this year, it wasn’t only homes that were wrecked, but vital resources like hospitals and clinics too.
Shortly after the second earthquake took place, ShelterBox response team members Nicola Hinds (UK) and Mike Peachey (NZ) travelled to a small community near Trisuli, north of Kathmandu to assist medical staff at the Kharanitaar Primary Health Post.
The clinic, which is the one of the major facilities in the incredibly mountainous region of Nepal, was left badly damaged after the earthquake. Cracks in the walls had weakened the buildings so much that they were no longer safe to use.
While the clinic had been provided with tents to use as an operating theatre and a birthing centre, there was nowhere for the medical staff to sleep.
As Nicola explains in this video, providing a ShelterBox tent, which gave the staff a safe place to stay overnight was incredibly important: ‘A lot of people will be relying on this centre for healthcare and medical staff have to stay here whenever they have in-patients, so they need somewhere to sleep.’

Video: ‘Partnerships Are Key In Delivering Aid’

Toma Dursina from aid agency ACTED, which ShelterBox has been partnering with while responding to the Nepal earthquakes

Toma Dursina from aid agency ACTED, which ShelterBox has been partnering with while responding to the Nepal earthquakes

 

During our response to the earthquakes and subsequent tremors that first hit Nepal almost two months ago, we have been working with other aid agencies to make sure that we reach as many people as possible.
Working in partnership with other organisations means that we have been not only able to coordinate our efforts in making sure that communities don’t get missed out, but we’ve also been able to physically reach more places too.
In this video, Toma Dursina, who is a leading a team in Nepal for the French organisation ACTED (the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development), describes the challenges of delivering aid to remote, high altitude regions when roads and routes have frequently been cut off by landslides.
Toma goes on to explain the importance of working in partnership with other organisations to deliver the right type of aid efficiently and as fast as possible. He goes on to say that the partnership with ShelterBox has been one of ACTED’s most successful during the response to the Nepal earthquakes. Together we have managed to bring shelter to 10,000 people who have lost their homes.

ShelterBox is continuing to work with ACTED in Nepal as the start of the monsoon season makes the need for shelter even more urgent. We are currently in the process of transporting 14,500 tarpaulins which will be distributed along with materials, such as corrugated iron, so that people can create temporary shelters and make repairs on damaged buildings too.

You can help by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

SchoolBoxes Provide A Sense Of Normality For Children In Nepal

A child ponders what to write after being given a ShelterBox activity pack. (Torstein Neilsen/ShelterBox)

A child ponders what to write after being given a ShelterBox activity pack. (Torstein Neilsen/ShelterBox)

 

Since the first powerful earthquake hit Nepal in late April, our ShelterBox response teams have found innovative ways to use our aid to support people whose lives have been turned upside down.
Our tents were not only given to families that had lost their homes, but also to hospitals and therapy centres to provide space for people who had been hurt either physically or emotionally by the quakes. We also provided shelter kits to people whose homes needed repairing and now, our teams have been working with a local Rotary club to distribute SchoolBoxes, containing classroom materials, to orphanages in the Kathmandu Valley.
During the response in Nepal, ShelterBox has teamed up with several different organisations, such as the Armed Police Force, theRoyal Gurkha Rifles and other aid agencies, to make sure that we reach as many people in need as possible. Most recently, we have been working with the Rotary Club of Bhadgaon, based in the Kathmandu Valley. The club, which is less than a year old, has taken on the project of supporting more than 200 orphanages across the Kathmandu Valley, which has become even more urgent following the earthquakes.
Children at an orphanage in the Kathmandu Valley receive ShelterBox school supplies (Torstein Neilsen/ShelterBox)

Children at an orphanage in the Kathmandu Valley receive ShelterBox school supplies (Torstein Neilsen/ShelterBox)

Each orphanage looks after between 25 and 50 children, some of whom arrive when they are as young as a few days old and can remain until the age of 18. Many of the orphanage buildings have been damaged as a result of the earthquakes, with cracks in the walls and floors visible in the structure.
The Rotary Club brought in psychiatrists to help children who have been traumatised by the earthquakes and ongoing aftershocks. In addition, a ShelterBox response team, made up of Tim Osburn (US), Jimmy Griffith (NZ), Torstein Neilsen (NOR) and Jessica Kim (CAN) helped to source and deliver SchoolBoxes containing enough school materials for 450 children.
SchoolBoxes contain educational resources for teachers and 50 children

SchoolBoxes contain educational resources for teachers and 50 children

Each box includes supplies for teachers, such as blackboard paint, chalk and solar radios, along with activity packs for children that contain materials, such as notebooks and coloured pencils, to not only help children to continue their studies, but to play and express themselves too.
Response team member Jimmy Griffiths said: ‘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.’

Rotary International Convention 2015, Sao Paula

Rotary International logoShelterBox had a strong presence at the Rotary International Convention, held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. ShelterBox HQ staff, affiliate and Response Team volunteers were on hand to answer questions from Rotarians from around the world.

Throughout the weekend, a video was played to demonstrate the relationship between ShelterBox and Rotary and how the partnership has helped to reach and shelter people following the Nepal earthquakes. You can watch it here: