ShelterBox provided aid for 478 families

Eyewitness Account of ShelterBox Aid In The Philippines

Thousands of people attended the recent ‘Eats & Beats’ festival organised by Logan City Council in SE Queensland. The festival brought together people from the local community to sample delicious street food from around the world whilst being entertained by a succession of local musical talent.

Thousands attended the 'Eats & Beats' Festival in Logan City

Thousands attended the ‘Eats & Beats’ Festival in Logan City ©MikeGreenslade/ShelterBox

 

Thanks to members of the Rotary Clubs of Beenleigh, Loganholme and Logan, ShelterBox was present, showing festival goers the type of aid we have distributed around the world to those left homeless by disaster. Members of the public showed great interest our substantial relief tent and the other essential items included in a ShelterBox, especially the ‘Luminaid’ solar light.

ShelterBox had a prime position just inside the entrance to the festival .... and opposite the ATM!

ShelterBox had a prime position just inside the entrance to the festival …. and opposite the ATM!

 

At such events, it’s not unusual to find people who are familiar with the work of ShelterBox but it’s rare to find people who have come across our work firsthand. Melanie and Anthony Roberts were on a relief trip to Bohol in the Philippines, following the earthquake of October 2013, delivering aid to family members and their community. ShelterBox had deployed to area immediately after the earthquake, distributing a total of 20 ShelterBox midi tents, 214 disaster relief tents and 214 ShelterBoxes, helping 478 families.

The destruction in Bohol left many families homeless

The destruction in Bohol left many families homeless ©MelanieRoberts

 

Melanie said, ”

We visited the small town of Tubigon, Bohol and saw the destruction both these events caused. I was so impressed with the ShelterBox tents at the time, that I took many pictures while I was there to show everyone back here in Australia. It was amazing to see these “instant Cities” pop up along the main highway and beside the town cemetery where people were able to go and seek refuge.”

ShelterBox provided aid for 478 families

ShelterBox provided aid for 478 families ©MelanieRoberts

 

Melanie and her husband, Anthony praised “the resilience of the Filipino people and the warmth they gave back to all the people that came to help them in their time of need. Such a humbling experience” and commended ShelterBox for our “invaluable relief work“.

Our thanks go to Melanie and Anthony for sharing their story and photos with us. It shows that we can make a real difference to people’s lives.

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Helping Communities Survive The Next Storm In The Philippines

 

Recipients of a shelter from our project with Handicap International (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

Recipients of a shelter from our project with Handicap International (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

‘After surviving Typhoon Haiyan, we had to cope with three more typhoons. But now that we have moved into our new shelter, I know my family is finally safe.’ These are the words of Anna Lisa Calvadores, a young mother who lives in small, tight knit community on an exposed hillside in Eastern Samar in the Philippines. 
Toby Ash who is the Philippines country coordinator for ShelterBox, recently met some of the people who are involved with ShelterBox’s projects to create resilient ‘transitional’ shelters in the country following the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan.
For more than a year, Anna Lisa and her family lived in a tiny, makeshift shelter cobbled together from tarpaulins and materials salvaged from her old home, which was completely destroyed when Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the country in November 2013.

The typhoon was one of the strongest storms ever recorded and destroyed not only homes and buildings, but people’s livelihoods too, leaving them without the income to start rebuilding. She and other vulnerable families are now moving into safe, resilient shelters being built by ShelterBox and our project partners across areas hardest hit by the disaster.

Anna Lisa Calvadores, who has recieved a new 'transitional shelter' as part of one of ShelterBox's projects in the Philippines. (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

Anna Lisa Calvadores, who has received a new ‘transitional shelter’ as part of one of ShelterBox’s projects in the Philippines. (Toby Ash/ShelterBox)

The generosity of our donors following the extraordinary scale of destruction wrought by Haiyan has enabled us to continue our assistance to those who lost their homes. Working in partnership with four larger international aid agencies, ACTED, Handicap International, Islamic Relief and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), we are constructing almost 1,700 ‘transitional’ shelters, made largely from locally sourced materials. We are working in Eastern Samar, where Haiyan first hit landfall, in Leyte, close to the devastated city of Tacloban, and on the island of Bantayan.
In addition to the creation of the shelters themselves, the projects promote a wider understanding of how communities can best protect themselves in the future by passing on, and training carpenters in, techniques to rebuild safer shelters. In this way, communities are taking an active role in the recovery process and helping themselves to become more resilient to future disasters.
One such carpenter is 50 year old Nilo Visto, from the municipality of Alang Alang in northern Leyte, who underwent 15 days of training as part of the project we are carrying out with our implementing partner ACTED. He now has a certificate from the Philippines’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) after demonstrating his knowledge of safe building practices. Since graduation, Nilo has helped construct 20 strong shelters for us in his village. With his newfound skills, Nilo believes that he will be able to find more regular work to help support his family and also be able to assist his neighbours rebuild safely.
Nilo Visto, who now has a certificate in safe building practices as part of  the project ShelterBox is carrying out with our implementing partner ACTED.  (ACTED/ShelterBox)

Nilo Visto, who now has a certificate in safe building practices as part of the project ShelterBox is carrying out with our implementing partner ACTED. (ACTED/ShelterBox)

The shelter projects we are supporting target the most vulnerable of society – often the elderly, physically challenged and families who have limited capacity to recover on their own. Other members of the community are often happy to help out with the construction work even though they will not be beneficiaries themselves. In Anna Lisa’s village, where we are supporting the work of CRS, we found a large group of residents busy making gravel from large boulders, which will be used in the foundations.
The projects we are undertaking also engage the wider community in build back safer awareness activities, from catchy build back safer songs to house-to-house visits. These activities clearly paid dividends in December last year when Typhoon Hagupit struck areas we are working in. This time they were far better prepared, with many households tying down their shelters and reinforcing their roofs in the hours before the storm hit. None of our newly built shelters sustained any damage.
The reality of climate change is that super typhoons such as Haiyan are no longer one off events. So far this year, the Philippines has already endured three powerful typhoons. Our continued engagement is helping to ensure they are better able to withstand extreme weather events in the future, minimising not only the future risk to life, but also the need for us to return with emergency aid in the years to come.

Assessing The Damage Caused By Typhoon Hagupit

Messages of help line the roads in Eastern Samar in the Philippines where Typhoon Hagupit first made landfall. Image courtesy of Liam Norris.

Messages of help line the roads in Eastern Samar in the Philippines where Typhoon Hagupit first made landfall. Image courtesy of Liam Norris.

 

As our ShelterBox Response Team volunteers continue to assess the damage caused by Typhoon Hagupit, which hit the Philippines earlier this month, they describe how much the island of Samar has changed in just a few weeks.
The evidence of Typhoon Hagupit, known locally as Typhoon Ruby, is clear to see in Eastern Samar, where a team made up of John Cordell (US), Richard Innes (UK), Richard Loat (CAN), Liam Norris (UK), Mike Peachey (NZ) and Brian Glenn (US) has been assessing the need for shelter.
Samar Island is among the Visayas, in the central Philippines. It is divided into three provinces, Samar province, Northern Samar, and Eastern Samar.
While many of the people residing in Eastern Samar were fortunate enough not to have felt the full force of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines last year, they knew of the devastation it caused and were prepared when Hagupit made its way towards the country.
More than half a million people were evacuated before the storm hit, which helped to save many lives. Although the evacuation centres were the strongest buildings in each municipality, they were filled to capacity.
Now that the typhoon has passed, people have emerged from the evacuation centres to find that houses have been destroyed, debris covers everything and signs requesting help litter the road leading to the municipality of Dolores, where the typhoon first made landfall.
Infrastructure has been heavily affected too as trees lay fallen over power lines, roads remain partially blocked due to landslides and high levels of water, and flood damage is visible in many places.
Response team member Richard Loat unloads a delivery of tarpaulins, which will be used to create shelters and repair structures, in Eastern Samar in the Philippines. Image courtesy of Liam Norris.

Response team member Richard Loat unloads a delivery of tarpaulins, which will be used to create shelters and repair structures, in Eastern Samar in the Philippines. Image courtesy of Liam Norris.

 

The team has assessed that the need for shelter and aid along the island’s coast is everywhere. From coastal villages damaged by storm surges and flood water, to inland areas where coconut trees, the main source of income, had been flattened.
Michael Adlao, district captain in the coastal area of Mababang, lives in an area where more than 80% of his community relies on coconut trees for their livelihoods. When he met our team, he explained that not only was their evacuation centre badly damaged but that none of their coconut groves were left standing. It will take around 20 years to re-establish a crop large enough to feed the whole community, and in some ways it will take a whole generation to recover from the legacy of Typhoon Hagupit.
The team has identified that there is not only a need for immediate shelter, but tools to help rebuild homes and livelihoods. Therefore, they will be working with aid organisation Plan International to distribute tarpaulins to families, which can be used to create temporary shelters and to waterproof existing structures.
2,000 tarpaulins are en route to Eastern Samar and will be distributed throughout the rest of the week.

Typhoon Hagupit – ShelterBox Response Underway

Satellite image of Typhoon Hagupit ©EUMETSAT 2014

Satellite image of Typhoon Hagupit ©EUMETSAT 2014

 

ShelterBox’s Toby Ash reports back to the international disaster relief agency on the initial impact of the Philippines’ latest tropical storm. He describes last Tuesday as ‘The day Tacloban stopped smiling’. 

Toby Ash is ShelterBox’s Country Co-ordinator in the Philippines, overseeing projects to help make these island communities more resilient to their violent climate.

Toby has just reported back to ShelterBox’s UK base on the initial impact of Typhoon Hagupit, saying that some areas are expected to receive up to half a metre of rain over the next two days, making flooding and landslides inevitable.

He says, ‘Tacloban, where 6,000 died during Haiyan, has been spared the worst of the typhoon and many of the tens of thousands who evacuated are now returning home. However, there is no power in the city, and unlikely to be for the next few days.’

Toby has been working in partnership for much of 2014 with other aid agencies, and with local Rotary clubs. ‘Currently I am trying to gauge the impact of the storm using the partners we have on the ground. The Rotary Club of Legazpi will be reporting back in the next 24 hours on the damage levels there, and we are also trying to contact Rotary on the island of Masbate. We are also working with our project partners who will be carrying our rapid assessments in E and N Samar over the next 24-48 hours.’

Typhoon Hagupit, known locally as Ruby, made landfall in North Samar around 18 hours ago. It has been moving very slowly across the central part of country, with wind speeds peaking at 130mph. The centre of the typhoon is now over the island of Masbate and the city of Lagazpi in Albay province.

Toby has heard no reports of loss of life, but says that communications are cut off in many areas. He warns, ‘A storm surge of 4-6 metres is expected tonight in Legazpi, which has a population of 200,000 and where we deployed aid in July after Typhoon Ramassun (Glenda).’

About half a million people were evacuated from coastal areas across the country, and Toby himself relocated from Tacloban before the storm hit. He has worked in the Philippiness for many months now, and says, ‘Filipinos are some of the happiest and smiliest people you will ever meet. But when news of the impending storm came through, everything changed. I was in the city of Tacloban, and last Tuesday was the day the city stopped smiling. Residents began packing up their possessions and started to leave the city or head for evacuation centres away from the seashore.’

‘Buildings and homes were boarded up and long queues formed at shops as people stocked up on essential provisions. As I left the city at dawn on Friday, I passed long candle lit processions, with priests leading the prayers that the storm would pass them by.’

Typhoon Hagupit’s house-wrecking winds have downed power lines, mobile phone masts and other communications. But it is a relatively slow-moving storm, and may take a further 48 hours to clear the archipelago.

The people of these storm-ravaged islands are used to response teams from ShelterBox being at their side. Since an earthquake in Bohol in October 2013, through the horror of Typhoon Haiyan in November, and then Typhoon Rammasun this summer, and on into partnership projects aimed at building more storm-proof shelters, ShelterBox has had a continual presence in the Philippines for over 15 months. Once Typhoon Hagupit has done its worst, there is little doubt that ShelterBox teams will still be needed well into 2015.

As soon as meteorologists warned that another super-typhoon was poised in the Pacific ShelterBox marshalled its resources. It has prepositioned stock already in country at Clark Freeport – around 1,000 tents and 400 ShelterBoxes, and a further 50 ShelterBoxes and 2,555 tarps already imported.

A ShelterBox response team is now en route to support Country Co-ordinator Toby Ash.  ‘We are working with partners on the ground to assess the damage over the next 24 to 48 hours. A response team will be in the country by Tuesday ready to distribute our aid as required.’

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ShelterBox On Standby As Typhoon Hagupit Sets A Course For The Philippines

Image by NRL Marine Meterology Division [Public domain]

Image by NRL Marine Meterology Division [Public domain]

Little more than a year after Typhoon Haiyan caused devastation across the Philippines, Typhoon Hagupit is on course to reach the country at the end of the week.
The tropical storm, which has now been reclassified as a super typhoon, is intensifying as it travels across water and is expected to reach speeds of more than 200 miles per hour by the time it makes landfall.
Officials are predicting that Hagupit could follow the same trajectory as Haiyan, which could affect people that are still living in tents and temporary shelters following last year’s typhoon.
ShelterBox’s in-country team is liaising with the operations team in the UK to monitor the severity of the typhoon and decide whether a response will be needed. If so, the team will be able to distribute supplies, including ShelterBoxes and tarpaulins, that have been prepositioned at Clark International Airport in the Philippines.
ShelterBox has continued working in the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan first hit in November 2013.
In the first few months of 2014, we had sent more than 100 response volunteers to deliver aid to communities devastated by Haiyan and our commitment to people in the Philippines has continued throughout the year with the launch of four projects to deliver ‘core transitional’ shelters – resilient temporary structures that allow people to move on from living in emergency shelter.
Read more about ShelterBox’s continuing work in the Philippines to help people rebuild their homes and their lives.

‘Rice, Sugar and Salt’ – Lessons learned from seven months in the Philippines.

Typhoon Haiyan Remembered

 

Toby Ash is the Philippines country coordinator for ShelterBox and has, along with our four project partners, been working to help construct almost 1,700 shelters for families affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which struck one year ago this week. In this personal reflection from Toby we hear about the difference ShelterBox is making in the region thanks to the support of our donors from around the world. 

‘When are you moving in?’ I asked a beneficiary of one of our newly built shelters yesterday. ‘Not until we’ve brought good luck to our new home,’ she replied. ‘The first things we bring in are containers of sugar, rice and salt. Then we will plant a Kalipayan (‘happiness’) tree by the foundations. Only then can we move in’.

So, yesterday was much like every other day of the last seven months I have spent here in the Philippines – it was a day of learning. I arrived here at the tail end of the emergency phase, some five months after Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the country leaving more than 6,000 dead and a million homes destroyed. By April the basic needs of those affected had been largely met – most had access to some basic shelter to protect them from the elements. But travelling through the great swathe of the country that was affected, it was clear that the future of many of the Haiyan’s survivors remained precarious – the road to recovery would be long and difficult, and many would not be able to get there without further assistance.

ShelterBox was one of the leading international shelter agencies that responded to the typhoon last November. Over the course of more than five months we helped almost 7,000 households with more than 100 ShelterBox response team members distributing boxes, tents, shelter kits, solar lamps, water purification systems and other desperately needed equipment.

In many disasters, the provision of a tent and other household items are all that is required for those affected to start rebuilding their lives. But the scale of the damage wrought by Haiyan has made the process of recovery much more difficult. The typhoon destroyed millions of coconut trees, rice fields and thousands of fishing boats, leaving those who depend on them for their living without any income. And with no income there can be no rebuilding. Even those able to eke out a living are faced with the stark choice of having to put food on the table and sending their children to school or buying building materials. Then, of course there are society’s most vulnerable. How does a frail, elderly woman rebuild her home by herself?

 

Philippines country coordinator, Toby Ash (pictured center) in the Philippines

Philippines country coordinator, Toby Ash (pictured center) in the Philippines

 

Once the frenzy of the emergency phase had calmed, we began to look at how we might be able to continue our assistance to help these survivors recover from this devastating and traumatic event. I travelled extensively across the typhoon hit areas in a bid to better understand the needs of those affected and to look at how we could assist the most vulnerable, building on our legacy from the emergency stage.

Given our limited operational resources in the country, a key goal has been to identify project partners to help us continue with our work. The initial ground work on this was done by Sam Hewett, one of our operational co-ordinators who oversaw the emergency response in the early part of the year. Myself and Jo Reid, our projects consultant at HQ, followed a strict and rigorous criteria for selecting our partners that examined every aspect of their proposals including the nature of the shelter project, its location, the partner’s track record and the likely speed of completion.

Over the course of the summer we signed partnership agreements with four large international aid organisations – ACTED, Handicap International, Islamic Relief and Catholic Relief Services. In total we will be building almost 1,700 transitional shelters built mainly of locally sourced materials in four separate locations badly affected by the typhoon. Although not permanent, they are designed and built to be resilient. Each will meet the ‘build back safer’ guidelines as recommended by the International Federation of the Red Cross’ (IRFC’s) shelter technical team here.

But in many ways these projects are bigger than the individual shelters themselves. We are working with our partners to create shelters that can serve as exemplars of safe building practice in the communities they are built in over the coming months and years. Moreover, we are directly training carpenters and engaging the wide community in safer building practices, with the goal of leaving them better prepared for natural disasters in the future.

I have been a ShelterBox response team member for six years now and have delivered ShelterBoxes to many far flung places across the world. The last few months has been a different ShelterBox experience, but one that has been equally rewarding. Last week we handed over a specially adapted shelter to Conchita Suamer, a frail 89 year old woman, that will allow her to live in dignity after months in a tiny shack cobbled together from rusty lengths of corrugated iron. At this stage in the disaster, almost a year after the typhoon struck, a tent would be not be the right shelter solution for her. But the shelter we have built for her and her family is.

ShelterBox’s response to the calamity that hit this part of the Philippines last year, has been its most complicated and multi-faceted to date. Institutionally it has been a learning process, but one which will hold us in good stead in tackling the complex shelter issues that will invariably be thrown our way in the future. And what I have learnt? Many, many things but first and foremost, what a wonderful country the Philippines is and how warm-natured and resilient its people are. And of course to have a container of rice, sugar and salt in my home, and a ‘happiness’ tree planted close to its foundations.

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Typhoon Haiyan Remembered – Partnerships & Innovation

Typhoon Haiyan RememberedWhen Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines almost a year ago, experts called it ‘a true one hundred year event.’ As other charities and the world’s media descended upon Tacloban, ShelterBox concentrated its efforts upon trying to reach the more remote islands, assisting families whose livelihoods had been destroyed by the storm and for whom there seemed little hope of help. 

As has been the case in the past, offers of assistance for logistics began to trickle in to ShelterBox’s operation team and before long the offer of freight from Dubai to the Philippines was made to the team. Upon consultation and examination of the situation, ShelterBox’s logistics experts decided that sending tents would be the more effective first response aid, which was then followed by ShelterBoxes and other aid items. Several teams were deployed at once and soon ShelterBox had established a vast network of response teams operating across several islands working to get aid to families as fast as was possible under the challenging conditions.

As the momentum of ShelterBox’s response grew, and as a result of our donors overwhelming support, we took great pride in reporting stories of beneficiaries moving into ShelterBox tents. However it quickly became clear to us that a longer-term commitment was needed to fully accomplish what donors had entrusted us to achieve.

After around three months the need for tents for emergency shelter in the region was diminishing, but there remained a need for humanitarian assistance for these communities left still reeling from the devastation of the disaster.

Families move into their new homes in the Philippines Photo: Toby Ash/ShelterBox.

Families move into their new homes in the Philippines Photo: Toby Ash/ShelterBox.

 

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have maintained our commitment to the Philippines and are extending the type of help we are able to offer these communities. As we strive to develop into a global leader in shelter provision, we are embracing new ways of responding to the needs of communities affected by disasters. And so it was that alongside tents, ShelterBox response teams also began to distribute Shelter Repair Kits containing tools, tarpaulins and fixings to help beneficiaries begin the process of rebuilding their homes.

Working in collaboration 

ShelterBox recognises that shelter is a process, not a product. So we began to investigate opportunities to collaborate with partners in the Philippines who could help us continue our commitment to helping families affected by Haiyan, several months after the Typhoon had first struck.

After a careful assessment process, we entered into four project partnerships with leading international agencies including ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development), Handicap International, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) which will lead to the construction of nearly 1,700 ‘core transitional’ shelters.

Designed to house a single family, the shelters are being constructed using locally sourced materials, wherever possible, in areas that were in the path of Typhoon Haiyan: in Eastern Samar, where the typhoon first made landfall; in northern Leyte, close to the devastated city of Tacloban; and on the island of Bantayan, in northern Cebu. In each community, a rigorous beneficiary selection process has ensured that we prioritise the most vulnerable.

This will not only provide more than 8,000 vulnerable people with a safe, durable home but will also help to train the wider community in how to ‘build back safer’ as the shelters are designed to withstand further storms. The overall goal being to develop resilience in the region to future disasters.

‘How could we turn our backs when there is so much still to do to help these families rebuild their lives and their homes?’ said ShelterBox Chief Executive Alison Wallace. ‘Our generous donors have given ShelterBox the resources and the mandate to continue, so we are responding by adapting the practical help we offer.’

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan we thank everyone who donated to our appeal and our thoughts are with everyone who was affected by the disaster.

Typhoon Haiyan Remembered

Typhoon Haiyan Remembered

 

It is almost a year since the most powerful storm ever recorded hit the island communities of the Philippines. Thanks to the support of our donors, ShelterBox launched one of its largest responses to date and is still today committed to assisting families that were affected by the storm. Throughout the coming week we will look back on Typhoon Haiyan as we remember the communities in the Philippines that suffered at the violence of the storm, and the communities around the world that rallied together in their support. 

Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on 8 November 2013 claiming 6,200 lives and destroying a million homes. In the five months following the disaster, more than 100 ShelterBox response team volunteers have delivered emergency shelter to help over 7,200 families, including 1,513 ShelterBoxes. We distributed an additional 5,763 tents, but ShelterBox also provided other non-food items including 10,000 solar lights, 870 water filtration systems, 2,300 mosquito nets, 445 tool kits and 30 SchoolBoxes. On the day that Haiyan hit, a tropical storm expert speaking to the BBC said ‘Super Typhoon Haiyan really is a beast. One of the strongest storms ever recorded with sustained winds of 190 mph, gusting even higher.’

Prepositioned stock 

ShelterBox had already been responding to an earthquake in northern Bohol when the storm struck the region. Mark Dyer from the US and Paul Crudgington from the UK were two of the ShelterBox response team volunteers who sought shelter from the storm and who leapt into action once it had passed.

It was thanks to donors who had funded ShelterBox’s practice of prepositioning aid in key locations around the world that Paul and Mark, and later other additional response team members, were able to quickly release vitally needed aid from the former US air base at Clark on Luzon Island. Working with the operations team based in the UK, response teams sprang into action assessing where the need would be greatest. ShelterBox decided to focus its efforts on the areas that no other aid agencies had yet assisted, an approach which soon led the response teams to Bantayan island, off Cebu, where there was reported to be around 80% devastation.

 

The typhoon caused widespread damage throughout the Philippine archipelago

The typhoon caused widespread damage throughout the Philippine archipelago

Despite ShelterBox’s ability to mobilise a swift response the logistical challenges posed by the islands and the sheer number of boats and trucks that had been damaged by the storm, led to the decision to establish a team in Cebu. This team was tasked with ensuring the safe passage of aid and logistics, and several other teams then branched out onto other islands. The scale of devastation caused by Haiyan differed hugely from that of the earthquake which struck Haiti in 2010 and so our response had to be tailored appropriately. A major difference was that the main concentration of aid effort in Haiti was contained within one area located near the airport, allowing for the fast passage of aid. In contrast the teams in the Philippines were faced with weeks of island hopping aboard small boats and vehicles, significantly damaged communications infrastructure and drawn-out efforts to overcome transport challenges. Operations manager Alf Evans described the conditions as ‘the worst geography you could possibly come across for a natural disaster.’

Despite this the response effort continued, now growing to include teams operating across Tacloban, Panay, Cebu and Bantayan. As the operational commitment grew so too did the outpouring of support from supporters around the world.

A groundswell of support 

‘Reading about the Philippines. The typhoon has claimed the lives of 10,000 or more people. Never a better time to donate to ShelterBox.’ Tweet by acclaimed American author, Maureen Johnson. 

Even before ShelterBox had launched the Typhoon Haiyan emergency appeal, before we had received such magnificent outpourings of support from celebrities, authors, musicians and bloggers. Before all that we had learned of supporters mobilising their own fundraising efforts for ShelterBox across the globe in the hours after the disaster. Collections were held at local supermarkets, online fundraising pages were setup overnight, eBay auctions sprang to life and children even endured sponsored silences. Volunteers flocked to our warehouse in Cornwall to help pack ShelterBoxes and staff and volunteers worked around the clock to help get aid to the families in need. It was this groundswell of support that enabled ShelterBox to commit to helping communities in the Philippines and is the reason we continue to do so now, some 12 months on.

‘You have to remember that a lot of the more remote communities that were affected were previously dependent upon the fishing industry. Many of their boats and equipment were destroyed by the storm. Other communities made their living as coconut farmers and suffered similar loss of income too. Many of the coconut trees had taken ten years to grow and as a result of the storm they faced losing their entire income for the next ten years, overnight’ says Operations manager Alf Evans.

‘It was really important we did all we could to reach these communities and offer our support. The ShelterBox tents and non-food items meant that these communities could build shelter next to their destroyed houses, boats and farms and live there whilst they began rebuilding their livelihoods.’

Our thoughts are with everyone who was affected by the disaster. 

As ShelterBox’s response to Haiyan crept into week two it was heart-warming to hear stories from our response teams, of families on remote islands moving into ShelterBox tents.

 

Chip-chip is thankful to be safe and sheltered with his family again thanks to the aid from ShelterBox, November 2013.

Chip-chip is thankful to be safe and sheltered with his family again thanks to the aid from ShelterBox, November 2013.

 

On one such island, in the village of Machumben, lived one of the estimated five million children who were affected by Typhoon Haiyan. His name was Chip Chip. He was, at the time of writing, five years old and was one of 18 in his family. Chip Chip’s mum was seven months pregnant. Thanks to the support of our donors, he and his family received a ShelterBox tent and other aid items allowing them to continue farming their land and beginning to rebuild their destroyed home.

Everyone at ShelterBox would like to thank our donors who expressed such immense generosity and allowed us to work to assist families following Typhoon Haiyan. As we approach the one-year anniversary of this response we thank everyone who donated to our appeal and our thoughts are with everyone who was affected by the disaster.

Ground-Breaking Projects For ShelterBox In The Philippines

Christine Mae Ofiasa and her (then) fourteen-day old baby, Rona Mae, were among some of the early recipients of a ShelterBox aid after Haiyan first struck, Bantayan, Philippines, December 2013.

Christine Mae Ofiasa and her (then) fourteen-day old baby, Rona Mae, were among some of the early recipients of a ShelterBox aid after Haiyan first struck, Bantayan, Philippines, December 2013.

 

ShelterBox continues to develop new shelter solutions to meet the needs of communities affected by disasters 

Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in November 2013, was the most powerful storm ever to make landfall, claiming 6,200 lives and destroying a million homes. In the five months following the disaster, more than 100 ShelterBox Response Team members delivered 7,000 tents, 10,000 solar lights, 870 water filtration systems, 2,300 mosquito nets, 445 tool kits and 30 SchoolBoxes.

But our assistance has not stopped there. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have maintained our commitment to the Philippines and are extending the type of help we are able to offer. The ShelterBox is still at the heart of what we do, and our distinctive family relief tent remains a key part of most deployments. However, as we strive to develop into a global leader in shelter provision, we are embracing new ways of responding to the needs of communities affected by disasters.

This is critical because all disasters are different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. As ShelterBox CEO Alison Wallace explains: ‘We must constantly evolve as a charity and develop our aid, because different disasters need different responses.’

We have been growing our aid offering for some time now. In the response to Typhoon Haiyan, for example, alongside tents we also distributed Shelter Repair Kits containing tools, tarpaulins and fixings to help beneficiaries begin the process of rebuilding their homes.

We are now taking this process to the next level in the Philippines. After a careful assessment process, we have entered into four project partnerships with leading international agencies including ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development), Handicap International, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) which will lead to the construction of nearly 1,700 ‘core transitional’ shelters.

Designed to house a single family, the shelters will be constructed using locally sourced materials, wherever possible, in areas that were in the path of Typhoon Haiyan: in Eastern Samar, where the typhoon first made landfall; in northern Leyte, close to the devastated city of Tacloban; and on the island of Bantayan, in northern Cebu. In each community, a rigorous beneficiary selection process ensures that we prioritise the most vulnerable.

This will not only provide more than 8,000 vulnerable people with a safe, durable home but will also help to train the wider community in how to ‘build back safer’ as the shelters are designed to withstand further storms. The goal is to develop resilience to future disasters.

As CEO Alison Wallace puts it: ‘How much better to rebuild in ways that will make communities more resilient to the next storms, and what better opportunity for ShelterBox to fulfill its commitment to be a real team player in meeting humanitarian shelter needs?’

ShelterBox recognises that shelter is a process, not a product. So we will continue to refine and develop the range of tools at our disposal to meet the specific shelter needs of communities affected by a disaster. And we will collaborate with an ever-increasing range of partners – from aid agencies to freight companies, and from government bodies to the UN Global Shelter Cluster that coordinates the efforts of the leading humanitarian shelter specialists.

This is all part of ShelterBox’s evolution into a flexible supplier of emergency shelter tailored to the needs of those whom we seek to help.

Shelter The Priority In Post-Glenda Philippines

Lady stands infront of the remains of her house, destroyed by Typhoon Glenda, in rural Banquerohan, Albay, Philippines. Her husband is farmer and they have 8 children.

Lady stands infront of the remains of her house, destroyed by Typhoon Glenda, in rural Banquerohan, Albay, Philippines. Her husband is a farmer and they have 8 children.

 

Despite completing 20 deployments as a ShelterBox Response Team member, this was my first time to the Philippines. The eastern province of Albay gets more than its fair share of typhoons but was mostly spared from last November’s Super Typhoon Haiyan. In July this year the area was hit by Typhoon Glenda and, as usual, it was the poorest communities that were most affected. ShelterBox immediately sent in a rapid assessment team, followed by a volunteer Response Team from New Zealand and Japan.

As part of team 2, I joined 4 SRT members from the UK to continue detailed assessments and carry out distribution of ShelterBox aid. Having not deployed for nearly 18 months, this was  my first time not distributing full ShelterBoxes, the reasons for which became immediately obvious. The damage caused by the typhoon was spread widely over a large geographical area but the damage was not absolute. Some homes were completely destroyed, others just partially damaged and others, miraculously untouched. We were bound to run into equity issues if some families received a full ShelterBox whilst others received nothing. After all, we were dealing with the poorest of the poor.

SRT members (L-R Harry Roberts, Jon Berg and Matt Roberts all UK) conduct a needs assessment on Rapu Rapu Island, Albay, Philippines

SRT members (L-R Harry Roberts, Jon Berg and Matt Roberts all UK) conduct a needs assessment on Rapu Rapu Island, Albay, Philippines

Our team worked closely with the Rotary Club of Legazpi, generous hosts who provided storage, transport, translators and volunteers to help us with our task. Together we worked with the ‘barangay captains’, community leaders with detailed local knowledge, to identify the most needy and decide the best aid package for them. In the past, a family living in a partially damaged house wouldn’t qualify for ShelterBox tent and we would not be able to help them. The addition of Shelter Kits (consisting of 2 large, high-grade tarpaulins and an extended tool kit with nails and fixings) to our repertoire meant the we could help these families get back on their feet. Lessons learnt from past deployments, particularly our response to Haiyan, has taught us the need for flexibility in our response, allowing us to help more families, whilst not wasting donors money on aid that is not required.

ShelterBox aid is transported by motorcycle taxi, Rapu Rapu, Albay, Philippines

ShelterBox aid is transported by motorcycle taxi, Rapu Rapu, Albay, Philippines

Splitting into 2 teams, we covered a lot of ground. The Province split into municipalities, municipalities in to districts, districts into baranagys. Some barangays had only 2 affected families, others, 40+. Aid was transported by truck, van, motorcycle taxi, ferry-boat and, in the remotest of areas, carried in on foot.

SRT member, Harry Roberts carries poles for a relief tent deep into the rainforest in Gabawan, Albay, Philippines

SRT member, Harry Roberts carries poles for a relief tent deep into the rainforest in Gabawan, Albay, Philippines

The people of the Philippines are a resilient bunch and meet their fate with calmness and good humour, I’ve rarely laughed so much on deployment and their warmth and generosity will stay with me. Beneficiaries were also very grateful to think that people they have never met, from all over the world, had donated money help them in their hour of need. As always, it was a privilege to deliver this aid on behalf of our donors and volunteers.

There were many moving moments on this deployment but perhaps one of the most poignant was a family we came across in the barangay of Balinad. The Madressa family home had blown down in the Typhoon, the remnants lay in a pile on the floor where their house once stood. Homeless and desperate, they sought shelter in the chicken coup used to house the poultry they looked after for a landlord. When we gave them a ShelterBox relief tent, Mr Madressa said,

‘Thank you so much, now we will feel like human beings again, and not chickens!’

We all laughed, but the point was lost on none of us.

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