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

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.’

Royal Gurkha Rifles Join Forces With ShelterBox

Response team members Sallie Buck (left) and Becky Maynard (centre) work alongside Gurkha soldiers to distribute aid in Nepal

Response team members Sallie Buck (left) and Becky Maynard (centre) work alongside Gurkha soldiers to distribute aid in Nepal

 

The Royal Gurkha Rifles have helped ShelterBox to distribute shelter kits to families in extremely isolated mountain communities in Nepal.
The Gurkhas are a unique unit in the British Army with a reputation of being amongst the finest soldiers in the world. All Gurkha soldiers are recruited in Nepal, but officers are recruited from across the UK and Commonwealth.
One of our ShelterBox response teams first met the 13-man advance party from the Royal Gurkha Rifles Light Role Battalion in the township of Chautara, which is being used as an aid hub for deliveries to hard-to-reach communities.
The Gurkhas, who are incredibly experienced in working in this inhospitable terrain, offered their help to get ShelterBox aid to some of the most isolated communities in the mountainous landscape of Nepal.
ShelterBox response team member Becky Maynard said: ‘Our plan was to focus on areas that were inaccessible by vehicles, even 4 wheel drives, by creating a forward logistics hub and then visiting communities by foot.
‘In the first phase two separate recce teams visited different areas to assess the need for emergency shelter, and the potential for storage of aid, safe accommodation and a safe central distribution point in a forward hub.’
After reviewing four different sites with the support of the Nepalese Army, they decided to use a school in Taatiguan in the hard-hit area of Phatsila, as a base for aid delivery and community support.
This proved very challenging, as the second major earthquake delayed the arrival of lots of aid by 24 hours, while aid had to be transferred into smaller vehicles to make the difficult journey to Taatiguan. It took five separate journeys, which each truck being hand-loaded by the Gurkhas, ShelterBox and the Nepalese Army.
In total, shelter kits were provided to 670 families in the area of Phataksila, giving them the tools to clear rubble, to create dry shelters or to waterproof what remained of any buildings.
Fellow response team member Sallie Buck said: ‘It was a hugely challenging exercise to reach these remote communities, but by working in partnership with the Gurkhas and the Nepalese Army we overcame the numerous obstacles put in our way.’
‘The team of Gurkhas, some of whose own families had been badly affected by the disaster, were some of the warmest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of working with. Their generosity of spirit really shone through as they supported these devastated communities alongside us.’