ShelterKits distributed in Mozambique – Australian volunteer assists in assessment and training

Image of shelterkits being loaded in a warehouse in Mozambique

After Cyclone Dineo – ShelterBox is in Africa helping to re-home thousands after Mozambique’s storm damage and flooding

Cyclone Dineo struck the southern African country of Mozambique on 15 February. Its torrential rain and damaging winds destroyed 20,000 homes and affected 130,000 people.International disaster relief agency ShelterBox has been working with the Red Cross to help communities rebuild.

image of a collapsed dwelling

The cyclone caused extensive damage over a widespread area

The South West Indian Ocean brews up a cyclone season every year, and in recent months there have been five tropical storms, with three intensifying into cyclones. Our photos show clear evidence of the destructive power of Dineo, and how ShelterBox and Red Cross response teams are taking aid to hard-hit areas such as Massinga and Morrumbene.

Dineo was the first tropical cyclone to hit the coast of Mozambique since 2008. 200 mm of rain fell in the province of Inhambane, at least seven people were killed, including a child crushed by a falling tree in Massinga. After the storm abated an estimated 130,000 people were in need of assistance.

South Australian Response team member, Megan Graham

Australian ShelterBox Response Team volunteer, Megan Graham was part of the second team in country, helping to assess needs and arrange customs clearance. Megan said,

The first team had performed a needs assessment in the area and determined that ShelterBox aid in the form of Shelter Kits was appropriate.  1,000 Shelter Kits and 2,000 mosquito nets were already identified to be sent to Mozambique.  My month in Mozambique was split between the capital, Maputo and Inhambane city.  The affected area was vast and the vulnerable families very spread out, we spent some time with our partners Red Cross to visit some of the potential beneficiaries and see the damage caused by Cyclone Dineo.  To identify the vulnerable families to receive the 1,000 Shelter Kits we needed to utilise the services of the local Red Cross Volunteers, we spent some days training them on the necessary data collection to ensure the most vulnerable were to receive the aid.  Whilst I was in the Inhambane area with a team working on the beneficiary collection a separate team was based in Maputo working on expediting Tax Exemption so that the aid could be flown in to the country.”

ShelterKits distribution in the filed

ShelterKits and other essential items were distributed with the help of the Red Cross

The aid that fitted the needs of the population best was ShelterKits containing materials to rebuild or repair basic dwellings. Women are seen carrying the kits on their heads, often with infants in arms and toddlers at their feet.

Response team member, Steven Tonkinson (USA) says,‘The people we have been distributing to are clearly among the most vulnerable in their communities. We have seen elderly men and women, people with severe physical disabilities, mothers with infants and orphaned children. It’s reassuring to know that our aid is going to those who need it most.’ 

Demonstrations of how to use the kit contents – tarpaulins, tools and fixings – were given to households. After consulting the local community, ShelterBox also included machetes, a widely used tool in Mozambique, and mosquito nets to avoid the scourge of malaria. The Machetes were transported safely to Mozambique in our familiar green boxes.

This careful selection of aid will mean people can rebuild their lives and livelihoods, and protect themselves from the weather.

You can help families affected by disasters by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

 

Displaced families caught between a rock and hard place in Syria

ShelterBox partners, Hand In Hand For Syria continue to reach desperate families displaced by the conflict in Syria. In recent days they have been trucking in supplies to urban collective centres that are housing families who quit the mountain town of Madaya, scene of the notorious ‘starvation siege’ which saw around 40,000 residents trapped by a military stand-off. For over a year they lived only on meagre rations of rice delivered in occasional aid convoys. When the siege broke last October children and the elderly were showing the effects of famine and could barely walk straight. Months without meat or milk had seen many making soup out of grass in the search for nutrition.

Now, although they are being fed and are relatively safe, they find themselves pawns in a relocation deal between rebels and the government. Hand in Hand aid workers have been shipping in ShelterBox mattresses, cooking equipment, water carriers, blankets and other basic items to families in the appointed collective centres, and to those staying nearby with friends and relatives or with host families.

Photos show the desperate clamour for this aid as people queue, some making precarious onward journeys overloading bikes and vans.

Another aid drop in recent days has seen tents distributed to a timeworn displacement camp in Idlib Governorate. The climate of extreme temperatures takes its toll on canvas, and many of these threadbare tents have standing in the open for years. ShelterBox and Hand in Hand have now arranged for some to be replaced. 

 

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Sam Hewett says, ‘79 tents were distributed to replace broken tents. I don’t know how long they’d been living there – it varies between a few months to years. The Hand in Hand team has a network, either they are asked directly by a local council, or the shelter aid cluster notifies them. Then HiH do an assessment and confirm exact numbers, and decide whether it is appropriate to respond.’

You can help those displaced in Syria and other countries by donating here:

PLEASE DONATE 

Australian Volunteers Instrumental in Delivering Aid to Haiti

Shelter kits being unloaded in Les Cayes, Haiti

Shelter kits being unloaded in Les Cayes, Haiti

Despite civil protection officials taking to the streets to warn people, many on Haiti’s southern peninsula were unaware of the approach of Hurricane Matthew. It caused the greatest loss of life (1600) of any Atlantic Hurricane for eleven years.

A ShelterBox Response Team was on the ground within days.

As soon as the airports re-opened, a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) from the UK, US, Germany and Canada arrived in Haiti, some of whom had experience of the 2010 earthquake response. The team’s emphasis was on the distribution of thousands of shelter kits, allowing the weatherproofing and repair of damaged homes. ShelterBox tents were found to be ideal for use as clinical space, to provide shelter and privacy for patients of the overstretched healthcare facilities. ShelterBox also provided solar lighting for families where power was down, and mosquito nets, via its Rotary contacts. Water filters were used to guard against the spread of waterborne disease. Within days of Matthew, as after the quake of 2010, Haiti was once again in the grip of a cholera outbreak.

 

A ShelterBox volunteer demonstrates the 'Thirst Aid Station' water filter

A ShelterBox volunteer demonstrates the ‘Thirst Aid Station’ water filter

 

Three Australia SRT members were deployed to assist the Response Team in Haiti. Central Coast SRT member, Peita Berzins, Tasmanian Art Shrimpton and South Australia Lucy Dodd (on her first deployment) were heavily involved in the logistics of getting aid through customs in Port au Prince and the preparation of non-food item kits to accompany Shelter Kits. These kits included essential like water filters, mosquito nets and solar lights.

Many towns had a high proportion of destroyed and damaged buildings and infrastructure, but in sharp contrast to the 2010 quake the Haitian Government coordinated efforts to clear, repair and rebuild, and took a lead on allocating specific tasks to groups of aid agencies. The thousands of shelter kits and non-food items helped families to cope in the interim.

Portraits of SRT members

Australian Response Team volunteers, Lucy Dodd (top) and Petie Berzins with Art Shrimpton (bottom left)

 

ShelterBox’s Response Team was based in Les Cayes and Port au Prince, as they worked to find ways to help Haitian people recover, rebuild, re-energise. The Les Cayes Rotary Club helped to identify what kind of aid was needed, and where.  A long-established alliance with major humanitarian player Handicap International also strengthened ShelterBox’s arm.

 

ShelterBox has been touched by the resilience and compassion of the Haitian people, and their pride in helping one another.

www.shelterboxaustralia.org.au

Give The Gift Of Shelter This Christmas

This Christmas, families around the world will find themselves homeless and in desperate need of help. Whether they have lost their homes to a natural disaster, like the victims of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti or have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict, like the millions fleeing the violence in Syria and Iraq, their needs are quite simple: Shelter, Warmth & Dignity.

Make a donation to the ‘ShelterBox Solution’ as a gift for a loved one and receive this special card to give in lieu of your present.

All you have to do is make a donation of $50 or more by clicking the button below and email us at sbaoffice@shelterbox.org.au to notify us that this is a Christmas gift and we’ll send the card out to you. The cut-off date to receive your card in time for Christmas is 15th December.

The ‘ShelterBox Solution’ is our flexible disaster relief fund, allowing us to respond more accurately to beneficiary needs. This might be in the form of a Shelter Kit, relief tent, SchoolBox, or a wide variety of non-food items, like water filters, mosquito nets and solar lights.


Shelter Kits kits provide families with to the tools to build their own shelter or repair a damaged home. Increasingly governments are wanting families affected by disaster to be part of their own recovery, building back better and stronger homes and more resilient communities.

Of course there will always be a place for ShelterBoxes, especially where families have lost everything. To sponsor a box costs $1,000 and if you do so as a gift for a loved one you’ll receive this special card.

Donate here to sponsor a box and give a gift that really makes a difference.

Thank you for your support and Merry Christmas from all of us at ShelterBox Australia.

Other ways to donate:
Phone: 1300 996 038
Post a cheque to: ShelterBox Australia, PO Box 254, Parramatta, NSW, 2124
EFT or direct deposit:  Westpac, ShelterBox Australia, BSB 032 189, account # 230 147. Please make sure you email sbaoffice@shelterbox.org.au to notify us of you donation and that it is Christmas Gift.

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

ShelterBox team arrives in quake zone as journalists and bystanders advised to leave Amatrice

Aerial photo of a flattened Amatrice

 

ShelterBox team arrives in quake zone as ‘the town is crumbling’ with further tremors. Desperate search for survivors continues, as people sleep outdoors, in cars, in tents

ShelterBox is drawing on all its strengths in responding to the Italy quake. In-country affiliates and local Rotarians have helped the charity’s response team to ‘hit the ground running’ as they arrive in the quake zone today. But the damage is immense, and the ground still shakes

There is little time yet to count the human cost of the earthquake that has levelled the Italian mountain towns and villages of Rieti and Ascoli Piceno provinces. Italy’s National Service of Civil Protection says the possibility of finding people alive is falling as time goes by, but nonetheless 5,000 people are still involved in a massive rescue effort.

The BBC reports that journalists and bystanders have been advised to quit Amatrice as ‘the town is crumbling’, almost completely razed by the ongoing quakes and is expected to have the greatest number of victims. Here, a frantic race against the clock to find any survivors continues. Rescuers were heartened as some children have been found alive, but the overall toll is expected to exceed that of the quake in 2009 in Abruzzo when over 300 people died.

On the second night since the initial quake, there were reports of people spending the night in cars or outdoors, as well as in communal tents provided by the Red Cross and Italian agencies. 

People sleeping outside under a tree

International relief agency ShelterBox now has a response team in the quake zone, arrangements having been made in advance by ShelterBox Italy based in Milan, and by Rotary contacts. Operations Co-ordinator Phil Duloy is heading the team, with Cornwall-based response volunteer Ed Owen, and Italian national Clio Gressani from ShelterBox’s London office.

At ShelterBox’s HQ, Operations Co-ordinator Jon Berg says, We have a team on its way to the affected area to coordinate with the responding agencies and carry out assessments to ascertain the level of need, the options available and most appropriate response from us.’

‘Our Italian contacts and affiliate have been updating us with information since yesterday morning so that we are able to hit the ground running. Our work could potentially include supporting people close to their homes, depending on the safety of each situation, or in community camps planned by the local authorities.’

‘But their first task will be getting a better understanding of the situation and the need.’

With thousands of aid workers now helping across the region it is also possible that ShelterBox could offer temporary accommodation for humanitarian teams from colleague agencies.

Among ShelterBox’s range of aid are a variety of tents, kits with tools and tarpaulins for making temporary shelters, and helpful items such as solar lights to be used where power is down, offering safety and security to displaced families in hours of darkness.

You can help by donating here: PLEASE DONATE

‘We are waiting to die.’ Aleppo aid workers heartfelt plea, ahead of World Humanitarian Day – 19th August

In the week when the UN calls for a more humane world, ShelterBox partner, ReliefAid hears a graphic description of the fear and suffering inside war-shattered Aleppo. With 150 air strikes in a day, and aid workers, their families and buildings in constant peril, they warn ‘nowhere is safe

A Syrian mother and her child carry a shelter kit in the streets of Aleppo

The United Nations’ World Humanitarian Day is held every year on 19 August to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to mobilise people to advocate for a more humane world.

It falls as the Syrian city of Aleppo is still crumbling under continuous bombing, its people barely coping with a lack of electricity, clean water, fuel or affordable food.

New Zealand-based ReliefAid has a team based in Aleppo, many of them with their families. Like two million others who remain in Aleppo, they are now trapped in a besieged city amid escalating fighting. Only days ago they were distributing the last of a consignment of aid from international disaster relief agency ShelterBox, a total of 4,000 kits over the last six months, able to help over 24,500 people. The last 1,500 – a mix of life-saving essentials including water purification equipment, jerry cans, mats, solar lamps, tarpaulins, mosquito nets and kitchen sets – were delivered to families shortly after the closure of the arterial Castello Road cut Aleppo off from aid and from the outside world.

Executive Director of ReliefAid, Mike Seawright is in Turkey, and in constant touch with his team in Aleppo. Today he told Larry Williams of New Zealand’s ‘Newstalk ZB’ radio station, Yesterday alone my team reported 150 air strikes. I talk to my team on a daily basis, and they are part of the community. Their homes are getting hit, their markets are getting attacked. Last week our office was hit in a strike that was targeting the building next door.’ 

They hit the building beside us, and the effect of that is that we’ve had to move to a new location in the city. And literally two days later there was a gas attack on that neighbourhood. So nowhere is safe.’

‘And in some cases first responders, for example the ‘white helmets’ who go and get people out of buildings after they’ve been attacked and destroyed, appear to have been deliberately targeted in follow-up attacks. There is no respect for the humanitarian space inside Aleppo city.

Mike reports a conversation with one of the ReliefAid team that paints a bleak picture. ‘My team have families within the city. There has been a complete loss of faith in the international community to react to what has been a systematic campaign to destroy east Aleppo. I was talking to one of my team and his view, which is very pessimistic, is that we are waiting to die. Waiting for our tomb, for when the air strike hits us.’           

World Humanitarian Day is marked every year with events held around the world. Under the banner of ‘One Humanity’ the UN and its partners hope to inspire greater global action for the 130 million people affected by conflict and disaster.   

In New York a special event will be held at the General Assembly tomorrow from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. Hala Kalim and her four children, whose arduous journey from Aleppo to Germany was featured in the documentary ‘Children of Syria’, will attend. They will tell the world their story of the impossible choices they faced living in, and fleeing, Syria. A wreath-laying ceremony will also be held at the UN Headquarters to honour aid workers who lost their lives in humanitarian service.

ShelterBox/Relief Aid shelter kit being distributed in Aleppo

A truck left ShelterBox HQ in Cornwall, UK this morning loaded with aid for Syria – kitchen sets and 980 tarpaulins. It will meet up with another consignment containing 2,000 shelter kits. Another ShelterBox truckload is already en route across Europe with 4,860 tarpaulins.

You can help by donating to our Syria Refugee Appeal here: PLEASE DONATE