ShelterBox and Rotary – inspiring young people to take action

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

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

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

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

Katelyn on completion of her pre-deployment training with Shelterbox

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

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

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

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

‘It’s so important to engage young people’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yanni found working at ShelterBox HQ inspirartional

Yannis Commino, from Newcastle in Australia, is one of ten Interns that ShelterBox has offered training to in the last year. He says, I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. During my New Generations Service Exchange at the headquarters of ShelterBox International in Truro, Cornwall, I gained priceless insight and first-hand experience in disaster relief management.’

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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ShelterBox Team in Kenya Following Severe Floods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Italy earthquake – ShelterBox may have a role in recovery, but not for emergency shelter.

Saturday was a day of national mourning in Italy for the almost 300 people known to have died in last week’s overnight earthquake. Over 1,000 aftershocks since, some as powerful as 4.7, have made residents, emergency services and aid workers fearful that damaged structures may topple.

Road access to the near-demolished historical town of Amatrice is threatened by structural worries about its last remaining bridge. ‘Let’s hope it doesn’t collapse or the town will be cut off from both sides’ Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said. The hilltop town has been declared a red zone, with no access permitted except for emergency services. No-one has been pulled alive from the rubble since last Wednesday, so the search and rescue phase is winding down as hopes fade, though the Government has pledged to continue locating the deceased.

For ShelterBox’s team, based with Civil Protection, government and other aid agencies in nearby Rieti less than 30 miles from the epicentre, the focus is now on how to help residents cope in the aftermath, and the whole area to recover. Rieti also has a makeshift mortuary in an aircraft hangar, where relatives have been identifying loved ones.

Italy Ed-006

ShelterBox is principally a provider of emergency and transitional shelter and other emergency relief items. But the disaster area already has tented space for around 3,000 people provided by the Italian Ministry of the Interior, less than half of which is occupied.

In this predominantly agricultural and tourist area, with its high proportion of second homes for holidaying Italians, displaced people have opted to stay with friends and family, to sleep in cars near to their properties, or to take up the widespread offer of free accommodation in guest houses and private rentals. The quake zone is around ninety minutes’ drive from Rome, so there is no lack of in-country aid resources.

ShelterBox offered to supply tents to supplement hospital facilities, as it did last year after Nepal’s quakes, but around half the injured are from Rome and are being treated there, and others in Rieti and other towns in the Lazio region.

But ShelterBox has been exploring a potential role in rural recovery, talking to the Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori, This is a network of agricultural workers who may be able to help reach very remote settlements and individual homesteads that have less access to assistance. The area has a rural economy based on agri-tourism and the farming of very precious and protected crops and livestock. A subsection of the Confederazione, the Young Farmers of Lazio, have already helped provide machinery for earthquake rescue, cleared roads, and managed tourist accommodation as emergency shelter.

Where remote farm dwellings have been damaged it is hoped that highly portable ShelterBoxes might offer tented shelter, solar lighting, warmth for the approaching autumn, and water filtration where sources have been contaminated by the quake. Details will need to be hammered out, as Italian regulations require sanitation systems anywhere that tents are set up.

Collapsed house in Amatrice

ShelterBox’s Italy team leader Phil Duloy says, ‘The senior Civil Protection member we met agreed in principle to support our efforts, if we are able to offer them. This would be a valuable contribution to helping a delicate economy and a rural population recover from a damaging blow.’

‘This is one of Europe’s most significant agricultural areas, and it will be important for farmers and food producers to remain on their land to maintain their livelihoods so they recover economically and are able to continue contributing to Italy’s food stocks.’

ShelterBox’s Clio Gressani, an Italian national who works in the charity’s London office and is a member of the team currently in Rieti, told BBC Breakfast, ‘There is a need to help remote farmers because this area is quite particular with very small communities on mountains and hills. The farmers need to stay close to their farms and animals to protect them. Cows need to be milked, and the harvesting season is coming up. Most of their buildings have collapsed, so it would be important that they have a shelter to stay close to their rural activity.’ 

ShelterBox’s Italian affiliate organisation, based in Milan, will maintain dialogue with Civil Protection and other Italian organisations. Rotary colleagues in Italy have also been helpful providing transport and arranging accommodation for the ShelterBox team.

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

Rotary And ShelterBox Renew Partnership To Aid Disaster Survivors Worldwide

Greg in Vanuatu

Last year, Rotarian and Australian SRT member, Greg Moran (far right) became the first serving District Governor to deploy with ShelterBox. (Image – Vanuatu 2015)

The following is a press release from Rotary International:

Rotary and disaster relief charity ShelterBox renewed a three-year agreement to provide immediate, lifesaving assistance to survivors of natural disasters and conflict.

 

Rotary clubs worldwide have mobilized to provide immediate relief to thousands of displaced people quickly and efficiently with ShelterBox for 16 years. To date, Rotary members have donated US$48 million to provide shelter for families in need – 40 percent of ShelterBox’s total of US$119.6 million raised.

 

Australian SRT member, Peter Pearce takes part in Exercise Sea Dawn

Australian SRT member and Rotarian, Peter Pearce deployed 20 times with ShelterBox and was recently awarded the OAM for his humanitarian service. (Image – Exercise Sea Dawn with the ADF 2014)

 

“The partnership between Rotary and ShelterBox has provided a place of refuge to people facing some of the most difficult and uncertain moments in their lives,” said John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary. “We are happy to renew this project partnership and honor our ongoing commitment to taking action to help communities devastated by disasters and conflict.”

 

Each ShelterBox container typically provides a tent designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, along with regionally appropriate supplies such as a water purification kit, blankets, tools, solar lights, and other necessities to help a family survive for six months or more after a disaster.

 

As part of the communities they serve, Rotary clubs help ShelterBox identify and prioritize immediate relief needs in disaster-affected areas and assist with the deployment of shelter kits, education materials and lifesaving supplies. Rotary members also fund aid boxes, become trained relief volunteers, assist with shipping customs clearance and connect with governments and other organizations in impacted areas to facilitate the delivery of boxes and aid. CEO of ShelterBox, Chris Warham said, “Rotary and ShelterBox will always stand side by side to help those less fortunate. This project partnership renewal simply indicates the strength of our long friendship, and recognizes the immense practical and funding support provided by Rotary members worldwide to enable us to reach out to families in distress.”

Derek Locke in Nigeria 2012

Rotarian and SRT member from the US, Derek Locke recently received the ‘Service Above Self’ form Rotary International for his work with ShelterBox. (Image – Nigeria 2012)

 

About Rotary

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteers dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. To access broadcast quality video footage and still photos go to: The Newsmarket.

 

About ShelterBox

ShelterBox has provided emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families affected by more than 270 disasters in more than 95 countries, and has already helped over 1 million beneficiaries. Based in Cornwall, United Kingdom, with 18 international affiliates, ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that delivers emergency shelter, warmth, and dignity to people made homeless by disasters worldwide. The agreement with Rotary reaffirms the charity’s volunteer base, enhancing its capacity to respond rapidly to disasters while keeping costs low. ShelterBox teams and their distribution partners are currently operating in Ecuador, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Niger, Cameroon, Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

ENDS

ShelterBox Australia General Manager, Mike Greenslade (himself a member of the Rotary Club of Alstonville) said,

The renewing of the Project Partnership agreement with Rotary International is great news for both organisations. ShelterBox has moved on hugely since the original agreement was signed, for instance, we no longer only supply ShelterBoxes but instead have a large range of equipment that we can tailor to suit the needs of the beneficiaries. ShelterBox provides a great opportunity for Rotarians to get involved with international service wether it be an Ambassador or a Response Team member.

June in Seoul

ShelterBox Australia Ambassador and Rotarian, June Wade at the RI Convention in Seoul 2016

I’ve deployed many times with ShelterBox and have seen the value of Rotary in action in almost every country I’ve visited. Here in Australia,  Rotarians are essential to the day-to-day running of the organisation and fundraising from clubs and Ambassadors forms a huge part of our income. Put simply, without Rotary we would not be able to help so many people in desperate need’

ShelterBox Working With Rotary to Help Landslide-Affected Families in Sri Lanka

Torrential rain in Sri Lanka

 

On 14th May a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal caused torrential rain to fall across Sri Lanka. With the ground saturated, further rains cased major landslides 18th May, displacing hundreds of families. Following consultation with local authorities and Rotary contacts, a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) was sent to assess the need for emergency shelter.
Response Team members Liam Norris (UK) and Derek Locke (USA) are coordinating with the disaster management agency and the military to set up camps for displaced families. 328 ShelterBoxes have arrived in the country and the team are conducting ‘train the trainer’ sessions with the Sri Lankan army to erect relief tents in the camps.
SRT volunteer, Derek Locke (USA) instructs Sri Lanakan soldiers on erecting a ShelterBox tent

SRT volunteer, Derek Locke (USA) instructs Sri Lankan soldiers on erecting a ShelterBox tent

ShelterBox has previously worked in Sri Lanka in response to the Asian Tsunami in 2004 and the Tamil Refugee Crisis of 2009. On both occasions, the involvement of local Rotarians was essential to the success of the deployment. The same is true this time round.

Rotarian and ShelterBox supporter, Supem De Silva with  a Sri Lankan army officer

Rotarian and ShelterBox supporter, Supem De Silva with a Sri Lankan army officer

 

The help of Rotarian, Supem De Silva and his colleagues has once again been invaluable. SRT member Derek Locke, himself a Rotarian, said,

‘Supem worked with ShelterBox in 2009 and is a dedicated Rotarian and humanitarian. Supem and indeed all of the Rotarians we have met here have gone above and beyond to help us facilitate and organise the distribution of aid to people who have either lost everything under the landslides, or are unable to return to their homes due to the risk of further tragedy. I think it is fair to say that without their help ShelterBox would be hard pushed to achieve a successful deployment of aid to the affected peopleSupem  of Sri Lanka. The relationship that we have with the Rotarians here and their selfless willingness to help us in any way they can is a positive example of a model of partnership between ShelterBox and Rotary.’

Stephanie Rodrigo, Past President of the Rotary Club of Capital City, Colombo concurred,

We have appreciated all the support given  by your great organisation, ShelterBox, in our need in 2009 and now. We Rotarians and your organisation has a very special bond. Our members are committed to serving during any disaster alongside ShelterBox to help the people of Sri Lanka

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