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

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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

Response To Devastating Earthquakes Evaluated By ShelterBox

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

ShelterBox personel conduct interviews outside a UN-spec tent

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

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

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

Bel said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nepal Earthquake One Year On

Nepali woman with shelter kit on her shoulder

Surya Maya Danwar collects a ShelterBox shelter kit following the catastrophic earthquake in Nepal last year.

 

One year ago, a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Gorkha, Nepal. The quake killed thousands of people, flattened entire villages and knocked out vital infrastructure like roads and bridges.

Despite difficulties getting into the country, a ShelterBox team arrived within two days of the quake and quickly started distributing aid from prepositioned stocks in the country.

In Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, we supplied tents for hospitals that had been badly damaged and were treating patients in the open air. Here, our tents provided much needed covered space in which to carry out minor treatments, while in rural clinics, medical staff used tents to sleep in so that they could provide round-the-clock treatment to people injured in the quake.

As we were able to transport more aid and more teams into the country, we focused our efforts on the rural mountain communities that had been worst affected by the quake. Many of the villages we helped were incredibly remote, and we had to use a mixture of trucks and helicopters to reach them.

One of these remote areas was Phataksila, home to Surya Maya Danwar. Surya was at home eating a meal when the earthquake struck. Her father-in-law was outside and shouted to her to get out of the house, but she didn’t make it in time. The roof fell in and trapped Surya. If it wasn’t for her mother and father-in-law, who rescued her, she would have died.

When Surya was able to stand again, she started searching for her son, who wasn’t at home when the quake took place. She was very worried, but thankfully her son had been in a field by the river when it happened – if he’d been at home, he might not have survived.

The family were able to salvage very little from the house, as many things were completely buried in the quake, but they created a makeshift shelter from old pieces of corrugated iron and wood.

However, Surya received a shelter kit from ShelterBox, as did all of the other families in her area. The shelter kit included heavy-duty tarpaulins and tools that can be used in a variety of ways to mend and create shelters. The family used the tarpaulin to make their shelter waterproof, which provided them with a sturdy temporary shelter before they created their new home.

Surya and ShelterBox response team member Mike Greenslade stand outside her new home.

Surya and ShelterBox Response Team member, Mike Greenslade stand outside her new home.


Surya not only used the tools included in the kit to help secure the structure, but to dig the fields. Many crops were damaged and destroyed during the earthquake, so being able to tend to the fields and start growing produce again is very important.

Along with ShelterBox equipment, people were also shown how they could use the kits to build back safer homes, that would be more resilient to future quakes.

Surya said: ‘If another earthquake happened, it wouldn’t be like before. The new shelter it safer and I wouldn’t be trapped again.’

We’ve now helped provide shelter for more than 67,000 people in Nepal since last year. However, our work never stops. Disasters and conflict around the world mean that there are families in need of shelter 365 days a year.

In Ecuador, communities have been devastated by another 7.8 magnitude earthquake – one measuring exactly the same strength as the deadly quake in Nepal.

One of our ShelterBox response teams is on the ground, facing aftershocks, landslides and blocked roads to assess the level of destruction. We are primed to provide the best possible type of aid to exactly where it is needed, but we need your help to do it. Please donate today to make sure that no family goes without shelter.