Friday, April 9, 2010

Haiti - Three Months On

Three months on from one of the worst disasters ever witnessed, over 100,000 Haitian earthquake survivors are rebuilding their lives in ShelterBox tents.

The international disaster relief charity has now delivered over 13,000 ShelterBoxes to families who lost everything in the 7.3-magnitude quake, with each box containing a disaster relief tent to house a family of up to 10 and other items essential for survival.

As the world marks the three-month anniversary of the disaster that struck on January 12, ShelterBox is sending another 5,000 boxes of aid this month – enough for a further 50,000 people – with thousands more ShelterBoxes due to arrive in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, during the coming months.

Tom Henderson, ShelterBox Founder and CEO, said: ‘We were one of the first agencies on the ground in Port au Prince when the earthquake struck, and thanks to the sheer grit and determination of all our volunteers and supporters, we have now distributed aid to over 100,000 Haitians most in need.

‘With tens of thousands of families still living without adequate shelter in heavy rains and the hurricane season soon approaching, the need for emergency shelter is still great and we won’t rest until this need is met.’

ShelterBox began its response to the Haiti earthquake just 12 minutes after the quake struck at 2150GMT on January 12, mobilising a ShelterBox Response Team to Port au Prince. The next day, the first ShelterBoxes left the charity’s HQ bound for Haiti.

The first boxes arrived five days after the earthquake, despite the tremendous logistical difficulties and were used to set up emergency field hospitals, immediately saving lives by providing vital shelter to patients who had nowhere to go. Hundreds more boxes followed and ShelterBox camps were set up in suburbs of Port au Prince including Delmas, where families with newborn babies and pregnant women were prioritised for emergency shelter.

A total of 13,000 ShelterBoxes have now been distributed in Haiti with thousands more to come, making it ShelterBox’s largest deployment since the Indian Ocean Tsunami. All aid has been delivered by volunteer ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) members from across the globe, including two from Canada, who have carried out extensive training with ShelterBox. More than 30 SRT members have now been deployed in Haiti as well as Santo Domingo and Miami coordinating logistics for Haitian aid.

Partnerships forged with organisations on the ground in Haiti such as French aid agency ACTED, the French Red Cross, the IOM, local Rotarians, the Dutch military and the US military allowed SRT members to distribute boxes effectively and securely, ensuring aid has been delivered to people most in need. Across the globe, people have been supporting ShelterBox on unprecedented levels and volunteers at ShelterBox HQ have been packing more boxes, in the shortest space of time, than they ever had before.

ShelterBox Founder and CEO Tom Henderson said: ‘In March, it was a great personal privilege to travel to Haiti and see firsthand the amazing work our teams are doing there.

‘None of this could happen without our friends and supporters. Since the earthquake struck we have witnessed acts of generosity, kindness and compassion on a daily basis. My heartfelt thanks go out to all our supporters for everything they are doing for ShelterBox.’

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fiji Receives ShelterBoxes After Cyclone

Up to 200 people hit by Cyclone Tomas in Fiji have been given emergency shelter by disaster relief charity ShelterBox.

The category four storm battered the Vanua Levu and Lau Group islands last month, destroying homes and crops and prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency.

Two ShelterBox Response Team members, Lyndon Tamblyn (NZ) and Walter van der Kley (NZ), have distributed 20 boxes of aid containing ten-person disaster relief tents and life-saving supplies to the Undu area in Vanua Levu’s north.

The team received transportation and logistical assistance from Rotary clubs and government authorities both in Fiji and New Zealand.

'Large damage'

Lyndon said: 'This was a very slow moving cyclone and battered areas for up to 48 hours with winds of 150 to 220km per hour. It created a major disaster on a big land and sea area covering many regions, some of which were a day’s travel by boat and with no working aircraft landing zones for aircraft.

‘Many homes have been destroyed by Cyclone Tomas winds and the ensuing tidal surge. Because of no road access to remote villages, we had to use a mixture of transportation means by road and by boat.

'There was large damage to telecommunications, roads, electricity supply, water supply and to food crops. The 20 ShelterBoxes we distributed were well received by those who had lost their homes in the disaster.’

Walter said: 'This was a successful deployment with the help much appreciated. The ShelterBoxes we distributed by boat were in very isolated areas and we couldn't have done it without expert local boatmen and Government logistical support.'

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Report From Chile

ShelterBox is getting aid to hardest to reach areas in Chile. ShelterBox Response Teams (SRT) in earthquake-hit Chile have been delivering emergency shelter to remote communities across a huge geographical area. The 8.8-magnitude quake that struck the South American country a month ago caused widespread destruction in dozens of towns and villages and triggered a tsunami which ravaged a large section of the Chilean coast.

An SRT has been delivering disaster relief tents and life-saving supplies for up to 10,000 people in four different regions of southern Chile. The massive area stretches from Iloca, north of the worst-affected city Concepcion, to Lebu on the coast, and measures an estimated 40,000 square kilometers – roughly the size of the Netherlands.

Jessica Stanton, ShelterBox Operations Coordinator and Team Leader in Chile, said: ‘This deployment has been by far the most complex I’ve experienced. The effects of the disaster are split across such an enormous area. It was one of the biggest earthquakes ever with some communities hit by the earthquake and others by the subsequent tsunami. Every town we are going to is in a critical state but we have to ensure the 1,000 tents we have on the ground go to those most in need.

‘Yesterday we gave a box to a large family where the mother was just three days away from giving birth and her six-month-old baby had bronchitis. They had been living in a greenhouse with no proper floor and because it’s so hot and dusty it was making the baby’s condition worse. They were very emotional when they received the ShelterBox and everybody just burst out crying.’
The team has been working with the NGO, Un Techo Para Chile, consignee Adelphos, logistics firm Goodyear and Rotary clubs, Scouts and fire services to ensure aid is distributed. A fifth ShelterBox Response Team member has been based in Santiago assisting with customs and logistics. ShelterBoxes have so far been given out to people who have lost their homes in Retiro, Parral, Cauquenes, Chanco and Copihue. Along the coast, Talcahuano, Lebu and Coronle have also received ShelterBox aid.

A spokesperson said: ‘ShelterBox has been working in some of the hardest to reach places in rural Chile near the epicentre of the earthquake. We are the first organisation to be operating around some of the towns and villages. The small town of Retiro was one of the worst affected places and a huge distance away from any major routes. We have been working with the Retiro scouts and Retiro fire brigade to work in areas that have not received aid.’

Aid recipient Sara Norambvena ,70, said: ‘I never thought I would lose my house. Thanks to ShelterBox I have a place now to spend the winter that is coming. I have seven grandchildren that I look after and now having these two tents means we will be safe. ShelterBox is the first aid we have seen since the earthquake. We are so happy we have not been forgotten.’

Jessica added: ‘Down on the coast, such as in Talcahuano, we delivered boxes to families who had been living under plastic sheeting in really cramped conditions. The rains are due imminently and once they start, the whole situation will become a million times worse. In more urban areas such as Parral, there is a lot less space and with all the buildings made of mud and sand, the earthquake turned the whole town into rubble. In the old mining town of Coronle, houses built on top of mining tunnels which have collapsed have caused the houses to slip downhill. And in the fishing town of Lebu, people have not only lost their homes but also their livelihoods.

'The Chilean people are unbelievably resilient and are really pulling together.’

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pictures From Haiti

Pictures taken in Haiti by SRT Ron Noseworthy from Canada of a ShelterBox Village and the alternative for many Haitians.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Field Report from Haiti

"On the early afternoon of Friday March5th, 10 truck loads of NFIs, (non-food items) arrived at our temporary warehouse in Port Au Prince. These large trucks contained thousands of items including: wood stoves, kitchen sets, water carriers, water purification kits and tool kits, basically the contents of a ShelterBox without the tent & box. In order to expedite satisfying the enormous need for tents, ShelterBox has arranged to send 5,000 tents directly to Haiti from the manufacturer in China; consequently the NFIs were sent separately from headquarters in the UK.

These trucks were immediately unloaded and early the next morning, 8 trucks and numerous soldiers from the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division arrived at the warehouse to begin reloading and transferring the supplies to the staging area at their base. This was completed by early Saturday evening. Sunday morning trucks were reloaded in smaller quantities and, accompanied by 4 of our ShelterBox Response Team members, distribution to the surviving earthquake victims began. There were many return trips to the 82nd's base to reload, this processed continued throughout the day and into the following one. By the end of the day on Monday, all the NFI's had been distributed to the Haitians.

This was a remarkable achievement. In excess of 14,000 non-food items, which were in our warehouse for less than 24 hours, had been totally distributed in two days to many thousands of desperate Haitians. This could not have been achieved without the tremendous assistance from the 82nd Airborne and our great appreciation is extended to them. Almost two months after the earthquake, the need in this country remains staggering. There are tens of thousands of people without shelter and the basic essentials of life as the rainy season approaches. To our many supporters, be assured that ShelterBox will continue with our presence here for as long as the need remains and as long as we have the resources to help these suffering people.

SRT Rotarian Ron Noseworthy, Kenora, Ontario
Footnote: We are glad to report Ron has now returned safely from Haiti.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Help for Landslide Victims in Uganda

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is working in Uganda in response to deadly landslides which struck the country at the start of March.

They arrived in Uganda at the weekend and are now assessing the worst affected areas. They are based in Mbale, in Uganda’s east, the closest city to the Bududa region which was hit by the landslides.

On Monday, March 1 torrential rains in the areas surrounding Mt Elgon caused flooding and deadly landslides. A camp has been set up in Bulucheke for close to 3,000 people although it is feared this number could rise to 5,000. Of the 3,000 people in the camp, close to 1,300 are children.

Speaking from the camp, one SRT said: ‘There are a lot of different organizations on the ground and we’ll be working closely with them in the coming days. Large tents are currently housing 100 people at a time in very cramped conditions and families are being split up.

‘Tomorrow we’re trekking into the mountains where we think there’ll be a big need for ShelterBoxes.’

‘The landslides came down from Mt Elgon and cleared out an entire valley, destroying three schools in the process."