Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Rotary Clubs Worldwide Mobilize in support of Typhoon-Ravaged Philippines

Rotary International President Ron D. Burton is urging the humanitarian organization's 1.2 million members of its 34,000 Rotary clubs worldwide to assist victims of killer Typhoon Haiyan in any way possible, including contributing to ShelterBox, the international disaster response charity that is Rotary's project partner for disaster relief.


"This disaster is exactly why we entered into our partnership with ShelterBox," said Burton. "It gives concerned Rotary members the opportunity to respond immediately and in a very meaningful way to the life-threatening conditions faced by the people of the Philippines."

"It has been astounding to see Rotary clubs and Rotarians around the world mobilizing so quickly to support the people of the Philippines," said Becky Maynard, ShelterBox Director of Fundraising and Communications.  "This overwhelming generosity is allowing ShelterBox to commit more life-saving shelter each day but the need remains huge. We are working directly with Rotarians in the Philippines and we have Rotarian Response Team members on the ground. The partnership between ShelterBox and the global Rotary family really demonstrates how, through service and support, we can make a real difference to people in their greatest hour of need."

Saturday, 16 November 2013

ShelterBox Responds to Typhoon Haiyan

A message from our Director of Operations regarding Typhoon Haiyan...



We have all been horrified at the events in the Philippines and no doubt the generosity of local people will be apparent in response. If you are wondering how you can help it could be that donations to your local Rotary club or direct to ShelterBox might be the solution. ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and basic support facilities at times of disaster and was originally the idea of a club in Cornwall. It has grown since its inception to become one of the major relief agencies and a global international partner to Rotary and is largely funded by Rotary clubs around the world.
 
How is ShelterBox responding?
A ShelterBox Response Team was already in the Philippines when the super typhoon struck, responding to last month’s earthquake which damaged 34,000 homes. The team are now busy helping local people cope with the aftermath of not only an earthquake but now one of the most powerful storms on record.
 
Further ShelterBox Response Teams are en route to the Philippines to assist with coordinating ShelterBox’s Response in-country. ShelterBox’s response will focus in three of the badly affected regions – Tacloban, Cebu and Bohol. Reports are coming in of 80-90% damage of some towns in these provinces.
 
Following last month’s earthquake and last week’s typhoon, all ShelterBox aid pre-positioned in the Philippines has now been deployed into the disaster areas. The ShelterBox Operations Team have been working around the clock to plan the logistics of getting other pre-positioned stock in places like Dubai and Melbourne to the stricken country. Further ShelterBoxes have also been packed at ShelterBox HQ and are being sent over the coming days.

The very latest updates on our response effort are summarised below:

- ShelterBox supplies prepositioned at Clark air base on Luzon island now all deployed.
- Our aid effort has focused on Bohol so far following the earthquake in October. In Bohol we distributed 214 ShelterBoxes, 266 tents, as well as toolkits.
- We now have 504 tents en route from Dubai to Manila, arriving tomorrow and Wednesday by two flights.
- Other options include 600 boxes stored at Melbourne (may go to Manila or direct to Cebu) and tents/boxes at Subang near Kuala Lumpur.
- ShelterBox Response Team carrying out assessments in Cebu, Bohol and Tacloban over the next two days.
- Cebu may become an aid cluster and logistics centre (currently in Manila).
- Our newly arrived response team has been at a cluster meeting of aid agencies in Manila today, and priorities and possibilities for aid delivery will emerge.
- In addition to water, food, transportation and sanitation problems, it is possible petrol may have to be rationed due to the use of generators where power is down.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Baby socks are big enough for Socks 4 Syria campaign

Baby and mother socks worn at the group on the Young ShelterBox
Socks 4 Syria launch day, October 2013.
ShelterBox supporter Nerys Bowen is part of a peer led baby and toddler group in South Wales, UK that is taking part in the Young ShelterBox Socks 4 Syria campaign:  I heard about Socks 4 Syria on Facebook. I ‘like’ ShelterBox on there.
 
We’re a small peer led baby and toddler group who meets once a week at St. George’s Church hall, which is in Cwmparc, South Wales. We’re only about six to eight babies plus mums and grannies but I thought it would be good for us all to do something positive together. It’ll be a nice change for us and great to see all the little ones in the local paper whilst publicising the cause.
 
Everybody really got on board with Socks 4 Syria and collected sponsors. We were thrilled to have raised £94.40 on the launch day. Since then someone who saw us on Facebook has pledged to make our total up to £100! Even though this money is a small amount towards relief efforts in Syria, it shows that anyone can help, however old or young, or however small a group of people you are. I would encourage any other baby and toddler groups to join in with Socks 4 Syria. It’s a really easy thing to do, and the children looked so cute in their colourful socks! Also, people sponsored the babies very generously!
 
Find out how easy and fun it is to support our Socks 4 Syria campaign here and help Syrian refugee families fleeing conflict.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Fundraise for ShelterBox

 

Thanks to the support, kind donations and amazing fundraising efforts of our supporters, ShelterBox has already been able to send aid to support over 4,500 families in Syria, Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon and Jordan. But due to the worsening situation and the fast approaching winter, there are thousands more families that urgently need our help.
 
Here are a few ideas and resources to show you other ways you can help support our Syria Refugee Appeal:
 
Help us tell the world!
You can help support the appeal simply by spreading the word of what we’re doing around your network of friends and colleagues.
 
For example, if you’re a member of a local club, group or gym, why not download our appeal poster and pop it on the notice board? If you use social media, why not download our Facebook or Twitter appeal banners and use them on your profile? Or like and follow us to share our pages and updates?
 
Organise your own fundraising activities
Whether it’s a bake sale, book sale or bungee jump that tickles your fancy, the funds you raise will make a life-changing difference to the families fleeing conflict. Why not take a peek at our fundraising ideas booklet for inspiration. We have some great materials that will make it easy for you to brand and promote your fundraiser too:
 
Our bright appeal poster quickly explains who and what you’re supporting
Promote and advertise your own fundraising event or activity with our appeal branded fundraiser poster.

Gather donations and sponsorship with our easy to use form – using the Givealittle fundraising website is a great and simple way to raise money online. Remember, that 100% of your donations are paid to ShelterBox!

One last thing - don’t forget to TELL US what you’re up to!
If we know what you’re planning and when, we can help to promote your activity on our website, Facebook, Twitter and sometimes even in the press.
 
We also have an experienced fundraising team on hand that can provide advice and guidance regarding your fundraising activity, in addition to an array of great materials such as balloons and t-shirts to make sure your fundraiser is a success. Just contact us at:  info@shelterbox.org.nz

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Interview with the brainchild of the free ‘Focus on Syria’ event in Bath.


Syrian refugee children playing at a refugee camp in Irbil,
Iraqi Kurdistan, October 2013. Photo by Simon Clarke

Syria and its many problems are an international talking point at present. Now a special free event in Bath, UK on Friday 25 October at 7.30pm aims to provide some insight and education, and to raise funds for ShelterBox’s work with Syrian refugees.
 
‘Focus on Syria: Learning and Helping’ is the brainchild of long time ShelterBox supporter Karyn Wolstenhome. Karyn has gathered together knowledgeable speakers, and there will also be a raffle of local goods as well as cakes to eat. She also has her own JustGiving site where people can donate towards the £2,290 target, representational of the 2,290 miles between the English city of Bath and the Syria capital Damascus. ShelterBox caught up with Karyn yesterday just a few days before the event.
 
ShelterBox: Why have you organised this event and what you are aiming to achieve?
 
Karyn: This event came from a feeling I often get that I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling. While reading the newspapers and watching reports on the crisis in Syria I was struck with an overwhelming sense of helplessness. I wanted to do something to help those struggling in refugee camps in the region affected by the Syria conflict. I knew that even if my husband and I made the largest donation we could possibly afford I still wouldn’t be doing all we should. We feel so fortunate to have avoided conflict and natural disaster and hope others would reach out to us should we ever find ourselves in need. Most of all the refugees in Syria are caught in the crossfire of a warzone. They were simply living their lives, working, raising a family and going to school when they were thrown into this.
 
I figured if I set up an educational event those who attend might feel motivated to do more than just donate some cash. Let’s say everyone who attended the event gave a little and shared the ShelterBox story with a friend, then we would really start to see the impact. I feel moderately better now that this event has been organised but the true test will be in how much we can raise over the next few weeks. I think if we manage to meet our fundraising goal for ShelterBox we can start to feel we’re doing our part for our Syrian brothers and sisters.
 
S: Why fundraise for ShelterBox? How did you hear about ShelterBox?
 
K: A few years ago after the earthquake in Haiti I was feeling a similar overwhelming emotional response to such a large problem. I found the ShelterBox website and felt that the tangibility of what aid ShelterBox gives helped me understand how my money was making a direct difference maybe not to everyone but to at least some ONE. Knowing some people who were sleeping outside are now sleeping in a tent, or those who yesterday didn’t have the supplies they needed, now do, that felt like I was making a difference, person to person. Since then we’ve supported the work of ShelterBox here and there as various disasters have happened.
 
S: Why focus on the Syria Refugee Appeal?
 
K: I think our understanding of what’s happening in Syria is unique in that a lot of otherwise highly educated people aren’t entirely sure the history or background of the events that have come to light in the last few years. Also, the refugee crisis in Syria is so HUGE that I thought our focus is necessary at this time. I saw the Syria Refugee Appeal on the ShelterBox website and I thought it would be a great way to help other people who felt overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis and make a small difference.
 
S: What do you do?
 
K: Both Lizzie and I (we’re co-planners of this event and I must say, none of this would have happened without her support and dedication) work for the design led-giftware company Wild & Wolf which is based in Bath. Maybe working in such a creative environment is what helped inspire this event. We’re so thankful for the support of both Wild & Wolf and many other local independent shops who are promoting and sponsoring this event. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

ShelterBox aid worker speaks from Iraqi Kurdistan

Syrian refugee children receiving ShelterBox children activity packs to help
with their education, Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, October 2013.

ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Becky Maynard (UK) is working in Iraqi Kurdistan helping families affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. Here’s her latest updates from the field over the past five days.

Saturday 19 October:
‘We spent the day in a Syrian refugee camp outside Irbil. The families have been living in the camp for two months now and school is running for the 800 children – being educated by teachers who themselves have fled the conflict in Syria. The children are incredibly resilient but you can see that the uncertain future is an unimaginable burden for their parents.’

Monday 21 October:
‘We distributed school bags for 370 children at a refugee camp in Sulaymaniyah, North East Kurdistan, today. Although they have tents for classes the resources are incredibly limited. It was fantastic to be able to bring some smiles with things like notepads, pens, colouring books and pencils. Thinking of our donors and the ShelterBox volunteers who pack every bag and just how much value they have brought to children who have lost everything.’

Tuesday 22 October:
Listen to Becky speaking about the SchoolBox distribution here:
 

 
 Wednesday 23 October:
‘The biggest concern in the Syrian refugee camps around Irbil are the impending harsh winter months and the impact the weather will have on life for the families who have nowhere else to call home. The dusty ground will soon turn into mud as the rain starts in earnest and the temperatures will drop, bringing a series of new challenges to families who are already coping with so much. Here in Kurdistan it feels like this humanitarian crisis is simply entering another phase and there is still so much to be done.’

Friday, 18 October 2013

Resilience in Zaatari refugee camp

Syrian refugees at Zaatari camp, Jordan, February 2013.

John Jones is ShelterBox’s Audio-Visual Officer. Last February he travelled to Jordan with a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) on his first video assignment. Whilst the SRT was organising the distribution of ShelterBoxes along the border, John was meeting Syrian refugee families living in Zaatari camp, listening to their stories and gathering video content. In this blog post he reflects on his time there:

Abdel Majeed’s expression is of woe. It’s the kind of expression that’s developed over time and it’s not surprising considering what he does for a living.

Abdel works at Zaatari camp in Jordan for the Jordanian Hashemite charity organisation. It is the second largest refugee camp in the world. Quoting statistics is almost futile as the number of Syrian refugees who live there increases everyday. Most have trekked and travelled for miles fleeing the conflict in their country. Some arrive having not travelled at all. 13 babies are born in the camp every 24 hours. Abdel was our guide while we were there.

The most efficient way to tour the camp is by car, something many of the occupants don’t have the luxury of. They’re forced to walk, and with three square miles of camp (1,800 hectares) to walk around, it can be an exhausting and arduous task. We drive around the perimeter. On our left is a mass of white tents with washing lines strung up in between them. On our right is empty desert.

Not all is lost
Abdel waves at many of the refugees that we pass. His concern for his brothers is clear. It is his care for their wellbeing that is the cause of his woe. The need of any family in that situation is great enough; water supply, food, toilets, and let’s not forget the mental stresses war and loss can bring. When you multiply that need by the phenomenal number of families who live in the camp it is a distressing thought. But people have a way of surprising you. There is still evidence of happiness, not all is lost.

We are driven up to the highest point of the camp. It is vast, a white expanse that fills the horizon. Two young lads, cousins, run over to see who we are. They describe to us their journey across the border and their hopes for the future. While we listen to Abdel translate their answers to our questions, they chuckle and laugh to each other.


The two cousins John meets at the camp, Jordan, February 2013.
‘The camp is good, we thank the King for his hospitality,’ they say, but they do still admit they need more aid. For the moment they seem happy to have each other and they still have their family.
Our next stop takes us to meet a young man of 21 and his grandmother. His name is Mohammad and he doesn’t share the smiles of the two young cousins. He instead has worries for his grandmother’s comfort and for the inevitable cold each night will bring.

Refugees in the camp are given blankets and a tent but there isn’t enough to go around. After registration they are also given ration cards for food. Despite this Mohammad still offers us breakfast. We kindly decline but I am amazed and it isn’t the last time we encounter this type of hospitality.

Humanity was still alive and well
What I had seen had been upsetting and after I left I couldn’t help but think about the people we met and what they might be doing now eight months on. But there were elements that showed me a sense of resilience. Humanity was still alive and well. For me this was a positive take away in a situation that could have had a lasting change on a man’s expression.

                                

Last February, ShelterBox distributed winterised emergency shelter in Jordan along the Syrian border providing a rest area for newly arriving Syrian refugee families. This is one of the videos John produced.