The volunteers are members of a ShelterBox Response Team – sent to Nepal by the disaster relief agency ShelterBox following terrible floods across both the country’s lowland and Himalayan regions.
Latest figures from the Nepal Red Cross are that 97 people have been killed by floods and landslides acrossthe country and around 363,000 people affected by the disaster, with an estimated 42,000 houses completely or partially destroyed.
ShelterBox – which is supported by Rotary clubs across the US and Canada – specializes in providing emergency accommodation and other survival essentials to disaster victims. The aid is delivered in pre-packaged kits – the ShelterBox – each designed to help a family of 10 survive for at least six months.
As well as sending 400 of its boxes to Nepal so far, the charity has also deployed one of its ShelterBox Response Teams (SRTs) to oversee the operation and ensure that aid gets to the people who need it most.
Experienced ShelterBox photographer Mark Pearson has been working with Dave Eby, from Brentwood, Tennessee in the district of Siraha, where some of the worst flood damage has taken place.
Mark Pearson said: “We’ve been working with the Nepal Red Cross, which estimates that more than 3,300 houses have been destroyed in this area alone, with 11,000 people displaced.”
“Yesterday, after a reconnaissance mission by the Red Cross to assess the situation, we delivered around 130 boxes to a village that has been completely cut off by three swollen rivers.”
“There were 300 families who had been living in this village without any shelter. They had received a food drop four weeks ago and about 60 tarpaulins but that’s the only help that they’d had up until now.”
He added: “Getting aid to the village was a major operation. Roads from the main town of Jonakapur are mainly impassable – our 4WD Land Cruiser got stuck and we had to transfer all the boxes to tractors. Then, after demonstrating the tents and other equipment with the help of the Red Cross, villagers had to carry everything on their heads across a swollen river to get back to where their homes had once been.”
“Apart from the problems caused by the flood, this is also a dangerous area in which to work. There are various armed groups and tension is high after one man from the hills was shot a couple of days ago. There’s a curfew in place and the only organization that can operate here freely is the Red Cross so we’re delighted to have teamed up with them.” The aid sent to Nepal also marks a major milestone for ShelterBox as it will bring the total number of people helped by the charity since it began operation in 2001 to 500,000.”
The charity plans to send further aid to Nepal this week. For more information or to give a donation, go to www.shelterboxusa.org: ‘donate/sponsor a Box’. Every box is individually numbered and can be tracked by donors.
ShelterBox is a disaster relief charity, whose mission is: “To provide humanitarian aid worldwide in the form of shelter, warmth and comfort for people displaced by natural and other disasters.”
This aid is provided in the form of ‘ShelterBoxes’, each one of which generally contains a 10-person tent, blankets, water purification and cooking equipment, basic tools and a multi-fuel stove. Every box is individually numbered and can be tracked by donors.
To date, ShelterBox has provided help for an estimated 500,000-plus people and responded to more than 50 emergencies worldwide – including helping nearly 230,000 people following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, 138,000 people in Pakistan (Kashmir earthquake) and 50,000 people in Africa. Recent & current deployments include the Solomons, Pakistan and Nepal.
Each box costs $1000 (US) – including the cost of all materials, packing, storage, transport worldwide and distribution to the needy. Best value is achieved by working closely with leading UK suppliers, all items being obtained at below trade price. Assuming six month’s use, this equates to shelter and warmth for less than 30 pence per person per day.
The ShelterBox Trust is a UK registered charity organized and administered by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard. The charity’s President is HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. ShelterBox USA is its US affiliate which is a 501c-(3) , headquartered in Bradenton, FL, and administered by the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch, FL.
By working through local Rotary clubs in the countries where disasters have occurred, ShelterBox is often able to get aid where it is needed faster than any other organization.
Approximately 45% of funding comes as donations from the UK public. The remaining money is raised by Rotary Clubs worldwide. At present, around 30% of total income is from clubs in the UK, 9% from the USA, 12% from Australia and 2% from Canada.