Posted by Tess Widdifield on Sep 01, 2019
In celebration of Twilight's 10th anniversary, we will be raising funds for ShelterBox, our original gala funds recipient. Our Foundation Chair, Tess Widdifield will take us through the amazing things ShelterBox is doing internationally.
ShelterBox is an international disaster relief organization that hand delivers emergency shelter and the tools families need to self recover after natural disaster and conflict around the world.
ShelterBox is made up of people who believe in shelter as a human right – that shelter from the chaos of disaster and conflict is vital.  Recovery starts with shelter. Having somewhere dry and warm to sleep, to prepare meals and to be with your family, is vital for starting the long process of recovery.
ShelterBox is constantly monitoring disasters around the world and our teams are on standby ready to deploy. Our teams are always adapting and learning from families to understand how we can improve our aid items for future responses.
Every disaster and community is different. This is why we have a flexible approach. We listen and learn from the communities we work alongside to provide them with the right tools to self recover. It’s not just about giving families shelter, its about ensuring families have the best possible change of long-term recovery. Shelter is more than a roof, it empowers families to start the process of getting back on their feet.
Rotary has supported ShelterBox from the start, when a local club championed the simple idea to package up essential shelter items in their now-iconic ShelterBoxes. As ShelterBox grew, so did Rotary support, and ShelterBox and Rotary are now international Project Partners in disaster relief. This partnership has helped ShelterBox become who they are today. Their global network of ShelterBox Affiliates, which provides all round assistance, evolved from Rotary relationships
Our ShelterKits contain all of the essential tools people need to start repairing and rebuilding their home straight away.
Our sturdy green ShelterBoxes contain family-sized tents specially designed to withstand the elements and provide people with temporary shelter.
Our kits and boxes also contain the items that help transform shelter into a home, like cooking sets, solar lights, water filters and mosquito nets.
FROM THE FIELD: Impact of ShelterBox aid in Paraguay
Cecilio and his family live south east of the Paraguay River. In March 2019 they were forced out of their home when rising water levels flooded their town. They only had one day’s warning to move themselves and all their household possessions to a safer place.
 Over the years, Cecilio said the water levels had become more frequent. “The waters rise far quicker than they used to, they used to rise slowly, and people had time to self-evacuate”, he said. Now families have much less warning. The water comes in so fast that they have to take what little they can carry and get out as fast as they can. Cecilio’s family had little warning as the alarms are only raised if the water levels increase in the northern part of the river. They are not always communicated well.
Cecilio said he was pleased to collect the aid items from ShelterBox. He was one of the first to receive them during one of the first distributions in July 2019. When the team met Cecilio to hear his story, he’d had the aid for a little over two weeks. He explained how it was well timed as he could now return home just as the river levels receded. He told the team that aid items from ShelterBox had given him the motivation to return to his original home and begin repairs on his property which was damaged by the floods.
 Along with other members of his community, Cecilio received training on how to repair his home. ‘I paid close attention during the training to ensure that I could make the appropriate repairs to my home, and so that it lasts longer and remains stronger the next time the floods come”, he said.
 Cecilio used the hammer and nails to repair his old roof and build the frame for another section of his house. He plans to use the tarpaulins to build the roof and weatherproof the section of the house he was framing. He said his favorite item was the shovel which he has used to level out and heighten the ground for both his and his neighbours properties to be rebuilt on. He has also dug trenches for drainage, and post-holes to support the frame of his building. “It is much better than my previous shovel”, he said. “It is a better quality and is lighter, so it is easier to use”. He continued by saying that he knows the tools and tarps will last because of the quality. Cecilio’s old spade has become rusted from the flooding
Another favourite item of his was the solar light, he uses it every night and charges it in the day, calling it his “sun in the night.”
Latest Updates from Hurricane Dorian
Category 5 Hurricane Dorian has caused major destruction across the Bahamas. The storm is still over the islands which means that full assessments have not been completed. There is currently limiteddata available from in-country sources and the Government of the Bahamas has not yet requested international assistance. The full extent of the damage will not be known until the storm has moved on and full assessments can be made. There are many agencies and organizations who are well placed to help in the Bahamas, including the Government, the Caribbean’s Regional Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA) and the local Bahamas Red Cross who are all coordinating to support communities across the Bahamas. Because these organizations are based in country, they do not need to wait for the call for international assistance.
ShelterBox is monitoring the storm
We are closely monitoring the situation in the Bahamas and we are ready to respond if we are needed. We have aid stocked in Panama and a team on standby if needed. Our Operations teams are working with Rotary International headquarters. Local Rotary sources have confirmed that damage to both communications and transport infrastructure will make detailed assessment difficult in the first few days and that future details will only emerge once Dorian has moved away from the area.
ShelterBox has responsible decision to deploy criteria to determine if and when your aid should be sent to families. Mainly, teams are working to understand if there is a gap in the support available to affected families, and if the Government will allow our aid in.
Currently ShelterBox is in the monitoring phase and over the coming days ShelterBox will continue to closely observe the situation in the Bahamas and remain in close contact with governments, and other partners. We will continue to work closely with local Rotarians and Rotary Clubs to gather localized information and support. It is important to ShelterBox that we take time in this phase to better understand the situation and the ground and ensure that families receive the type of support they need most. This means that your generous donations always have the greatest impact for families around the world.
While we do not have a restricted fund established for Hurricane Dorian, any gift to ShelterBox Canada will support essential shelter and tools for families recovering after disaster around the world.