Thursday 26 January 2012

Australia Day
Australia Day ShelterBoxes arriving in Ethiopia, July 2011.

Australia Day celebrates what is great about Australia and its remarkable accomplishments. ShelterBox is using this national holiday to reflect what people in Australia have achieved for the charity from volunteering in the field to spreading awareness.

ShelterBox has had support in Australia since 2003 from the community and Rotary. One man has been involved for over six years. Tim Klar, ShelterBox Australia’s ex-Chairman, received ShelterBox International’s rare ‘Distinguished Service Award’ for his outstanding service and enduring commitment to advance the cause of ShelterBox within Australia and Worldwide:

‘I felt it was a great honour to have been recognised in this way,’ said Tim. ‘I also felt that the award given to me should be considered a recognition of all the hard work done by many board members, district representatives and supporters in Australia.

‘ShelterBox in Australia is a great humanitarian project and I intend to continue on the board as a Director and give my upmost to ensure the success of the programme.’

Australian-based ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) volunteers worked tirelessly to deliver on-the-ground aid to families affected by disasters on almost half of the 24 deployments last year.

SRT member Mike Greenslade in Ethiopia, July 2011.

When drought and famine swept across the Horn of Africa in July 2011, Peter Pearce led the first team into Kenya whilst Mike Greenslade was part of the first SRT deployed to Ethiopia.

Mike Greenslade, ShelterBox Australia’s Publicity Officer, Photographer and SRT member, spent the first few weeks in Addis Ababa negotiating the importation of over 1,500 ShelterBoxes:

‘It was the first time ShelterBox had operated in Ethiopia and we faced many challenges importing the emergency shelter tax-free,’ said Mike. ‘Thanks to the support of local Rotary, Save the Children USA and the UN Refugee Agency the boxes did arrive after a few weeks and were delivered to the most vulnerable immediately, providing homes for tens of thousands of people. Hugely rewarding for all concerned.’

Australia’s newest SRT volunteer Anthony Keating first heard about ShelterBox from his Rotarian father-in-law and wanted to become involved immediately. He qualified as an SRT volunteer in July 2011. Three months later he was heading to Haiti on his first deployment.

Unlike most deployments, a recent disaster had not happened in the Caribbean country since the initial earthquake on 12 January 2010. However, 20 months later, over 500,000 people were still living in overcrowded camps on private land.

SRT volunteer Anthony Keating in Haiti with the International Organizaton for Migration (IOM), October 2011.

Anthony went there to work closely with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to help families either return to their place of origin, or set up homes in a new location they have identified, using residual stocks of ShelterBox disaster relief tents and emergency equipment:

‘The experience is one I’ll never forget,’ said Anthony. ‘More so now than ever, our tents are helping those in most need return back to their own land.

‘My two weeks in Haiti was such a humbling experience. Seeing camps with over a thousand families living in tents is hard to imagine let alone see. No matter where I went I was received with such a warm welcome ‘Oh You Are ShelterBox’ as if it was I that was in that camp previously. But it wasn’t me, just the many other SRTs who had been there before me.’

In March 2011, ShelterBox’s International Director, Lasse Peterson, was part of the first SRT on the ground in Japan after the Asian country’s biggest earthquake recorded struck its northeastern coast. It triggered a massive tsunami that washed away whole villages making hundreds and thousands of families homeless. He recounts his time on deployment there in the video below:

Australia Day 2012 from ShelterBox on Vimeo.

ShelterBox would like to say a big thank you to all of its supporters in Australia. Through their contributions to the disaster relief charity, families all over the world that have been affected by disasters are living in shelter, warmth and dignity.
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