ShelterBox and Rotarians reaching out to aid Chinese earthquake victims
Gong Jianzhong, the Chinese Consul General in Manchester, England, visited the LifeBox warehouse to accept 100 LifeBoxes and 1,200 LifeStraws for earthquake relief in the Sichuan province. Photo courtesy of Rotary Club of Denton and Audenshaw.
Four hundred ShelterBox containers will reach China’s Sichuan Province this weekend to help alleviate the acute housing shortage after a 12 May earthquake there left 50,000 people dead and more than five million homeless. Another 400 containers are en route to the area.
Each container provides a tent, stove, water purification kit, blankets, tools, and other necessities to help a family of 10 survive for six months. ShelterBox is a UK-based disaster relief organization supported by Rotary clubs around the world.
At the request of the Chinese government, ShelterBox will also provide an additional 1,700 tents. Chinese officials have made urgent appeals to the international community for tents. News agencies are reporting that refugees flocking to the cities are sleeping in any spot they can find, many in sports stadiums and in makeshift tents.
Three ShelterBox response team members are in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, to help distribute the aid. "The enormity of it is far bigger than anything I have seen before," Tom Lay, ShelterBox team member, told BBC News.
LifeBox, a charitable project of the Rotary Club of Denton and Audenshaw in Manchester, England, is also contributing to disaster relief in Sichuan. One hundred LifeBox containers, which include tools, clothes, blankets, and baby items as well as a water purification tool called LifeStraw, have been sent to the province, along with 1,200 additional LifeStraws.
At the receiving end, Rotary clubs in China are helping pave the way for organizations like ShelterBox and LifeBox to enter the disaster area, securing permits for the boxes.
The Rotary Club of Beijing, located more than 900 miles away from the disaster area, is discussing earthquake relief projects. They plan to purchase US$4,000 of baby formula to distribute in the affected area. They are also fundraising. Beijing club members contributed more than $1,000 to earthquake relief at their meeting the day after the earthquake hit. Club president Mike Ma also said some funds from an annual charity ball next week, which will be attended by RI President-elect Dong Kurn Lee, will be redirected for earthquake relief.
"There are already discussions about an after-earthquake mental health consultation project working with China Red Cross and disaster area reconstruction projects," said Ma. "We are also studying the more long-term, significant reconstruction project possibilities to take on."
Sandra Prufer contributed to this article.
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