U.S. ShelterBox response team delivers landmark aid
The Shelterbox that marked 500,000 people helped by the program was delivered to Jagadeo Argairiya, who has a family of 10, including five young children.
On her first trip delivering disaster relief for ShelterBox, Trannie Lacquey encountered Maoist guerillas, crossed swollen rivers on foot, and hiked miles in a remote, tension-filled corner of Nepal.
But the toughest challenge, says the grandmother of five, was clearing customs at the airport for 410 ShelterBox relief kits, which would help hundreds of families trapped by the monsoon floods that swept Nepal in August. It took 10 days.
“It was tedious and very frustrating. We knew people were waiting,” she says.
Fortunately, extensive training at a ShelterBox Response Team training camp in Cornwall, England, paid off, she says. Lacquey and her husband, John, members of the Rotary Club of Branford, Florida, USA, and Gary Boe, a member of the Rotary Club of Lewis River, Washington, USA, were the first U.S. ShelterBox Response Team members sent on a disaster relief mission.
They also made history, as they delivered the ShelterBox that marked 500,000 disaster victims aided by the Rotarian-sponsored nonprofit.
Shelterbox started as a small project by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard, England, in 2001, but it took off quickly. To date, it has raised ₤15 million and delivered aid in 33 countries. Recently, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles’s wife, Camilla, agreed to serve as president of ShelterBox. She is believed to be the first Royal Patron of a Rotary club project in the United Kingdom.
Each ShelterBox costs about US$1,000 and is intended to help a family of 10 survive for six months. It contains custom supplies that typically include a large tent, blankets, water purification and cooking equipment, basic tools, and a multi-fuel stove. Rotary clubs provide more than half the funding, and private donors contribute the rest.
The effort also depends on energetic volunteers like the Lacqueys, who arrived home 1 September after three weeks in Nepal and are now repacking for a weekend in Blackwater River State Park in Florida, where they’ll help train more response team recruits.
They’ll also tell stories from their recent trip. “The rice paddies were still flooded,” John Trannie recalls. “People lost everything. They were living under tarps in the rain. The living conditions were just horrible.” But through it all, he says, “People would help their neighbors. It was a very humbling experience for us.”
Recently, ShelterBox enjoyed another first. It received its first Matching Grant from The Rotary Foundation, allowing 24 boxes to be delivered to northern Ethiopia in October, providing desperately needed shelter for Sudanese refugees. The grant was funded by the Rotary clubs of Beaverton, Oregon, USA, and Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. It is part of a massive effort by ShelterBox, called A Million in Africa, which intends to provide shelter for one million of Africa’s eight million refugees.
Read more about the ShelterBox Response Team training camp in England in the October issue of The Rotarian.