Since 2000, Rotary International has brought urgent relief to victims of natural and other disasters when people are left homeless. An inspirational Rotary endeavour, the introduction of the ‘ShelterBox' has captured the imagination of Rotarians and others, including the United Nations.
The ShelterBox is the brainchild of Rotarian Tom Henderson, an ex-Royal Navy search and rescue diver, of Cornwall UK, who spoke in March to members of the Gisborne Rotary Club and other local clubs about his invention.
A significant characteristic of the ShelterBox operation is that their teams are usually the first ‘on the ground' in response to a disaster. The first 50 boxes were sent to India in 2000 after the earthquake.
ShelterBox is a sturdy plastic ‘trunk-like' box that two men can carry, containing a 10-person tent, 10 thermal blankets, a multi-fuel cooker, utensils, bowls and mugs, water purification tablets, collapsible water containers, spade, rope and tool-kit etc. After being unpacked, it can be used to store 185 litres of water.
Tom spoke about the growth of the project from its small beginnings to the ever-growing endeavour it is today. It has given assistance to over 500,000 people in more than 30 countries.
Administered through Tom's Rotary Club in Cornwall, and distributed with the help of Rotary clubs world-wide, the ShelterBox helps to make life more bearable and dignified for people made homeless after catastrophic events. At a cost of A$1200 each, ShelterBoxes have provided shelter to victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami 2004, Hurricane Katrina 2005, the Pakistan Kashmir earthquake 2005, and ongoing aid to Africa.
Rotary Clubs around the world send donations to the Shelterbox Trust so that boxes are ready at a moment's notice to be despatched to disaster areas, showing the world that ROTARY CARES.
A ShelterBox usually consists of: