Taking a fresh look

Having been a Rotarian for a few years now, I was pretty sure I knew about Shelterbox, I’ve done my share of lugging the big green box to an event, worked out how many Rotarians it takes to put up a Shelterbox tent (at least 4!), rattled buckets at street collections after disasters and talked to people about the great work Shelterbox does as a Rotary International’s only project partner for disaster relief.

But I discovered I actually knew far less than I thought. We were on holiday in Cornwall last year and on a vist to Truro we kept seeing signs for a Shelterbox Visitor Centre, so of course had to go and investigate. If you get the chance, go and see it, it’s a really great centre and you’ll get a very warm welcome from the volunteers.

What did we learn? The complex decisions to be made when news comes in of a disaster somewhere around the world. The logistics of getting people and equipment into the disaster zone. The range of different equipment for challenging environments. Choosing the right kind of shelter and equipment to send into different environments, sometimes limited by location, logistics, regulations or politics. The need to continually adapt to changing requirements in different situations.

And above all, the real impact that providing basic shelter and tools can have on a community as they try to recover from a disaster. Shelterbox does everything I thought it did – but so much more. In fact they were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last year for the impact they have.

So if you too think you already know about Shelterbox, come to the interactive session on Sunday at conference. Shelterbox response team volunteer Steve Amoss will guide us through what happens when they hear of a an incident, giving examples from his own experiences – and we will make decisions on what happens next.

Ros Marks, District Conference Chair