Rotary Club of Belfast

ShelterBox on the Ground

MarkAndNicolaNicola Hinds, the only Irish member of the ShelterBox Response Teams, gave an excellent update to the Club Monday 12 March on her and ShelterBox’s work in the field and the difficulties that they meet and her illustration of the reality of responding to disasters around the world was extremely well received. She thanked the Club for all the support highlighting the City Hall collection and stressed that ShelterBox will do whatever is needed to get the aid to whoever needs it.

She highlighted the concern that relief charities will suffer from the recent accusations and noted that she had seen at first hand the incredible work Oxfam do and how sad it was just a few were creating problems. She stressed that at Shelterbox volunteers go through intense scrutiny and are given detailed training covering security, international law, bribery law etc. There are always men and women on the teams and debrief both during and after the trip – the beneficiaries are at the heart of everything. ShelterBox are not complacent and are constantly monitoring all actions.

She pointed out that they are only in a country at the request of their Government and have to respond to what they ask for. They have found that some of the Governments involved were against having tented encampments as they felt that once settled people did not want to leave them to rebuild homes and thus were now delivering Shelter Kits with tools for the people, who are very good with their hands, to rebuild homes.

She emphasised that safety Issues were paramount; there are currently 2 areas where they cannot operate as are too dangerous: Syria and in the Lake Chad basin, where Boko Harem are kidnapping all the time, but they are again still getting aid in partnering with local agencies (having been assured that they have the same standards and ethos). The teams are not allowed to get behind the wheel of a car as road accidents are one of the biggest killers and they are not allowed to leave the base in darkness.

She particularly highlighted the invaluable logistical support provided by Rotary to field operations and highlighted her experience in Bangladesh when ⅓rd was under water and villages which were located along the river banks had disappeared after flooding from a cyclone Rotary were instrumental in getting them into the Dhaka Kirwan Bazaar. She also reported on her deployments in 2016 in Sri Lanka and Fiji and Mozambique in 2017.

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