Posted by Dave Colquhoun on Feb 26, 2021
A successful partnership between Rotary International and Shelter Box, an international disaster relief charity, is providing emergency shelter and other aid items to families around the world who have lost their homes to disaster or conflict.

Dani Bristow, Program Coordinator for Shelter Box Canada, joined us this week to provide insight on the work that the agency is undertaking to help people affected by disaster and conflict rebuild their lives.

During the current global pandemic, ‘home’ has become a place and safety and comfort.  It is a sobering fact however, that more than 100 million people are currently homeless because of disasters and conflict and that fewer than one in five people have access to basic shelter and other items needed to rebuild their lives.

Most of the people driven from their homes by natural disasters and conflict live in the least developed countries in the world, where support is already limited. Government-run displacement centers are overcrowded and under-resourced. Many do not have the capacity to support families, particularly during a global pandemic.

ShelterBox began as a pilot project in 2000 by a small Rotary Club in Helston, Cornwall, UK.   The success of the pilot project led to calls to expand the program to meet the growing need for disaster assistance.  Incremental expansions occurred and in 2012, Rotary International agreed to a formal partnership with Shelter Box.  This has enabled Shelter Box to expand and provide offices in 18 countries.

The extensive network of international Rotary Clubs enables Shelter Box to cross boundaries and to reach even the most remote communities.   Shelter Box workers consult with local governments to provide the right support to enable people to lead in their own recovery – to make sure that their work has a lasting impact.
The aid provided by Shelter Box comes in the form of Shelter Boxes and Shelter Kits.  Shelter Boxes contain family-sized tents specially designed to withstand the elements and provide people with temporary shelter until they can start the process of rebuilding a home.

Shelter Kits contain essential tools people need to start repairing and rebuilding homes such as shovels, cooking sets, solar lights and activity sets for children.

Rotarians and Rotary groups across the world support Shelter Box in variety of ways, from raising funds to providing support on the ground during their response to a disaster. 
Since Shelter Box began in 2000, more than 1 million people have been helped to rebuild their lives after disasters strike.  The Rotary Club of Lake Country has joined forces with other Rotary Clubs to support this cause by purchasing at least one shelter box each year for deployment where there is the greatest need.