What’s big, green, and saves lives?

ShelterBox deployment near Bologna, Italy, following a 5.9-magnitude earthquake 20 May. Photo by James Edgerley/ShelterBox

By Harriet “Pepi” Noble, a member of the Rotary Club of Mechanicville, New York, USA

For the over one million people whose lives have been saved the answer is easy: it’s a ShelterBox.  Founded in Cornwall in the United Kingdom, this international disaster relief charity delivers emergency shelter including a 10 person tent, blankets, cooking utensils, water storage and purification and other essential life saving equipment all wrapped in a big green box.

Since 1999, over 117,000 big green boxes have been deployed across the world – from Fiji to Peru to Myanmar to the Republic of the Congo and everywhere in between. ShelterBox is poised to send immediate relief from floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, conflicts, hurricanes, and tsunamis.

Since 2004, Volunteer ShelterBox Response Teams have been the eyes and ears of the organization in disaster areas. These teams are well-trained, self-sufficient, resourceful under pressure and willing to be deployed at a moment’s notice, and offer a unique perspective into the lives of the people affected by catastrophe.

Recently, Rotary International and ShelterBox signed a project partner agreement cementing the bond between the two organizations.

My first experience with the big green box was at a Rotary Zone Institute in Maryland.  I was attending training classes and my husband was wandering the exhibits when he found a ShelterBox. He was so excited he purchased one on the spot for my Rotary Club. Later that year our box was deployed to Indonesia after the tsunami.  When a ShelterBox is deployed you receive a letter with a tracking number for the box and can find out when and where it goes – what a good idea!  Over time my club has worked with other Rotary Clubs providing big green boxes around the world.

Big ShelterBox Week is 9-16 June. Find out what you can do to participate.

Harriet Noble, a past governor of District 7190 (New York, USA), is author of the blog A Noble Purpose.

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