Truckloads of supplies for hurricane relief

Bonnie F. Sirower

By Bonnie F. Sirower, governor of District 7490 (New Jersey, USA)

On 10 November, with the help of nearly 150 volunteers, about a third of them new to Rotary, we sorted materials delivered by about five large trucks from all over the United States.

Then we packed pick-up trucks to the hilt with food, clothing, cleaning supplies, toiletries, baby stuff, and blankets and set off in many different directions to deliver these goods to more than 12 communities throughout the affected districts hit by Hurricane Sandy nearly two weeks ago. Continue reading

Helping the forgotten people hurt by Hurricane Sandy

People line up at the Nazareth House in lower Manhattan seeking supplies that will get them by for the day. Photo by George R. Camp, past district governor

By Joe Clark, past governor of District 7230 (Bermuda, part of New York, USA)

Hurricane Sandy has left its mark. In lower Manhattan, many elderly, infirmed, homeless and single parent families are suffering. They have no power, food, water, blankets, or warm clothing to get by, and with harsh weather approaching, they don’t have heat or other essentials to keep them going. They are at risk of illness or death from exposure.

Many of these people are invisible to the rest of us, hidden by the brick, steel, and concrete of shelters that hide them from public view. They are fighting to get by one day at a time. They visit the Bowery Mission and the Nazareth House, two charity organizations, on a daily basis to see what they can get to provide for themselves and their families. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Responding to flooding in Peru

Derek Locke, left, and Iquitos Rotary Club President Hugo Chacaltana, right, with a family in Peru who received emergency shelter. Photo courtesy of ShelterBox

By Derek Locke, member of the Rotary Club of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, USA, and a ShelterBox Response Team volunteer.

I am currently on deployment in Iquitos, Peru, with ShelterBox, where area communities are suffering from the worst flood in 26 years. When I first arrived, the level of the Amazon River was still almost 1.5 meters above the normal flood level.

I’ve been struck by the natural beauty of the rain forests and the Amazon River and its tributaries, while also mindful of the tremendous force of these rivers when they are swollen by snow melt and heavy rainfall. Continue reading

Rotarians in Japan work to bring back a local economy

To celebrate the rebirth of northeastern Japan’s fishing industry after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, five Rotary clubs in the Oshu-Mizusawa area threw a party in September at the Plaza Inn Mizusawa. The guests enjoyed a dinner that showcased fish from Ofunato, a coastal town in Iwate Prefecture.

Before the event, Plaza Inn chef Kowa Sato, a member of the Rotary Club of Mizusawa-Isawa, drove about 25 miles with his team to buy fish at the Ofunato market, which had reopened that May. The video above featuring Sato captures the sushi-making process from start to finish. Continue reading

Delivering tents for ShelterBox in Madagascar

By Angelo Spencer-Smith, a member of the ShelterBox Response Team to Madagascar.

In mid-March, I began my first deployment with ShelterBox to help families in Madagascar that were hit by Cyclone Giovanna.

On day one, we get up early and travel for one or two hours by truck over rough tracks – bumped and bruised, to arrive at a river crossing. This is as far as our big truck will take the main supply of tents, so the rest has to be offloaded by hand and transferred into our vehicle and/or boat.

The crossing is on a pontoon made out of barrels and old oil drums with hand cut wooden planks placed on top and lashed together. It is pulled by hand by teams of villagers with ropes from each side, and moved into position with long bamboo poles. Getting on and off with our trucks is difficult as the small jetty has been washed away by the river after all the excess rain from the cyclone. We have to use reinforced planks to land directly on the beach. Continue reading