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. Many communities are devastated and families displaced by their homes being inundated with water, or worse, completely swept away.
Since arriving, we have faced many logistical challenges, not the least of which is that Iquitos is completely inaccessible by road. All aid has to be delivered by slow boat up the river or by air. To date, we have provided vital shelter to 30 families with more aid in route.
Seeing the joy and relief on the faces of those families when we give them emergency shelter, a means to purify water, and other equipment reminds me why I became a Rotarian and why I am also now a volunteer ShelterBox response team member. It really is all about “Service Above Self.”
As this is my first ShelterBox deployment, I will never forget the first family I helped moved into one of our tents. Their home was completely destroyed and all five family members, including three children, were living under one plastic sheet shared with their chickens. Their faces beamed with smiles and a sense of relief and joy as they moved into their new ShelterBox home. A couple members of the Iquitos Rotary Club, including their president Hugo Chacaltana, accompanied me and shared in the excitement.
The recently announced project partnership between Rotary International and ShelterBox International could not be a better match. Members of the Rotary clubs of both Lima and Iquitos have been working tirelessly to assist us with logistical challenges, such as assessing the needs of communities in the area, translation service, customs clearance, transportation of both the team members, and coordination of aid deployment. While the help that Rotarians have given to our teams here is not unusual, it does underscore the importance of the ShelterBox and Rotary alliance. Thank you to all of the Rotarians who have helped on this and other ShelterBox missions by giving time, talent, or donations. Many times we, as is the case in Peru, could not do it without you.
Read more about the project partnership between Rotary International and ShelterBox.