Providing shelter after Hurricanes Iota, Eta

Maria and her family
Maria’s family had to abandon their house in search of safer shelter. The aid they received from ShelterBox helped them rebuild their home after the storm. Photo courtesy ShelterBox

By Céline Chhea Operations Coordinator, ShelterBox

Through my work as an Operations Coordinator at ShelterBox, I have had the opportunity to work with Rotary clubs around the world. But the work together has never been more instrumental than last year during the pandemic.

In November 2020, Hurricanes Iota and Eta brought a wave of destruction across Central America.  ShelterBox responded in Honduras, where an estimated 82,307 homes were damaged and 174,241 people had to shelter in collective centers.  

ShelterBox partnered with the Rotary Club of San Pedro Sula, Hábitat para la Humanidad Honduras, and Habitat for Humanity International to support those who could return to their homes to clean up and repair their homes. Through the partnership, we distributed emergency shelter solutions in the form of ShelterKits, tarpaulins, tools, training, and household items to 3,208 families. This response is a key example of the strength and effectiveness of our global partnerships with Rotary International and Habitat for Humanity International.

Before the pandemic, I would have deployed to Honduras to support our partners. Having response teams in the country is vital to our operations. It helps us build relationships and connections, as well as giving us a ‘real time’ understanding of the situation. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions we had to take a different approach.

We worked closely with the Rotary Club of San Pedro Sula and Habitat for Humanity, whose knowledge, connections, and networks enabled a community led response. Each team played a crucial role, bringing their capacity, resources, and knowledge to the response. Our role was to provide equipment and aid, organize international logistics, and provide digital training and technical support. Our pre-positioned stock in our Panama warehouse enabled us to respond more quickly.

Habitat for Humanity Honduras was responsible for implementing the response: identifying need, delivering trainings, running distributions and post distribution monitoring activities. By working closely alongside communities and local government, Habitat for Humanity ensured that the people ShelterBox worked with were at the heart of the response.

Members of the Rotary Club of San Pedro Sula took on the large and complicated task of getting our shelter kits into Honduras. They did amazing behind-the-scenes work throughout the response, including coordinating the arrival and unloading of eleven 40-foot containers, arranging the tax exemption, and providing and managing a warehouse for safe and secure storage. Without Rotary, we would have struggled to get our shelter support into the country. The club also  coordinated other Rotary clubs around the district to support Habitat for Humanity Honduras to select project participants, mobilize communities, and distribute emergency shelter solutions.

When we work together with partners, we each play an essential role in making sure disaster-affected communities receive the help they need. Our partnership with the Rotary Club of San Pedro Sula and Hábitat para la Humanidad Honduras in our response to Hurricanes Eta and Iota demonstrates how we are truly stronger together. 

Learn more about Rotary’s partnership with ShelterBox, and download a toolkit for working with ShelterBox.

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