Father, sons summit Kilimanjaro to aid typhoon survivors

David Johnson (right) and his sons on Uhuru Peak of Mount Kilimanjaro.

David Johnson (right) and his son, Tom (left) with their sherpa on Uhuru Peak of Mount Kilimanjaro.

By John Hiscock, past president of the Rotary Club of Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, England

The exciting thing about Rotary is being able to get to know and serve alongside some fantastic individuals, who help inspire us all to greater things. David Johnson, a member of my club, is one such person, who has captured the imagination of our local community, and inspired members of Rotary throughout our district with his fundraising dedication. Continue reading

Philippines recovery will take time

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By Monty Audenart, aide to Rotary President Ron Burton and a Rotary Foundation Trustee

If there is one thing that’s evident in the Philippines, it’s that the people are resilient. When disasters like Typhoon Haiyan strike, there is grief, but then they get down to surviving. Continue reading

Providing shelter and hope in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan

Bill Decker, a Rotary member and ShelterBox Response Team member, with children in the Philippines.

Bill Decker, a Rotary club past president and ShelterBox Response Team member, with children in the Philippines.

By Bill Decker, past president of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia, chair of the ShelterBox USA Board, and a ShelterBox Response Team member

I am on the ground on the island of Bantayan in the province of Cebu, Philippines, where the eye of Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally called Yolanda) passed over just a couple weeks ago. The devastation is unlike anything I’ve seen, and ShelterBox’s ongoing efforts will be required to alleviate the suffering here of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people. This is not my first visit to the Philippines as a ShelterBox Response Team member.  Continue reading

Tents meet basic housing needs in tornado’s aftermath

David Shirley with one of the tents ShelterBox deployed for families left homeless by the tornado. Photo coutesy ShelterBox USA

David Shirley with one of the tents ShelterBox deployed for families left homeless by the tornado. Photo coutesy ShelterBox USA

By David Shirley, past governor of District 5770 (Oklahoma, USA) and a ShelterBox volunteer

Arriving in Bethel Acres and Little Axe, Oklahoma, in June, I was greeted by a scene of total devastation that was both overwhelming and heart breaking. Where there had once been homes and cars, there was now only rubble.

I had been asked by ShelterBox to assess the need for help. On my initial visit 22 days after the F-4 tornado struck, I actually missed the turn into the housing area as my attention was drawn to a mobile home standing in perfect condition, except for the completely absent roof. Continue reading

The Moore way

Residents look over the damage in Moore, Oklahoma, USA, after a category 5 tornado touched down 20 May. Photo courtesy Rob Morris

Residents look over the damage in Moore, Oklahoma, USA, after a category 5 tornado touched down 20 May. Photo by Moore Monthly/themooredaily.com

By Brent Wheelbarger, a member of the Rotary Club of Moore, Oklahoma, USA

The tornado bears down on Moore, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy Rob Morris

The tornado bears down on Moore, Oklahoma. Photo by Moore Monthly/themore

I sat in a bus along with other media outlets from around the world. It was the day after the tornado and we were being shuttled to the various damage sites so reporters could shoot video and file stories.

For many of them, it was a first glimpse at the extent of destruction … for me, it was a pit of emotion. Many of our neighborhoods gone. Our hospital destroyed. Hundreds of cars twisted, stacked, crushed. Innumerable businesses gutted. Two of our schools reduced to rubble. I didn’t like what I saw and I didn’t like how I felt. Continue reading

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

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