Can a box help save lives following a disaster? ShelterBox, an international humanitarian relief organization, responds to earthquake, volcano, flood, hurricane, cyclone, tsunami or conflict by delivering boxes of aid and other supplies. ShelterBox has become part of disaster response across the world. The first box in 2000 was sponsored by Rotary. Today it is the largest Rotary Club project in the 100+ history of the organization.  The ShelterBox has provided shelter, warmth and dignity to survivors of more than 200 disasters in over 90 countries.

Following a disaster, ShelterBox does not duplicate any other aid that is provided. It works in collaboration with other established relief organizations to enhance and complete the services and supplies that help survivors.

Haiti, Syria, Philippines are among the many disaster areas that have received ShelterBoxes. The first ShelterBoxes that arrived in Haiti following the 2010 catastrophic earthquake were immediately used by physicians who faced the daunting challenge of treating large numbers of injured Haitians. In Port au Prince ShelterBoxes were used for emergency shelter for post-surgery patients.

ShelterBoxes were used in the Philippines following the August 11, 2013 Typhoon Utor that struck the island of Luzon. Thousands of people were displaced. In the town of Casiguran, 80% of the infrastructure was destroyed. This included the municipality hospital. The hospital’s roof was completely blown off by the storm.  Dr. Nelia Diesta, the assistant hospital administrator in Casiguran municipality hospital recalled, “We were forced to move patients to the small area of the hospital that remained intact which has meant that many patients are being made to stay outside under some tarpaulin. Patients are also being seen to slowly due to the lack of space.” Rebuilding will take several months.  ShelterBox tents that were prepositioned in the country are being used to accommodate patients.

In October a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Bohol, Philippines.  ShelterBox deployment teams responding to that disaster were on the ground when Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on November 7.  The massive storm tore through the central Philippines with wind gusts of 200 mph and tremendous flooding. Haiyan, (known in the Philippines as “Yolanda”) is believed to be the deadliest natural disaster on record and the strongest recorded storm to make landfall anywhere on earth.

The iconic green ShelterBox contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, stove (wood burning or multi-fuel), thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, and a water filtration system. The water purification equipment, the LifeStraw, can provide a typical family up to three years’ worth of clean and safe water. A basic tool kit includes a hammer, axe, saw, trenching shovel, hoe head, pliers and wire cutters.  ShelterBox contents are adjusted according to local conditions and the more urgently needed items in the disaster area.

In the United States there are more than 350 volunteer ambassadors for ShelterBox. The 50-plus highly trained ShelterBox Response Team members based in the United States distribute boxes in disaster zones, working closely with local organizations, international aid agencies and Rotary Clubs worldwide.

For more information about Shelter Box and how you can assist with this international disaster response organization, visit http://www.shelterboxusa.org/index.php.