ShelterBoxes for Haiti February 2010

Sat 20th February 2010

Around £5,000 raised by St Mary's Primary School, Waldegrave School and Club members

The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7 earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne and approximately 25 kilometres west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010. The earthquake and its 52 aftershocks caused major damage in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and other cities in the region with tens of thousands of deaths. Communication systems, air, land, and sea transport facilities, hospitals, and electrical networks had been damaged by the earthquake, which hampered rescue and aid efforts; confusion over who was in charge, air traffic congestion, and problems with prioritising flights further complicated early relief work.

Our response to the disaster has been to help riase money for the charity ShelterBox founded in 2000 by Tom Henderson, a Rotarian and former Royal Navy search and rescue diver.

By working with St Mary's Primary School, and Wadegrave School in Twickenham and with an additional donation from the club and its members, we raised over £3300 to purchase ShelterBoxes, so clearly needed in this tragic disaster area.

At the heart of every ShelterBox is a ten person tent. It is custom made for Shelterbox by Vango, one of the world's leading tent manfacturers, and is designed to withstand extremem temperatures, high winds and heavy rainfall. In addition to the tent, the boxes contain a range of other survival equipment including thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets. Where malaria is prevalent, mosquito nets are supplied, as well as a lifesaving means of water purification.

A basic tool kit containing a hammer, axe, saw, trenching shovel, hoe head, pliers and wire cutters can be found in every box. These items enable people to improve their immediate environment, by chopping firewood or digging a latrine, for example. A key piece in every box is either a wood burning or multi-fuel stove - that can burn anything from diesel to old paint. This provides the heart of the new home where water is boiled, food cooked and families congregate. In addition, there are pans, utensils, bowls, mugs and water storage containers. Since its formation Shelterbox has provided tens of thousands of boxes to disaster areas in all continents. The charity responded to the disaster in Haiti immediately after it occurred and by the end of January, 2000 boxes had been dispatched and many more will be following.

With their presentation last October, St Mary's School has now donated sufficient funds for five Shelterboxes within the space of four months. This was partly spurred on by the fact that the grandmother of two pupils lives in Haiti and that they have links with a school on the island, but nevertheless is a wonderful effort for a smallish Primary School with fewer than 500 pupils.

Each of the schools tackled the fund raising project with tremendous enthusiasm and interest. St Mary's asked their own pupils to research the charity and concept and then present to the rest of the school, with TuT members Les and Paul going in one day to erect the ShelterBox tent and answer any relevant questions.

The students at Waldegrave School again carried out a good deal of research beforehand and decided on a strategy for raising funds. For example, they purchased from ShelterBox badges which were sold at 50p a time and obtained publicity leaflets and posters and then on 2nd February a team of Les, Paul Charlie and Gordon from TuT visited the school to erect the tent and put on a series of demonstrations to various classes. The excellent latest ShelterBox DVD was run throughout and some of the senior girls ran a tombola to raise extra funds.

We were again greatly impressed by the level of interest. Movingly, one young lady told us that she had been cooking and selling cakes for the Haiti disaster and had so far raised about £100.

We are indebted to both schools for their tremendous support for this very worthy charity.