ShelterBox CEO enlightens President's Night

CEO, Sanj Srikanthan was guest of honour and speaker at Rtn, John Underhill's 'President's Dinner'.

Sanj Srikanthan - CEO. ShelterBox

CEO of ShelterBox – Sanj Srikanthan was in Penzance this week, as principal guest at the Penzance Rotary Club annual President’s Dinner.

President John Underhill

This year’s President - John Underhill, in introducing Mr Srikanthan, provided a brief summary of his career to date - Sanj joined the Shelterbox team as their new Chief Executive in December 2019, having previously spent 10 years at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where he was Senior Vice President, Europe and Executive Director, UK.  In an earlier role with the IRC he served as Emergency Field Director, managing responses in Mali, Syria, Liberia, Lebanon and Turkey. Earlier in his career, he had worked for UN OCHA (the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and prior to that he served as a Captain during a six year period in the British Army.

Rotary’s discreet influence

Mr Srikanthan spoke about how “the reach and impact of Rotary’s work” was testament to the leadership and drive of Rotarians everywhere. He urged everyone present to encourage people to resist ‘disaster appeal fatigue’ at a time when disasters are becoming more frequent.

ShelterBox, a project started by the Helston-Lizard Rotary in 2012, has grown to become an internationally recognised disaster relief organisation. Back in 2012, there were members of Helston-Lizard Rotary who thought that if their local efforts could help 8 to 10 families recover from disaster each year, that would be a really good outcome.

Since 2012, ShelterBox has now assisted well over 1.7 million people worldwide.

Shelterbox is focussed on the importance of providing the right support at the right time, to devastated families, delivering fresh hope, and helping people begin the long process of rebuilding their lives. So Shelterbox is always refining its response capabilities - in particular those needed when responding to the range of disasters that stem from climate change.

Sanj stressed the importance of the link between Rotary and ShelterBox, particularly when it comes to providing disaster relief in hard-to-reach places. He cited the recent example of the major earthquake in Morocco and how recent disasters in Turkey and Syria had led to criticism from some international aid agencies in regard to the perceived poor disaster response of those governments. The unintended consequence was that when a major earthquake struck Morocco last year, the Moroccan Government was reluctant to let international aid organisations in for fear of similar criticism. However, Rotary Clubs and their contacts in Morocco were able to assess the situation on the ground and confirm where logistical support was most needed, and Rotary contacts were able to provide crucial re-assurance to the Moroccan government, resulting in Shelterbox being granted early access to provide crucial disaster relief.

"Rotary is truly in the DNA of everything we do," said ShelterBox CEO Sanj Srikanthan.

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Sanj Srikanthan - CEO. ShelterBox

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