David Hatcher, ShelterBox

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The first speaker of 2018, David Hatcher from Medway, a ShelterBox Response Team Leader, brought members down to earth with a bump in addressing the club when, with the aid of a power point demonstration, he highlighted the importance of ShelterBoxes in response to disasters around the world. 27.5 million people, he said, were homeless around the world due to natural disasters while a staggering 88 million were without homes due to man made disasters such as war in the Middle East and other conflicts. Events in the UK that are often called disasters rarely meet the scale of global disasters and are merely “incidents” he said.

ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that provides temporary shelter and life-saving supplies to displaced families. It was founded in 2000 in Helston, Cornwall and the Rotary club of Helston-Lizard adopted it as its millennium project. Shelterbox transforms lives after disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, floods whether in Nepal, Bangladesh, Haiti or Malaysia to name just a few countries that have benefited from ShelterBoxes. The objective is to help 1 million people a year by 2025.

Each ShelterBox typically contains a tent designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, water purification kit, blankets, tools, and other necessities to help a family survive after a disaster. The contents of a ShelterBox are tailored to the nature and location of the disaster. In Haiti where 2.3 million lost their homes 1/3rd of all the ‘tentage’ subsequently delivered was from ShelterBox which relies entirely on voluntary contributions and public donations to operate.

ShelterBox Response Teams distribute boxes on the ground, working closely with local organisations, international aid agencies and Rotary Clubs worldwide. The Rotary Club of Dover, along with other local clubs, frequently donates money to provide ShelterBoxes for use after disasters.