Kelowna Rotary shelter in a box helps when disaster strikes

The Rotary Club of Kelowna collected $24,000 to help supply ShelterBox kits where and when they are needed around the planet.

  • Wed Nov 9th, 2016 6:00pm
  • News

An Iraqi family in their ShelterBox in Greece.

Here’s the scenario: You live on a 10.5 sq-mi island with 8.9 million inhabitants.

You and your neighbours live in homes built from cardboard boxes, plywood when you can find it, and sheets of tin if you’re lucky.

When a natural disaster strikes there’s nowhere to take shelter your home is smashed to pulp and splinters, your drinking water is polluted and relief can’t push its way through the rubble.

This is Haiti, said to be the poorest nation on the planet, hit by an earthquake in 2010 that took up to 316,000 lives followed by Hurricane Matthew that killed more than 1,000 this past October.

Rick Potter knows what that disaster looks like.

He, fellow missionaries and medical workers, made it to Haiti a month after the earthquake.

It was the first time he had seen a Rotary Sponsored ShelterBox.

“It’s a 10-person tent that’s hurricane proof,” Potter said Monday from his office in Kelowna.

“It’s a substantial tent that’ll stand up to severe conditions.

Shelter Box Sri LankaPotter is the president of the Rotary Club of Kelowna. After seeing first-hand what a difference a strong tent and some emergency supplies makes to families with nothing left, he came home and challenged his Rotary club to raise money forShelterBox.

He was expecting a few thousand dollars to come in.

On Tuesday, he presented a cheque for $24,000, enough to “purchase about 20 tents life or death for 200 people or more,” to Marjolein Lloyd at the club’s luncheon.

Shelter Box Kelowna RotaryLloyd is a Kelowna Rotary club member as well, and volunteers her time to raise awareness and expedite the delivery ofShelterBox as soon as they’re needed.

“That’s what makes ShelterBox so unique,” Lloyd said.

“We have them stockpiled all over the world and when a disaster strikes we already have them ready to go.”

As ShelterBox says on its website, shelterboxcanada.org, “We cannot wait for donations to come in, but have to draw immediately on existing resources. We realize people hear about a disaster in the news and want their donation to go to that particular destination, but by then our aid is already on the way.”

The boxes can be customized to meet the needs each disaster presents.

In addition to a high-tech tent to house a family there could be blankets, cooking utensils, water purification equipment,solar light, a basic tool kit, mosquito net and a children’s activity pack.

ShelterBox was started as a Rotary project in the UK.

It has no political or religious affiliation and also provides essentials through its ShelterKit and SchoolBox programs.