© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE
Gordon Harper, left, Shelter Box Canada board member, and Derek Nicholson and Denise Holland, members of the Rotary Club of Stratford, examine the contents of a Shelter Box. In total, P.E.I. Rotary Clubs raised $11,500 for Shelter Box Typhoon Haiyan relief. The Shelter Box will be set up and on view during the Stratford Winter Carnival pancake breakfast on Feb. 22.
When Derek Nicholson received a call from a distressed client last winter during typhoon Haiyan, it jolted him into action.
“Her mother, who was living in the Philippines, had just disappeared during the storm. The daughter didn’t know what to do.
“Then, when she finally found her, a call came saying that her mother had no place to live. Her daughter told me, ‘her home is gone. She has no food or medicine. I want to bring her to Canada. What can I do?’
“At the other end of the telephone, I felt helpless,” says Nicholson, a member of the Rotary Club of Stratford.
Then he remembered Shelter Box Canada. The disaster relief charity provides temporary shelter and life-saving supplies to displaced families.
“I took it upon myself to send emails about the program to all my acquaintances, in the hopes of getting some people motivated (to make donations),” says Nicholson, adding that a Shelter Box will be on display at the town hall during the Stratford Winter Carnival pancake breakfast on Feb. 22.
One of the first people to respond was Denise Holland.
“It was my first club meeting, and that night Derek brought it to our attention.
“Immediately it hit me. Working in real estate, you’re always looking for a home for someone. So when you hear that someone’s home has been taken away, you wonder, what can I do to help? “ says Holland, adding that when she got home she started sending emails to all her fellow agents at Caldwell Banker, detailing the woman’s plea.
In her note she wrote: “This just hit home with me, and I think this could be a great cause for us to get involved in.”
When she got to work the next morning, donations had started coming in. One colleague was so inspired she took a direct approach.
“She went online and brought a box herself,” says Holland.
By the time she and Nicholson had finished, they had raised $1,370 on behalf of the Rotary Club of Stratford for the cause.
“The government of Canada matched this. For every dollar we raised locally, the government doubled it,” says Nicholson.
The club was just one of the groups that took part.
“All six Rotary Clubs on P.E.I. have been involved and, to a greater or lesser extent, have contributed,” says Gordon Harper, Shelter Box Canada board member.
Together, they raised $11,500 for Shelter Box Typhoon Haiyan relief.
“The two largest contributors were the Rotary Club of Charlottetown Royalty and the Rotary Club of Summerside. However, all the clubs on P.E.I. have put in great efforts to fund raise in the community as well as contribute themselves,” says Harper.
This doesn’t surprise him.
“Prince Edward Islanders always rise to the challenge and, on a per capita basis, I’m sure that they’re one of the best contributors in Canada to disaster relief, such as this.”
Holland is inspired by the contributions received.
“It puts a smile on our face knowing it’s put a smile on their faces. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about giving and helping people who need the help,” she says.
Nicholson is also happy to report that his client’s mother is now living in Toronto with family members.
“This has been eye-opening experience for me. Until someone calls you and says, ‘I have an issue or problem’ we really don’t know how to react.”
Each Shelter Box
A large disaster relief tent for an extended family. It is designed to withstand extreme temperatures, high winds and heavy rainfall. Internally, each tent has privacy partitions that allow recipients to divide the space as they see fit.
A children’s pack containing drawing books, crayons and pens. For children who have lost most, if not all, their possessions, these small gifts are treasured.
Survival equipment, including thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, essential in areas where temperatures plummet at nightfall. Where malaria is prevalent mosquito nets are supplied, as well a life-saving means of water purification. u Water purification system.
Basic tool kit containing a hammer, axe, saw, trenching shovel, hoe head, pliers and wire cutters enables people to improve their immediate environment, by chopping firewood or digging a latrine.
Wood-burning or multi-fuel stove, pans, utensils, bowls, mugs and water storage containers.
To view a video on Shelter Boxes, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyM_sk8tjEo.