Brian Springer, from the Pine Rivers Daybreak club, is the District 9600 ShelterBox co-ordinator. He told us about the operations behind the deployment of ShelterBoxes.

In the first instance, Rotary is on the ground after a disaster. The local clubs provide the initial answers and supervision. The ShelterBox first response teams follow soon after. They receive three weeks of training in Cornwall, UK prior to being part of a team. Because the conditions at a disaster are rarely good, the teams get military type training. One essential prior to their deployment anywhere is to get the Government of the receiving country to grant them safe passage and protection. The environment can be quite unfriendly.

Around the world today, over 85 million people are homeless - so there is a huge need for the boxes. Each box can weigh up to 55kg. Teams have seen local women carry the boxes on their heads over mountains and through rivers. For example, in Haiti, over 30,000 boxes have been delivered.

The equipment in the boxes is changed as necessary to meet the local needs of the disaster survivors. Items like solar powered lights have been introduced, as well as thirst aid stations, capable of providing a family with drinking water. Another option is a ShelterKit - containing tarps, ropes, pegs, tools and all the fixings to make a covered area to live under.

When a ShelterBox is delivered to a family, they are given a Certificate of Ownership - they own the gear, and can look after it for their needs. Often this is the only thing they might own.

In the UK, Tom Henderson started the project. Teams of around 400 volunteers can be called upon to pack the boxes - about 400 per night. From the UK, they are transported by DHL. In Australia, the boxes are held in Bond, and they can be sent with the first aircraft into a zone, usually a RAAF aircraft. Being held in bond means that the boxes can not be sent to a location in Australia. If we need boxes, as has been the case at Bundaberg and the Victorian bushfires, the boxes need to be sent from another country - usually New Zealand.

ShelterBox has Ausaid recognition, and is a Designated Gift Recipient (DGR), which means that any donations are tax deductable. For additional information on the Australian operation, see ShelterBox Australia.

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