One of the world’s most effective humanitarian collaborations has been officially renewed – Rotary and disaster relief charity ShelterBox have extended their project partnership to provide lifesaving assistance to survivors of natural disasters and conflict.

For the last 16 years, Rotarians worldwide have joined forces with international disaster relief agency ShelterBox to provide aid quickly and efficiently to over a million displaced people.

ShelterBox began in 2000 as a Cornish Rotary Club’s millennium project, and has grown over 16 years to become a major force in humanitarian aid and an expert in emergency shelter. Rotary remains a major fundraising source and the cornerstone of ShelterBox’s network of international affiliates.

Rotarians also provide invaluable in-country assistance and local knowledge, many of them as members of the charity’s response teams delivering aid in person to displaced families in war and disaster zones. Of ShelterBox’s $187 million income from 2000 to the end of 2015, around 40% came from Rotary contributions – including from Rotary clubs and districts, Interact, Rotaract, Inner Wheel and joint Rotary/other donations – comprising a total of around $75 million.

Now the two organizations have renewed their unique Project Partnership, inaugurated in 2012, for at least a further three years. John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary International, says, ‘The partnership between Rotary and ShelterBox has provided a place of refuge to people facing some of the most difficult and uncertain moments in their lives. We are happy to renew this project partnership and honour our ongoing commitment to taking action to help communities devastated by disasters and conflict.’

Among recent stand-out co-operations have been the provision of SchoolBoxes to orphanages via Rotary Clubs in Nepal, and the ongoing battle to rehouse Sri Lankan families following devastating rains and landslides in May this year.

ShelterBox was also invited to exhibit in the ‘House of Friendship’ at this year’s Rotary International Convention in Seoul, South Korea.

One visitor to the ShelterBox stand was Dean Lungu from the Rotary Club of Lilongwe in Malawi, also Governor of District 9210. ShelterBox spent much of 2015 responding to Malawi’s worst flooding for four decades, reaching remote communities inaccessible to less portable aid. Dean Lungu expressed his gratitude with the simple tribute,

You put life back into these families.

He was talking to Liz Odell, a response team volunteer and veteran of fifteen deployments worldwide with ShelterBox. UK-based Liz is a fellow Rotarian, and a speaker at Rotary Clubs, community events and fundraisers, with an infectious enthusiasm for helping those less fortunate.

Liz says, ‘Rotary and ShelterBox make a powerful partnership, so it is good to see them renewing it for the coming years. They are two important aspects of my life, and it has been an honour to be invited to this great annual convention where the partnership can be celebrated and strengthened. But, best of all, it is so rewarding to hear from people like Dean Longu that our work with families in need is recognised and appreciated.’

Exemplifying this enduring partnership is ShelterBox response volunteer Derek Locke, born in Plymouth but now resident in the USA. He has just returned from helping families in Sri Lanka. Derek, a member of the Rotary Club of Dearborn Heights in Michigan, last month received Rotary’s highest honour – the ‘Service Above Self’ award. Our photo below shows Derek (left) receiving his award from District Governor Wayne Brown Titus III in June.

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteers dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. It connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas.

Rotary projects and improve lives at both local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.

CEO of ShelterBox, Chris Warham says,

Rotary and ShelterBox will always stand side by side to help those less fortunate. This project partnership renewal simply indicates the strength of our long friendship, and recognizes the immense practical and funding support provided by Rotary members worldwide to enable us to reach out to families in distress.