ShelterBox tents stand amidst the rubble in Haiti.
Friday 12 February 2010 On Tuesday, January 12, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Caribbean island of Haiti. The epicentre was 10 miles south west of the island's capital Port au Prince. Through the course of the past month, the tragedy has unfolded before our eyes. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians lost their lives and close to 1.5 million people have been made homeless. The UN has described the Haiti earthquake as the worst disaster it has ever had to deal with. Aid from around the world has poured into the country. ShelterBox's response began just twelve minutes after the earthquake struckÃÆ'¢â‚¬Â¦ Twelve minutes after the earthquake struck, ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Wayne Robinson (US) received a phone call from the charity's General Manager Lasse Petersen and immediately began the trip to Haiti. On Wednesday, January 13, SRT members David Eby (US) and Mark Pearson (UK) also began the journey to Port au Prince. At the same time, the first ShelterBoxes left the charity's HQ in the UK bound for Port au Prince. The immediate aftermath of the earthquake presented huge challenges for ShelterBox and aid agencies around the world. The infrastructure in Haiti was severely damaged by the earthquake. The seaport was not operational and the airport was struggling to cope with the number of flights. This made the logistical task of getting aid into the country extremely difficult. To combat the logistical problems, ShelterBox set up operational hubs in Miami, USA, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as well as sending boxes to France to travel into Haiti with the French Red Cross. On Sunday, January 17, the first boxes arrived in Port au Prince and were collected by Wayne Robinson, David Eby and Mark Pearson. The first boxes were used to set up emergency field hospitals, immediately saving lives by providing vital shelter to patients who had nowhere to go. Thanks to Virgin Atlantic, ShelterBox was able to fly 1,500 ShelterBoxes to the operational hub in Miami. A ShelterBox Logistics team operating out of the city was then able to secure the first, large-scale delivery of ShelterBoxes into Port au Prince. Across the globe, people were supporting ShelterBox in any way they could and volunteers at ShelterBox HQ were packing more boxes, in the shortest space of time, than they ever had before. In Haiti, with more SRT members arriving, ShelterBox was working with French aid agency ACTED, the French Red Cross, the IOM, local Rotarians, the Dutch military and the US military. The partnerships forged allowed ShelterBox to distribute boxes effectively and securely, ensuring aid was delivered to people most in need. In the suburb of Delmas, the SRT worked closely with community leaders to set up 100 tents, prioritizing families with newborn babies and pregnant women. As time has passed, the need for urgent shelter in Haiti has grown. Three plane loads of ShelterBoxes have already left for Haiti with another due to leave on Monday, February 15. When this plane arrives it will take the total number of ShelterBoxes sent to the devastated country to more than 8,000, making this ShelterBox's largest deployment since the Indian Ocean Tsunami. With the need so great and the onset of the rainy season fast approaching, ShelterBox will be committing even more aid. ShelterBox has witnessed a global response to this disaster on a scale never seen before. From children raising money through schools to actors raising money in the West End, London, the support for ShelterBox's work has been sensational. ShelterBox Founder and CEO Tom Henderson said: 'None of this could happen without our friends and supporters. Since the earthquake struck we have witnessed acts of generosity, kindness and compassion on a daily basis. 'People of all ages, from all walks of life, from every corner of the globe have been moved to act; and act they have. 'My heartfelt thanks go out to all our supporters for everything they are doing for ShelterBox. It's a privilege and an honor to be able to help the people of Haiti in their time of great need.' Larry Palant Rotary Club of Suffern D7210 ShelterBox Rep.