Posted by Allan Davis on Jun 07, 2018
We’ve had TWO connections to Shelterbox in our District. Earlier you will recall seeing the scrolling photo of Ned Morris and then later the feature article in the Rotarian with Ned being one of the individuals being assessed.  We’ve actually had TWO connections to Shelterbox in our District and here’s an interview conducted by Fernie Rotarian Ang Qualizza, with the that other connection:
 
[Andre Bloemink, DG Jerri, Ned Morris]

Rotary and ShelterBox, the Perfect Pairing

By: Ange Qualizza

Fernie is lucky to have a ShelterBox ambassador living amongst us, and ever more fortunate because it is Andre Bloemink. Andre is no stranger to mucking into community volunteerism and has been in the Elk Valley for 23 years helping to make our community strong. Andre joined ShelterBox as a volunteer in 2010, and when an opportunity arose to join the management team at ShelterBox Canada Andre shifted his focus.

 

“It seemed like the perfect storm of opportunity, to merge my professional skills with my volunteer passions and focus my energy into something I’ve become so deeply passionate about, it just felt right.” Andre is the Volunteer Program Coordinator for ShelterBox Canada, managing a roster of 120 volunteers across the nation with a target of increasing that number to 400 over three years.

The global ShelterBox network is focused on growth because the numbers of people displaced in the world are growing. Today there are 85- million people displaced due to conflict and natural disaster and that number is expected to reach 220- million by the year 2025.

ShelterBox was created with simple goals. It is an organization of like-minded individuals who are impatient to see a world where no family is left without shelter. By providing emergency shelter and tools for families robbed of their homes by disaster, the aim of ShelterBox is to transform despair into hope.

The organization was started in the United Kingdom by a Rotary club who had a goal to send essential shelter items to affected areas. Through their international project partnership agreement, Rotary International today supports ShelterBox both through fundraising and perhaps even more critically by providing local assistance, “With more than 33,000 clubs worldwide, Rotarians are able to give us first-hand knowledge of many countries in which we respond, logistical and operational assistance and vital links into communities [shelterboxcanada.org]".

A perfect pairing, Rotary is the boots on the ground that ShelterBox needs to have meaningful impact. Rotary’s support has assisted ShelterBox in providing shelter for 32,000 families and enabling them to respond to world events a staggering 24 times in 2017 alone.

When I ask Andre how his morning went, it was -of course- about Guatemala. Guatemala has been left devastated by the most violent volcanic eruption since 1974, and as soon as the volcano erupted, Rotary in Guatemala and District Governor 4250 reached out to ShelterBox. As of this morning, there is a ShelterBox team making their way to Guatemala to lend support.

Andre muses that one of the things he is most proud of within ShelterBox is that their decisions to deploy assistance transcends geo-politics, opinion, tension and anything that might prevent them. They have deployed in North Korea even, and the mandate is always the same, to provide shelter and vital equipment to people displaced from their homes by natural disaster and conflict as expediently as possible.

Right now, Shelter Box has an ongoing response in Syria, Iraq, Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, Somaliland, Dominica and Barbuda. Additionally, ShelterBox is liaising with Rotary clubs in Kenya following the devastating floods that have left 330,000 people displaced from their homes, trying to understand if ShelterBox can help.

 

Indeed, it would appear that ShelterBox and Rotary are the perfect pairing.