Guest blog: Shelter Box.
Supporting flood-affected families in Bolivia
BOLIVIA/TRINIDAD. MAY 2014. Many flood-hit families are temporarily staying in ShelterBox tents across various camps like this one in Trinidad. (Jon Berg/ShelterBox)ShelterBox has been working with Oxfam and Rotary in Bolivia to bring emergency shelter and vital supplies to families forced from their homes due to widespread flooding.
Earlier this year in February, heavy rains caused slow onset flooding across the centre and northern parts of the land-locked Latin American country. Thousands of families in the area had no choice but to uproot and leave their homes and belongings behind in search of other shelter.
Aware of ShelterBox’s work, Rotarian Freddy Mercado in the flooded region contacted the disaster relief charity’s operations department, bringing its attention to the scale of the disaster for it was not in the media spotlight.
‘As of the latest reports [February] close to 60,000 families have had their homes damaged in towns and villages in the northern areas in particular,’ wrote Freddy. ‘84,000 cattle have been lost destroying livelihoods and possibly creating a food crisis in the making. In Santa Ana, 90% of their cattle was lost.’
BOLIVIA/SANTA ANA. MAY 2014. Santa Ana is still flooded after four months. (Jon Berg/ShelterBox).
Through Oxfam, who already had a presence in the country, ShelterBox sent prepositioned aid from Panama to Bolivia to help communities in need rapidly. Camps have been set up in Trinidad, Santa Ana, Rurrenabaque and San Buenaventura in partnership with Oxfam. Another camp in Riberalta has been set up through cooperation with World Vision.
‘Protecting against the elements’
ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Jon Berg travelled to Bolivia as part of a Response Team to verify distributions and meet some of the families.
‘I met one family of three generations in Trinidad who were living in a ShelterBox disaster relief tent,’ said Jon. ‘The tent was not only protecting them against the elements but also allowed them to stay together as one family.
BOLIVIA/TRINIDAD. MAY 2014. One of the many children who received a teddy bear as part of their family’s ShelterBox aid package, bringing them a sense of normality that is important during times of trauma. All the bears have been hand-knitted in Cornwall, UK, where ShelterBox headquarters are located. (Jon Berg/ShelterBox).
‘I learned that what they were most impressed with were the kitchen sets provided for them also in their ShelterBox aid package. They were so proud and overjoyed as not only had they lost everything and this was giving them something to eat with, but the quality of the set was significantly higher than what they had previously owned.
‘Sense of normality’
‘I also met a mother with two children who were enjoying the bears they received amongst their ShelterBox aid. These now make up a significant proportion of the number of toys the children have enabling them to play and return to a sense of normality.’
Thanks to our supporters, hundreds of families in Bolivia now have the shelter and protection needed to assist them to start anew. Thank you.
And thank you too to Shelter Box for providing this interesting item for turquoisemoon.co.uk
Catherine Broughton is a supporter of Shelter Box and of several other charities; she is a novelist and also runs and owns a holiday domaine in France. Visit www.seasidefrance.com.