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Rotary Clubs Provide Emergency Shelters, Supplies to Cyclone Victims
Date:5/9/2008

Shelterbox among the first international relief groups to reach stricken Myanmar

EVANSTON, Ill., May 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As major relief agencies waited for access to cyclone ravaged Myanmar, among the first charities actually to reach the affected area was Shelterbox, a grassroots disaster relief organization supported by Rotary clubs around the world.

A specially trained team of volunteers was on the ground Thursday (May 8) preparing to distribute more than 800 Shelterbox containers, each providing a tent, blankets, a multi-fueled stove, a water purification kit, tools and other necessities to help a family of 10 survive for six months. Some containers carried two 10-person tents, doubling the shelter capacity. The first Shelterbox deployment will benefit more than 10,000 people.

Shelterbox founder and Rotary club member Tom Henderson says 224 containers left a pre-positioned site in Dubai on Tuesday. Another 220 boxes left from Melbourne, Australia, while 400 are in route from Shelterbox headquarters in Cornwall, England.

Beth Palmer, executive director of Shelterbox USA, the charity's regional affiliate in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., says her phone has been "ringing off the hook" as U.S. Rotary club members call to donate in the wake of the disaster. She also notes a spike in online donations. Similar reports came from Shelterbox offices in Australia, Canada and Germany.

Henderson says the team will work in cooperation with local groups in Myanmar to line up transportation and determine where the shelters will do the most good amid the massive devastation, which includes estimates of up to 100,000 deaths, 70,000 people missing, and the destruction of entire communities, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless.

Shelterbox started in 2001 as a modest project by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard, England, and quickly garnered support among Rotary clubs worldwide. To date Shelterbox has raised $29 million and delivered aid to 40 countries in response to more than 70 disasters. Each Shelterbox container costs $1,000 to sponsor, and Rotary clubs provide more than half of the charity's funding. Visit http://www.shelterbox.org for more information.


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SOURCE Rotary International
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