In the aftermath of the earthquakes that hit southern Turkey and northern Syria, the Rotary Club of Parker raised over $22,000 to aid ShelterBox USA in their efforts to supply emergency shelter, tools and supplies to those impacted by the damage.
ShelterBox USA is a global humanitarian relief organization that brings emergency shelter and essential supplies to set up a household when families have lost everything in a disaster or conflict situation.
“We’re based on the premise of what are the things that you need to sustain your life if you lose everything in an instant and you’re forced to flee your home,” said President of ShelterBox USA Kerri Murray.
The devastating series of earthquakes has resulted in millions of people being displaced, damaging nearly 57,000 buildings and over 50,000 people have been killed. With people sleeping in the open in freezing temperatures, those at ShelterBox USA are focusing on providing temporary shelters to families.
“What we’re concerned about at Shelterbox is ensuring that in the middle of winter, these families have a temporary place to call home in the aftermath of what’s likely the worst time of their life,” said Murray.
The Rotary Club of Parker is one of thousands across the country and globally and provides an annual donation to ShelterBox USA. In addition to the annual donation to the relief organization, the members of the rotary club raised money in four different ways.
Many of the members provided individual donations, the Rotary Club of Parker Foundation donated money and a member decided to do a one to one match with another member's donation.
As the motto of the Rotary Club of Parker is “service above self”, a member of the club wished not to be named when speaking with the individual.
“We were able to raise $22,500,” said a member of the Rotary Club of Parker. “That means almost 23 shelter boxes, which is a record for us.”
ShelterBox has been airlifting humanitarian relief tents into the impacted areas as well as solar lanterns, water purification units and containers to store clean water.
“A tent is a key item for forced survivorship whether it is a beach or earthquake or hurricane,” said a member of the Rotary Club of Parker. “They need immediate help, these people, because they lost everything.”
Murray said ShleterBox USA is intune to types of displacement situations and therefore brings high thermal blankets, sleeping bags, clothing as well as lightweight mattresses, sleeping mats and cooking equipment depending on the situation.
“I think the worst part of this awful disaster situation that both southern Turkey and northern Syria are facing is that so many people who’ve been affected were already displaced by the civil war that is coming from Syria,” said Murray.
Many people affected in Syria were already IDPs, these individuals were already vulnerable. According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, more than 15 million people in Syria were in need of assistance prior to the earthquake.
Teams from ShelterBox USA on the ground overseas are coordinating with local rotary partners in Turkey and partners in Syria to help mobilize the large-scale emergency response.
ShelterBox USA has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 and 2019 for their continuous work in Syria. The organization has been supporting this area of Syria for 11 years due to an ongoing civil war conflict.
As ShelterBox relies on private charitable donations, the donation from Parker Rotary helped the team in Turkey in Syria provide more supplies.
“They were really much the first group and the first of rotarians that stepped up,” said Murrary. The Rotary club has been just so awesome and is helping to provide charitable support to help fund the response in Turkey and Syria.”
In addition to raising money for organizations such as ShelterBox USA, the Rotary Club of Parker has three major areas of focus. The club provides monthly scholarships for Parker students, community service and international humanitarian services.