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Tuesday 29 January 2013

Rotarian helps ShelterBox deliver aid in North Korea
Rotarian helps ShelterBox deliver aid in North Korea Operations Manager and SRT member Alf Evans (middle left) with beneficiaries, DPRK, January 2013.

Shanghai Rotarian Randal Eastman assisted ShelterBox in helping homeless typhoon survivors in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), who have been living in winterised ShelterBox tents throughout the harsh winter, protecting them against the extreme subzero temperatures.

In August 2012, Typhoon Bolaven caused downpours to sweep across east and west coastal areas of the East Asian country leaving around 51,600 hectares of land flooded, buried or washed away; 26,320 people displaced; 50 missing; and 59 dead. This further exacerbated damage caused earlier in the year by a similar storm.

Randal is a past president of the Rotary club of Shanghai in China and also part of the Korean Friendship Network, a non-for-profit network that has been supporting humanitarian projects through Rotary and Rotaract for over a decade. Through his contact with the Korea Committee for the Promotion of International Trade (KOMT), ShelterBox was able to send winterised emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies to North Korea where KOMT distributed it to the most vulnerable families in need.

ShelterBox tents set up in a valley where they received most sunlight to add more insulation, DPRK, January 2013.

'Korean Friendship Network is a loose association of internationally minded Rotarians who want to do our small part to reduce the tension on the Korean Peninsula and enable Democratic People's Republic Koreans to become a closer and more mainstream part of the international family of nations,' said Randal. 'We have many friends there and wish the world to know this as well - the friendship flows both ways.

'I know ShelterBox because of the great work it did in China following the Wenchuan earthquake. I wanted to help the charity because it is wonderful and extraordinarily effective. My desire is to see ShelterBox establish a stronger connection in the DPRK to enable your typical rapid response in the times of disaster.'

ShelterBox Operations Manager and Response Team member Alf Evans (UK) deployed to North Korea to build relations with the implementing partners and verify distributions in the affected counties of Pyongsan, Rinsan, Sohung and Kumchon, around 100 kilometres east of the capital Pyongyang:

Alf Evans talking about why we deployed to DPRK considering the sensitivities surrounding the country, January 2013.

‘Homes destroyed’

‘Many of the homes were easily destroyed by the typhoon being made of mud brick,’ said Alf. ‘The hardiest of families have moved into the tents as they are able to cope with the cold conditions which could be life threatening for some. Temperatures can go as low at -25 degrees Celcius and reach a maximum of -5 during these winter months.

‘ShelterBox has added a thermal liner in between the inner and outer flysheets of the tent but families are also keeping warm by adding straw insulation they have made to go round the shelters. They constantly gather wood to keep fires burning and clear snow around their tent areas to keep them warmer. Also many of the tents are positioned so they get the most of the morning sun, increasing the heat quicker as the sun rises.

‘It was hard for KOMT to deliver the aid to the affected families because of the rugged landscape, petrol costs and cold conditions so we at ShelterBox are very grateful for their assistance. Without this cooperation with them and Rotary, we would have never been able to help these families made homeless by the typhoon.’

Typhoon survivors making straw insulation to go round the tents, DPRK, January 2013.

ShelterBox has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with KOMT, which is an informal mutual agreement that outlines plans of sending more winterised aid in the near future for families affected by disasters in DPRK.

‘Deepest gratitude’

‘We wish to express the deepest gratitude for the kind donation with strong support such as approval of the emergency aid, financing, transportation by sea, related logistics, that ShelterBox has given to our affected people,’ said a representative from KOMT. ‘Also to the Rotarian in Shanghai of China, who actively took part in the humanitarian emergency aid related activities leading to a successful implementation of the project for the benefit of our people.’
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