In the aftermath of the huge Asian tsunami a charity based in Helston, Cornwall got a lot of media attention. ShelterBox, the brainchild of Tom Henderson, developed a very simple way of sending practical aid to people anywhere affected by natural and other disasters - floods, tidal waves, earthquakes, war whatever.
Their mission statement is "To provide humanitarian aid worldwide in the form of shelter, warmth and comfort to people displaced by natural and other disasters." The brilliantly simple way they do this is to provide tough green plastic boxes each of which contains a 10 person tent and ancillary equipment to enable 10 people to survive for at least 6 months. These ancillaries will depend on the location to which the boxes are destined. Examples of included items that have been sent are insulated groundsheets, thermal blankets, cooking equipment and water purification tablets. Having seen one of their boxes and what they can get into it well it's truly amazing.
The whole box and its contents would cost about £500 but the wonderful thing is that ShelterBox tell you on their website here what the individual constituents cost. So maybe one would like to send them a donation for one sleeping bag say - you will know exactly what that is and you can be sure that is how your money will be spent. For those folk understandably wary of how much 'slippage' there is any donation to a charity for admin, wages, etc this is like a breath of fresh air.
As a passionate environmentalist I do get concerned at times about the ever increasing amount of air traffic but always try to look at issues from a balanced perspective. Thus I say thank goodness for successful airline companies who have the capacity to get the ShelterBoxes quickly and cheaply to foreign airports. Yes there are pluses when it comes to air travel!
Not surprisingly ShelterBox are organising deliveries to southern Mexico in response to the severe flooding in the Tabasco region. What I found interesting though was the deployment of some 200 boxes to North Korea last month following floods in that impoverished country. That state is usually pretty well out of bounds to westerners and I once saw some disturbing TV footage which demonstrated the complete indoctrination of children in North Korea to hate the west. So the efforts of ShelterBox in helping that country has an incalculable benefit in showing them that we are not all ogres, apart from the direct humanitarian aid that they are receiving.
I just cannot speak too highly of this wonderful charity.