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Haitians receive Aussie shelter

Mike Greenslade of Alstonville captures the devastation of the Haiti earthquake while documenting the disaster for his employer Shelterbox.
Mike Greenslade of Alstonville captures the devastation of the Haiti earthquake while documenting the disaster for his employer Shelterbox.

ALSTONVILLE photographer Michael Greenslade was a world away from home during his recent deployment to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

The Northern Rivers dad was sent to Haiti last month by his employer, Shelterbox, the aid outfit that supplied temporary shelter and life-saving essentials to displaced Haitians.

No stranger to documenting disaster, Mr Greenslade has photographed devastation around the world, including floods in Sumatra and cyclones in Taiwan. But Haiti, he said, was ‘by far the worse’.

“The UN has said this is the worst disaster they have ever seen. I’d have to agree with them,” he said.

“These people had nothing to start with. But the earthquake took even that away.”

Much of Mr Greenslade’s photography zoomed in on Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, which suffered enormous damage to infrastructure, including its hospitals.

Shelterbox, which provides kits with basics like blankets, shelter, cooking utensils and light for 10 people, serviced makeshift camps of 30 to 1000 families throughout Haiti.

Mr Greenslade’s job is to document the use of the Shelterboxes in a bid to raise awareness for the Shelterbox charity, which in Australia is supported by Rotary Club Australia.

“They were living in cramped conditions on top of rubble with blankets and bedsheets for overhead cover,” Mr Greenslade said.

“The Shelterboxes were received as the rainy season was approaching.”

But amid the devastation, there were great moments of joy.

According to Mr Greenslade, several babies were born in the Shelterboxes, which were hastily erected at an airstrip near Miami University Field Hospital in Port-au-Prince.

Some of the most heart-breaking moments for the Alstonville photographer were documenting the post-earthquake life of Haitian orphans – the majority of whom were orphaned due to Haiti’s alarming HIV epidemic.

The orphanages were supplied ‘classrooms in a box’ as well as tents.

“To see the damage is heart-breaking. There are so few resources on the ground to assist those in need,” Mr Greenslade said.

Northern Rivers residents are urged to donate to Shelterbox Australia through their local Rotary Club, or directly through its website: www.shelterboxaustralia. org.au

If your club or organisation wishes to help promote this project, there are brochures and a DVD featuring independent footage showing Shelterboxes in operation around the world. Phone 1300 881 913 or email: info@shelterboxaustralia.org.au



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