PROVIDING SHELTER: Mike Greenslade, from Rous Mill, is the general manger of ShelterBox Australia which provides shelter to those affected by natural disasters.
PROVIDING SHELTER: Mike Greenslade, from Rous Mill, is the general manger of ShelterBox Australia which provides shelter to those affected by natural disasters. Graham Broadhead

Providing shelter where needed most

MIKE Greenslade has seen the worst Mother Nature can dish out, having travelled to disaster areas around the world.

He has been there with ShelterBoxes to provide those who have lost their homes with the most basic of human needs, shelter.

And with that comes warmth and dignity, he said.

Mike, from Rous Mill, is the general manager of ShelterBox Australia, a position he has held for two years.

He started volunteering with the not-for-profit UK-based organisation in 2006 after encouragement from his rugby mates in England because of his extensive travel experience.

As part of the volunteer emergency response team, he has delivered ShelterBoxes to places like Haiti, Sumatra, Italy, Nigeria and Brazil in 21 deployments.

He said working with ShelterBox was a "hugely rewarding" thing to do.

Often he doesn't think about what the emergency shelter means to the people who receive it at the time - that comes later.

"You watch these things (the result of natural disasters) on TV, and you often feel quite helpless," he said.

"When you are on the ground, you've got a lot to think about.

"You have to concentrate on the job at hand."

ShelterBox was set up by Rotarians in the UK in 2000 and the response team was established in 2004.

The box itself contains a tent - there are five different sizes available - blankets, water purifiers, solar lights, kitchen utensils, children's activities and a mozzie net, plus more.

The boxes can be customised to suit the needs of the area where they are going, or individual items can be sent in bulk.

The role of the emergency response team is to travel with the ShelterBoxes, get them through customs, arrange transport and work with the appropriate people - that could mean anyone from a village chief to a government officer - to get them where they are needed most.

The tents are designed for long-term use, and Mike has just returned from Nepal where people are still living in ShelterBox tents 18 months or so after the earthquake hit that region.

It costs $1000 to equip each box, and they are placed in bulk in various locations around the world. Many Rotary clubs sponsor boxes.

Thousands of boxes have been sent to disaster areas, including, most recently, Fiji.

Australia has 14 volunteer emergency responders, and there are 200 worldwide.

He thanked all the donors who support ShelterBox, saying they are an important part of the ShelterBox team.

Since settling locally, Mike has joined the Rotary Club of Alstonville.

You can learn more about ShelterBox at a display at Alstonville Plaza on Saturday, April 23, from 9.30am to 1pm.

The Rotarians will be holding a fundraising sausage sizzle, with Coles at Alstonville donating foodstuff.



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