ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Laura Dale (UK) delivered aid to up to 2,000 people in Uganda affected by deadly mudslides in April 2010. A journalist based in the South West of the UK, Laura recalls her experiences on her first ShelterBox deployment.
“Standing on the site of the mudslides it was difficult to take in the scale of the disaster. Up to 5,000 people have been displaced with roughly 3,500 based at an internally displaced person’s camp some distance from the mudslides at Bulucheke. More than 1,800 of them are children. Local women, some already very traumatised, told us they didn’t have enough aid and their children were getting sick.
Two hundred ShelterBoxes, hundreds of hoes, stoves and other tools and 12 Classrooms in Box arrived days later. Heavy rain had turned the camp into a mud-pit and the population had increased putting more strain on the already inadequate resources.
The Red Cross had put together a list of the most affected households – women with four or five children under the age of five and families with expectant mothers – ready for distribution. We began training camp volunteers how to put up the tents, use the stoves and other equipment. Tents started to pop up all over the camp as our efforts finally began to pay off.
Families were allocated a tent and immediately set about making it a home, digging the land at the front and putting stones down to create a patio. Stoves were burning out the front of the tents and the camp suddenly had something it had been lacking – a sense of community. Seeing families move into ShelterBox tents filled me with a pride I’ve not felt before. Not of personal achievement or altruistic gain, but of being part of a charity where the difference they make is tangible. Many of the families had lost loved ones and some of them had lost their homes and
belongings. In these desperate times, it felt good to be able to do something, however small, to help.
“It was an emotional experience and one which I find difficult to explain – the photographs fail to capture the scale of the disaster and fall woefully short of expressing the pain and suffering of the villagers who have lost everything. But the experience did bring home the importance of responding to disasters and the work that ShelterBox does.”