Part of our International Service for many years has been the filling of Emergency Boxes; a project adopted by District 1160 in 1972.
Disasters deprive families of their homes and their possessions. The Emergency Box idea was conceived in the then Rotary district 105 (now 1050) by the late Arthur Bowker, a founder member of the Manchester South Club, a past president of the Dukinfield and Stalybridge Club, a member at that time of the Ashton-under Lyne Club and a member of the District International Committee.
The Box helped by providing the basic provisions that we take for granted but are so desperately needed by those affected by earthquake, flood, drought and war. Members contributed by buying items from a list for the Boxes which, when full, were sent to a central location for storage until required.
Items included: Men’s, Women’s, Children’s and Baby’s clothing including nappies for the appropriate climate; household items; appropriate bedding; toiletries and medical supplies; tools; miscellaneous items (including salt, needles and thread, candles etc). The original contents list was drawn up with the help of ‘War on Want’, the Red Cross and various airline and freight handling staff to get the ideal list for a single box with limited volume. The empty box itself was then used to store food or as a cot, seat or table.
Boxes started as a wooden crate but in 2004 they were made of plastic.
After 35 years, in 2007, Emergency Boxes became known as LifeBoxes, which are now filled with 72 items of tools, clothes, blankets, babycare/hygeine items, toys and classroom materials either both hot or cold climates. The contents lists are specifically tailored by the Red Cross to provide this vital aid for adults and children.
Most importantly, in each box, six water purification LifeStraws (kindly donated by FiltaStraw) are included to cleanse surface water and make it safe for human consumption.
It is just 25 cm long and 29 mm in diameter and can be hung around the neck. LifeStraw requires no electrical power or spare parts. The life expectancy of a single straw can be up to one year from the start of usage (calculation based on the WHO estimate of typical adult consumption of 2 litres water per day) and so provides immediate aid and long term benefit.
Over 26,000 boxes have been filled since the scheme’s inception and sent to more than 26 countries all over the world.
In 2011 LifeBox have announced a new partnership with Disaster Aid International which is set to transform the way aid is delivered by both organisations. LifeBox is also changing its name to Disaster Aid UK to reflect its new status and position within the worldwide network. With 35 years of experience of helping disaster victims, Disaster Aid UK will help with projects in conjunction with Canada, Australia and the USA.
The ongoing support for LifeBox is appreciated and much needed. Each Lifebox requires a contribution of £250.