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ShelterBox family tell of survival after typhoon hit

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 07, 2012

  • A family in the Philippines pack up their ShelterBox tent after using it for eight months since Typhoon Washi and prepare to move into a permanent new home

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Eight months ago Typhoon Washi decimated parts of the Philippines leaving thousands of people homeless and facing an uncertain future.

ShelterBox, the international humanitarian charity based at Helston, Cornwall, heeded the call for help and within weeks sent help to the eastern island of Mindanao.

One of the charity's ShelterBox Response Teams (SRT) made the trip to organise distribution of the charity's iconic green boxes filled with life-saving equipment including tents, blankets and cooking utensils.

Last week the members of the charity travelled to the area to find out what had happened to the families who lost everything.

SRT member Jim Kemp was in the Philippines in the wake of last month's devastating floods and landslides.

The 35-year-old from St Thomas, Exeter is part of an SRT delivering emergency shelter and other non food items in Manila and the mountainous north.

For Mr Kemp, head of design and technology at Uffculme Schools it was his first ShelterBox deployment.

He said: "Just the day before, I was near the capital Manila seeing families made homeless by the recent floods move into ShelterBox tents, so I was eager to hear the experiences of families in Mindanao who had lived in the tents and moved out.

"When we arrived in Cagayan de Oro, it was hard to imagine the destruction that the typhoon had caused.

"The city was getting ready for a festival, shops were open, and the streets were busy and all around were signs of construction.

"We heard that there were still some families living in ShelterBox tents, but the first camp location we went to was empty as the families had recently transferred to more permanent shelters.

"The next site we travelled to at Calaalan was full of activity as the land was being used to build permanent houses.

"Further in the distance we could see the familiar white domes of ShelterBox tents dotted around what had once been a busy camp of more than 200. Just as we arrived, we saw a family taking down their ShelterBox tent and loading it into a truck."

Mother-of-five Evangeline de la Peña lost her house and almost everything they owned when the typhoon hit in December last year.

She told Mr Kemp: "I was very pleased to get this tent from ShelterBox and stay in Calaanan after the typhoon. My children could still go to school while we waited for a permanent house."

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