Friday 24 August 2012
Mike Perham revisits China with ShelterBoxMike Perham with his Spaceship van he is driving around the world in, in aid of ShelterBox.
Record-breaking adventurer Mike Perham has been driving around the world in aid of ShelterBox. During his drive through China, he visited the Sichuan Province where ShelterBox responded to a 7.9-magnitude earthquake on 12 May 2008.
'Just a couple of days ago on Sunday, I was very fortunate to be able to go back to a place where ShelterBox had previously deployed to. Back in 2008, an earthquake struck the Sichuan Province, which is the area around the city of Chengdu in the Southwest of China. Here it was estimated that five million people were made homeless.
'I was invited to visit the town of Bailu, where ShelterBox deployed, and meet one of the beneficiaries who received a box. I was originally planning to also visit the town in the mountains where he was from and where everything had been destroyed, but there had recently been a landslide blocking the road making the town inaccessible.
'I was accompanied by a few of the key people who helped distribute the aid to those in need back in 2008. One was Tony Zhang, a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member based in China. Tony was invaluable in translating! Also especially noteworthy were all the Rotary members who were instrumental in coordinating the deployment.
'At first we had a walk around the main town of Bailu at the bottom of the valley that had been completely rebuilt. There wasn’t one original building that I could see, which illustrates the scale of devastation that happened when the earthquake struck.
'I was very honoured to be able to sit down with Liu Shunging, one of the ShelterBox recipients, and ask him a few questions about what happened during the earthquake and what difference the ShelterBox aid had made.'
Photograph taken on the 2008 ShelterBox deployment to China when it responded to the earthquake in May with its older green disaster relief tents.
Can you describe the events of the day when the earthquake struck and what happened?
At the time the earthquake struck, everybody was shocked. They rushed out into the mountains and they didn’t know what to do. Everything was a huge mess.
Was your home destroyed?
Yes, my whole home collapsed.
In the first 24 hours how and where were you living?
At first we lived in a temporary shelter built by plastic and debris. This was built like a tent. Thirty to forty people had to live in this area for a short while.
When you received your ShelterBox, how did you feel?
We felt excited when receiving the boxes as compared with the initial government shelters, the tent is really good quality because the material is waterproof. We also found some really useful items in the box. We found some items such as the hammer, axe, water container and some tools. We felt so excited receiving the boxes.
The villagers and I, we also use the green box as a storing place we put our own things in it after we take out the tent and items. We made good use of the green box. I still have the green box in my house.
Is there anything you think we could add to this box?
Everything is there, including bowls and cooking items. Everything is ready.
What do you think when you see the box in your home?
When I see this green box right now, the memories come to me that everybody around me knew that the boxes were from the UK. This is a British tent, which is good quality. We have a waterproof tent so when it’s raining the tent is also dry inside. It stops insects getting in as well.
How long were you living in the tent?
More than two months. After this we moved into a prefab house from the government.
If you had a message for the disaster relief organisation ShelterBox, what would it be?
At that crucial moment when we got the temporary shelter, representing all the villagers here, I want to show my greatest thanks to ShelterBox for providing this shelter for us at the moment when we faced great difficulty just surviving.
'It’s not hard to see that the aid sent out by ShelterBox made a huge difference for those in need, I hope that by speaking with previous ShelterBox recipients, I will be able to convey their message of thanks and the huge effect the aid had to many people around the world,' said Mike.