Using the wonders of Zoom technology, members of the Wirksworth Rotary Club enjoyed an excellent evening of joint fellowship with the Rotary Club of Valreas Nyons in France on Thursday 25th March. During the meeting, we heard presentations on the activities of our respective clubs. It was interesting to learn that our two clubs shared many common projects, for example we have both been supporting our local foodbanks during the Covid pandemic.
We were joined by Roz Adamson, Aquabox Trustee and Bakewell Rotarian, who gave a very informative talk about Aquabox, which generated much interest from the members of the French club.
Their President, Sarah Cook, is a former colleague of Wirksworth Rotarian Roger Cassidy from their time as members of Marlow Thames RC, hence the connection. Having spent 5 years living in France, Sarah is bilingual and was able to translate between French and English for everyone. She is also an Aquabox Ambassador in her adopted country.
One Aquabox family filter costs just £25 to manufacture, yet it can produce up to half a million litres of clean, safe water. Try to visualise that much water imagine half a million litre bottles. Its hard to think of a better use of £25, isnt it?
If you donate £25 and provide your e-mail address when you make your donation, Aquabox will send you a certificate which you can print out and give to your friends and/or relatives.
On the 18th February, 160 Aquaboxes left the Aquabox depot in Wirksworth Derbyshire, bound for Hand in Hand for Aid (HiHAD) Birmingham, and then onwards to refugee camps in Syria.
In the interim period Aquabox have maintained email contact with their HiHAD partner. Customs and other bureaucratic procedures created delays as is all too often the case, and as a result, no pictorial evidence of how Aquabox aid has been utilised was received until 27th August, but goodness it was worth the wait.
Thanks to the wonderful support for Aquabox by HiHAD, the boxes have all been distributed in refugee camps and are being used to help support the people there. Teams of aid workers carried the boxes to tents and then gave full instruction on how to correctly use and maintain the all-important water filters.
Together our aid will have reached over 160 families and has the capacity to provide safe water for drinking and washing for 1000 people.
Here in the UK, we rarely experience such physical events as earthquake, mud-slide and landslip. In Nepal, these occurrences present a regular threat to life and communities.
One such event happened on 14th August this year in the Sindhupalchowk district. This area is characterised by narrow valleys and steep mountains. It is highly rural with woefully inadequate health services. The communities are wide-spread and heavily reliant on cultivating the poor soils typical of this hilly region.
Over many years Aquabox has developed a strong relationship with the country. It maintains a contingency supply of aid boxes in Kathmandu, ready for secure distribution, through the service of the Gurkhas, Nepal Armed Police and local Rotary clubs at times of need.
Once our aid reached the areas where it was needed, but this was by no means the end of the story. Roads were destroyed by the August landslip and communities were left isolated. 11 people died and 30+ declared missing. Houses were either destroyed or seriously damaged.
The only way to move the aid that arrived was on foot and often through dangerous and difficult terrain as illustrated by these images. But the local people met this challenge with alacrity. It is humbling to witness the efforts they were prepared to make to deliver aid to those in need. Every box hauled up the steep, crumbling pathways represented a life-line for a family, in particular by providing access to safe drinking water where none is available.
All our aid costs a significant amount to supply and distribute across the world and all our income is contingent upon the generosity of donors
If you would like to support us and help families survive the aftermath of disaster such as this please see how you can do this on our website https://www.aquabox.org
AQUABOX, Rotary District 1220’s own disaster relief charity, has managed a rapid response to the Amphan storm in the Bay of Bengal – despite the charity having been shut down since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
From Saturday May 16 to Thursday May 21, Amphan – officially graded as a Super Cyclonic Storm – ripped into the coastal areas on the Bay of Bengal. It was the worst cyclone for the past 20 years, with sustained wind speeds of 150 mph and a peak of 160 mph, and it has resulted in massive damage.
Government sources in the area report that millions of acres of crops have been destroyed due to salt-water flooding, and that more than 200,000 farmers have lost their livelihoods, their homes and belongings. In total, millions of people’s lives have been devastated. On top of that, Covid-19 is already in the area, and although relief camps have been set up, social distancing is impossible.
Mercifully, the death toll from Amphan is low, but with severely limited access to safe water for drinking, personal hygiene, and preparing food, it is likely that many more will suffer and possibly die. That’s where Aquabox steps in, with the Aquafilter – a simple, robust hand-pumped unit which converts polluted water to safe, clean water, and which needs no power source and only minimal maintenance.
Aquabox, which was founded by the Rotary Club of Wirksworth nearly 30 years ago, has shipped two substantial aid packages to Kolkata for local distribution in the cyclone area. The first shipment, by air, left the Aquabox depot in Wirksworth, Derbyshire on June 3 and included 10 community water filters and 60 family filters. At a conservative estimate, the 70 filters will provide clean water for around 4,500 people. The second shipment, by sea, will leave the depot on June 9, and includes 250 Aquabox Gold boxes, each containing a wide range of aid items (shelter building materials, food preparation items and hygiene products) as well as a family water filter. This second shipment will provide access to safe drinking water for a further 1,500 people.
All of this has been achieved despite the current lockdown, because the charity had built up a stock of aid ready to distribute before the lockdown started. Local distribution at Kolkata will be managed through the Eastern Indian Rotary Welfare Trust, a tried and tested partner agency.
Freight costs have risen sharply as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, and in total, these two shipments have cost Aquabox £42,000. That has made a significant dent in the charity’s reserves, at the start of the hurricane season – past experience has shown that there will almost certainly be more demand for Aquabox’s water filters and humanitarian aid boxes before long.
Readers can help to fund Aquabox’s vital work by donating at www.aquabox.org. For more information contact Roz Adamson – firstname.lastname@example.org
The terrible situation in Yemen is the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. People there are trapped in a dreadful cycle of conflict, starvation and sickness. Access to safe drinking water is extremely limited or non-existent.
It is estimated that 17 million are currently at risk (including 11 million children). There have been over 85 000 child deaths since the conflict began.
Water supplies and sanitation systems have been decimated – in some cases deliberately targeted. Cholera is at epidemic levels as a result.
We have acted to support and empower the people in this dreadful environment.
Rotary District 1220’s own charity, Aquabox, and a partner charity, JOY (Jubilee Outreach Yorkshire) have delivered and successfully distributed three humanitarian aid packages to the country over the past two years. This has been accomplished despite the intrinsic danger to those acting on our behalf.
The joint consignments contain Aquabox’s family water filters and other items of humanitarian aid together with much needed dried food and medical supplies/equipment from JOY. Over 5000 people have been supported by our aid, many in small family groups. More is needed.
The latest shipment has now been distributed to local groups and we were so pleased to received images of our aid reaching families.
Please help support us in this and other work we do to supply safe drinking water and aid to those in need in disaster areas across the world.
The weather is causing lots of hardship at the moment. Below are some of the International appeals happening right now.
As I am sure you all know, many of the cites along the Gulf Coast of the United States have been devastated by category 4 Hurricane Harvey with winds of over 130 miles an hour and over 50 inches of rain. It’s the heaviest storm on record anywhere in the U.S. outside Hawaii and it is still raining.
This severe rainfall has caused historic flooding along the Texas coast, including in Houston. Deluged towns in the region are in desperate need of aid as thousands of residents were forced to flee their homes. Cities like Rockport, Texas have been completely destroyed. The Greater Houston area with a population of over 6.5 million people (the fifth-largest metropolitan area in the United States) has had over 3.7 million people leave the region in the evacuation effort. Others remained trapped inside their homes, as entire neighborhoods were submerged.
Hurricane Harvey is predicted to be the costliest natural disaster in the history of the U.S., with a damage cost exceeding Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. AccuWeather predicts that the damage cost will hit $160 billion.
Earlier this morning, Presidential Aide Don Mebus and Past RI Director Greg Podd hosted a strategy conference call with governors from Districts 5930, 5840, 5890, 5910 and 6200 in Texas and Louisiana to develop a cohesive response.
A Gulf Coast Disaster Relief Donor Advised Fund (DAF) has been established by Greg Podd and President-Elect Barry Rassin through The Rotary Foundation to collect relief contributions. Don and Greg are working with leaders from the affected districts to create a process for disbursing DAF funds to their respective district foundations or local 501c3 organizations to support local relief efforts.
A voluntary group from Wirksworth, Derbyshire, which provides safe drinking water and humanitarian aid worldwide to those in need has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
More than 70 volunteers from the local community attend the Aquabox depot each week to assemble the water filters or pack the boxes with humanitarian aid, ready for dispatch to countries suffering from the effects of disasters, whether natural or man-made.
Aquabox is managed and run by the Rotary Club of Wirksworth. In recognition of the award, chairman of trustees Mike Tomlinson and his wife Dianne, a fellow Aquabox volunteer, attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 24 May 2016 hosted by the Queen, where they met with other winners of this year’s award.
Mr Tomlinson said: “Everybody connected with Aquabox is absolutely thrilled with this accolade, which recognises the hard work and dedication of all the volunteers who selflessly give up their time to ensure this vital aid goes to places where it’s needed most.
“Dianne and I were proud and humbled to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent all of the volunteers at the Buckingham Palace garden party. It’s fantastic that Aquabox has been recognised in this way, and it was also an honour to meet with representatives of other important charities doing great work in the UK and overseas.”
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Sir Martyn Lewis, said: “I warmly congratulate all of the inspirational voluntary groups who have been rewarded for their community work with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The thousands of volunteers who give up their spare time to help others in the community and to help solve problems demonstrate the very best of democracy in action.”
Since its formation in 1992, Aquabox has distributed more than 105,000 boxes to crisis zones across the world. It recently sent 4,500 boxes to Turkey and Lebanon to aid Syrian refugees, and shipped almost 2,000 boxes to earthquake-hit Nepal. The plastic boxes consist of a water-filtration unit, cooking utensils, hygiene equipment, tools, shelter materials, baby clothing and educational items.
The charity relies entirely on donations and fundraising to purchase the boxes and their contents.
Aquabox is one of the 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of awards given this year is slightly higher than last year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work with their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
Aquabox will receive the award from William Tucker, the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, later this summer.