Local ShelterBox ambassador deployed to the Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on Nov. 7 killing more than 5,500 people and displacing hundreds of thousands residents.

Fernie resident Andre Bloemink left for the Philippines on Monday

Fernie resident Andre Bloemink was deployed to the Philippines on Monday, November 25 by ShelterBox to help with disaster relief due to the devastation created by Typhoon Haiyan.  Bloemink received the call late last week to go to the Philippines to help with ShelterBox’s ongoing relief efforts. Bloemink was scheduled to land in Cebu City late Tuesday night, and travel by boat to Bantayan on Wednesday.

Bloemink will be on the island of Bantayan, where 27,000 of the island’s 30,000 residents were directly affected by the storm. He will be part of a logistics team arranging shipments of supplies, transportation and communication with customs and officials plus providing situation reports daily to the team leader based out of Cebu City.

“Logistics is a new role for me but I’m a project manager at work so I see it as an extension of that,” said Bloemink. “I am happy to go help.”

ShelterBox deployments are usually two weeks but Bloemink will be going for three. The bulk of assistance is coming from people from the U.K., U.S., Canada and New Zealand, which mean 30 hours of travel so they have asked for three weeks. Bloemink’s two employers Larson Whalen Enterprises Ltd. (LWE) and Fernie Wilderness Adventures have been supportive allowing for a flexible schedule and his work crew at LWE quickly donated $370.

Bloemink had many arrangements to make before his departure on Monday from Calgary. Final immunizations for Hepatitis A and B, a flu shot, purchase anti-malarial medication and book his flights, while continuing fundraising efforts including rallying Elk Valley schools to participate in the Sticking Together fundraiser had Bloemink busy.

He was advised to bring rations, enough food for one week.

“Where I’m going could have been described as a tropical paradise before the typhoon but they were very hard hit. They are mostly small fishing villages so fruit and fish will likely be the staple diet once my rations run out.”

Dengue fever is another mosquito-borne risk, as are cholera outbreaks in disaster areas.

ShelterBox has committed 6,000 ShelterBox’s to the Philippines, which cost $1000 and weigh 55 kgs each.

A standard ShelterBox is a 2x2x3 foot tote full of tools for rebuilding and survival supplies. The container itself can be reused as a crib or a water container. It contains a hammer, axe, pliers, saw, 50 meters of rope, tent, blankets, ground mat, two mosquito nets, a kitchen set of dishes, pots and pans, a LifeStraw Family water filter and a children’s activity.

The tent is meant for a family of six but can hold 10 people. Tents are four meters across, three meters high and wind tunnel tested up to 100 kms per hour. The fact that some Haitians are still living in their tents after an earthquake 7.0 in magnitude in January 2010 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 is a testament to the tent’s durability yet a sad reflection of the lengthily recovery times from large disasters in poorer countries.

The water filter can clean 18,000 liters of water or enough drinking water for a family of five for three years with a basic funnel and tube with screen and charcoal filter design.

Before leaving, Bloemink had contacted most of the schools in School District 5 inviting them to participate in a fundraiser called ‘Sticking Together for the Philippines’. A faculty member(s) will be taped to a wall with sections of duct tape available for purchase. Three schools had committed to the fundraiser before Bloemink was deployed and franchise partners Fernie Home Building Center, Canadian Tire and Alpine Lumber in Sparwood are donating the duct tape. Canadian Tire also offered to buy one for one any Canadian Tire money which can be gathered from students homes.

“I hope people will still favour participating in something quite special here in the Elk Valley,” said Bloemink on Nov. 23. “I am sorry to jump ship somewhat (travel to the Philippines) but I trust that you all understand where my energies should be directed.”

“If we do not meet our goals of $10,000 that is okay as every penny counts! Time is of the essence to meet the due date in two weeks. However, I know we can pull this off.

“This fundraiser could potentially net $30,000 from the Elk Valley schools and a generous offer from Teck Coal. Student donation plus matched grant by Federal Government plus Teck matching donation up to $10,000 equals potentially $30k. This is provided we can get this submitted on or before December 8 to Shelterbox Canada’s office in Toronto.

Since Bloemink’s departure, Randal Macnair has offered to assist with Sticking Together on behalf of Fernie Rotary. Macnair can be reached at randal@oolichan.com or 250-423-7461. For more information on ShelterBox, visit www.shelterboxcanada.org.

 

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