What with all the major natural disasters occurring on a monthly basis around the world at the moment, I thought I'd share with you an incredible thing called 'Shelterbox'. Though I've tried to keep this blog focused on Brisbane and the sustainability and environmental programs here, I'd also like to share ideas on humanitarian issues, and take a broader look at the world at large too. And what better time to do it than when everyone is helping each other through times of disaster.
Shelterboxes are exactly what they sound like. Boxes filled with everything a displaced family needs to survive, to shelter (and to entertain children).  And presumably they will be sending them to the hardest hit areas of Japan & New Zealand at the moment.
"Each box supplies an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless." Quite a simple idea, yet an incredible one too. 
A US author of Young Adult books, Maureen Johnson, held a twitterthon to raise money for the Shelterboxes to be sent to Christchurch, NZ. She told Publisher's Weekly;“By the end, I began to feel a bit like Jerry Lewis running a telethon,” she said. “I told people to go into the street and shake someone down until money came out. I told kids, ‘Go and bug relatives for money, but don’t take your parents’ credit cards—but if you do, it’s not the worst thing you could do! And kids did go and hit up their parents.” You can read the full story online here. You can also donate directly to Shelterbox on their website

On the topic of shelter, I also wanted to draw your attention to 'Give Me Shelter' - a book for children by Tony Bradman about dispossession and asylum seekers. 
"The phrase 'asylum-seeker' is one we see in the media all the time. It stimulates fierce and controversial debate, in arguments about migration, race and religion. The movement of people from poor or struggling countries to those where there may be opportunities for a better life is a constant in human history, but it is something with particular relevance in our own time. This collection of short stories shows us people who have been forced to leave their homes or families to seek help and shelter elsewhere. Some are about young people travelling to other countries, others are concerned with children left behind when parents are forced to flee. These are stories about physical and emotional suffering, but also about the humanity of some people from host countries who act with generosity and sympathy." 

Lastly on our shelter-related topic, I wanted to point out this Australian organisation FoodWaterShelterinc.
They are, in their own words 'an Australian, non-denominational, non-governmental organisation that builds and manages eco-friendly children's villages with education, social and health facilities for vulnerable women and children in developing countries.' Currently they have a shelter up and running at Kesho Leo in Tanzania, where vulnerable mothers can go with their children and volunteer to look after other orphans. They have there a working organic farm (with the aim toward financial independence and stability), education programs for the wider community, access to health facilities and they aim to create hubs that are 'locally managed, eco-friendly and that leave the locals with improved living and vocation skills'. Started by a couple of Aussie girls who'd traveled in Tanzania, this is another success story about small groups making a large difference outside of governments. I love these start-ups!
Sign up for their colourful and wonderful newsletter here: 

Donate here: http://www.foodwatershelter.org.au/donate-now.aspx
Help out with their shopping list here: http://www.foodwatershelter.org.au/shoppinglist.aspx

Take a little time to be grateful for your shelter tonight. I sure am.
Be safe everyone. xo Snake