Dave Raybould's Deployment to the Philippines

Dave, a ShelterBox Response Team Member and Deputy Operations Team Leader, deployed to the Philippines in January 2019 and has subsequently shared his experiences with the ShelterBox Team. Here is his story.

Where to begin

A dilapidated ambulance no longer in use

It was a pretty typical start – Tropical Storm Usman left the Philippines on Monday 31, December 2018.

As the Duty Operations Coordinator at the time, I was monitoring its movements. The storm had low winds, but it dropped a lot of rain that coincided with monsoon rains and high seasonal tides. This produced landslides and flash flooding.

We were quick to respond, the first assessment team flew on Sunday 6, January. I had the fear of ‘The blank canvas’, more than a million people across 15 provinces had been affected by the storm but where to start?

All we had in our deployment objectives was a meeting with a Rotarian in Cebu – where do we start?

Initial Response

One of the first teams’ objectives was to ascertain what the objectives are for the following teams coming in after us.

On arrival, we met with Rotarian Stephen Castillo who was well prepared for us. He set up meetings with Rotary clubs in the worst affected areas.

We were departing Cebu for a six-day assessment within 24 hours of arriving in-country. An assessment that we courteously cut short after visiting two areas over two days, realising ShelterBox would be most effective in Lope De Vega. We needed to focus on that area.

Within two hours of stepping off the plane in Calbayog we were in Lope De Vega municipality building relationships and talking to the Mayor. When we arrived, the Mayor’s office was chaos. There were film crews reporting on the destruction, the military was helping with the response, and photographers capturing every moment. The Mayor was a little shocked by everything that had happened, but very calm.

Coordinating with government

Small 3-Wheeled Tuk-Tuk carrying 3 Shelter Boxes

Of the 22 barangays (Filipino term for village or district) in Lope De Vega, 20 were severely affected, with a total of 2,800 totally and partially destroyed households. We knew we had 2,000 ShelterKits and supporting household aid items in Cebu, with more stock inbound.

The Mayor asked for other forms of aid, at the time, she didn’t want shelter aid unless it was wood or concrete. Fortunately, I was able to show her the recent deployment ‘Deep Dive’ report carried out by the team responding to Tropical Storm Ompong in northern Philippines a few months before.

In the report, the many pictures of ShelterKits in use highlighted how useful and tangible this emergency shelter aid would be. After seeing the images and how useful and immediate our aid could be, she accepted our potential proposal. Another highlight of the work we do, undertaking activities such as Post Distribution Monitoring. It was amazing for me to be able to use the evidence in this scenario with the Mayor.

Rotary Support

Local rotarians giving out ShelterBoxes

Rotary are amazing at providing critical connections during a deployment.

Time and time again we get immediate access to the highest levels of government that ShelterBox on its own would struggle to achieve. This distribution was supported by Catarman and Calbayog Rotary Clubs.

The Rotary club in the affected area was 48 years old with an ageing membership, and they had previously discussed the possibility of winding up. It was heartening for me to see how this response has reignited their membership and how much enthusiastic support they have given the ShelterBox teams. They are determined to make it to their 50th anniversary.

ShelterBox preparedness

Our ShelterBox Response Team Volunteers are an outstanding asset.

My partner was Nathan Heath, a ShelterBox Response Team Volunteer who hadn’t deployed before. Right away he was very well acclimatised and professional. He had all the tools and knowledge to handle being plucked from his day job and dropped into a disaster.






This was a reminder of how fantastic our training team is. They produce a training program that prepares people for this very moment. Spending nearly 18 months recruiting and training people of this caliber.

Finally, acknowledgement that all the hard work and years of planning that went in to setting up ShelterBox Operations Philippines was worth it. The time of writing this is Wednesday 6, February 2019, exactly one month after Nathan and I flew from our homes.

In just over one month, ShelterBox completed distributions of ShelterKits and accompanying aid items to 2,193 households in the Philippines.

What we learned after opening ShelterBox Operations Philippines

In 2017, ShelterBox Operations Philippines (SBOP) was established as a locally registered NGO that is supported by ShelterBox Operations HQ in the UK. SBOP allows us to store aid items in-country so that we can respond and distribute quickly and efficiently within the country, as soon as disaster strikes.

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