As our plane descends into the smog of Dhaka, I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and trepidation. This is my first deployment with the Cornwall based charity ShelterBox and I’ll be on a steep learning curve. I’m travelling with Simon, an experienced ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member. From news and media reports, the affects of Cyclone Sidr have been considerable. Conservative estimates place the number of deaths in the region of 4000 and the number of displaced people at over a million.
Met at the airport by fellow team member Keith who flew out a few days earlier. He’s just back from a recon trip to the southern regions most affected by the cyclone. Despite an overnight bus journey, he’s in good spirits, but the news is bleak. I only hope we will be able to do something for those affected by this terrible tragedy.
At our hotel we are introduced to Mr Faruk, a Rotary club member who with experience of shipping and transport is to help us clear our boxes through customs.
Our first consignment of boxes has just about cleared customs, but 17 signatures were required from various departments, making it a very lengthy process. I can’t believe there’s so much bureaucracy in a disaster situation. It’s later pointed out to me it’s inherited from the British!