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  • Writer's pictureBeltsville News

Local CPA joins Board of international disaster relief org


Sharon Oluga
Sharon Oluga

BELTSVILLE, Md. -- International disaster relief organization ShelterBox USA announced today that Beltsville, Md., resident and CPA Sharon Oluga has joined its board of directors.

ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and other life-saving aid items to individuals and families who have lost everything in disasters and conflicts. Known for its iconic green box, it has served more than 2.5 million people in nearly 100 countries since its founding 23 year ago.

“We are thrilled to welcome Sharon to our board,” said ShelterBox USA President Kerri Murray. “With more than 113 million people displaced around the world due to disasters and conflicts, the need for our work is growing, and we are working to scale up our programs and responses. Sharon’s deep financial expertise will help us reach more of the world’s most vulnerable who have lost everything in an instant.”

Oluga is currently the Senior Director of Financial Reporting and Program Support at PBS, where she handles the broadcaster’s financial statements and annual audits. She was born in Kenya and said she was immediately drawn to ShelterBox’s mission of “no one without shelter after disaster.”

Growing up, she saw droughts and famine ravage Northern Kenya, as well as severe floods rip through other parts of the country.

“There are times when people are literally starving to death,” Oluga said, “then there are parts of the country that have torrential downpours of rain. They cause landslides and people's homes get wiped out."

Often, she recalled, disasters strike the most vulnerable populations.

“Disasters can devastate a community,” Oluga said, “especially ones that are already in dire straits when the disasters strike.”

ShelterBox works with local partners and communities to assess the needs and provide critical aid items after typhoons, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, and in conflict zones. Its customizable aid packages can include tents and other shelter options, home repair kits, solar lanterns, cook sets, warm clothing, stoves, and other items.

In the last year, ShelterBox has launched multiple programs that have helped more than 50,000 people displaced by the war in Ukraine. It has also responded to the catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, and devastating floods in Pakistan. ShelterBox has ongoing programs in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

Storms and disasters that are becoming increasingly severe due to climate change as well as increased political conflict are driving the world’s growing displacement crisis. ShelterBox is seeking to expand its programs and help more people.

Oluga will play a vital role in helping the organization meet the financial management challenges associated with that effort. She discovered ShelterBox USA looking for ways to apply her skillset to the global humanitarian world.

“The whole mission,” she said, “just resonates with me.”

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