Welcome to the official blog for Raleigh India 12I | July - August 2012

Welcome to the Official Blog for Raleigh India 12J September - December 2012.

Sunday 20 April 2008

Final Farewells - End of Spring Expedition 08C

By Country Director, Gavin Shelton

This morning the staff team find themselves in the somewhat alien position of having no Venturers to be responsible for any longer! After some very emotional goodbyes at Bangalore airport and Mysore bus station the staff have set off on tying things up to close down Raleigh’s first expedition in India.

The current mood at Fieldbase is a mixture of elation, sadness, joy and reflection as we all look back on a truly incredible shared experience. It’s been a roller coaster ride for everyone involved.

The salient point that emerged from speaking to the staff this morning is that everyone has been deeply impressed by the young people who have made this expedition a great success. A number of the staff have commented that they really hadn’t expected they would have been so profoundly affected by saying goodbye to all of the Venturers.

On a personal level I feel enormously privileged to have spent time with a very diverse group of young people and staff who are thoughtful; considerate; passionate about bringing about positive change in the world and quite simply an inspiration to be around.

On behalf of all of the staff on Raleigh’s first expedition in India; our partner organisations and the communities in which we’ve been working, I want to say a huge thank you to all of the young people who’ve stretched themselves beyond what they thought was possible to make a genuine difference to the people around them.

To all of the parents and guardians of the young people who have been in our care I want to say that your bravery and trust in them was well placed. We are all humbled and in awe of their personal achievements.

Saturday 19 April 2008

End of Expedition

Yesterday was a very sad day for us all here at Fieldbase: we said goodbye to our venturers who are now making their way either back home or onwards to travel further around India and abroad independently.

There were many tears, from venturers and staff alike; it was not easy to say goodbye to such great new friends after spending an amazing ten weeks together. It now seems so long ago when our 39 venturers arrived at Fieldbase on the 11th of February to begin their adventure in India, and yet the time has flown by in a flash of hard work, laughter, fun and changeover parties!

I would just like to say a massive congratulations to each and everyone for all their amazing achievements and a huge thank you to everyone who produced and shared poems, songs, drawings, stories and great photographs from their alpha groups for use in the magazine, blog and to decorate Fieldbase.

And finally, more thanks and a big hug (again) to all the wonderful Project PROs (Alice, Charlie, Christina, Josie, Olivia, Sarah, Thomasin, Tom, Venetia and Will) for all their hard work keeping me up-to-date with the news, gossip and activities from their project sites, including some fantastic reports for the blog and magazine.

Don't forget, it doesn't end here! Raleigh is not just about an expedition, it's about being a part of a community of like-minded people. Stay involved with Raleigh through the alumni section on the website where you can keep in touch with your expedition friends, share memories and photos and learn about Raleigh societies and other volunteering opportunities.

Check it out at www.raleighinternational.org/raleigh_alumni

End of Expedition Venturer's Party photos:

Alpha Two - End of Environmental Phase

Alpha Two - End of Expedition

By Project PROs Olivia Hayward and Alice Tyler

Alpha 2 - aka "the Nagarhole family" have just completed three weeks in the National Park. They successfully completed ten elephant proof trenches, some of which were enormous, however, due to their great team work and enthusiastic attitude, they managed to keep work levels to a maximum.

They did a variety of other activities in the afternoons, including a memorable trip to a refreshing waterfall, a brilliant safari where the bus intrigued a nearby elephant and a superb trek in Nagarhole. This unique experience involved a walk through the park with the rangers, who showed the group various species of plants with medicinal and survival purposes along with animal tracks, which included the enormous paw marks of a tiger.

There were also numerous visits to the nearby town of HD Kote, where the group stocked up on energy foods and became acquainted with the local cafe owner. When at the Bungalow, the group enjoyed a "Bungalow Olympics" morning: 3-legged races, jerry can relay, shot-put and a very memorable and enjoyable "washing-up liquid wrestling" match!

The group bonded so well as a team; they felt like family members, so were very sad to leave the Bungalow to return to Fieldbase one last time. They all enjoyed themselves hugely and are proud to leave behind some excellent elephant barriers, which will hopefully last a long time and protect the locals living just outside the National Park.

Friday 18 April 2008

Alpha Three – End of Adventure Phase

By Project PRO Christina Corder

After a long bus journey to Kerala we arrived at our campsite ready for our 11 day trek. The first day was really hard and a few people struggled. By the third day we got to the top of the mountain, after a day of tears and sweat. We continued our trek as the days went on and it became easier for all of us. Certain members of the team suffered from sore knees and tendons, but we carried on and finished our trek as a very happy group!

After our tear jerking trek, we jumped on the bicycles and began our two days of mountain biking – now this was sweat and tears extreme.

For the kayaking, we travelled through the backwaters of Kerala and on finishing, we felt we had a really strong team and had achieved a lot out of this phase. I found it very challenging but so much fun and came back feeling really proud of our team.

Alpha Three


The team take a rest

Tori and Georgia

The boys and the samba rice: Guy and Bruno


Reflections on the expedition

At first when I came to Raleigh International I did not really know what to expect. Now I am here I am so happy I grabbed this opportunity with both hands. I have learned to understand other people’s cultures and views – this expedition has opened a new career option and path for me and has changed my life and I thank all the people for making this experience more real.

It’s been absolutely amazing from the start to the end –from digging elephant trenches to building eco-sanitation units, learning Kannada and the improving our own personal strength by trekking, mountain biking, getting hurt in places you could never imagine and kayaking the wonderful backwaters of Kerala.

Whoever is reading this, I want to say that there are not enough hours in the day to explain what Raleigh has done for me. One of the most important things I have learned is that you have to put into life what you want to get out of it.

Thursday 17 April 2008

Alpha One – End of Community Phase

By Project PRO

Tom Boles
Alpha 1 survived the trial by children at Hosekerasunda and have returned to Fieldbase. We had an amazing time integrating with the community and constructing the toilets. We finished them in record time and painted a mural on the side of the tool shed with a world map. The community welcomed us with open arms into their homes and lives, even despite the obvious language barrier, we were still able to have a massive game of kabbadi and insult the masons – all in good jest! There were even marriage proposals!

The phase was spent in a mixture of working on site to help the masons, painting the mural, relaxing by the reservoir and entertaining the children, who are there from the second you wake up until you go to sleep. The phase finished with a big Closing Ceremony where all the toilets were opened and the village and alpha 1 showed their thanks. On leaving there were many tears and Raleigh has left a mark on a small area of Karnataka and we have taken away an experience that will last a life time.

Qathab and Sathyajith

Bella and Laurie

Children from Hosekerasunda School open the ceremony

Hosekerasunda village gather around for the speeches


Looking beautiful in their sarees - Bryony and Freya

Speeches: William D'Sousa from Myrada (project partner)

PM Hana is welcomed to the ceremony

Opening the eco-sanitation units

Alpha One's magnificent mural

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Message from Fieldbase

Project Manager, Suzanne Leamy has been spending Phase Three at Fieldbase to assist with the plans for End of Expedition, review the staff induction programme and project planning with Country Director, Gavin Shelton.

Here is an introduction to the events that will be taking place next week once the Venturers return.

Fieldbase – Phase Three
By Suzanne Leamy

Flares of excitement and moments of melancholy have been hitting Field Base as we await the inevitable end of expedition. Anticipation, exhilaration and eagerness are running through the veins of Field Base staff as we are frantically preparing for the venturers return so we can kick off all the activities that have been feverishly planned.

The Alpha groups will be rocking up to the base at approximately 10am on Wednesday 16th to collect some of their valuables and to off load all their kit from phase. They are then going on an adventure to the metropolis of Mysore with the Project Manager team to see some sights and go souvenir shopping, to make their back packs even heavier than when they first arrived – if that’s possible!

Over the next few days we will have challenge events, the expedition slide show, barbeques and the ever popular skits!

Friday night to end it all we are throwing a masquerade ball which all of the staff team have been busy with - eagerly preparing what outfits to wear and what kind of mask we are going to produce for the night. Our evenings have been hectic and last night Photographer Brian and DPM Tim Berriman joined the girls in pampering themselves by applying face masks – trying to make miracle improvements to trek worn man type hairy faces that I’m not even convinced Merlyn the magician could perform.

As a Project Manager for the previous two phases on the Environmental Project in Nagarahole National Park I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work in Field Base on this phase and see how much planning and hard work goes in by all the staff in here to ensure that we have a successful, enjoyable and fun expedition here in the enchanting country of India. All that’s left now is for everyone to come back together for one last time. I’m pretty sure there will be lots of tears as we say goodbye to newly made friends but I’ll leave you with an Irish quote that sums what will happen when it’s all over:

‘Is milis dá ól é ach is searbh dá íoc é” (It’s sweet to drink but bitter to pay for)

Sunday 13 April 2008

News Flash

Alpha Two informed Fieldbase yesterday that they had just finished building a massive 8-post trench, (the length across the top of the trench) which they claimed to be the largest made by all alpha groups yet. Despite suggestions that another group had already made the same size trench in a previous phase, our PROs at alpha two for this phase are adamant that their trench was bigger, and just better.

When asked to comment, Suzanne Leamy, previously Project Manager at alpha two for phase one and two confirmed that an 8-post trench had already been constructed by alpha two in phase two and denies any suggestions that this trench could possibly be larger, never mind better.

Thursday 10 April 2008

Morning Round-Up

We asked the groups to give us a quick report on their progress to date to keep you all informed on the latest from our project sites:

Alpha One
Date - 10/4/08
Weather - misty

Alpha One have been building-up the last two toilets and plastering, after a couple of days holiday in the village for Ugadi festival. They have also been busy drawing and painting a mural and last night had a trip to the Myrada camp (local NGO and Raleigh's project partner for the community phase) where they enjoyed some lovely food and a relaxing evening.

Today on returning from Myrada, the group will be continuing with the plastering of their 10 toilets.

Alpha Two
Date - 10/4/08
Weather - foggy

Alpha Two are back working on another trench this morning, having completed eight to date! Other exciting activities have included Bungalow Olympics and salsa lessons. A few days ago, Alpha Two planted a row of trees and sowed seeds in a new tribal village nearby, which quickly escalated into a mud fight. In exchange for all this hard work they are off for lunch in the town of HD Kote this afternoon.

Alpha Three
Date - 9/4/08
Weather - great weather!

Alpha Three arrived at Kumili camp at 2pm after a 27 km walk. They had a fantastic time by the lake for their 'rest day'; enjoying some great weather, with sunburn consequences... Tomorrow will mark the start of the cycling for the group, a two day trip heading towards the Arabian Sea, but unfortunately not all downhill!

Tuesday 8 April 2008

8th April

Here's the latest from our Environmental group in the National Park, we'll get some photos up soon to follow:

Alpha Two – Phase Three Update
By Project PROs Alice and Olivia

A week has gone by for Alpha Two’s final phase and the group have made great progress, completing six trenches, working our way through Monnie’s ipod and seeing loads of amazing wildlife.

Today’s safari trip yielded brilliant results; a trip to the elephant sanctuary saw many venturers getting up close and personal with reformed elephants and even feeding a baby one. We were especially lucky to see many wild elephants not to mention the many peacocks, bison and samba deer.

Other activities at the bungalow have included pool-making, lots of volley ball and lots of raucous music when electricity allows. Thanks to a few venturers’ special skills we have enjoyed many delicious meals ranging from noodles and ketchup to Indian fish curry and of course, porridge. Because of the delicious food, alpha two has started up an exercise regime in order to fight the flab!

We have enjoyed a presentation by WWF’s main man Mr Boomanithan showing us the context and vital importance of our work, adding pride and satisfaction to our feelings of physical exhaustion at the end of the day.

We have also had a visit from Photographer and pasta whizz, Dario, who has come out to India to do some Raleigh Head Office work with us. He took some amazing snaps for us working and on safari before cooking us a delicious meal of pasta with a fresh tomato sauce enjoyed by all.

We are hoping our final phase will continue with lots more elephant sightings, loud music and great food!

Thursday 3 April 2008

"This is Alpha Three with a SITREP for Zero..."

Here are some reports on Alpha Three's progress so far, along with some photographs taken by Project Manager Kate:

Alpha Three - Chattamunnar Trek

30/3/08 - Weather is cold and cloudy. We've trekked 28 km and climbed 1300 m today. Reached the campsite in good time.

Up...and up...

31/3/08 - Weather is overcast with rain. Trekked the 26km to Silent Valley. There are a few blisters in the group, but everyone is keeping positive. The mountain tomorrow...

1/4/08 - Weather is misty with possible rain and thunder. We trekked 17km up the second highest mountain in Southern India and reached the summit at 1200 hours. Tour of a tea factory planned for the afternoon. Morale is high. Plan for a lie-in tomorrow and then walk the 3hrs route to Lakeside where we can all enjoy a swim and a well-deserved wash!

Will, still looking happy

Project Managers Jenny and Sally enjoy a warming cup of tea

Country Programme Manager, Mark Ashby who spent the first few days of the trek with the group

Alpha Three victorious - at the top of the mountain

Tuesday 1 April 2008

1st April

Changeover Two

By Logs Sally Dalman

At ten to two the very loud music and singing coming down the drive announced the arrival of Alpha 3. Looking very tired, bedraggled, tanned, fit and smelling slightly they gave us a loud rendition of ‘Alpha Cool’, sung to the tune of ‘Daddy Cool’, to celebrate their arriving first at fieldbase and beating the other two groups home. Who said they weren’t competitive? Alpha One arrived 5 minutes later, looking slightly less tired, bedraggled but just as tanned and, if it is possible, with a stronger aroma. Alpha 2 arrived half an hour later (late as usual!) and everyone was welcomed by DPM, Tiny Tim, or as he prefers to call himself, Tasty Tim.

I spent the afternoon raiding the supermarkets of Mysore for porridge, and buying kit to replace that that had been broken or ‘borrowed’ by the villagers. The evening was spent chilling out and catching up with old friends; amazing after 2 months that we class each other as old friends already.

Wednesday started very early for the logs team as we had a bbq to prepare for. The bbq had been awesome at the previous changeover so we had to really outdo ourselves and better it, if we could. Can you better perfection? Ummm, can ya, can ya???? No of course not. We went to the meat market, which hasn’t changed in centuries and has resident birds of prey swooping around rather than the gulls and pigeons we are used to at home. It is also a great place to go if you are considering becoming vegetarian, as there is a lot of livestock squawking incessantly and being slaughtered on sight. We then spent an hour in Mannars Market haggling over vegetables and salad to get what turned out to be a 20p discount!

The afternoon was spent chopping the veg and getting more and more excited about the Pirates Party planned for later that evening. The fieldbase staff had been so excited about the party that they had spent the evening before changeover in their costumes playing with the plastic swords and drawing beards on each other. The bbq went really well, the chicken and sausages magnificently cooked by our resident ‘almost naked’ chefs, James, Laurie and Bruno, complete with chef’s hat.

The staff could contain themselves no longer and had to get ready during the bbq, and spent an extraordinary amount of time making sure their beards, gold hoop earring, leather belts and eye patches were in the right place and that all of our matching costumes still matched and generally having an enormous amount of fun. We then charged the participants in a mutiny on the bounty style, but they just stared at us with bemused looks on their faces, then jealous looks, and then finally, fear (as we did look very convincing and sounded very savage and pirate).

The skits that took place later were as good as ever, and amongst other things contained a Big Brother theme, singing ‘The wheels on the bus’ complete with actions, dancing, lots of shouting and a song about a girl from Bristol, that is far too rude to repeat, but Jason will be teaching everyone before they leave. Alpha 2 won the skit competition, and whilst I don’t wish to cast aspersions, the glamorous assistant on the scoreboard was an Alpha 2 PM, so I think we can draw our own conclusions!

During the week leading up to changeover a festival had taken place around India, called Holi, where everyone throws powdered dye at each other and no one is allowed to change their clothes all day. The fieldbase team had had such good fun joining in we thought it would be a great idea to attack the participants with dye. The plan backfired slightly, and we got covered from head to toe in bright pink, green, yellow, orange, purple and reds. They then helped us to wash the dye off by throwing us in the swimming pool that they had built earlier in the day, which was incredibly kind of them. We all decided to stay in the pool because as soon as we tried to get out we were thrown back in so we all took the opportunity to wash our hair. Everyone then danced the rest of the night away comparing dye splats and sword fighting.

Friday morning arrived too soon, with everyone sporting varying shades of yellow and green in their hair. Turns out that the dye is a lot more permanent that we had realized! After phase 3 project allocations the kit was handed out, whilst Thomasin (who was sadly leaving us on Saturday) and I spent the afternoon at Mysore Palace. We enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon, happily knowing that everyone else was really busy at work whilst we sat in the glorious sunshine and ate ice cream.

After a final dinner of curry (no surprises there!) most of the group chilled out watching the longest film in history, the Bollywood classic ‘Om Shanti Om’.

Whilst it’s great to see everyone again, it’s great to see them leave again and let the peace and quiet reign at fieldbase once more!

A special message for the lovely Sally who celebrated her birthday Fieldbase style last week...


Love Plop...