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

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

Thursday 17 December 2009

Time to say goodbye

PMs Amy and Charlie

When all the venturers returned to fieldbase this time there was a definite air of sadness. But we still had some serious partying to do before we all said our final goodbyes.

The first night back involved some festive skits, the prize of pizzas for lunch the next day went to Tango 7 for their impressive creativity, and the second night, the venturers were invited to a black tie event. Canapes and fruit punch were served as appetisers by fieldbase staff and then everyone was treated to a Christmas dinner of chicken, potato and veggies, followed by Anna's famous energy bombs for dessert.

Andrea, Frankie, Alison and Helen were there to serve

The prestigious Golden Mess Tin Awards followed the meal with awards as follows:

The Human Dustbin Award - Tor
The Casanova Award - Thomas
Expedition Chic - Laura
Best Duo - Alain and Ardu (a goat!)
Digging Machine - Boops
Sunshine on a Rainy Day - Pip
Finest Theatrical Performance - Jamie Green as Ardu
Outstanding Male - Vinay
Outstanding Female - Sam

A festive Boops collects his Golden Mess Tin Award for Human Digging Machine

The final slideshow came next which brought a tear to the eye of everyone thanks to Moycey's good work. Most people stayed up into to the early hours to see her off which meant a lot more tears. We miss you Moycey!

All those tears were good practice for the next day when we saw all the venturers off on the bus. Some staff also went home with them: Neil, Charlie and Davina who will all be sorely missed at the staff party! The few hours before the bus were very subdued with everyone saying their goodbyes, swapping contact details and already planning reunions.

                                  Leti and Claire say goodbye

Mark and Miriam share a moment

John and Vinay

So that brings us to the end of expedition 09J. And it has been amazing. A school has been built, a ranger station renovated, an anti poaching camp improved, two villages have sustainable agriculture and five treks have been completed. The impact the volunteers have had has been immense and it will be an experience to remember for the rest of their lives. So thank you to everyone who gave up their time to come to India, work hard, do a hell of a lot of digging, and make a massive difference. We'll hopefully see you all soon.

This is Zero, listening out.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

The last word from Tango 6

Unfortunately the loop didn't make it to Tango 6 this phase but we wanted to bring you some of their news and pics anyway so packing was put on hold as I pilfered some pictures from PM Katie and venturer Christina as soon as they came back to fieldbase!

They all had a great time trekking through Kerala, the weather held out for them and they only experienced one rainy day.

The happy trekkers

Tony and Shyam stop to admire the view down to Lakeside

The trek is the most challenging of the phases, both mentally and physically, but all the group came back to fieldbase raving about their experience.

PMs Katie and double trekker Davina, along with project partner Kalypso Adventures, led the venturers up and down mountains, through Kerala's amazing tea plantations.

Walking through tea

The amazing view from the tent

Georgie's birthday was celebrated during the trek and she was made to wear this fetching little pink number...

PM Davina with the boys

And that just leaves us to say good luck to PM Davina, who's flown home early for an interview. We miss you already Dave!

So as we draw closer to the absolute end of the expedition, stand by for the final blog!

Saturday 12 December 2009

Muttimoola school's grand opening

Charlie 1 didn't miss out on the opening ceremony action this week as they had a grand unveiling of the new school in Muttimoola.

The school and the whole of Muttimoola had been beautifully decorated and all the villagers were out in force, in their gladrags, to witness the occasion.

Ali helps to unveil the plaque with Amanda and Mr Ranganathen

Mr Ranganathen from Raleigh's project partner CTRD, villagers, the school teacher, PMs, venturers and Raleigh fieldbase staff, all took part in the emotional ceremony. They were given the opportunity to say a few words and made sure to thank the villagers for their hospitality, kindness and excellent catering (and games of cricket) before the tape was cut by PMs David, Kate and Mili. For Ali, it was particularly special as she'd seen the village in the last expedition when the school was simply a shack that leaked when it rained and attracted snakes, so she had seen it come a long way in just a few months. It was also a poignant occasion for David as being a teacher himself, it was a project he had been passionate about from the beginning and had got to spend two phases in the village during 09J.

PM's David, Mili and Kate with Alison, Ali and Mr Ranganathen

The group was treated to celebratory chai and nibbles and also two perfomances from the village children; one group sang and two of the village girls performed a cermonial dance to mark the occasion. There wasn't a dry eye in the house!

The school will also be used as a community centre and a place where adults, as well as children, can be educated and maybe become teachers themselves, so the new building is a massive step to improving this small tribal community's future prosperity.

Villagers congregate outside Charlie 1's new mural


Chloe, Beth, Dan and Ali listen to the speeches

Mr Ranganathen presented each volunteer with a shawl and, in return, Raleigh donated supplies such as posters and pencils for the schoolchildren.

PM Charlotte Ali, who's currently trekking so couldn't make the ceremony, was given special recognition as her work at the village spanned three phases over two expeditions and clearly made a big impact on the villagers.

Well done to all the volunteers who took part in this life-changing project and thanks to CTRD, the masons and the villagers who made it all possible.

This one's for you Charlie!

Thursday 10 December 2009

Special ceremony for the Ranger Station

               From first to third phase, the Ranger Station's progress

Yesterday was a special occasion for Echo 4 as all the venturers' hard work was celebrated with the opening ceremony of the Chowdhalli Ranger Station.

Forestry officials were first shown around the Kodabana Katte Anti Poaching Camp (Echo 5's project in phase 2 and 3) complete with new toilet and extra big Elephant Proof Trench, and were then taken to the completely transformed ranger station at Echo 4.

Forestry officials take a peek at the loo at the Echo 5 site

The officials were delighted with the progress and were extremely impressed with the lack of impact the groups had had on the surrounding environment and how they had lived and worked within such a small area of forest.

A Pooja (a religious ceremony) was performed at the door of the station and a a red ribbon was cut to mark the opening before the groups tucked into some Indian food finished off with a slice of cake.

Alain and Laura with their favourite ranger                                                  
                                                 Toby is pleased with the celebratory grub

Well done to all the venturers and PMs who shifted and sifted sand, cleaned tiles, painted, plastered and dug and dug and dug to ensure that elephants and tigers are protected in the area.

The final Echo 4 group with some of the forestry officials

Finally, some messages: Sam Flood would like to wish her mum a very happy 50th birthday. And all the best from the fieldbase staff too!

From Holly:
Hi Mum and Dad, Last message from India! All is still great - lots of stones for when I return. Thanks for the message from the Dyers, looking forward to seeing you soon, Love Hol xxx PS. I have no house key - will anybody be at home in Stamford on the 16th in the evening?

Fron Maddy:
Hi Mum, Yeh not long til I'm home now! I'm sad that the expedition is coming to an end but I'm definitely ready for some of your home cooking, Raleigh rations just don't cut it. Jenni might have emailed me about her job interview and just haven't had the chance to read it; oddly though I had a dream that her and Danny went to Cuba last night. Don't worry I received yours and Gran H's previous comments - thanks for those.
Hi Alex, thanks for your message - yeah I've finally made it out to project site. Not many days left now until I fly home - looking forward to a good catch up! Love to all, Jen I hope the interview went well, Mads xx

Wednesday 2 December 2009

The Village People

Sorry it's been a while for an update but there's been around the clock work for the expedition magazine which is now almost at printing stage!

All the groups are getting on fabulously. Charlie 3 in the village of Hosaheggudilu have not only been... you guessed it... digging, but have also been busy teaching the children some English, art and sport in the school-cum-living accomodation for the group, which was very well received by the villagers.

The bunds and trenches are coming along well and they get a treat for all their hard work today as they're taking a rest day and a trip out to visit the villages of Halsur, which was the base of a project in the previous phase, and Netikalhundi which was a project for 09I. They also get the chance to take a cooling dip/wash in a nearby water channel.

The group outside one of the village's very colourful houses

Amy working hard

One of the village kids

Both trekking groups are making the most of the dry weather and are making excellent time each day. Tomorrow is cross over day and their rest day so both groups should get the chance to mingle, swap trekking stories and compare blisters over the fire at the campsite they will share for the night. Tango 6 will also be celebrating John Emmerson's birthday today.

Adam (The King of India) from head office has left his trekking adventure with Tango 7 and will soon be arriving at the Echo 4 camp, along with Neil (who we at fieldbase like to call teaboy!), where they are all looking forward to seeing them. And we've just received a phone call saying there is an elephant happily standing at the water pump ready to greet them both!

The group had a trip out to HD Kote yesterday and they had a birthday to celebrate today as James Gurney is turning 22. Happy birthday from fieldbase to both John and James!

The school at Charlie 1 is in the final construction stages and they're mixing their hard physical tasks with some lighter work such as painting. We're all gearing up to the school's opening ceremony towards the end of this phase which should be an emotional occasion for everyone involved in its construction and for the people of Muttimoola.

So after that round up it just leaves some messages from the venturers:

Georgie Page would like to say thanks to everyone from home who sent birthday cards, it was great to read them all. She had a great birthday! x

Davina would also like to wish her Dad, Tom, a very happy 60th birthday. And best wishes from all of us here at fieldbase. x

Hi Marina

Happy Birthday for the 16th, hope you have a fantastic day. All my love to you and Oliver.
Tina x

To The Badens,
Thank you for your message, you should receive some letters soon. Having a great time in Halsur.
Love Tina x

To Libby, hey ya hun I can’t receive any messages till I finish trek on Dec 13th. Not long left.
Rwarr x Crimbo

To Juliet Prodger
Hey same sort of thing I said to Libby x Crimbo. Things are fine, new group again – Tango 6.

To Juliette and Ben
Having a good time. How’s everyone i.e. Smurf, Sam R, John and Dale? Can you find out? Missing everyone. If you and Libby send another letter I will receive it but don’t send it after 20th Nov. Missing all, Crimbo.

Be careful what you send on the blog though because it won’t get through the filter. Missing you lots spiderman yer, jammy stain dippings, rwarries. Anyway write a letter I can’t wait to hear from you xx Glad you got the letter xxx Crim

To Johnny
You out there, can’t hear you, spiderman where are you? Miss you lots, any funny sorties? Have you done it yet? x chris x

Hey Dan,
Got your letter today – woohoo! Hope you’re still good. Almost finished the trek – it’s been a slog but we’ve had a real laugh! Eaten so much! Back in fieldbase on 23rd – speak to you then!
With love, Frankie xxx

Hello Marr Family!
Thanks for the blogs and letters – got them today. Especially loved Becky’s card! The trek has been tough but we’ve done it now and have 2 days of rafting to look forward to at the end. Have had no more leeches on my face but several hundred have attacked my boots in vain! Thinking of you all, love Frances in a tired but happy Tango 7! Xxx

Hi Mum, Dad, Lindsey & Chris
Sorry for delay – only just got the blog. Glad you had a great time in the Peaks – sounds awesome! Having a great trek although it’s rained a lot! Boxer shorts got soaked through one night so I dropped my trousers and dried my boxers on the fire whilst wearing them. When in Rome…! Have loads of photos. The trek is over now, just 2 days of rafting left, which will be great. Slept out under the stars last night. Glad you received the card as well and I hope you had a great day, lots of love
Matthew xxx

Hey Kate
Good luck with Faustus! It will be great! Save me a hoody please (and a poster). Hope terms going well and Chris isn’t too scarred from the house party! Trek has been great and tiring and wet. Have had some great food from cafes on the roadsides; parotha, chai and a white mango, going a bit green even?! Boxers on previous post to Mum & Dad. Have been keeping busy – planning our skit, building shrines to ganesh (have been given a little statue) etc. (I am now carving a spoon – hopefully!) Sleeping outside in shelters/random houses is a highlight. Keep me posted about everything.
Lots of Love and Hugs
Matt xxx

To Richard Drax
Hey Dad thanks for your message. No one has been assigned for the wake up call and with regards to the beer – no drink allowed! Say hi to Tash and James for me as well! Just finished the trekking phase (over 200k’s) with a very heavy bag! My trousers are now about ten sizes too big and this phase has definitely been both a challenge and a lot of fun at the same time! Sorry about the picture – I’d just finished my ciggy! Met lots of nice people and still having a great time. Definitely in need of some meat when I get home though as a lot of Inida is veggie! Killer!!!
Love Tobs xx

To Tamara Drax
Hey Bara, thanks so much for your message really appreciate it! Send my love to porge as well! Just about finished my trekking phase and have to build a raft out of bamboo tomorrow as we have two days rafting! Seen lots of wicked places and been on some interesting bus journeys! Food is not as bad now and doesn’t blow my head off quite as much as it did originally and I’m having a great time. Has been hard work and have lost a lot of weight judging by how loose my trousers are now! Hope the toons good and all’s well with you! Loads of love and see you at Christmas for a crazy one!! Xx

Hey Holly,
I just got both your letters today which was really cool  can’t wait to see you on the 17th! Bit concerned about how you are feeling couldn’t read the word on the first letter and I’m looking forward to the shoe shopping. You are going to have to keep guessing what the pressie is 
Love you loads, Jamie E xxxxx

Hiya Mum and Dad,
I’ve just finised the trekking today only got the rafting left now. It felt awesome to finish it. It is not the same having bad weather but being indoors still we have been rather lucky it has dried up or rather stopped raining constantly. I have put weight on during the trek. I would prefer not to have a haircut when I get back due to mu hair not growing quickly. So how it the work in the garden going? How is the fitness age coming with the Wii fit?
Love Jamie E xxxxx
P.s. no crocs in the river.

Hi to the Oakes Family,
Thank you for your blog comments the other day. I’m on the mend and Mum they’re nothing on your ice pops but I’ve managed to wangle a few ice lollies as a reminder of home comforts. Hopefully, I’ll be back on my feet again soon and able to head out the Hosaheggudilu to finish the project with the rest of the group. I’m glad to hear that the Wimpenny’s received my letter and that you will soon be reading it – I also received a letter from you and one from Jenni & Daniel a few days ago which was really nice. Don’t worry I’m being looked after very well and I’m sure you’ll be kept up to date with my progress.
Looking forward to seeing you all at Christmas, love to all,

Hello all! Adventure going well, trekking going well. Can somebody please pick me up from the airport (Heathrow). Please please please, it is Christmas, you haven't seen me for six months!
Charlotte Ali
(Flight details to come!)

Hey everyone, lots of love coming your way! Having a very exciting time here, lots of stories for when I get back! Dad the hat is still with me, though resembles a pancake. All good! Thanks for the blog messages and mail I've been getting. Koala - I'm getting pretty hot on my PA lyrics, will be number one fan by Feb! Tasha and Sean - got the letter, hard work will pay off guys but remember to play hard too! Off to work now, take care, love Holly xxx

Happy birthday Tahira!!! Sending lots of love from Kerala, enjoy your day, Michael Stern xxx

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Here we go for one more time!

An old fashioned game of sardines kicked started allocations for phase 3 as venturers scrambled to find their well hidden PMs for the final phase. Groups found, everyone set about the task of packing group kit, tools and food for the next three weeks. This is no easy task and although the team are becoming old hands at this, it still involves many hours of counting, allocating, checking and re-checking. A special treat of chilli con carne cooked by our very own Amanda, another spectacular slide show by the Comms team Ali and Alison and some inspiring words of wisdom by Mark and we were ready to deploy.

FB team do our best to trick venturers into staying with us

Kate appearing from a barrel for not the first time on exped

Members of the new Charlie 3 find Leti and Claire hidden in the Bravo vehicle

In order to make it down to Kerala in daylight hours, the trekkers have to head off at 6am, and there were huge hugs, well wishes and even some tears as we sent them on their way. A more relaxed start for the other groups who left us by 9am.  I think these photos taken by Ali, our fantastic photographer, really show how much this team means to each other and how much they care for each other.  As a staff member it is truly a wonderful moment to share with everyone.

So heading off as part of Charlie 1 to finish the school in Mutilmoola are PMs David, Kate and Mili with Lee, Baz, Emma, Mathew, Beth, James Eyles, Chloe, Pik, Dan, Shamnad and Prajeesh.  The group will work to finish the school, toilets and choolas in time for the opening ceremony on December 12. 

Kit, Shamnad and Baz say goodbye

PMs Kate and Mili share a moment

Meanwhile, undertaking a brand new sustainable agricultural project in Hosaheggudilu (yes it's quite the tongue twister!) Charlie 3 will be led by PMs Helen, Claire and Leti with Maddy, Rahman, Claire, Amy, Holly, Bill, Adam, Ben, Colin and Vinay. The group will stay in a school in this small village and work alongside our project partner Mykaps on a sustainable agricultural project designed to boost the livlihoods of local farmers.

Double trouble - Leti and Helen

The brilliant Bill bids us farewell

and goodbye from Vinay

Echo 4 heading off to the forest  to finish off theChowdhalli Ranger Station and Elephant Proof Trench will be led by the lovely Jeff and Frankie with Alain, James Guerney, Toby, John Paul, David Hildreth, Tina, Aravind, Pip, Nanette and Laura. The group has a big task ahead of them to finish the walls and floors of the building before it is officially opened on December 13.

Pip showing her support for the trekkers

Beaming smiles from Frankie and Toby
Tango 6 will begin their adventure with a two-day rafting trip before heading off on their 200km trek through the beautiful Kerala. They will be led by the brilliant Dr Dave and Katie with Charles, Tony, Morten, Louis, Cristina, Chris, Sam, John Emmerson, Georgie Page, Shyam and Mikey. 

Miriam our FB medic tries to sneak off with the Tango 6 girls Katie and Dave

Breakfast on the run for Chris

Tango 6 - ready to roll Indian style and below Mikey with the prized team mascot

And last but not for a second least is Tango 7 who have the privilege of being joined by the self named 'King of India' Adam, and led by Charlie and Amy. The lucky team members are Luke, Jamie Green, Anthony, Tor, Georgie Webb, Thomas, Avaneesh, Nicola, John Springate and Boops. These guys will start trekking tomorrow and continue for the next couple of weeks before ending on the rafts.

"I'm the king of India!" ... if you say so Adam      And huge smiles from Jamie, John, Luke and Thomas

So that's where we are at folks - and as we head rapidly towards the conclusion of expedition our message to venturers and staff is to remember every day to wake up and make the absolute most of every opportunity that presents itself.  The following reading really conveys this message, we shared it with the venturers last night and I thought it would be nice to share it with you now.

The Station
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spands the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the window we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village hails.

But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there, so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restless we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering - waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
"When we reach the station that will be it!" we cry. "When I'm 18" "When I buy a new 450SI Mercedes Benz!" "When we put the last kid through college" "When I have paid off the mortgage" "When I get promoted" "When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!"

Sooner or later we must realise that there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.

"Relish the moment" is a good motto. It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.

So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more icecream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
By Robert J Hastings

Don't forget if you have been inspired by reading this blog there is no reason you yourself can't "Get Out Here" with us, India would love to have you!
Country Expedition Manager