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

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

Friday 31 July 2009

All aboard

Yesterday was an exciting day for all the ventures, project managers and field base staff. It was the start of the next stage of our Indian adventure…

By an impressive 9:30am all the projects had deployed and the field base staff were left with an empty nest. The silence that ensued at field base for the rest of the day was quite spooky and not at all what we had been used to!

Above and below: some goodbyes

Luckily we were kept updated by all the project groups who have been calling in with their sitreps (situation reports) on a regular basis. And it sounds like they are all nice and settled in already.

We’ve had an update from Charlie 1 who arrived to find that the villagers had started laying the foundations of the new tribal housing already which means they1 have been able to get stuck in straight away. They are also planning how they can welcome the field base team who will be on the loop trip visiting them on Sunday and so far there are rumours of a pajama party!

Charlie 2 have been made to feel at home with a traditional welcome from the village. They’ve settled in to their accommodation which is a classroom in the local school. They had an early start at work this morning and are getting in to the swing of things.

Charlie 3 arrived at their site to find that electricity had recently been installed so that was a nice surprise for them. Charlie 4 have sorted out their living quarters by installing a deluxe shower (!) and toilet system and are starting to work today with the masons who have already started laying for their eco-sanitation units.

Echo 5 have sorted out their camp too and put up some shelters and their tents which they spent the first night in last night. Echo 6 also were in tents last night which wasn’t to plan but after the arrival of their bamboo they will be putting up their bashers (kind of like a hammock with a tarp over the top) today which will be their beds for the project phase. They have started working on building their first water tank at the bottom of the gravity water feed.

A little about the blog:

When will the blog be updated?

The blog will be updated every Wednesday and Saturday each week.

How do I get messages to the venturers / staff?
Friends and family can post comments which will be passed on to the venturers and staff when a loop trip goes out. Messages will be passed on daily over the phone too. The blog is the main way to communicate to and from home and it's always really exciting to receive messages from home so please do leave comments.

What is a loop trip?
A loop trip is when a car of field base staff go t visit the projects and they take out all blog comments, letters and any equipment which is needed.

Will I hear back if I leave a comment?
You probably will do but it might take a while…we are on Indian time you know! When all the project sites are visited everyone will get a chance to let me know if they want to post a comment on the blog so keep checking back for any messages from India.

If you have any more questions about the blog please leave a comment and I will make sure the question is answered.

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Energetic venturers in field base

The whole of 09I got back together last night for their penultimate night at field base before deployment...and what a night it was! Themed as gladrags and bin bags fancy dress everyone got in to the swing of things and had an amazing night. Above: a few bin bags

Above: Will as a banana I'm slightly concerned these are his glad rags

Above: some gorgeous glad rags
Today was the first day since the venturers arrived that we have all been at field base together. After a bit of medical training it was time for a bit of aroo cha cha again....but this time with venturers and not just staff...

Tomorrow morning all the Charlie and Echo groups will deploy and a huge part of today has been announcing the project allocations. They are:

Charlie 1 - Muttilmoola Tribal Housing
Project Managers: Charlie and Rukmini
Venturers: Rohith V, Durga Sekhar, Sultan Mohammed, Khalid O’Briene, Dominique Wood-Whyte, Jamie Orrego, Kath Paton, Venus Ardalan, Venus Ardalan, Olivia Young, Emma Ballentine, Sarah Eastaff, Terry Prince

After their announcement Charlie 1 decided to do a bit of singing in the rain...

Charlie 2 - Netikal Hundi sustainable agriculture
Project Managers: Leti & Katharine
Venturers: Teja, Subash, Suleman Ahmed, Bianca Dixon- Naraine, Nick Woods, Charles Wong, Alex Stewart, Bijal Chandaria, Amina Nabwcenya, Freddie Gillingham, Owain Williams, Anna Read, Marie Rayment

Charlie 3 - Mosarahalla Rain Water Harvesting
Project Managers: Anne, Kate and Kath
Venturers: Abbie Harper, Becky Harper, Harsha, Kezie Evans. Harry Lowles, Vikas, Asoka Jayaweera, Damian Hanna, Jija Sufi, Holly Halden, Sophia Footm Gareth Senior, Rebecca Culverwell

Charlie 4 - MC Tolalu Hundi Eco Sanitation

Project Managers: Lewis & Camilla
Venturers: Thayal , Madhavi, Claire Dannatt, Inigo Casale, Meriel Hubbard, Aimee Tunbridge, Luis Lai, Wahid O'Briene, Mona Al-Haery, Fatmata Kamara, Chris Ashby, Rory Williams Burrell, Natalie Cox

Echo 5 - Gravity water feed supply to Ramaranai village
Project Managers: Gareth & Miriam
Venturers: Remya. S, Atul, Gloria Lau, Will Hatton, Kris James, Akim Millar, Richard Peters, Russell Finlay, Chinedu Okafor, Tarlan Alikhanzadeh, Rebecca Hammond, Laura Morgan, Ciara Hennessy, Birute Klymantaite

Echo 6 - Gravity water feed supply to Ramaranai village
Project Managers: Rich & Lotte
Venturers: Siva Prabhu, Vijay, Rosie Crocker, Emily Hakin, Nicholas Thorpe, Johnny Gustar, Liam McCreesh, William Damerell, Victoria Grincisina, Louise Gregory, Claire Melly, Jackie Mustoe, Alice Frost

For more details of the projects check back to past blog posts.

Pass on any messages now before they’ve deployed by commenting on the blog. We’ll put up a post when they depart field base in the morning.
Good luck everyone!

Tuesday 28 July 2009

A flexible way to start the day

News flash: we have had to move yoga outside field base after the participant number trebled over night.

Here’s a little taster of how we start the day in Mysore…

And now on to the serous work for the day. Communications training for the Tiger groups including polishing their skills spelling with the phonetic alphabet…

We’ve heard from all the Elephant groups this morning who are on the second half of their trek at the moment. More on that when they return to field base later.

Tonight is our gladrags and bin bags fancy dress night...lets see if it'll be glamour in saris or trash in black sacks for the venturers and staff.

Monday 27 July 2009

Trek 1-2

Its day three of venturer training at field base.

The Tiger groups are out trekking at the moment, they left field base yesterday lunch time. The Tigers are Johnny, Richard, Natalie, Alice, Meriel, Anna, Jamie Alejandro, Mona, Amina, Khalid, Gloria, Siva Prabhu, Vijay, William, Asoka, Rory, Sarah, Abigail, Jackie, Suleyman, Sophia, Tija, Fatmata, Damien, Inigo, Tejaswini, Subash, Russel ,Harry, Nicholas, Kezia, Rebecca, Katherine, Nicholas, Bianca Melissa, Aimee, Birute, Zaneb, Harsha and Vikas. Yesterday they trekked to their campsite which was about 4km away from field base.
Above: Tigers group 1 set off on their trek training from field base.

It was their first trek with all their kits, tents, trangias and the three bowl system on their backs!
Above: some of the happy trekkers

When they got there (in a much quicker time than the PMs when they did their training) they tested out some skills like putting up their tents, digging a long drop and cooking on trangias…yummy! Above: the girls made the tents sturdy
Above: Jonny sorts out the long drop

They also had a visit from the snake man…snake Shyam. Shyam is famous in Mysore for his snake catching and he came along to the campsite to talk to the venturers about snakes in India and what to do if you come across one. The venturers got a chance to hold the snakes…
Above: Khalid totally calm!

and Shyam showed them a spectacled cobra… They then got cooking and had a chilled evening by the campfire.
They set off again this morning for the top of Chamundi Hill and are descending the 1000 steps right now.

Meanwhile back at field base the elephants (Freddie, Liam, Emma, Meredith, Ciara, Marie, Dominique, Rosie, Chinedu, Wahid, Luis, Thayal Nithi, Madhavi, Christopher, Kris, Owain, Claire, Rebecca, Laura, Olivia, Victoria, Bijal, Venus, Holly, Sultan, Remya, Atul, Will, Gareth, Rebecca, Louise, Claire, Alex, Terry, Tarlan, Emily, Akiem, Charles, Sekhar and Rohith) have completed their communications training and are getting ready for their trek. They’ll be leaving in a few minutes and following the same route as the Tigers. So the race is on, can they get to the campsite quicker than the Tigers!?

Saturday 25 July 2009

The last arrivals

The rest of the venturers finally arrived in Bangalore. After their flight being delayed by two hours the the last venturers arrived at 6:30 this morning.

A team of field base staff were there to meet the 67 tired, hungry and very excited venturers .
Some of the arrivals at Bangalore
The group gathered together at the airport
We have now have all now arrived safely back in Mysore, everyone has had a welcome from Mark and has had their first curry meal for lunch which went down pretty fast!Above: the first mess tin curry meal!
They've spent the afternoon getting to know each other, playing some name games, unpacking and finding their way around field base.

Over the next few days the venturers will be learning loads of new skills, like how to communicate with field base on expedition, cook on a trangia, put up tents and bashers for sleeping, digging slop pits and long drops as well as learning more about the projects and their time out in India. The venurers have been split in to two groups for the training - the Elephants and the Tigers. Part of the training this week is about trekking and the Tigers will be off out on a short trek tomorrow up Chamundi Hill, they'll be camping out over night to practice their skills.

More on the training tomorrow! Also check back to find out who won the staff cluedo game and who got killed in the male staff toilets with a book of spells...

Friday 24 July 2009

First arrivals at field base

Today we have our much anticipated first venturer arrivals. Durga, Subash, Tejaswini, Rohith, Vijay, Harsha, Madhavi, Shiva, Thayal, Vikas and Iman all arrived this morning from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The new arrivals have created a real buzz at field base, we’ve started the day with some games to all get to know each other and we’ll all be having lunch together before a team sets off for Bangalore to pick up the rest of the venturers.

Our first venturers arrive and settle in to a game of volley ball with the PMs.The rest of the venturers will be landing in Bangalore in the early hours of tomorrow morning and will be arriving at field base about lunch time. We are all really excited about meeting all the venturers, everyone feels like this is the real beginning of expedition and I’m sure field base is going to be extremely lively over the next week. Bring it on!

In other news yesterday all the PMs and field base staff went out rafting. The group was split in to two groups the elephants and the tigers.

Above: the tigers building their raft.

Above: Pretty in pink our expert raft builder

After excellent demos by our Country Director, Mark, on how to build rafts the race commenced. It was neck and neck for all of about one minute, the elephants stampeded ahead whilst the tigers strumbled at the first hurdle – getting in to the water. Unfortunately for the tigers getting this proved slightly troublesome with them getting stuck in the weeds. After a bit of a heave they were off too and the race was on…apart from the fact that the elephants had already practically finished.

Above: the elephants had already cleared their raft and the tigers weren't even in sight.

So with a few collisions with various greenery and the tigers managing to do a u-turn unintentionally the race finished with the elephants in first position and the tigers coming second (not last!).

Above: the tigers finish - note the absence of Kate who was already on the bank after a quick swim.

The tigers had a spectacular finish with Kate demonstrating how not to throw a throw rope and ending up throwing herself in to the water instead.

After a quick dismantle of the rafts...

It was time for a quick swim before home time.
So now off we go to Bangalore to pick up the troops, there will be a new post on Saturday once they have arrived at field base.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

A monsoon in a tea cup

After lots of updates and info about our projects and projects managers I’m sure we’re due for a field base team update…lets not leave them feeling left out!

After two weeks of planning, training, scheduling, blogging, counting and stacking the field base team had a much needed day off whilst the PMs were out visiting their projects.

After a bit of deliberating the field base team (Jess, M-J, Joss, Kath, Ali and Margaret) visited Mysore Zoo. We had a great morning wandering round the zoo, drinking coconut juice and dodging the showers.
Above: a tiger at the zoo.
Yummy coconut juice

After walking all morning round the zoo we had built up a huge appetite and decided to grab an auto and head to the Lalitha Mahal Palace. This is the second palace of Mysore and is now a hotel, apparently it was originally built for the King of Mysore’s mistress is 1921. We had an amazing lunch (obviously of curry) in a room that Joss described as ‘like being inside a wedgewood tea cup’.
The wedgewood tea cup

Margaret, M-J and Joss in the tea cup

We also had a little look at the stuffed tiger and lion...
Can you spot M-J in this pic?
...and then were treated to having a nosey at a bollywood film being made in the hotel, we even saw Amitabh Bachchan who’s really famous in India, in fact only earlier that day Kath had read about him in People magazine! Good celeb spot Kath!

We managed to blag a tour of the hotel and grounds and had a ride in the first ever elevator in Mysore…
And we checked out the views over Mysore…

Amitabh Bachchan wasn’t our only spot for the day we also bumped in to the Ambassador of Senegal on his way in to the hotel, he looked at us a bit strangely but then we weren’t exactly dressed for the occasion!

After a great day off it was back to work for the whole field base team and our first job was to arrange a party for all the PMs to welcome them back from their projects. We decided to have a fancy dress party and the whole field base team came along in Indian dress.
The lovely field base ladies

There were various other outfits from a mummy (Rich)…
to Scream (Gareth) and a fairy (Katharine)…
Since then its been heads down for soft skills training at field base and with the arrival of the venturers advancing at a mega speed on Saturday its all hands to the pump to get ready.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Why did the elephant cross the road??

The project managers have arrived safely back at field base and have been busy putting together their plans for when the venturers arrive on Saturday.

Here's a taster of the projects direct from the PMs...

Echos 5 and 6 (Miriam, Gareth, Rich and Lotte) encountered a bit of a surprise when they approached their project site...

They thought this was near and then...
Mummy elephant separated from baby makes for four scared PMs, thankfully 60/60 made a quick get away! What a start to a project visit!! This picture wasn't even using a zoom!

Once on the project site Echos 5 and 6 met the local villagers who showed them how they were getting on with the gravity water feed system. Miriam had a go at smashing some huge rocks which they are using for the foundations (below).

They also found a little bit of time to play some rugby.

They came back to field base really excited about the difference they are going to make to the settlement and also very excited about their venturers seeing some elephants.

Charlie 1 (Charlie and Ruks) visited their project site in Muttilmoola hamlet.

They met the locals who they will be working with and also checked out the foundations for the housing they will be building for the community.
Charlie and Ruks came back not only really positive and excited about the work Charlie 1 will be doing in the hamlet but also about the experience both the villagers and the venturers will get from spending time in the local area.

Charlie 2 (Leti and Katharine) visited HD Kote Taluk where they will be helping to develop one acre of horticulture plantation.

They had a look at the plot they will working on and they spent some time getting to know the local community. They had a little play with the local children (and cows) in their play area before coming back to field base to plan the ins and outs of the project for the arrival of the venturers.

Charlie 3 (Kate and Anne) visited Mosarahalla Village where they will be constructing rainwater harvesting systems.

Some of the work Raleigh has already done in the village.
Kate taught the girls from the local school patacake it did take her a few attempts to get it right, a bit of practice at field base maybe before deployment is needed!

Charlie 4 (Lewis and Camilla) visited M.C. Tolalu Hundi. When they arrived in the community they had a really warm welcome from the children in the local school.

They had a look at the work that's already been done to get an idea of what they will be doing.

This is one of the toilets that Raleigh built and that Charlie 4 will build.

They spent a lot of time with the people from the village, played with the local children and introduced them to an ipod for the first time!

At the moment all the PMs are having their last two days of training before the venturers arrive. At field base we're all really excited about their arrival and all the PMs can't wait to get stuck in to their projects.

Friday 17 July 2009

Elephants and visitors

Last night we had some visitors to field base. Two of our project partners came along to talk to the team about the projects for 09I and how project partners work with Raleigh in India.

Echo 5 and 6 will be working with project partners WWF in one of the most densely populated areas for the Asian elephant in India. Boominathan from WWF came along and talked to us about elephants. He was really passionate about the work he does WWF and gave loads of great tips for working on the project sites like…do not wear bright colours, keep quite quiet when you are in elephant territory, observe from a distance of at least 100 metres and keep your ears open for snapping branches and trumpeting at all times.

We also had a talk from Ravi Kumar from MYKAPS. MYKAPS have worked in the local area for 25 years and Raleigh India has been working with them for two years now. Together we’ve had some real successes making a huge impact on lots of communities and villages. Some of the projects undertaken so far with MYKAPS have been eco sanitation units, like the work Charlie 4 for will be doing for 09I. We’ve also worked on sustainable agriculture projects and rainwater harvesting projects. For Raleigh India 09I Charlie 2, 3 and 4 will all be working with MYKAPS as project partners. The talk that Ravi gave about the impact the work we do has on local communities was really inspiring, he talked about not only making a difference in terms of providing new facilities but also talked about how the cultural exchange on projects adds so much value to those who are involved, both in the local communities and the Raleigh participants.

Above: Ravi Kumar talking to our PMs

Vijay, our Host Country Venturer Co-ordinator, gave a talk about our project partner Centre for Tribal and Rural Development Trust (CTRD). CTRD currently work on projects and programmes aimed at promoting and strengthening the livelihood, welfare and development of the poor tribal and rural communities in the Gudalur Block of the Nilgiri Hills. Charlie 1 will be working with CTRD to provide tribal housing in the mountainous Nilgiri district, Tamil Nadu.Vijay talked about the culture of the different tribes and the challenges they face at the moment.

After having a chance to quiz the project partners and a bit of yoga...

...all the PMs left field base this morning to go on their planning visits.

Everyone has arrived safely at their project sites now and we’ve already has a report back from Echo 5 and 6 that they ran in to some elephants on the way in to the project site so hopefully we’ll have some evidence to post up on the blog when they are back on Sunday, watch this space...