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

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

Wednesday 26 August 2009

And now it's the end...or just the begining

09I has come to an end.

A few tears were shed and sad farewells were bid. The expedition came to an end in Kerala up in the clouds.

All our venturers reined victorious after completing the grueling adventure challenge. Echo 5 deserve a special mention: Gareth, Miriam, Remya, Atul, Gloria, Will, Kris, Akim, Richard, Russell, Chinedu, Tarlan, Rebecca, Laura, Ciara and Birute were the winning team for the adventure challenge managing to keep their eggs intact for the entire journey, complete the fastest time in many of the tasks and win the poetry competition.

Above: Echo 5 celebrate!

Below is the beautiful winning poem by Ciara Hennessy:

Ramaranai Village
We left a piece of our heart in Ramaranai village
Remember the daily trek to the top of the hill
All day spent working with no time to kill
Remember the villagers as they worked without rest
The trumpet of the elephants deep in the forest
Remember the children as a family we would play
Watching the beautiful sunset after a tiring day
Remember the joy on their faces as we gave them water as a gift
The splash as the children played made our hearts lift
Remember the tears on their faces and ours when we had to go
Such beauty we’ll always know
We left a piece of our hearts in Ramaranai village

The last night in Kerala saw a huge celebration of friendship, achievement and endurance. We ended the expedition with a skit (like a short play) from each Charlie and Echo group. Charlie 1 put on an outstanding performance for their skit, the talent in Charlie 1 is phenomenal. Everyone was in hoards of laughter when Charlie 1, the winners of the skit competition, performed.

Only having one last night all together was tough for goodbyes, the night was long and sprinkled with tears and celebrations. Now the staff team have made it back to Mysore and the venturers have all gone their separate ways, some back home (or on their way!) and some to continue their onward adventures. All of the venturers on 09I made a huge impact, on the villagers they became friends with and gave wonderful gifts to, to the entire staff team, and most of all to each other, building friendships that will last a lifetime. The work that 09I have completed on all the projects will, without a doubt, impact the lives of many people.

A huge WELL DONE to all the venturers in 09I, may you wear your t shirts with pride and always remember this experience, all the staff and villagers are certain to remember you. Thank you for making the expedition such a success. Don’t forget to join Raleigh Alumni to keep in touch with everyone and definatly come along to the reunion!

Thanks also to everyone who followed and posted comments on the blog, I hope you have enjoyed it!

Lastly thank you and well done to a fantastic staff team both permanent and volunteer: Nicky, Kath, Miriam, Cat, Sarah, Anne, Ali, Margaret, Joss, Katharine, Leti, Lewis, Camilla, Charlie, Ruks, Eddie, M-J, Kate, Miriam, Gareth, Lotte, Rich, Neil, Mark, Amanda, Deepak, Vijay, 60/60, Manju and Girsh...what a team!

Monday 24 August 2009

Final messges home from 09I

It's our last day in of the Adventure Challenge in Kerala and we have some final messages home from 09I venturers:

Message from Emma Ballantine:
Hey guys, thanks for all your messages. Oh my god, i miss you all so much! Have sent letters so hopefully you’ve got them. Your letters have made me really happy!!! The adventure phase was brill, but the hardest physical thing i’ve ever done – it was ridic! I can’t believe i actually completed it. I have SO much to tell you!!! Will get my phone back soon and will find an internet cafe so will be in touch properly. Hope everything is really good with you all at home. Think about you every day. Gma and gpa thanks for your letter – loved hearing all the news. Mum and Dad, thanks so much for yours and Borneo sounds amazing penguin. And boys, thanks for your blogs – looking forward to entourage bro. Hope the flyings good jim. Shaniequays – love you all loads, cant wait to hear the chat. Ol, i get back on the 10th, so will be coming to plaaayyyyyy! Amy, don’t worry, im not out in the outback girl yet. Love you all sooooooo much. Lets go get a pizza mate when i’m back because I neeeed one, and some skittles and bevvvv mate. TYSON. Love love LOVE. Flyman stoke. His name was ming. Noooo definitely. Absolutely. 100%. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Message from Dominique Wood-Whyte
Yo yo cuzzie and frendzz, thank u for showing me love on the blog... well appreciated, still i learnt alot frm this india trip and i’ve kept my positive sprit highly high LMAO!!! Still the advanture challegein that was done was hard hard hard but as the ppl in my group and myself say “GO HARD OR GO HOME” if u no wot i mean like were climbing up high steep mountines lol lol still wen i get back i will shout u all and cuzzie i will cum dwn Southampton sooner dan u tink nuff love daya pon a gully side MWAHH.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx ; )

Message to Terry Princes family
Hope ur kl family don’t think that i didn’t reply to ur blog messages the message book got lost and now ive had the first chance to holla at you. I miss you like mad and i have been doing some thinking and come to a lot of decisions which i would be privileged to talk to you about when i get back any way i luv all of ya and will see you soon xxxx

Message to Terry Princes fiancée Natasha Steward
Wag 1 baby gurl i dnt no if you got my last blog message but i did send u a letter ive got 2 of ur letters thank u sooooooo much it was so gd 2 hear u still feel der same 2. I dnt no what gate im going 2 b at so ur gunna have 2 check der arrivel board i cnt wait 2 c ur face again i luv u baby gurl and ile speak 2 u at der airport xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Message from Sarah Eastaff
Hey guys, its a bit late for a message now but just wanted to let you all know that everything is awesome out here. Just finished the adventure phase and it was so hard! But just incredible i have so much to tell you all and am craving some cheddar/brownies/cheese on toast/ CHICKEN CATSU CURRY!!! Help me out, yeah? Hope Venice was rad and Hannah made good use of that cocktail offer! Everyone’s letters have helped so much, thanks guys, its been such a weird moment of an old reality. I am coming back in my Indian outfit so watch out ;). Eeek you know my results! Ed, hope everything is good with that and Laura doesn’t hate you for the fish incident! I laughed so hard about that. Love to all can not WAIT to see you all :D XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Message from Kath Paton
Hi Mum and Dad – my phone has died and my debit card has been blocked (not impressed!!) so can you let me know if you can’t meet me at the airport? J Hope all is good back in Carlisle – looking forward to seeing you soon! And to that pizza when I get home!! Also, if anyone at St John’s in the Vale is reading I miss you guys so much!!! Hope you are all having an amazing time – really gutted I couldn’t be there – hope you are listening to Torn lots for me J Having an absolutely brilliant time out here but looking forward to seeing everybody again! See you all scarily soon – don’t know where time has gone!!! Xxxx

Message from Venuse Ardalan
Hello dad and sin,
I thought maybe i should send a message to you even though ill be Back in London in THREEEEEE days :D!! Ill miss the whole experience i’ve had here but i’m exited to see you all after 5 whole weeks! I hope you’ve all been well !By the way, I should be arriving at Heathrow around 12.30 or 12.45 on thursday but don’t worry if my phone is off at that time because my phone battery might be low. Anyway you better still be ready to take me somewhere nice to eat! haha :D. See you all in a few days!! Take care, love you all, venuse xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Message from Jaime Orrego
Hola/hello mi ermosa mama, mi papa, y todos and all my friends,
Just want to say that i am missing all of u’s, will be cuming back on fiday so make sure u holla at me on Friday afternoon, im really sad im leaving india because im going to miss everyone especially all my Indian hommies and the whole india vibe. India has been a big and spectacular experience for and will be comng back like a new jay so watch out lol. Anyways im gona leave you lot hope u lot got sumthing for me to come back to and love u all lots....thank u family for the messages, frizzy ma cuzzy for life miss u lots ma dawggg and tanisha thnx for ur lil blog means alot u lil rat muaaaa everyone and hear from u lot on Friday when im back holaaaaaaa.

From Emily Hakin:
To Emma Wood I love you Ward
Hey babes, nearly home now, we are on our last night, rave time wooooop. Sexy time when im back, which is the 27th... I need to go back to Plymouth for a week, then up to London on the following weekend for a party in Clapham, you wana come? Cant wait to come and get a flat sorted and move back up! Have sooooo much to tell you when I get back. Literally me and Rose had the old i pod shuffle on today, annnnnd taman needs a visit. Haha and your letters were amazing mate! I cant wait to come back to the boy lol, what a dish .... so I need to go and get stuff sorted! Love you shlaaaaag love ems xxxx

To Granny and Grandad
Hi guys, hope you are ok, shame about the peppers, but good about the apples! I wasn’t allowed to do the trek in the end as I was pretty poorly, but did the 77km on the cycle, which I will try and describe to you and how amazing it was over a steak maybe??? I wish I could have been at Georges Bday.sounds amazing! Ohhh and I received both letters! Thank you! But I didn’t get the one from mother... hmmmm.... Il try and get them sent to me... See you soon and love to you both ems xxxx

To my mama, Andrew and George (if he has surfaced from his room after his birthday??)
Hi folks, So I am PRETTY GUTTED about missing Georges Birthday mash up haha, oh well, I will be out as im home! I have had the most amazing time you could try and imagine, will tell all when im home. Just getting ready for the last night now, Party!!!! And then home to sort my life out uh oh! I didn’t get your letter, which I hope I can get sent back to me?? Glad you people are all good, and see you soon, mama il ring you when im back in London, love you alot and see you soon woooo hooooo xxxxxxxxxxxxx ems xxxxxx

From Beccy Culverwell
To the Culverwells
Hi everyone just to let you know i have survived the adventure stage. Was so much fun but very hard work. As is typical of me i tripped on a rock and hurt my wrist so had to go and have an x ray and could nt do the cycling and one day of trekking which was a shame but I am fine now though. Leaving tomorrow morning to start travelling, we are being left in kerala rather than going to Bangalore, then will be staying in a hotel for a couple of nights and renting a houseboat etc. In the second week will try to go to delhi and possibly Mombai. Last night tonight which will be sad but cant wait to travel. Have u sorted out tom and Exeter?? How was jenny leaving today?? Please reply to my hotmail as i wont use the blog again. Hope ur all well cant wait to see you in two weeks. Lots of love Beccy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

From Kezi Evans
Hellooo! Hoping you are all well.. have just about survived the adventure challenge week... Had to miss out on most of the cycling as I was ill which was really annoying but I did at least manage 27/72 km of it... We had a two day trek which was challenging but so much fun . and we also did some watersports as well! (had to miss day 1 as well because I was ill as well so no kayaking for me but did get to do bamboo rafting). We are all leaving fieldbase tomorrow morning – me and the others i’m travelling with are being dropped in Munnar and then we are going to Cochin first. I will probably call home then as I have no battery on my phone and no way of charging it! Can’t wait to see you all in 10 days! Lots of love and hugs xxx (p.s. Ed – got the second letter – wow you went all ali in that! Hehe liked it though !xxxx )

Saturday 22 August 2009

It’s day six of the adventure challenge

Echo 5 are here at field base after spending last night in the survival camp in bashers (a bit like hammocks) luckily the rain didn’t put them off sleeping under the stars and they cooked themselves up a storm. Today they’ll be painting a mural to decorate field base in Mysore and trying to clock up the points with some team games.

The groups are completing a circuit of activities and today sees Charlie 1 rafting at Lakeside in the sunshine, Charlie 2 are on the first day of their trek, hot on the heels of Charlie 3 who are on their second day. Charlie 4 are enjoying a leisurely bike ride of 72km and Echo 6 are kayaking across the lake to Lakeside camp where they will camp tonight.

Some of the field base team have been out and about watching the rafting (a very impressive 38 minutes from Echo 5 is the best so far), cycling and kayaking. All the groups are having a whale of a time in the monsoon rain and are definitely looking forward to cold bucket showers when they get back to field base (Lower Camp) on Monday.
Echo 5 rafting
Above Charlie 2 rafting
Above: the victorious Charlie 2 team
Above: Echo 5 at lower camp playing cascade

Egg update:
Echo 5 have purchased an egg carrier and their eggs are intact, Echo 6’s eggs are still safely buried at Anthony’s camp where they will spend tomorrow (their last night). All the Charlie roups still have there eggs but can they hold them steady for another day...

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Messages from Echo 6

From Rosie Crocker:
Mum, dad, adam, sam, joe, Samantha, Hannah, uncle mart, uncle rob and aunty jen!! Thanks all so much for your comments, having an amazing time out here. Kerala is beautiful but very rainy! We start our 29km trek up mountains tomorrow, it lasts 2 days, thats only the start of it!! Hope your all ok?? So glad to hear your check up was good dad J see you next week!! Cannot wait to live with walls and chairs again! Love you lots, rose xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

From Rosie Crocker:
Daniel! Thanks for your letter and messages.. glad u got my text J hope ur ok?? Miss you loadsssss.. india is amazing! Cant wait to show you all my pics! Cant believe i’ll be seeing you next week, yay! Don’t know when i’ll speak again, might not be until i see you next week. Say hello to all your family for me, take care love you lots xxxxxxxxxxxxx

From Emily Hakin:
Hello Mummy, Andrew and my beloved brother George haha... Hope you are all ok and George you had an amazing mash up of a birthday?? Would have loved to have been there ravin away... but plenty of time to do that when im home. Sitting in a cloud at the moment, in a storm... very surreal. We start a 29 km trek tomorrow, im leading the day soooo its all good. Don’t know if your letter will get to me on time now, but I will try and get someone to post it back to me when I get home. You could always send a cheeky text?? Anyways, would LOVE it if you could get in touch with student finance for me and find out about swapping fees? Love you all you crazy party people (I feel slightly affected by the l also altitude...madness). Let Andrew know that I will also be free for the week away to the Maldives...! xxxxxxx

From Emily Hakin:
Hey Granny and Grandad, my personal silver-surfing service. Hope you both are well, all is good here, as you can see, wet ect! Thank you so much for your letter, I got it the other day, so good to get letters out here, brightens you up when you are wet through and know the rain probably won’t stop. I need to go on holiday... soooo let me know when you are off to Africa yeah, yeah? Haha J Love to you both and Im planning for a Steak and Omlette trip when I get back... you in??? Xxxxxx

From Alice Frost and Laura Morgan
Happy Bday Sacha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally 18!!! Hope ypu had an amazing day J looking forward to coming home and catching up and partayingggg love you loads and loads and see you soon xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

From Alice Frost
Hey mum, dad, Tom and Harry been in Kerala for a few days now its proper monsoon season , project was amazzziiinngg, hard work but so rewarding to finish and see the villages’ faces when the water came through J Tomorrow (Wednesday) we’re doing a long long trek which will be challenging but good I hope! Mum can you book me a cut and dye at Sacha’s salon for the first Saturday I’m back in the morning at like 10 am please or sometime in the morning, just text Sacha J also I request steak and chips for Thursday night for dinner J looking forward to coming home and seeing you all, love you all so much, Alice xxxxxxxxxxxxxx p.s still don’t want my results, no matter what they are lol

From Lou
Dear Mum and Dad
I am now in Kerala starting the adventure phase, tomorrow we are going on a 17k trek. The project was brilliant but really exhausting. As you know we but the gravity water feed for a village called ramanani. It was absolutely stunning place surrounded by elephants which we could here while we were asleep. Its gone so quick i cant believe i come home in just under 10 days, i would love a roast dinner (Roast pork possible) and one of your chococate cakes mum, that would be absolutely lovely. Hope all is well at home, hows Murphy getting on with izzy? Lots and lots of love lou xxxxxx

From : Will D
Damerells, I realise that my last message was rather brief but i feel it covered the essentials. Now i have more time i am able to write more. We are now on our adventure phase and set off for our trek part tomorrow early doors. Other parts of our adventure phase include kayaking, rafting cycling and more. It’s going to a brilliant. I’m made a who;e bunch of wicked mates that i’m travelling on with. We are planning on having a house boat on the kerala backwaters for my birthday. The information about my cricketing ancestor was fantastic to receive. I knew my talent or lack off had to come from somewhere. Mum, good luck with the debusy piece i’m sure you’ll crack by the time i’m back. Dad, please keep me updated about the ashes. I hope summer is going well and the weather isn’t to rubbish. In kerala we get dayly monsoons but they arrive at the same time every day so we can prepare ourselves. Pete nice advice and i do have many cuts that are taking an age to heal due to the humidity. But none on the face. Mum don’t read that bit. Keep well all of you and i’ll see you all soon
Love from Will x

From Nicholas Thorp
Dear Mum and everyone
I am having a awesome time here. We just started the adventure phase and I am really looking forward to coming home just so I can tell you what I have been up to. Missing you all. Love Nicholas.

From Liam McCreesh
Hi All Sorry I haven’t been in touch since I got here, been extremely busy- certainly working hard especially on the project phase in Tamil Nadu! In Kerala now for the adventure phase, staying at the field base for the night which is like a cloud city with monsoon thunderstorms as its 1500m above sea level. Trekking starts tomorrow followed by 72km cycle and then rafting. Coming home next Thursday, can’t believe it already! Hope you get this and that all is well at home. I’ve got so much to tell you when I get back. See you soon & Take care. Love Limbob

Hello all!
At Kerala field base atm – returned here from yesterday after a 45 min trek! Have done various activities gaining points for our team today! Nice chilled day though (with lots of tea-drinking) before we start the 2 day trek tomorrow – ah! Kerala is beautiful though – lots of stunning scenery! And lots of rain! Hopefully my tan will last!
Lots of love Claire xXx
PS. Hope windsurfing was windy Jon!

Hey Mum, Dad and Robin
I am in midst of the adventure phase and having a great time. It’s the big trek tomorrow! Everything is going really well and I am having a lovely time. I hope all is well with you all. I’m really looking forward to catching up when I am back at the start of September.
Love from

Stratus at field base

Yesterday was the first activity day of the adventure challenge. Here at field base we were still sitting in a cloud...
One of the challenges so far is for each group to successfully carry two (not hard boiled) eggs the whole way round the adventure challenge.

Charlie one have decided to call their eggs Meg and Neg and have made them a nice little house, Emma is currently egg day leader...
Above: Emma and Olivia, Meg and Neg

Yesterday we waved off Charlie 1 who went off on their first day of their trek. Last word from them was that they had reached their camp last night and were looking forward to their 17km trek today, and of course looking forward to porridge and rice bags yummy! Above: Charlie 1 off on their travels

When Echo 6 turned up and clouds lifted! We had a day full of glorious sunshine which Echo 6 used to complete their field based challenges, mural painting, an obstacle course with a tennis ball and pipes, the balloon games (getting ‘air particles’ from start to finish without touching them with your hands), minefield and nuclear waste (retrieving a container of ‘nuclear waste’ from the middle of an area without getting nuked by stepping in the area.

They all managed to completed the challenges in record time (they were the first group to do this part of the challenge!). We also interesting found out Echo 6 have been rather cunning with their egg carrying, after looking at their timetable they worked out that they start and finish in Anthony’s camp, rather than carry the eggs all the way round they have buried them in the camp to dig up on the last night!! Cunning! They only have to manage the short journey from Anthony’s camp...but will they make it!
Above: not getting nukedAbove: the balloon game
Above: the obstacle course

This morning we have all got up mega early to wave off Echo 6 for the start of their trek, walking in the path of Charlie 1. In other group news yesterday Charlie 2 managed to get to 63km of their cycle before the monsoon rain kicked in and they were forced to complete the rest by truck. A valiant effort in cloud cover from the group, especially Bianca, who has never officially learnt to ride a bike, she gave it a go and successfully completed parts of the challenge. Well done, it isn’t an easy ride by a long shot. It’s also Bianca’s birthday and the group managed to stop in Munnar for cake and a birthday lunch. So happy birthday Bianca. Today they will be kayaking at Lakeside (camp not shopping centre) which is what Charlie 3 were up to yesterday, today they will be at Anthony’ camp.

Charlie 4 will be returning to our life in a cloud at field base today to try and notce up those points with the field base games after spending a ‘survival night’ at Anthony’s camp last night. We can’t wait to see them! And lastly Echo 5 have already completed their long trek and are so super busy as they start again today with their cycle!

Monday 17 August 2009

A project summary from up in the clouds

All the Project Communications officers have beautifully written a summary of their projects for your reading pleasure...enjoy...

The last days of our experience by Bijal and Anna, Charlie 2
On the penultimate day on our project we planted amla and mango plants. As usual we woke up at the crack of dawn, had our mess tin porridge and trudged up to the fields feeling excited yet exhausted after two weeks of laborious digging. We spent the morning preparing the holes for planting by filling them up with plant cushioning and watering them. It was hard work but we persevered, knowing how much a big difference our work was going to make for Netikal Hundi. After digging we had a short lunch and fuelled up. We excitedly rushed back to our planting, one mango tree and one amla plant each. As each person planted their own plant we gave them each a clap of achievement as they looked on with pride. We had poured sweat and sheer determination into the whole process and so it was a special day. We all slept well that night, recharging our batteries for the big day we had ahead of us the next day.

The next day was inauguration day. We spent the morning preparing for our performances. We were going to sing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes in Kannada and a rendition of Doe Rae Me complete with choreographed actions. Nick also wrote a speech expressing how thankful we are for to the villagers for their hospitality and kindness over the past two weeks.

We blushed with pride as we were given garlands of flowers each as a sign of the villagers appreciation of our hard work. The little children also did a traditional prayer song and a mesmerizing dance song and a mesmerising dance. They dressed us in beautiful saris and thanked us once more, and gave us chai tea.

When its raining its raining, rainwater harvesting at Mossarahalla
By Kezi and Beccy C, Charlie 3

Whilst we realize that this blog cannot give our project the justice it deserves, we are going to explain why Charlie 3 not only had the best group but also we were the envy of all the others!

We were deployed to Mossarahalla with the aim of building 18 rainwater harvesting tanks. The tanks would help to provide safe drinking water to various families who do not have access to clean water all year round.

Not only were we in for a cultural shock but also lots of hard and physically demanding work. We were working alongside skilled masons carrying bricks, sand and cement and developing our brick laying and plastering skills. While most of us took to bricklaying quite quickly plastering was a completely different challenge that most of us failed at leading to several collapsed walls (M-J!). Despite how hard the work was, we rose to the challenge and had loads of fun everyday – often leaving people in fits of laughter. When our PM Kate managed to pull off a mason’s skirt while taking a pile of bricks from him! Fun at work was not the only factor that made each day on project so enjoyable. We were staying in the village school and we were constantly surrounded by smiling children. The whole village was incredibly welcoming and supplied us with numerous cups of chai and delicious food. Sometimes the food was just too much – Beccy C and Kezi were given seven fist-sized rice balls with sauce and sugar very soon after their two portions of porridge – let’s just say that the sight of rice at lunch brought on sensations of nausea.

Not only did we manage to build 18 rainwater harvesting tanks but we also found time to paint the school, go on safari where we saw three elephants! We also visited the local town, HD Koti, giving us our first taste of meat since we arrived.

The opening ceremony was emotional – many of the villagers were crying, and really highlighted the bonds we made with the community. The local women dressed the girls in saris and the school children attached us with make-up and costume jewelry. Holly was unrecognizable!

Our phase tested us in more ways than we had expected and gave us a real insight in to people from rural communities in India.

Toilet time at MC Tolalu Hundi
By Nat and Claire, Charlie 4
As Amartya Sen described, ‘development projects are meant to inspire freedom for communities and initiate individual empowerment.’ Despite Raleigh group Charlie 4 being deployed to essentially build toilets for the small village of MC Tolalu Hundi this eco sanitation project matches Seri’s definition perfectly of a sustainable project centred on liberating the local community now and for the future.

Over the last two weeks the group successfully completed their task of building 16 eco-sanitation units. Each unit exemplified economic and social sustainability. This enabled villagers not only to dispose of waste in a hygienic manner but also turned it in to a compost which would provide economic security and fertility as a locally used and sold fertiliser. This is particularly important in this village of 57 families which previously had two toilets.

The project was a giant learning curve for all involved, being adopted in to a new alien culture, being pushed to their physical limits an d learning to communicate with masons and villagers through a combination of wild hand gestures , exaggerated facial expressions and goat impersonations! A great sense of satisfaction was felt by all on being actually involved throughout the whole construction process, from the foundations to the completed unit; whether it be through the carrying of bricks and sand or aiding on the cementing process. Although not when cement is poured down the back of your trousers (poor Mona!).

The experience given to the group was not limited only to working and all were glad to return to base, the local school, at the end of each day. This allowed everyone to form relationships with the many smiley children, as well as enjoy cultural experiences such as local cooking and traditional singing.

Another moment hugely appreciated by all was the beautiful opening ceremony, as the efforts made conveyed the sentiments of the villagers. Everyone was presented with traditional garland and made to feel special. Speeches were made in thanks as well as in relation to the potential the units offer. Favourite mason, Chico, reminded the group of our reasons for being there with an emotional speech which pleaded with the villagers to take advantage of the opportunity they have been given. I’m sure I saw project manager Lewis wipe away a tear!).

Not all our experiences were quite so emotional as there were plenty of opportunities for fun. The group went on two safaris and were rewared with the sight of a herd of 13 elephants - amazing!! There was also a chance for swimming and trekking to experience the awesome setting. Overall an unforgettable experience was had by all.

Our time in Ramaranai
By Becca Hammond, Echo 5

‘Water is life so you have brought life to this village.’ This profound quote from the head of the local NGO sums up the hard work that Echo 5 and 6 have put into the gravity water feed system project over the past couple of weeks. Our team, Echo 5, have built a check dam, a header tank, and have laid pipes all the way down a 2 km hill. Carrying heavy tools, pipes and rocks was a physically challenging experience but we all pulled together and team spirits remained high throughout.

Towards the end of the project Echo 5 and 6 joined forces. We worked tirelessly to ensure that the project was completed in time and we finished with two days to spare! It was an extremely emotional moment when the villagers and both teams crowded round the storage camp at the bottom of the hill to see water gushing out of the pipe. It felt fantastic to see the villagers so happy at having water flowing into their village for the first time and to see the smiles on everyone’s faces.

When the children saw the water they immediately jumped into the tank and started dancing and splashing water at each other; a memory that will remain with us for years to come. It is so satisfying to know that all our hard work has paid off.

We spent a magical last night with the villagers, dancing around the fire with them and eating curry on banana leaves under the tarp. Our teary goodbye illustrated the unforgettable bond that we formed with the Ramaranai community. They will be greatly missed.

What gravity can achieve with a few helping hands from Raleigh
By Jackie Echo 6

Despite being told Raleigh were to complete India’s first gravity water feed system without electricity, what at first seemed an almost impossible mission turned out to be, unquestionably, one of the most successful projects yet.

Our main aim was to provide Ramaranai with running water for drinking and irrigation purposes, allowing their fields to be better fertilized and thus more efficient in terms of crop production.

Although water pumps already existed not far from the village, both were in dangerous areas – outside an electric fence built to protect villagers from the danger of elephants.

We completed water tanks on 1 and 2 as well as the majority of trenching by 8th August. Right from the beginning the outstanding view from our work site of the mountainous and wonderfully green landscape inspired and enthused our work, as well as making giving something back to the village all the more necessary.

Our work was rewarded by three truly amazing day trips. A hectic but exciting trip to Thalavadai where we bought local produce, as well as devouring traditional Indian delicacies; a 6km trek through jungle abundant in wildlife – we saw lima and deer amongst massive bamboo plants, and eventually an elephant herd at their watering hole; an unforgettable trek up a 1399m peak to reach breathtaking views of out surrounding environment at the top.

A huge thank you and well done to all of the contributors to the blog, the submissions have been outstanding.

Right now field base is actually in a cloud at Lower Camp, Charlie 4 are still here and will be submitting their blog entry shortly! Everyone else deployed today so make sure you check back for updates on the adventure (and some pics)!

Sunday 16 August 2009

The adventure begins

All the groups and field base staff have now arrived in Kerala. Tonight we are all staying together in Lower Camp (which is actually really high altitude!). It’s been great for everyone to get together and swap stories from their project phase. We are ending the evening tonight with a slide show of the project phase so that all the venturers and project managers can see what everyone has been up to and how much each of the groups has achieved.

Here are some photos of Lower Camp…

Tomorrow the activities will commence with groups going out to kayak, raft, trek and cycle 72km! Each group will complete all these activities over the next week whilst completing some mini challenges along the way to collect points. At the end a winner will be victorious…let the challenge commence!

Thursday 13 August 2009

Echo echo echo echo

News in from E5 and E6...in an epic final push E5 and E6 worked together as one big team to bring water 2km down from the top of the hill to fill two tanks in the village. The water tanks are full and what better excuse is there for a big water fight with the villagers!! (Unfortunately no pics as no access to them from field base).

Tomorrow is the opening ceremony for the water feed system and then the start of the trip to Kerala.

Meanwhile Charlie 2 have been busy planting in the mammouth holes they have been digging over the past two weeks and have a handing over ceremony tomorrow, C3 have already officially opened their rainwater harvesting tanks and I believe there were a few tears shed by PMs, venturers and locals...C4 are also getting in on the action, they will also have an opening ceremony for their posh loos tomorrow. Then its packing up, shipping out and waving off the many friends made on project sites.

Once we arrive in Kerala on Sunday each group will be posting a blog about their whole project phase so watch out for that!

Teaching the troops at Charlie 1

In the little spare time Charlie 1 have, when they aren’t building their tribal houses, they have been turning their blistered hands to teaching.

The whole team have bee involved in setting up an English teaching session in Muttimoola. After kitting out their kitchen with a tarp and turning it in to a classroom Charlie 1 were off to a flying start with their little English school all they needed were pupils…The local children did turn up…they were just a little late. They were so excited they were all finding their best outfits to wear and were sprucing themselves up for the event.
Above: photos of the teaching sent back from C1

Over 30 children turned up for the school session and Charlie 1 did a fantastic job with them. As there were so many children there they did a warm up exercise to find out the levels of English then split them in to two groups. Each group then ran a plethora of sessions from names games to simple English phrases to the alphabet and even numbers and simple sums. They finished off the sessions with some songs, the hokey cokey, heads, shoulders, knees and toes and our favourite…aroo cha cha.

The mini English school was a huge hit and since then the children have been shouting out names and phrases to Charlie 1 as they work!
Above: Photos of C1 working sent back from the project site.

Nice work Charlie 1!

In other news today Charlie 4 went on safari and saw 13 elephants including a baby one! Whilst Echo 5 also were on a safari and saw no elephants…a big sigh for Echo 5..ahhhhhh, maybe they’ll see some tomorrow at the water hole.

Happy birthday M-J

Today is M-J's 21st (!) birthday (or so she says). She's now back in the fold at field base after spending a week in Charlie 3 where she had a fab time. Today she was pampered with a garland of flowers, a huge chocolate cake and a massage at the spa down the road...



Wednesday 12 August 2009

What...more messages!?

Today our medic, Sarah, went out on a trip to Charlie 2, 3 and 4 and bought back the following messages:

From Kate Owen:
Hi guys, it's been a great week in C3, still having an awesome time, really looking forward to the adventure challenge. See you in September, Kate xxx

From Kezi:
Hello! Still having an amazing time and I can't wait to do the adventure challenge in Kerala, although it's going to be so hard saying goodbye to the villagers. Am missing you all loads, Kezi x. P.S. thanks Tegen for posting Katie's comment and Ed...still don't have your letter!

From Abby and Becky Harper:
Hello everyone! Thank you so much for all your comments. We are having an amazing time, working hard, teaching English. It is beautiful here and very eventful. Mum, Dad, glad you had fun in Snowdonia - and Dad you coming back alive is a bonus! Weather here has been gorgeously hot, hardly monsoon weather. Love you, miss you all xxx P.S. Abby's camera won't charge so only Becky's remains!

From Gareth Senior:
Hey Marc, how's things back in the mighty ? Let me know the goings on as I need the highlights ha ha! I'm having a great time! Oh yeah and to the family hope you are all ok? I want a big fry up when I get back! Love you all!

From Fatmata:
Hey Mum, how are you doing? Hope you are all doing well? Thank you for the comments. Miss you so much and please tell Jaffru and uncle that I said hello. Love you FA

From Aimee:
Hey Mum and family, hope you're ok. I'm doing great, working hard and learning Kannada lol. All I eat is curry so I'm pre-warning you that when I get back I want a juicy burger and chips :) can't wait for the adventure phase. Love you and miss you all see ya soon Aimee xxx P.S. if you can, can you tell my Dad about the blog or tell him I'm ok and miss him and the family thanks x

From Rory:
Hi Mum, Dad, Lottie, Billy and Alice. Sorry I have been pretty rubbish with writing messages. I have sent postcards though but don't know if they have arrived. I am glad you had a good time in India Mum and yes we have a fair bit of rain, but it compliments the hot weather nicely. It is so good to hear that Alice has got a job, will you say very well done to her from me. I hope everyone is well and miss you, Rory. xx

From Bijal:
Hey Mum, Dad, Krish, hope you are well and glad everything is ok. I received your letter on Sunday, was really lovely!!!!Hopefully you will get mine soon. I miss you all loads! We will be finishing our projects this week and going on to the adventure phase. I still don't have my phone atm so best to keep checking the blog! Thanks for your message Mum, I will try and call soon, Bijal xxxxxxxx

From Alex Stewart:
Hi Stewarts, sorry for not writing sooner, been busy digging holes - tis thrilling stuff ha ha! Having a great time really and haven't been back to hospital yet so it's pretty good. Posted some Charlie 2 stuff up on the blog the other day saying what we've been up to so have a read through that. Tell Gran thanks for the card it was nice to hear from her. Hope everything is good at home and have fun in Mauritius. I'll ring Dad when I get home on 27th. Love you lots xxx P.S glad to hear James got a job, tis about time he stopped being a bum!

From Anna Read:
Hi Reads (Mum, Dad, Edith and Jack), I know you are all on holiday at the moment, hope you're having a fun time! Don't worry about me, had a brill two weeks on the sustainable agriculture project and it’s the adventure challenge in Kerala next week, can't wait! Hope you write on the blog soon!! Miss you all love from Anna xxx

From Katharine Poole:
Lynne, this is early but thought I would write before I forgot - have a wonderful 30th birthday, we will come and see you when I get home so we can celebrate properly.
Stuart, did you see the shooting stars last night? We sat out last night and saw the Milky Way too, you would have loved it. Missing you lots, love Katharine.

An update from Charlie 3

In Charlie 3 we are still revelling in quite how good our project is. We are still swimming daily and having a great time with all the masons! On Sunday we visited the market town of HD Coti and ate the first pieces of meat in the spiciest curry we have had so far – Damien was sweating for hours afterwards! We also stopped off at the cake shop. The whole day cost under £3 each including travel and food – something we are still struggling to get our heads around!

The next day was Sophia’s birthday, we celebrated in style with a pjama party / and ‘s’ party (we were all in sleeping bags) and hot chocolate after dinner – a huge treat (thanks Kath we miss you!).

In sadder times the team supplies of tang (a bit like orange squash)have run ouot. Most of the group are suffering from withdrawal symptoms. We are also losing M-J today who has become a big part of our family. We are going to be extremely sad to not spend the last few days with her!

We have started painting the school, which has left our wonderful t-shirt tans speckled in white paint. Beccy C, Abby and Gareth did a superb job teaching the school children nursery rhymes such as three green bottles, incy wincy spider and heads shoulders knees and toes.

Charlie 3 have a few messages for home:
Harry says ‘Happy birthday Mummy I love you!’.
Becky and Abby say happy birthday to their Dad.
Gareth says ‘Happy birthdsy Mum for 8th! Hope all of the rest of the family are all well am having an amazing time!’.

Note from Jess: thanks for the post Charlie 3!!!!

Tuesday 11 August 2009

No hotels its just tents on trek

Our bespoke groups from St Helen’s, Hotel 1 and 2, have now finished their project phase and are out trekking. They are currently completing a 15km trek as their last leg of an almighty adventure. Both the groups are trekking on Sigur plateau in Tamil Nadu. Yesterday we were lucky enough to grab a couple of photos of them when our Country Director Mark dropped by to give them a wave from his jeep!

Above: Hotel 1

Above: Hotel 2 at 18km and in great spirits

These photos were taken at kilometre 18 of the longest days trekking at 25km. Both the groups completed the trek of 25km yesterday and are still powering through on their last leg. We’re looking forward to welcoming them to field base in Mysore tomorrow, probably with blisters and very hungry stomachs!

Well done guys!

Sending some messages home

From Bijal
Hey Mills
Thanks for your blog message!! I'm halfway through my deployment lol. Working here is amazing but hard work. I'm digging holes for planting mango trees and amla plants for local produce. Also done a bit of teaching! Thank you for my letter too. Take care, Bijal :)

From Charlie
Hi Marie (or family)
Have you booked flights yet as I need to make changes to my flights once I know.
Love Charlotte

From Nick Woods
Hi folks (Simon, Jenny, Anne and Robert)
Just to say that my ear is healing well and I am beginning to properly hear from it again. We are currently digging 1m holes in Netikal Hundi village with about six days left before we start our adventure phase. I am having an amazing time and I can't wait to see you all. Say hi to Bella for me. Oh and Jenny I found your future husband. Lots of love Nick xxx

From Bianca
To City and Islington lot and the rest of the family. Hey everyone hope you're all well it's nice to see everyone is having fun and working hard. To all my lovely Londoners hope you're behaving missing you all like crazy. Enjoy the rest til we meet again get ready to party 'ard! Love you, miss you, Bianca.
To Blu
Hey baby, my time in the village is almost over and I'll be moving on to the next phase soon. 2 1/2 weeks til I'm back home not really looking forward to it. Just miss the lil things like bring with you guys and real toilets! See you soon, miss you, love you lots and lots more than everything. From Bee Bianca.

From Anna Read

Hi Reads (Jack, Cathy, Rob and Edith)
I am missing you. I think you guys are on holiday right now but I've not heard from you so I thought I'd write a little message. I went on safari yesterday! I saw an elephant! And a baby one, so cute! Been having fun digging 1m by 1m holes to later plant amla plants and mango trees. The village we are staying in is awesome, the huts the village live in are so small it is crazy! The doorways come up to my legs! Anyway I hope to hear from you soon. See you in three weeks love Anna xxx

From Katharine Poole
Hi all, we saw elephants! I am having a great time here in India and am looking forward to coming home and telling you all about it and boring you all with my photos! Glenn - hope you are enjoying the school holidays. Mum - did you get the second postcard? Will try and send you more but haven't seen any in the shops. Stuart - you would have loved the safari, it was strange without you. See you three weeks today. Hope everyone is well, Katharine

From Beccy Culverwell
Culverwells: thanks for your message, got one from Tom too, but I can't reply, can you please tell him thanks and that I am having an amazing time and that I'm travelling after! Will contact him when I can. Today I've been helping to plaster the rainwater harvesting units and been swimming in the reservoir. Went on a safari trip and saw three elephants. Group are really nice and location is beautiful. Probably hotter in Portugal than here! Keep me updated. Lots of love Beccy C. Also can I please have a steak first night when I am home as I am on a vegan diet? Will contact you and Grandpa when possible xxxxxx

From Kezi
To my family, just got your messages, it's nice to finally hear from you! re the cement in my eyes don't worry I'm not blind managed to wash it all out so no damage! France sounds great but no where near as amazing as India! I got to try plastering today but don't think I can add it to my CV - I am pretty rubbish at it! All my love xxxx

Working life by Freddie Gillingham

Freddie from Charlie 2 talks about the gruelling work they are doing on sustainable agriculture.

Based in a picturesque setting where vibrant greenery dominates the surrounding landscape, Netikal Hundi sits with undiscovered character and beauty. On first arrival our presence was imeadiately acknowledged by a flock of fascinated villagers who’s warm welcoming manner was exactly what a group of fatigued venturers needed.

The daily routine consists of early morning awakenings prompted by the sing song of nearby roosters who seem to take joy in sabotaging any possible chance of a lie in. Breakfast consists of hearty porridge which although tastes like warm sweet mud, makes a change to curry and rice. Work begins at 8:30am and it’s up to the day leader to motivate and make sure the deadline is met. The locals draw an outline measuring one metre square and three venturers are assigned to one hole. Each person takes it in turns to either plough or dig with the third person resting in between. This system works really well and is effective. We’ve managed to dig four or five holes everyday.

Nick said: ‘When digging I think about the long term consequences of what we are providing for the community, this thought helps me through the work.’

The thought of hacking metre deep holes in the ruthless sunshine was admittedly a daunting one. The first day was the toughest and most challenging due to fresh hands and backs that weren’t used to such labor. The comparison between us and the laborers was bordering on humiliation but as the days go on our pride is increasingly reclaimed.

C2’s safari trip by Bijal

We were awoken at 5:45am, the earliest we have had to wake up so far on our project site. It was an awakening of pure excitement as it was the day we were heading out on a safari. It was the trip we had been looking forward to.

We had an early breakfast, prepared by our chefs, of a sweet and spicy nature. Once we were ready we all piled onto a bus full of anticipations and excitement. We purposefully left early as we were told that if we did we might see an elephant or even a tiger.

After an hour and a half we arrived and were told we would be entering the park in jeeps, five in each one. Three side open jeeps pulled up and I snagged the side seat so I could see clearly. As we entered the park through a set of iron gates it felt like a scene out of Jurassic Park. We all looked out in awe of our surroundings.

As we drove through the park we were keeping our eyes peeled for any form of movement in the bushes…hoping an elephant or tiger would pop out at any moment. The jeeps were driving like crazy and it felt like we were on a top speed roller coaster. About 15 minute sin we struck gold and spotted the amazing site of a male elephant which looked like it was coming for breakfast. As it saw us it began to charge but then stopped and just stared at us! It was an amazing site! After that we saw deer, bison, monkeys and a few peacocks. We were taken to a spot where we might see more elephants but we could only hear them through the bamboo trees.

Above: photo of the elephant by Anna

The rest of the trip was amazing, looking at the wonderful sites in the park. As we came toward the end of the park we spotted a female elephant and her baby!! The mother was munching away while keeping an eye on her young one.

Overall it was an amazing journey even though we kept our eager eyes out for a tiger but to no avail. It was a once in a life time experience.

Raleigh by Nick Woods

Raleigh, by Nick Woods, Charlie 2
I am more than a tourist. I am more than a traveller. Raleigh has given me the experience of giving back. Instead of just taking and taking from the world, I, with the rest of the venturers in India, am trying to make a difference. Whether its digging holes to plant mango trees or just taking time to play with the local kids. Raleigh has given me this special and noble opportunity to change the way I perceive the world. The world will change if you want it to.

The adventures of Charlie 2

An update from Charlie 2 by Anna and Alex

We are staying in the rural village, Netikal Hundi. First arriving we were blown away by how basic everything was; the doorways to the houses came up to our hips and the children’s playground consisted of one small concrete slide.

Above: Freddie using the slide as a place for tooth brushing (photo from Bianca)
Each morning the village awakes to the sound of the cockerel crowing at 5am, and the villagers slowly amble to the centre to collect their water for the day from the one communal pump. Yet despite how basic and challenging their lives seem to us, the locals are some of the happiest people we have ever met. They have been so incredibly welcoming and the children shriek with glee at the sight of a camera, running up to us with garlands of pink roses to wrap in our hair as we pose.
Above: Leti with the locals (photo from Nick)

In the evening we have been invited into their homes for tea and have been dressed up in beautiful saris and bangles. This has even inspired some of the guys to buy the local traditional clothing for men, lunghi’s, which due to their apparent comfort, they can’t seem to take off!
After a hard days digging in the field (our target is to dig 55 cubic metre holes to plant mango and amla trees in) we usually all rush to the shower, which has been an interesting experience; Mark said we would become close but we never expected seven girls to bond over showering in a tiny, dark, ant-infested room together! After this we settle down to play with the children and relax until dinner is ready.

Above: the teams digging

Besides digging, which whilst being extremely rewarding, has also been very tiring (so much that we eagerly await ‘fun time snack time with sexy lexi, anna bandana and dairylea marie!’), we have been painting the community centre in which we are staying, as it is to become an extension of the school next door.

But it has not been all work and no play. We were excited to discover a reservoir tucked between fields of vivid sunflowers and marigolds, in which the local women wash their clothes.

Above: a quick swim (photos by Amina and Bianca)

Above: a frolic in marigolds by Anna

A few days ago we took the afternoon off work and raced down to cool off in the water. It was so much fun to splash around and attempt to swim against the fast flowing current (though to no avail). It did not help that us girls were weighed down by having to wear shorts and t-shorts over our swimming costumes due to the Indian culture!

We have also ventured further afield on our days off, to the local town of Sargur, Bandipur national park and a Tibetan golden temple.

We are now coming to the end of our project and can't wait for the inaugeration ceremony but at the same time don't want to leave what has now become our home.

Charlie 4 wows MC Tolalu Hundi

News from Charlie 4 project site by Meriel, Nat and Claire written on Sunday when the loop visited the project.

The small local school yard was packed with eager faces and nervous performers on Saturday night as MC Tolalu Hundi prepared itself to have its first taste of western talents. Think Britain’s got talent but minus Simon Cowell and with the addition of a banana eating competition.

This the way in which Charlie 4 chose to mark its ninth evening as honorary members of the local community.

Far from what the polished acts would suggest the participants had faced a long week of manual labor that had pushed them to see where their physical and mental limits lay. Literally thousands of bricks, buckets of sand and endless sweaty tshirts had haunted their days whilst bucket showers and wet wipes became evening pastimes. Despite the hurdles the foundations of the 16 eco sanitation units are fully in place and just need their roofs and a lick of paint to cross the finishing line (get in there C4!). Villages and mason alike express their willingness (despite severe communication issues) with smiles goat impersonations and squabbles over work tools, tape measures continue to vanish in to mid-air with no logical explanation.

Spirits are kept high by favorite mason Chico who delights us all with his warbled versions of hot cross buns and the Cheeky Girls. Competitive natures have emerged within the group with the brick carrying record currently standing at 14 bricks (show us your guns Rory!). The girls (Nat and Mez) triumphed over the boys (Lewis and Rory) in a brick carrying race (show us your guns?).

Outside of work and chores (the dreaded toilet duty – Claire again?!) time can still be found for early morning walks, late evening swims and socializing with the locals – “Horigoda hogoo” (go away let me shower).

The group continues to grow closer and become the cliché ‘family’.
Above: a group review

The food is amazing but curry several times a day is taking its toll. So, families please take note that favorite meals should be ready and waiting on our return! Hundreds more stories than can be told now but an early night is needed by all for the excitement that will be tomorrow’s safari (elephants please!).
More pictures to follow...

What were you thinking, poetry from Charlie 4

What were you thinking?
By Meriel Hubbard and Nat Cox

No more pillows or a comfy bed,
Sleep on the floor with only the ground to rest your head,
Drag your aching body from it’s realm of sleep,
It’ll nearly be 7am and time to eat.
Hope for a fry up but this life’s so cruel,
Turns out again its Indian style gruel,
Be quick to decide that it’s so yummy,
As its all there is to fill your tummy.
And you just know that hunger will come quick,
Keep stuffing your face,
But please don’t be sick.
Seriously, what were you thinking?

Time to ditch the summer shorts and pretty dress – resign them to the bin,
Project fashion is all about the “mess” so let me fill you in,
The height of chic for toiling in the summer heat is a dust washed ensemble,
It truly has to be custom made with sweat and dirt never to fade,
Team with a radiant brick dust glow and any chances of lust are certain to grow.
Support this trend and don’t be fazed,
The style improves with the passage of days.
I mean really what were you thinking?

Off to work with a hop and a skip,
Yet unlike at home the jobs aren’t yours to pick,
More bricks, more sand,
Are of the few phrases to understand.
Constantly heaving resources around the place,
To feed the sanitation unit’s face.
Dirt embedded in your skin,
What’s this, am I getting thin?
And yet again you’ll find there’s a queue for the shower bucket,
Just use a wet wipe – oh…how annoying!
Honestly what are you thinking?

Well actually, all I am thinking is,
Construction is fun, out in the sun,
Working all day, that’s just the way,
As Lewis would say ‘we roll’.
Smiles and chants of ‘hello’ and ‘hi’
Makes you truly want to try,
An eternal member of this community,
In a part of India only Raleigh lets you see.
I think I really like it here.

Saturday 8 August 2009

Big thank you to Charlie 3

A little addendum from Kath (the finance geek)...
I just wanted to add a little note to say a big thank you to Charlie 3 for generously sharing their project experience with me. My highlights were getting to know the Charlie 3 crew, the delicious local food and cups of sweet chai tea we were treated to whilst working, the amazing view from our school camp, the friendly villagers and playful school children, playing Mafia and Carribean Beats (thanks to Jija it's my new fav card game), swimming in the reservoir every evening to cool off and did I mention the food?

This is my favourite photo of the C3 crew, complete with a huge rainbow.

In other news, Echo 5 has been working extremely hard to cover the trench containing the water pipes and, at the bottom of the hill, Echo 6 has almost completed tanks 1 and 2 and are also progressing well with the trench that will connect them.

Charlie 1 has been busy moving the sand and bricks required to build the houses and are expecting to start the construction phase today.

The Hotel groups had a lovely night sleep and are excited to be starting their trek today. They have 10km walk in warm and sunny conditions and it doesn't get much better than that!

The loop is visiting Charlie 4 today and Charlie 2 on Sunday so keep watching this space for more exciting updates...

Friday 7 August 2009

Charlie 3 – Rainwater Harvesting at Mosarahalla

Beccy C, Becky H and Kezi report live from C3...
Having laughed our way through our first week in Mosarahalla, we, the members of Charlie 3, can honestly say that we have the best project and the best team. From the moment we arrived, we became instant hits with the children, especially Holly (PARO!) and Beccy C, who has become the resident nanny!
Above: Beccy C with the local children
Asoka has won the hearts of the whole village, and has had several proposals of marriage – let’s hope they’re not too devastated when he leaves!
The view from the school we are staying in is breathtaking, looking over the reservoir with every shade of green imaginable and the local food is exquisite. Whilst living on a primarily vegan diet, Damien has found a suitable sugary supplement to his diet in the form of Tang, particularly mango flavor, which has left him with toothache as a result of excessive drinking!
The days consist of hard work building rainwater tanks – all 18 frames have been completed. The only major injuries from our work have occurred to accident-prone Kezi who has not only succeeded in getting cement in her eye, but also received a hit to the face with a spade by Holly on the day she was day leader – clearly she was a popular choice!!
Above: Damien, Gareth and Holly hard at work

Above Becky H and Abby at work

The other major excitement at work was when Becky H, Harry and Damien discovered a venomous and rather long snake in a pile of bricks. Damien was clearly not going to save Becky and took the every-man-for-himself strategy, claiming his fear for snakes afterwards. Harry nobly stepped forward to kill the snake, but was pulled away fast by a mason, who in the end did let him put in a smash (once the snake was dead!)

In the late afternoon, we make the daily trip to the reservoir, with Sophia leading the way regardless of the temperature of the water! Harsha and Vikas enjoy causing trouble and are the champions of water volleyball!

Above: Damien on the reservoir

By night, the Cluedo killings are occurring by the hour, especially with the invention of Ultimate Cluedo by Jija and Beccy C. Their invention of this game has brought levels of paranoia to new heights and due to the complicated rules has ensured that there can only be two winners – themselves!

Anne has been tied down all day every day with medical emergencies (not always, but mostly, our own!). As we write, Abby H is team leader and is holding a group meeting to decide who will be wally of the day. It will most probably be Kate, who is winning the tally at the moment, and wore a sari to lunch today with rather attractive walking boots underneath! Abby is following in large footsteps of Gareth who set a hard act to follow with his great games. Gareth is doing an excellent job of being a strong member of the workforce, along with the other boys!

Two days ago, a prominent member of our family, Kath, left us for fieldbase. We are missing her greatly, but had a great conversation with her after listening to Radio Raleigh last night! To pick us up, MJ has come to stay for the second half of the project, and we are all looking forward to spending more time with her!

A big shout out to all the other project groups, we are missing you all loads and can’t wait to see you all in Kerala before the adventure challenge! Keep smiling!

Thursday 6 August 2009

And in other news…the Hotels

We have two bespoke groups out at the moment from St Helen’s. Hotel 1 is in Alanahally and Hotel 2 is in Segawadi. Both groups are building eco sanitation units for the families in their villages and have made really good progress on the builds. Hotel 2 Had an opening ceremony for eight of the units today where the villagers officially opened the toilets! There were garlands and the toilets were decorated with flowers.

All of the guys at Hotel 1 and 2 have been working really hard in heavy rain and hot sun to build the toilets for the villages and have done an amazing job. When they haven’t been working their fingers to the bone the groups have been out and about on trips to Mysore, hosting cowboy and Indian parties and visiting Bandipur National park.

Well done on the build to the Hotel groups and good luck on the next phase – the trek!

Messages from Charlie 2, 3 and 4

We've got in some messages from the Charlie groups so here goes:

From Wahid
I'm working hard and looking forward to seeing my people at the party take care everyone

From Fatmata
Hey guys, I’m missing you all so much and can’t wait to see you all. I hope you are all working hard. Take care of yourselves xxx

From Aimee
Hey guys, working hard I’m constantly covered in dirt lol really not funny. Miss you all you better be missing me lol bye xxx

From Natalie
Big hello to Mum, Dad, Chess, Flea, Ora and Tullah! Hope you’re all ok and that you gave tache man a fab birthday (not being attacked by sheep I hope!). Really enjoying it here – constantly dirty and tired but so much fun – the place is beautiful! Tell Tullah to stay out of my room. Love you and miss you lots. P.S. I’m absolutely dying for a steak and diet coke its just curry three times a day!

From Meriel
Hi Family, so nice to get your messages they were bought out to us in the village! Having such a good time here, quite challenging all we’ve done for the last five days is carry bricks and sand in the boiling heat! I’m just off to go and help cook lunch with the locals which is exciting! Hope you had a lovely time with Jonny and Lucy and that Ben is enjoying China. Miss you all so much. Can’t wait for a fry up can it be ready and waiting for me on the table please!! Lots of love P.S. I figured you might have difficulty with the blog glad the Marshalls are helping!

From Nick Woods
To the Woods family, Hay everyone having an awesome time and getting proper digging these holes for the mango trees. In your spare time you can google our location of Netikal Hundi village in Karnataka, India. Met some amazing people and can’t wait to see you all again lots of love xxx

From Owain
Hi Mum and Dad, Hope you’re both doing ok. The village we’re staying in (Netikal Hundi) is amazingly beautiful, you might be able to find pictures on the net. Otherwise you can see the hundreds I;ve taken when I get back (or check the blog in a couple of days when the laptop will be out on project). The people here are really kind and generous and the digging is hard but quite satisfying. I’ll be in touch again soon. Lots of love x

From Bijal
Hey Nikil, thanks for writing to me on the blog, I will be out of contact for a while as I don’t have my phone on me but when I do I will contact you. I will be leaving for London on 27th August and I think at 6am from Bangalore airport if you want to come down but I will try and contact nearer the time. Give my love to everyone. Bijal xxx

Hey Krish, Mum and Dad. Thank you for writing and keep checking blog. Miss you all loads but am having a wicked time and I am safe and well. I don’t have my phone at the mo as I am on project. It’s really good and have been meeting local villagers and doing some teaching. I’ve worn saris and had chai! Loads of love Bijal xxx

From Charles (Wong)
Hi everyone in Hong Kong, now I’m having fun in India. I’m working in a village called Netikal Hundi for the sustainable agriculture project. The villagers here are really nice. Hope I can share some more with you all in September.

From Anna
Hi to the Reads, I am having so much fun here I am in a small group in a rural bvillage called Netikal Hundi. It’s just amazing and I have met some fantastic people and I am so happy. I will writesoon I hope you are all fabulous. xxxx

From Marie
Hi Mum and Dad, thank you so much for the message reallt glad you’re all well. Just in our school at the mo having bought a new t shirt…so happy to have something clean! Apart from being really grubby everythings going great thanks! Lots of digging, playing with kids and about to start painting the school. Lots of love xxx

From Rebecca
To the Culverwells. Hi Dad hapy birthday!!! Hope you had a good day, sorry I couldn’t be there! Having an amazing time working in the community. The children are so sweet! Building is really hard work my arms will be properly musclely next time you see me! Hope Portugal is good. Good luck to Jenny and Tom for results. Missing you lots Beccy xxxxx P.S. love to Grandpa as well

From Gareth Senior
Hey Guys, I’m doing great over here post seems to be a little slow! I have sent postcards instead of letters…yes I know very lazy! Anyway just letting you know I am ok and having the time of my life over here. Talk to you soon, love Gareth

From Kezi
Hello guys, hope you’re all doing well. I’m great, post seems to be taking its time though so sorry if I haven’t replied to letters – I haven’t got them yet! Missing you all loads but not enough to come home anytime soon – am having far too an amazing time here! Love Kezi xxx

From Kate Owen
Hi guys, hope you are all well and enjoying the English summer. Having an amazing time here, in my best dreams I didn’t think it could be this ood. Looking forward to steak and chips in September! Love Kate. P.S. What’s the Hull City news?

From Damien Hanna
What’s going on boys? Just wanted to say I’m having a wicked time and hope you all are too. WE MADE IT! And you’re all gonna have to lose to me in the adventure phase! Good times

From Holly
Yo guys!!! I miss you all seriously. We’re having a wicked time hope you are all good. To all City and Islington and the Taliban boys love you and miss you the most. Remember to make the most of the expedition it’s what we’ve been waiting for! Take care dudes Mwwwaaaaaah! xxxxx

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Echoing messages home

Messages home from Echo 5 and 6

From Rich Peters
Just to say Happy Birthday Dad! Hopefully everything is ok at home 

From Rosie Crocker
Thanks for your messages Mum, Dad, Mart and everyone! Doing great, it’s amazing here. We go to Kerala a week Friday – can’t wait for that! Hope you are all ok. Miss you all, lots of love to Dan, lots of love to you all, Rosie xxx

From Emily Hakin
To Granny and Grandad, thank you so much for writing literally every day! I love it that you are following the blog, I read it when I can. I have been sleeping under the stars every night to the sound of wild elephants calling to each other! I am filthy! Ha ha! Love Emily xxx

From Louise Gregory
Dear Mum, Dad (and Oli if still at home) having an amazing time, it’s absolutely knackering. Hope all is well at home. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! Love Louise xxx

From Alice and Laura
Dear Sacha, happy birthday for 18th August, have an amazing time, we miss you lots and can’t wait to come back and party!!! Lots of love Alice and Laura xxx

From Laura
Dear Mum, Dad, Auntie Jo, Sam and Sarah, having a brill time. Looking forward to a nice steak  Love you all lots. Laura xxx

From Alice
Dear family, having a good time on project. It’s so peaceful here, hope everyone’s well, see you soon love Alice xxx P.S. please don’t send my results I don’t want to know til I’m home!!!

From Tarlan
Hi Auntie Farah, thank you so much for the message. I’m havingan amazing time in Ramaranai village. Anyway love you lots and can’t wait to see you love Tarlan xxxxxx

Hi Mummy! Miss you so much but I’m having so much fun and it’s so unbelievable! Right now I’m in Ramaranai village and on Friday I’m going to Kerala (next Fri). Love you so much, Tarlan xxxxxxxx

From Kris
Just want to say that I’m having a great time out here an enjoying every minute. This area is amazing. (Just a note to parents to have steak, chips and egg for dinner and English breakfast in the morning – cheers) xxx

From Chinedu
Hello to everyone reading the blog and thank you for being involved in such an exciting project! I am enjoying myself thoroughly but would have an extra energy boost if some of my special people could leave me some messages. I love you all, Mum, Kai, Kallu, Anu, Izy, Uncle Perry, Pebbles, C Dot, Daisy, Ayemido, Shanigio and everyone else that I love. Leave me a message and I’ll stop crying 9hence the terrible pictures of me). God bless.
P.S. NCC Youth, hope youth day is blessed

Note: some of these messages were slightly unreadable apologies for any misspelling of names!

Messages in a water bottle from Charlie 1

Messages from Charlie 1:

From Merry
Hi Rosemary (Mum)
Hope you are enjoying Gardeners World and are enjoying your hols. Haven’t got any letters yet, tell Grandad to keep writing! I am very muddy. Am sending you a letter. Lots of love, Merry

From Emma
To family and sheniequays
Thanks for your messages, missing you loads but everything is going well in Muttimoola village. I am writing to you all now so youll get it in the next few weeks. Will send a message via this again if I manage to change my flights. Mum hope Borneo is brill. Da enjoy the burgs and give corsampooch a hug. Love you loads xxxxx

From Sarah
To everyone,
Hello all! Getting letters and I’m so happy to hear from you all – fam have a wonderful time in Venice. Charlie 1 is fantabulous working with a great community, in 3 days moved 3000 bricks! This is so good guys I’m thinking of you all, imagine me singing in the monsoon and carrying massive granite bricks! Miss you and love you all xxxxxx

From Terry
My fiancée Tasha steward I love you with all my heart and always will. Thank you for my comment be expecting something in a couple of days. I LOVE YOU XXXXXXXXXXXXX :o)

From Charlotte (Ali)
Hello to all my friends and family – HAPPY BIRTHDAY in advance for all. Leanne have a good 30th bday love you Mum, miss you all hugs and kisses xxxxxxx

From Kath (Paton)
Thanks for your messages has been good to hear from you. I hope you enjoy Scotland – I bet you wont have as good time as I’m having! Miss you all x

From Olivia
Hello M & Harry, thank you for your messages. I’m really enjoying living in the village and helping to build houses. Looking forward to those gym trips. Lots of love xxx

From Venuse
Hello Dad and my people! How are you all? I miss you soooo MUCH! But don’t worry I’m having a fantastic experience and we have been so busy everyday! Weather’s lovely, sometimes rains but still lovely. I love you all loads and looking forward to seeing you when I get back :o) TC xxxxx

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Update from the Echos

Echo 5 and 6 are in Ramaranai at the moment working on the gravity water feed for the local village. Some of the field base team went out to visit both the project sites to give a bit of a helping hand, bring them some chocolate and see how they are getting on. The project site, camp sites and local people are amazing. It really is the experience of a life time. Here are some blog updates directly from Echo 5 and 6…

Becca Hammond reports back from Echo 5
Our project phase is going SO well. We’ve nearly completed the check dam at the top of the gravity water feed and are in the process of finishing the water tank. We’re all putting in maximum effort and have developed a good relationship with the villagers (they even give us chai!). Almost a quarter of the pipe-laying work has been completed which will eventually meet the work that Echo 6 are doing.
Above: the kitchen at Echo 5

During the past few days we’ve decorated our campsite by building a table out of bamboo (which sadly collapsed after being sat on by three heavy guys). We’ve made the best long drop ever and had campfire nights and morning group exercise classes and had group lunches and dinners. We’ve been teaching and playing with the local children and we’ve learnt a lot from them in return. We’ve learnt a number of Tamil phrases such as vanakam (hello).
We’ve seen elephants, deer and butterflies as big as birds! We’re working from the top of the hill and the view is incredible it makes the steep climb every morning worthwhile.

Above: the water run

We’re all looking forward to going on our safari (tomorrow), which is being led by the local forestry commission and to all the fun days and nights ahead of us in Ramaranai.

Echo 5 hard at work at the top of the hill!

Echo 5 by Laura Morgan and Becca Hammond
We are the fantastic Echo 5
Eating rice to stay alive
Be it sun or be it rain
We’re up the hill, we wont complain

Slippery rocks, potential falls
Building lots of concrete walls,
Digging trenches and scooping dirt,
Lets just hope no one gets hurt

The stars are out the fire’s on
In India what could go wrong!?

And just a stones throw away Emily Hakin and Rosie Crocker at Echo 6 let us know how they are getting on...
It’s 6am and the alarm bell rings, the yoga junkies jump out their bashers, grab their roll mats and perform salutations as they watch the sun rise over the mountains.

6:30am and there is a low grumble, no, not the calling of the elephants, but the sounds of Echo 6’s man force falling out of their bashers ready to start the day.

Above: Echo 6's bashers

6:45am, the infamous water run. We march through the village and up to the water pump which is in elephant and viper territory, outside the safety of the electric fence. We march back with 25kg on our shoulders to the echoing of our rumbling bellies with only one thought on our minds…porridge.

Above: L-R Jackie, Emily, Lotte, Rosie, Will, Claire and Victoria on the water run We dig, we snack, we pole, we sweat, we snack. We dig, we sweat, we snack, we trench some more, we pole some more, we collapse! Thank god it’s 12pm and then we lunch.

Above: back row L-R: Siva, Rich, Rosie, Will, Victoria, Jackie, Liam, Vijay. Front row LR-R: Nicholas, Alice, Emily, Claire, Louise, Jonny and Lotte

It’s 8:20 and its high ho off to work we go time. Slap on the suncream for our seven hours of strenuous manual labour. Stretching us to our limits, the only thing that keeps us going is the thought of our favourite new snack…peanut crunch.

We keep our heads high as we are shouted at in Indian that we are not strong enough. We laugh it off, we trench. Its 4pm and the thought of showering alone in the forest where there isn’t even a fig leaf lifts our sweaty mood as we complete the final push for the day.

We arrive here to the camp to the sweet aroma of our dinner cooking. We chill.
Above: Echo 6's menu ideas

We review the day over a cup of teas our bodies close down for the day.

It’s 9:30pm, the sun has gone down and we fall asleep in our bashers underneath the stars listening to the sound of elephants. They are 100 yards away calling to each other as they stamp through the forest. We start again tomorrow at 6am, we are Echo 6.

The best of Echo 6…so far, some of Echo 6’s top moments by Jackie Mustoe

Above: Jackie skipping with the local children

Work is physical but the demands are overcome by rewards. The Western ghats surround our camp providing the most stunning views at work.

Our food - the amazing satisfaction the peanut crunch provides and devouring delicacies made up of either rice, noodles or pasta complimented by tuna, sweetcorn or baked beans.

Our camp, Rich and Nick’s innovative park bench poohole as the best outdoor toilet ever and bashers, sleeping in style and absolute comfort. Pumping water from the well and building up those guns of steel, then getting back to nature and showering with buckets of fresh cold water.

Standing in silence at night, peering through the electric fence, hoping for a glimpse of an Indian elephant…

That's all from the Echo groups check back soon for some messages for home.