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

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

Monday 27 September 2010

The VMs arrive

Excitement was in the air today at Fieldbase with the arrival of the full Volunteer Manager team. This morning was a floury of activity tidying and preparing as we waited to greet them off their five hour coach ride from the airport.
Josse and Olly receive their Bindi's

Their arrival was marked with a traditional Indian welcome ceremony led by Manglama, who's family lives the Fieldbase site and Prashanth, one of Raleigh's team of drivers.

Prashanth gives Hannah her garlands

Garland Girls - Eira, Caroline and Rachel
 To avoid jet lag, the team were straight into training and have been kept awake learning the basics of life on Raleigh including 'three bowls', group contracts and cultural awareness. With a couple of energizers thrown in for good measure to help them power through.

L-R Doug, Susan, Christina, Olly, Laura, Luke, Phil & Sterling

L-R Del, Caroline, Liam, Bethan, Charlotte, Lynne, Doug & Susan 

Understandly they're all a little shattered now, so it's early to bed tonight as we have an intensive itinery of training ahead of us over the next few days.

Meet the Field Base team

Field Base is a hive of activity as the permanaemt Raleigh India staff and the Advanced Volunteer Managers busily prepare for the India 10k expedition. But here they take 5 mins out of their day to tell you a little something about themselves ...
Name: Mark Ashby
Role: Country Director
Loves: Monster munch - one of many great things from the 80’s that is so good it is still cool now, like stone washed jeans
Hates: Porridge – a big problem in this job!
Random Fact: I can cut string with my bare hands!
Luxury Item: Hot water that comes out of the tap!
No. 1 day I was born: Coz I Luv You by Slade

Name: Anna Tate
Role: Country Programme Manager
Loves: Great friends, good food, preferably at a beach
Hates: Bad manners
Random Fact: I once swallowed a chicken bone
Luxury Item: Double bed
No. 1 day I was born: I Just Want to Be Your Everything by Andy Gibb

Name: Del Roberts
Role: Deputy Progamme Manager
Loves: FiancĂ©e, running and spinning at the Gym – in that order!
Hates: Not being able to run
Random Fact: I’ve hand fed a female black rhino dates and I had a cup of tea made for me by Prince Andrew.
Luxury Item: Three pairs of trainers and running gear
No. 1 day I was born: Squeeze Me, Please Me by Slade

Name: Charlotte Parbery-Clark
Role: Medic
Loves: Good hugs, naps and scuba diving
Hates: spiders
Interesting Fact: Used to sponsor a three legged badger and fox
Luxury Item: Face moisturiser
No. 1 day I was born: Hello by Lionel Richie

Name: Laura Burnet
Role: Medic
Loves: The sunshine
Hates: The mosquitoes!
Interesting Fact: Got my stargazing badge at Brownies
Luxury Item: The photobook from my sister
No. 1 day I was born: Holding Out For a Hero by Bonnie Tyler

Name: John Miller
Role: Logistics Manager
Loves: To travel
Hates: People who talk to supermarket checkout staff and spend ages looking for their purse
Interesting Fact: Spent the last 10 months following the sun around the world - and intend to continue for the next 10.
Luxury Item: iPod
No. 1 day I was born: When by Kalin Twins

Name: Doug Meehan
Role: Logisitics Coordinator
Loves: Croquet
Hates: Pully suitcases
Interesting Fact: My great great ... Great Aunt is on the British five pound note
Luxury Item: Willy's Wonky Chocolate Factory A dime bar
No. 1 day I was born: True by Spandeau Ballet

Name: Polly Carpenter
Role: Communications Officer
Loves: The feel of sun on my skin and amongst good friends - ideally in a field at Glastonbury
Hates: My hair going frizzy
Interesting Fact: Earlier this year I featured on a pop single that reached the dizzy heights of No. 107 in the charts
Luxury Item: My luxury travel pampering kit my lovely work colleagues got me – everything a glamorous traveler could need
No. 1 day I was born: Hello by Lionel Richie

Friday 24 September 2010

And so it begins...

Greetings from India and welcome to the 10k expedition blog!

The expedition has begun with the arrival of the advanced team of Volunteer Managers (VMs) on Tuesday. The advanced team of VMs are made up on John and Doug in Logistics, Laura & Charlotte, part of our medic team and me (Polly) in Comms. Who have come out here to join Del, the Deputy Progamme Manager who arrived last Wednesday and the Raleigh permanent staff team; Mark (Country Director), Anna (Country Programme Manager), Deepak (Facilities Manager), Vijay (Host Country Venturer Co-ordinator) plus the Raleigh drivers Manju, Sixty and Prashanth.

Bleary eyed from the overnight flight they were picked up from Banglaore airport by Prashanth and taken on the four hour journey to Field Base in Mysore. The permanent staff were waiting to welcome us to Field Base and our home for the next three months.

Over the next week the advanced team will get to know their project areas and get started on the preparations ahead of the rest of the Volunteer managers arrival next Monday before the big influx of Ventueers two weeks after that.
Jet lag gets the better of Charlotte

John and Doug welcome you to their new home - the Logs Store

For now we’ll carry on starting to settle in but check back soon for the next blog entry when I'll introduce you properly to the Advanced team of VMs.

Polly x

Thursday 16 September 2010

10E Final Wash Up

Well, that's all folks !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yet there was loads of organisation and planning behind the scenes at Field Base for the final finale of a James Bond meets Bollywood themed party. Louise Hyde put her considerable Blue Peteresque skills to the test with amazing place setting ideas and plenty of bond agent, and female agent cut outs, glued to card and then final editor's cut took place.

The first floor function room at Field Base was adorned with chinese style lanterns, and coils of lights draped around the poles. Tables were laid, a large tarpaulin was tied up as a wall, providing both shelter from the wind, yet adding an extra dimension to the disco effect.

Some excellent speeches by Kyle Sharpe and Lucy Jiang made the evening even more memorable. Lucy mentioned about the ten week experience, and how many blocks of ten weeks there are in a lifetime. But .... how many of those ten week blocks would be remembered with fondness, joy, happiness, occasional sadness, and bucket loads of laughter for a whole lifetime ??

The actual wash up involved cleaning vast volumes of kit, drying tents, checking poles and trangias ... oh ... and then stacking it all away in the logs room, all neat and tidy for the next project that starts in only a few days time.

And then, just like that, it was time to say goodbye. 

Before we do I would like to remind us of the achievements of 10E & 10H

In 2000, the UN's 8 millennium Development Goals were agreed by governments worldwide to halve world poverty by 2015.  During our expeditions we made a contribution to the achievement of these goals;

The school we built in Koolal will provide access to tribal children with their first access to education - we know that education is key to escaping poverty

The eco-sanitation units we built in Gandathur will improve health and provide a source of income

The improved sanitation units at the Madapura school will encourage more young women to attend and stay in school

The fences and trenches installed in Huskurhadi and Thangamalai will not only help protect elephants but will boost income of local farmers

Thank you to everyone who was got out here, to the volunteer managers who worked incredibly hard to deliver an amazing to programme, to the venturers who really and truly made this experience their own, thank you to the permanent staff team who continue to work extremely hard to make this experience work, to the team in Raleigh head office for their ongoing support and thank you to everyone who supported from afar, your blog messages, letters and words of encouragement meant an awful lot to us all!

I hope that we will all carry the lessons and memories of 10E & 10H with us and continue to lead extraordinary lives, making a difference in this incredible world.



By Robert J. Hastings

TUCKED AWAY in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We're traveling by train and, from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination--for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the Station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Station.

"Yes, when we reach the Station, that will be it!" we promise ourselves. "When we're eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!"

From that day on we will all live happily ever after.

Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no Station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The Station is an illusion--it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday's a memory, tomorrow's a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday's a fading sunset, tomorrow's a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.

So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather the regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.

So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The Station will come soon enough.

and one more......

Everyone in this room has had an impact on the experience I have had over the past 3 months so I have a few things to say about what this experience has meant to me.

I have laughed until my tummy hurts and cried a few tears too.

I have been as excited as a five year old and yet at times been grumpy as an old man.

I have people who will be in my life forever and people I am glad to have known if only for a short time.

I have stared up at the sky and felt there was nowhere in the world I’d rather be.

I have stared up at the sky and wished to God I was somewhere else.

I have seen proof time and time again of the enormous impact that one human being can have on another.

I have witnessed honesty and bravery that has taken my breath away.

I have learnt some painful lessons that will help me achieve more in the future.

I have watched friendships form and grow and have been constantly impressed by the care and support that exists between the people in this room.

I have seen grit and determination etched on many different faces.

I have seen people push through emotional and physical barriers to achieve things they would never have thought possible.

I have seen futures open up and endless possibilities shine through where before there was uncertainty.

I have made a difference to people and people have made a difference to me.

I have been part of something far greater than me, working with people from different lives to achieve something that I believe to be amazing.

Every second has an impact on me.

I have loved this time


Phase three finale - Tango Three

Kiana "Kiana Goes To Bollywood" Franks shares with us Tango Three's ups and downs:


"My time as a Raleigh 10E venturer is quickly coming to a close. Soon enough I'll be giving everyone my final goodbyes - or rather see you laters - and will be heading off, back to Bermuda. One thing I'm sure to take with me though are the memories. The memories as Charlie One, as Echo Two and of course Tango Three respectively. Each and every phase I'll be sure to remember but none will I hold closer than the memories of trekking in phase three. Yep, it was grand.

As you all may know, trekking is nothing close to a walk in the park, that's probably why it's called trekking. It's difficult, both physically and mentally taxing as you're pushed to and beyond your limits; you tire and you ache. Still, I can easily say that despite this, I had an amazing time. I can say that not only have I summited the second tallest mountain in South India but also had lunch on top of it - though it was absolutely freezing and the mist didn't allow for more than a 20 foot view to the edge of the peak. Beast part, I did it with some of the most awesome people I have ever met. Together we trekked over mountains, crossed streams, hiked through leech infested forests and jovially ate more parota than is probably normal. Shane, Clare, Robin, Dave, Luke, Lucy, Jason, Murugan, Nat, Ben, Grace, Yvette and yours truly, together we navigated over 200km in the amazing South Indian terrain and cam out with little more than a few leech bites. That's Raleigh venturers for ya.

I can go on and on about this phase, how it was nearly three weeks but the time seemed to blow right by me in a rush of wind but I don't think I'd be able to translate just how gnarly the entire experience was. Shoot pearl, it was awesome!

Saying bye to all of it will be a bit tough but I'm way beyond happy that I had the opportunity to do it all. DATTEBAYO! Believe it ! So much I'll take from trek: courage; perserverance; friendships; encouragement and just loads of awesomeness. As my buddy Murugan said, "Tango Three is my blood."

I cannot really say much else about trek save for go out and do it for yourself. Then and only then will you understand what I mean about how unexplainable the feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment is. Raleigh. Get out there!"

Monday 13 September 2010

Phase three finale - Echo Two

Paul Mohan, star of the above documentary, recalls those heady days in Huskurhadi:

It's good, no?

"It is a sunny afternoon in Huskurhadi village. We have just finished our last day of digging our part of the elephant-proof fence. Looking back, it is hard to believe that just two and a half weeks ago, this section of trench, which now stands at 50 miles in length and 1 metre depth, was just flat ground. Needless to say the group are very proud of what they have achieved.

Now that's what I call a trench!

Vicky makes sure Tom is well-balanced

Rengith, is that a digging pole or a snooker cue?

Daniel moments before extreme pickaxe action 

Tomorrow the group will be taking down the campsite and getting ready to return to field base on Thursday morning. The group will also be attending a leaving ceremony which will be held at the community school. There are definitely mixed feelings of excitement and sadness in the air, as in just a few days the 10 week expedition will be over. But whether travelling on or going home the venturers will undoubtedly take some amazing memories with them.

The villagers check out the sound system
A regular at the trench, one of the village elders, fondly known as "Papa Smurf"

Scott vamps it up

Rengith evades the camera with a bandalay as a shield

For me the memories I will take from this phase include swimming in the reservoir everyday; playing rounders; chatting; laughing and playing games around the fire; stargazing; celebrating Kyle's and Rengith's 24th and 25th birthdays; watching people chasing chickens out of the campsite; listening to Will's amazing guitar skills; using the pull-up bar Tom constructed out of bamboo and the day trips to the Golden Temple and Mysore Palace.

Taking the weight off their feet, it's Vicky, Tom and birthday boy Kyle

Louise, Vicky and Rengith snap a stunning sky

Rengith's delicious birthday banquet

Put that in your cakehole!

For this venturer, the environmental phase was the perfect phase to finish off what has been an incredible expedition."

  An unstoppable workforce

Louise receives her garland at the leaving ceremony

Will is honoured for his hard work too 

A jubilant Echo Two

Phase three finale - Charlie One

What a whirlwind the last few days have been!  Phase three has reached its thrilling conclusion. With teary eyes, it falls to me to inform you - in case you didn't already know - that our beloved venturers have flown the nest.

Over the next two postings, Paul and Kiana will provide us with an overview of the final phase. But first up, representing Charlie One, give it up for Sacha-Li Franks:

Sacha knows she left her tools somewhere...

"Well where does one start? The 10 weeks in India are coming to a close as the phase three Charlie One's finish piecing together a new school for the villagers and tribal kids of Koolal. Working with a new group isn't always easy and for some, the beginning of community proved to be no different. With some coming from trek, the change of pace proved to be the hardest but like on every other phase, we all got into the right gear and plowed through the work that needed to be done and enjoyed every minute of it (pretty much). Why? Personally, knowing that not only I will be benefiting from those hard labouring days helped motivate me through it all. But where did it all begin? I'll tell you...

No frills but plenty of thrills, waking up in a puddle being one of them!

The al fresco communal area and tarpaulin living room / kitchen

The Charlies enjoying a quick break

(In one breath) We arrived to a school with no roof, steps or plumbing; tree stumps in the way and a sea of mud all over. Nothing but mud. Quickly taking charge we dove into a game of Killer not wanting to waste any time (jokes). Really, we had two days before work would start so we called dibs on tents and tent buddies and got Le Grand Tour de Koolal; and met the villagers and workers we would be spending the next three weeks working alongside.

The worksite in all its splendour

It's all coming together...

Blimey, that was quick!

It started slow to the point where sifting sand and shoveling mud became the most needed jobs to be done. Note: sifting takes three people. Finding jobs sometimes proved hard but splitting up the work shifts was made as a snap decision and a great idea it was. Why didn't we think of it sooner?!? Having half work and the rest play games and getting to know the children, and rotating to stay fair. Building the school and having fun was easier done than said because having fun seemed to just happen.

Boas and Vijay perform foot massages to increase productivity

Bruce and Tiger supported Charlie One throughout

Shona admires the view

Teaching the group a new dance, playing cards and Killer, getting someone to wash-up, putting on the roof to the school, making a playground and garden, fixing toilets, sifting sand, carrying cement and bricks, getting dirty, dying and committing suicide in a game of Killer (I'm still alive). Learning to cook Indian dishes, pooping kittens and smelly people, long day trips, CTRD, one-to-ones and last but not least...finishing and opening a school for children. The best part - doing it with new and amazing people. What's that word? Oh yeah! Friends. :-)

Under the watchful eye of Stuart, Boas paints the new toilet and shower door

One at a time please: Helen, Stuart, Lucas, Boas and one of the masons

Lucas, Rachel and Stephen say cheese

About to tuck in it's Rachel, Anna, Stephen, Helen and Boas

Da Koolal Crew: PM Jo, Reuna and Sacha

Shonz and MJ show off their medallions

Stephen and Vijay share a tender moment

PMs Jo and Jules on the day of inauguration