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

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

Tuesday 28 June 2011

The Venturers have landed!

Hello, hello, well we’re back from the airport and with us we have all the remaining venturers for the 11E & F expeditions. We have had people flying in from all over the world over the last couple of days, from Bermuda, from Hong Kong and the Netherlands, our host country venturers have also arrived and have been with us here since Sunday.

Andrew, Donks and I went to collect the venturers from Bangalore airport at the bright and twirley hour of 4:30am.  Everyone soon started coming through arrivals with big smiles and even bigger bags. We’ll be updating you all in greater detail about what everyone is up to but we thought you’d like some photos of their arrival in the meantime. 

Donks in her technicolour dream dress

Welcome to Raleigh India!!
The BA flight has landed!!
It's early but everyone is still smiling 

The early birds
Andrew making sure we have everybody 
The 11 E Venturers 

The 11F Venturers

11E on the move to field base

Closely followed by 11F 

Meanwhile back at field base the volunteer managers were getting ready to welcome everyone to Raleigh India and everything was looking great when the buses rolled into field base at midday. 

Field base getting ready to welcome. 
All our Host Country Venturers
Arriving safe and sound at field base

Over and out from field base we will be back very soon!!!

Saturday 25 June 2011

Phase 1 Alpha Groups revealed

The volunteer managers have all been assigned to their alpha groups for Phase 1 and they have been out and about to visit their expedition sites and plan their projects. We thought this would be an excellent opportunity to tell you little bit more about our VMs and the projects they will be involved with.

First up we have Charlie 1 and the VMs who will be heading up this phase are Susan Payne and Ana Steel. Susan and Ana are going to be in Kotapadi village for Phase1 working on a sanitation project, Ana is not yet here with us at field base but will be arriving this morning!

Susan is from the UK and back at home she works as a consultant. Susan chose to come to Raleigh because she wanted to gain experience working internationally in a community setting. Over the last couple of days Susan has been out to visit Kotapadi and is really excited as she has seen there is a real opportunity to make a difference with the community. Susan’s funniest moment since she has been out here is seeing John in a bikini, I hasten to add it wasn’t his own.

Susan off to find her partner Ana

Lovely Lindsay and Lou

On Echo 3 we have the dynamic duo Louise Shute and Lindsay Topham and these two are off to Huskurhaddi to carry out an environmental phase building elephant fences and trenches. Lou is from Liverpool and when she was back by the Mersey Lou worked as a community youth coordinator for the Fire service. Lou is on her second expedition with Raleigh as she has previously been to Ghana as a venturer, Lou’s experience in Ghana made her want to become a VM and she is now fulfilling that goal here in India. The thing Lou loves most about India is the variety of the landscapes and the warmth of the Indian people and she is really looking forward to setting up camp on the edge of a farmland.

Lindsay hales from London where her day job is managing the volunteer service at Brunel University. Lindsay chose Raleigh as she was impressed by the Raleigh ethos which she found to be very different from similar organisations. Lindsay also had a premonition that she was going to meet Donks and Fletch which hastened her decision to jump on a plane and high tail it out to India.  One of the most surprising things Lindsay has learnt since being at Raleigh is about how long a long drop actually is, very good knowledge to have when digging one and the funniest thing that has happened to Lindsay since being on expedition is trying to squat over a short-drop (very good for thigh strengthening). 

John taking Sarah for a trek 
Our Tango 5 alpha group has the joy of Sarah Whetter and John Whitaker who will be trekking through Wayanad in Northern Kerala.  John is one of our Raleigh medics and back home he works in cardiology. This is John’s first expedition with Raleigh and he came on expedition as he wanted an opportunity to see more of India having previously spent time in the north of the country. A surprising thing John has found since being here is that he wasn’t expecting to be ok with bucket showers and having no walls in the dormitory, but he is. John’s funniest moment came while he was trying to demonstrate to fellow VM, Catherine, how to walk down a slippery, muddy slope to avoid falling over. While in full swing of the demonstration John fell flat on his bum much to the amusement of himself and his fellow trekkers.

Sarah Whetter, John’s trekking partner in crime, is from New Zealand. Sarah has come to Raleigh after working in finance for the past ten years. Sarah decided to come to Raleigh as she has always had an interest in volunteer work and a friend of Sarah’s recommended Raleigh as they had previously been on expedition. Sarah chose India as she had never been to the country before and Sarah finds it amazing that after two weeks of curry she still loves it.  Sarah’s amusing moment  came when she fell over while checking out the trek route and one of the guides said to her ‘never to believe fully the stick’ – meaning don’t rely too much on your walking poles love.   

Tim and Catherine 

The Tango 6 team is made up of Catherine Playfair and Tim Pollington. Catherine and Tim will also be trekking in Wayanad. Catherine is another one of our Raleigh medics and in the UK she works as a nurse in a hospice. Catherine has been on Raleigh before as venturer in India and her experience as a venturer made Catherine want to return as a VM. What has amazed Catherine about Raleigh is how quickly you become close to your other team members on expedition.  Catherine found it hysterical watching John demonstrate how to walk down a muddy slope and stacking it and also finding a leech had made a home on the back of her ear.

Tim has left his job as a web site support officer for Action on Hearing Loss to come on expedition. Tim chose Raleigh because he wanted to get more overseas experience in an environment which was less spoon fed and he has also taken the opportunity to do the International Field Leadership course at Birkbeck.  Tim finds the patience of Mark, Jen and Julia astounding (we all ask a lot of questions) and he finds the atmosphere here brilliant. The strangest thing Tim has found so far is how the forest rangers work in only their sandals and dhotis with an umbrella hooked over their shoulder while he is trekking beside them fully kitted out.  

So that’s our ten week volunteer managers but we have four more volunteer managers who will be getting involved with the 5 week expeditions. 

Sally and Rachael 

The first team up is Foxtrot 1 and this consists of Rachael Brooke and Sally Orange and they will be heading to Ponani to work on a community project.  Rachael is another medic and when she returns to the UK she will be working in emergency medicine. Rachael has come here on Raleigh because she wanted to practice medicine outside a hospital setting in a country which would challenge her. The most surprising things for Rachael so far is the fact we have to burn our toilet paper out here and she also didn't think she would have so much fun building a camp! The funniest thing Rachael has seen so far was when Andrew trod in poo.

Sally is from Nottingham and back home she works as a physiotherapist in the Army. Sally chose to come on Raleigh as she had time off after spending four months in Afghanistan (I probably would have picked a five star hotel but each to their own Sally) and wanted a new personal development challenge. She was surprised to find that Mysore was so green and Sally is very chuffed to have been put on project Ponani, enough said

Christina and Clare 
In Foxtrot 2 we have Clare Watkinson and Christina Ambrose and they will be working in Basavapura building elephant trenches and fences. Clare is one of our medics and has been qualified for four years. When she returns from expedition she will be starting to train as an anesthetist. This is Clare’s first Raleigh expedition and she chose Raleigh as she wanted to practice medicine and work with people in a new and challenging environment. When Clare came on Raleigh she was not expecting to share a toilet and shower with Neville our toad and the most astounding thing Clare has found since being in India is the amount people manage to get on a Honda 250cc after spotting a man transporting five bags of rice on his.  

Christina is here doing two role, first off she will be working with Clare building elephant trenches and fences. Christina will also double as one of our expedition photographers as she works as a freelance photographer back in the UK. This is Christina’s third expedition and she obviously can’t get enough of India as they have all been here. Christina is an expert in building trenches and she can dig deep like nobody else. Christina has been embracing the wildlife in 
India as she has been sharing her bed with a cricket and a moth.

That brings me to the end of our volunteer managers who will be deploying with the different groups. They are currently learning how to build unrivalled campsites and I’ll be bringing you updates on how they have been getting on. 

Bye for now.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

No Quibbling with the Sorting Hat

It‘s currently eerily quiet here at field base as our wonderful volunteer managers (VMs) are out visiting their expedition sites. 

The moment they had all been waiting for since arriving in India happened on Sunday, not only did they find out what expedition they would be working on for Phase One but they also found out who their fellow VM would be, exciting!!!

In true Raleigh style the announcements were made with theatrics, this involved Mark, Julia, Jen and Ali transforming the volunteer manager’s staff room into the Great Hall from Hogwarts (This relates to the Harry Potter series for those of you who have never heard of the Great Hall and Hogwarts). The VMs were ushered into the staff room by Jen, who was dressed as Professor Sprout, and were confronted with the Sorting Hat who would decide their destiny for Phase One of expedition. There were lots of nervous smiles as the VMs waited to be called up to have their time with the Sorting Hat. 

Jen plays Professor Sprout 

The VMs nervously await their time with the Sorting Hat

First to face their fate with the Sorting Hat was Lindsay, after some deliberation the Sorting Hat decided Lindsay would spend Phase One of the expedition with Echo 3. Lindsay was followed quickly by Lou who was also put with Echo 3, the first VM team was complete! Echo 3 will be working in Huskurhaddi and will be constructing elephant fences and trenches. 

Lindsay is placed in Echo 3 

Lou happy to be joining Lindsay in Echo 3
Sarah was next to face the scrutiny of the Sorting Hat and was our first VM to be allocated to a Trek, she will be striding out with Tango 5. Julia from logs checked in with the Sorting Hat but luckily for us Jules will be staying here at field base to provide well needed support to our expedition.  

Sarah trekking with Tango 5 
Julia, lucky for us she stays here at field base
Susan was the next VM to toddle up to the front to face the Sorting Hat which informed her she would be spending Phase One with Charlie 1 in Kotapadi working on a sanitation project. Susan will be a lonely VM for a little while longer as her partner in crime will not be here for another couple of days.  

Susan jumps for joy when assigned to Charlie 1
Rachel, a five week VM,  was next up and was happy to hear from the Sorting Hat she would be with Foxtrot 1 in Ponani on a sanitation project. Andrew was judged by the Sorting Hat to be our field base medic and look how happy he is.  Clare was allocated to Foxtrot 2 in Basavapura working on building elephant trenches and fence and looks happy with that. 

Rachel asking the hat to tell her where she is going

Andrew awaits his fate
Clare looks happy with the Sorting Hat's decision to
send her to Foxtrot 2
Cat having had her hopes scanned by the Sorting Hat was assigned to Tango 6 and for Phase One she will be on trek in Wayanad, Northern Kerala. John was sussed out by the Sorting Hat fairly quickly and told he would be joining Sarah on trek with Tango 5. Sally , another one of our 5 week VMs, was pleased to find out she would be joining Rachel on Foxtrot 1. 

Cat ready to take on the trek with Tango 6
John showing us his trek pose, lucky Tango 5
The sorting hat puts Sally with Foxtrot 1 
Donks and Fletch were unsurprised to find out they were staying at field base (we're the field base team after all) but there was a big surprise for one of our field base volunteer managers. Tim, who thought he would be staying here at field base, was very happy to find out from the Sorting Hat that he would join Cat on Tango 6’s trek in Wayanad, go Tim!

Donks not to clear what she should be doing with a broom....
and Fletch just looks plain confused

Tim gets a big surprise from the Sorting Hat when it tells
him he is going on trek with Tango 6 
After all the announcements the voice of the Sorting Hat was finally revealed as Ali who has been with us doing some research into some of Raleigh's previous expeditions reveals herself. 

The voice of the Sorting Hat is revealed it's Ali!
The volunteer managers are due back tomorrow so we will be bringing you more information about the expedition and amazing experiences that await life on expedition for 11E & 11F. Till then get out there!!

Monday 20 June 2011

Backpacks, Blisters and Banter

It was an early start for all of us here on Friday. At 4:30am we jumped out of bed full of enthusiasm and raring to go for the 25K hike ahead of us that day, did I fool anyone there? No? Ok well maybe if I’m honest we were all a little bleary eyed at that time of the morning.  However luckily for us Jen, our deputy project manager, with her wealth of Raleigh expedition knowledge had made us a breakfast of ‘energy bombs’. For those of you who don’t know what energy bombs are pay attention, they are a delightful mixture of oats, chocolate power and condensed milk (If you’re feeling fruity you can always add sultanas) and after a bowl full of energy bombs you feel invincible.

Team VM ready for the off
Team VM struck off for their 25K hike from field base, for many of the VMs it was their first chance to explore the local area and get a feel for what the trekking phase on Raleigh is all about. With us we had our expert guide Johanson, from Muddy Boots our trekking partners, Johanson will also be one of the guides out with our groups on trekking phase.

Striking out from field base
Johanson, our guide from Muddy Boots

John and Rachel were the map readers of the day and expertly led the way, Johanson was on hand to give advice if needed, however they did and an excellent job steering the team in the right direction and letting us know where we were.

John making sure we are on the right track
After walking for a couple of hours we had the chance to stop for Chai in a small village called, Ahalya. The locals were very bemused as to why a group of fifteen people had turned up in their village with big rucksacks and hiking boots on. We soon made friends though, especially with the local children who loved having their pictures taken and Sarah, our day leader, took the opportunity to call into field base to give the operations room our SITREP, for those of you, like me, who are new to this terminology a SITREP is short for a Situation Report.  

The trekkers 

Susan making friends

Sarah, checking in with field base. 

It was soon time to wave goodbye to Ahalya and strike off once more heading towards Hullahalli a larger town which would be our next stop. On the way we had the opportunity to take in our stunning surroundings, my personal favourite however was the giant snail who made me feel better as he was shuffling along more slowly than me. Once in Hullahalli we had the opportunity to stock up on water for the night ahead and again we drew friendly curiosity from Hullahalli’s locals, with one man even videoing our arrival.

The giant snail! 

After 16K trekking it was certainly time for lunch and gave us the chance for another comms check with field base, some rice and for people to compare how their feet were faring. Hiking 25K gave us all a great chance to get to know each other better, there were deep conversations on really important life stuff like, how bad your tan lines were (I personally now look like I have pink leggings on underneath my shorts) and of course one of the most frequent topics of conversation on expedition, your toilet experiences so far. 

Lunch trek style 
Nearly there!

At 4pm we arrived at our final destination, the relief of arriving at our camp site for the night was overwhelming, mainly due to the fact we could all have a good cup of tea. Due to the looming rain clouds tents were assembled very quickly against a beautiful backdrop. By 9pm we were all tucked up in bed to the soothing sound of rain battering against our tents, this did mean however that nobody wanted to leave their tents to visit the short drop which led to a long queue in the morning. 

Tents assembled 

Our view, not to shabby

John digging our short drop toilet

On Saturday we were all woken up by Lou’s cheerful voice announcing that a breakfast of energy bombs was ready and waiting for us. Camp was quickly broken down and packed away but before we started off to get to our swim assessment it was time for some group photos. 

Breaking camp

Andrew and Lou are way ahead of the rest of us

Team VM still having a great time. 

Donks wins at who can jump the highest (far left)

I thought it would be a good idea to get the VMs to do a morning run

It was only a 3K trek to the swim assessment site (a reprieve for some of the blister that had developed the day before) and it was a great relief to get in the water even if it did reveal some of the tans we thought we had developed were in fact dirt. 

Great photo by Julia our Logs legend

Rachel is out first

All of our VMs passed their swim assessment with no problems, again the ladies washing their clothes at the edge of the river were very amused by our swimming performances and we also had one surprise guest emerging from the river with us. A local cow had decided to get Julia’s approval on his swimming style as well.

Lindsay doing well in the water despite a broken toe

Sally and Sarah 

Our surprise swimmer

Julia decided to give Mr Cow a pass
All dried off and back at field base it was all hands on deck to get our equipment clean and packed away. Dinner on Saturday night was a very welcome treat of pizza and nobody had to feel guilty about tucking into that extra slice after walking 28K over the past two days.   

Since the trek we've had some very exciting news with the VMs having been informed who they will be partnered up with on Phase 1 and which expedition they will be going on. Stay tuned as we will be revealing the looks on our VMs faces when they heard the news which was delivered in rather a magical way.