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

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

Friday 30 September 2011

And the projects are...

Well the time has come, the names are in and the projects have been allocated so keep reading to find out where all our PMs will be going for their first phase and to get a little taster of all the exciting things to come!

Of course in true Raleigh style, Mark and Helen kept the PMs on their seats all day and before the projects were allocated, we had a jam packed day learning about sustainable development as well as some medical training.
Most projects will have a medic on them, but for some with very easy access to hospitals, there may not be one present. As a result of this all PMs and Fieldbase staff have to go through very thorough medical training. Our medics expertly took us through emergency first aid and reiterated the fact that there will always be a medic at Fieldbase who will be on call 24 hours a day for any issues.

Practicing a 'casevac'

So after a day of splints, dressings and slings it was time for Mark and Helen to announce the project allocations and here they are...

Community – Malligalli, eco-sanitation
Ed, Maggie and Jonny

Malligalli village is in the Malavalli Taluk of the Mandya District in South India. Around 250 families live in the village, with just 15 of them having proper sanitation facilities. Lack of sanitation is a massive problem in Malligalli and at the moment, the villagers use the surrounding fields as they have no other option.
Our venturers will help 30 of the families to build their own eco-sanitation units (or toilets to you and me) which are vital to make sure that all the families have basic hygienic sanitation units while promoting health and hygiene awareness. The project team will be living in a school with the locals cooking their meals for them so it will be a great opportunity to learn some Indian cooking techniques!

Community – Mangoda, biogas
Kath and Sian 

This project is part of an ongoing initiative begun by CTRD (Centre for Tribals and Rural Development Trust) and Raleigh in 2010 to reduce the environmental impact of firewood consumption by promoting renewable energy through biogas units in tribal and non-tribal villages in the Nilgiris District. This project runs over two phases and will see each group build three biogas units. Each family who get a biogas unit will be given two cows which will fuel the unit and provide them with free gas for cooking, while cutting down on firewood consumption.
The cattle will live in a shed, which the group will build, and the locals will be able to collect the cow dung to add into the digestion dome, which the groups will also build. The amount of methane produced in the dome in one day will be enough for five hours of gas. The families will also be able to get milk from the cow which they can use for themselves as well as sell – giving them a small income.
The venturers will be setting up camp in one of the villagers’ gardens and Sian and Kath are very much looking forward to meeting them this weekend!

Environmental – Gandathur, biogas
Jon and Charlie

Our PMs will be going to Gandathur on the edge of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. Like the group at Mangoda, they’ll also be building biogas units, but as this is an environmental phase our venturers will be sleeping in bashas (jungle beds) and also cooking for themselves. They’ve got a beautiful lake to wash and swim in and may even get chance to do some elephant spotting!

Adventure – Demon Mountain, trek and cycle
Andy and Hannah D

Well after our trek training this week, Andy and Hannah are super excited about this one. I don’t want to give too much away as I want to keep it a surprise for our venturers, but this is going to be amazing! It’s a mix of trekking, mountain biking through rice paddy plantations and a survival camp in the beautiful jungle of the Western Ghats of Kerala.

Adventure – Misappulimala ,trek and raft
Anthony, Rachel and Kim

This one sounds just as amazing as the Demon Mountain trek. This is a mix of trekking, rafting and survival camp also in the Western Ghats of Kerala. Amongst other things, the group will be climbing Misappulimala peak and building bamboo rafts to cross Anaerangal Lake. Again, we’re keeping all the detail pretty close to our chest on this one but it’s going to be a truly memorable experience and we can’t wait to hear what the guys say when they come back from their PPV (Project Planning Visit).

And our Fieldbase medic for phase one is...


We’re all really looking forward to having Clare at Fieldbase with us for phase one and also looking forward to having another ‘roomie’ in the girls tent. Clare will be on call at Fieldbase in case any of the groups have any medical questions or emergencies they need support on.

Environmental - Velas Beach, Olive Ridley Turtle conservation.
There’s one final environmental project that will be starting during phase two and running through phase three. This is two and a half day’s train ride from Fieldbase in the coastal village of Velas in Maharashtra state. As this project isn’t starting until phase two, the PMs for this haven’t been decided as yet. I’ll give you some more information on this later in phase one, but we’re all very excited about it! eco-tourism. The turtles nest from November to March, so we’re starting this project in phase two so our venturers have the best possible chance to see some turtles!

So with everyone knowing where they’re going, who they’ll be going with and what they’ll be doing it’s a busy day at Fieldbase as all the PMs pour over their project packs and pack for their two-day PPV. While they’re out visiting their projects they’ll be meeting the local communities, doing risk assessments and planning how they’re going to run their projects and manage their site. It’s exciting times and we can’t wait to hear all their news on Monday when they get back.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Skilled up and boots on

Wow – what a couple of days! Fieldbase certainly has been a hive of activity since the PMs arrived! After a good night's sleep we were straight into comms training on Monday, learning all about the radio protocol that everyone will use on Expedition when calling into Fieldbase.

We get our project groups to call into Fieldbase twice a day; once in the morning and once in the evening, to tell us what they’ve got planned for the day and how it went (and, of course, give us the low down on any gossip!).
When the groups call in we use a radio protocol similar to the army so that we’re 100% clear on everything that the groups want to tell us and vice versa. All our venturers will be using this system and it will form a very important part of their training.
With the phonetic alphabet under our belts (echo, alpha, sierra, yankee), next stop was lunch followed by more comms training and our all-important trek brief. Tim expertly took us through what we did and didn’t need (hair straighteners out) and then it was off to pack our rucksacks and get an early night ready for our 5am start!

On Tuesday we woke up to the early morning delights that are ‘energy bombs’ (oats, cocoa and condensed milk), courtesy of Charlie and Tim and then split into our two teams, India 1 and India 2.
India 1 (Andy, Clare, Ed, Hannah B, Kath, Sian, Rachel, Job and Charlie) headed off first, followed closely by India 2 (Tim, Anthony, Jonny, Hannah D, Sarah, Maggie and Helen). 

Charlie and Anthony fueling up on energy bombs

Our 27k trek was truly beautiful (and incredibly hot) and took us through rice and cotton fields and lots of rural Indian villages. Every village we passed through, we were greeted by smiling locals and very excited children, all waving and asking our names and where we were from. We felt a bit like celebrities!

India 1 having a quick rest and chat with the locals 
Rice fields on our trek

After a few water stops and of course our famous chai breaks, we were finally at camp and boy was it a sight for sore eyes...or should that be feet! It was a tough day but we all made it and felt incredibly proud off ourselves and shattered!
As soon as we got to camp we did a risk assessment and set about making it our home for the night. With tents up, a short drop and slops pit dug, it was time to start cooking and build the obligatory camp fire.
Just arrived! India 2, shattered but proud!
Digging the short drop

After a delicious meal of noodles, tuna and tinned cheese (yes tinned), we had a surprise cake to celebrate Lou and Andy’s three year wedding anniversary and then it was an early night so we were ready for another early start.

The next morning we had breakfast, some training from our medics, (Anthony, Sian, Clare, Hannah D and Maggie) and then headed back to Fieldbase for a well deserved (and definitely needed) shower.

The whole team after finishing trek!

After lunch and some health and safety training, we all headed into Mysore for an afternoon of exploring and a yummy meal out. After a pretty hectic first few days for our PMs it was a much needed break from training and a chance to explore and experience the fantastic country that they’re in.
We also had the final member of our Raleigh family arrive; Kim is joining the other PMs and can’t wait to get stuck in.
Welcome to Kim! 

The PMs find out which projects they’ll be going to on phase 1 tomorrow so Fieldbase is full of anticipation and excitement today.  I’ll update the blog tomorrow as soon as everyone knows where they’ll be going and give you all a bit more detail on what they’ll be doing so...watch this space! 

Sunday 25 September 2011

Our Project Managers have arrived!

The Project Managers (PMs) have arrived and Fieldbase has suddenly doubled in size. The beds are filling up, shower queues are forming and it’s ‘elbows in’ at the dinner table!

So...introducing the PMs!
Spot the difference! Andy, Hannah, Anthony, Helen, Kath, Jon, Sarah, Sian, Clare, Charlie, Lou, Hannah, Rachel, Jonny, Maggie, Adam, Ed, Tim and Sally.

Hannah, Anthony and I successfully picked up the PMs from Bangalore airport at 4.30am this morning and we got everyone on a bus headed for Fieldbase. After the obligatory chai and breakfast stop for dosa, a rice pancake filled with curried potato, we arrived at Fieldbase to be greeted by a traditional welcoming ceremony from Deepack and Mangalore.

A well deserved breakfast

 A traditional welcome with Jasmine flower garlands

Next stop was up to the roof for a welcome from country director Mark, followed by a quick overview of the day by Helen and of course some Raleigh name games!

After we had all formally introduced ourselves through the medium of animals, adjectives and a little dance (boy have we got a treat in store for our venturers!) it was time for lunch and our PMs to have their first taste of the delicious Indian food that we’ve been enjoying over the past week.

They were then given a tour of Fieldbase and a chance to get their heads around their new home. After an afternoon of admin and an introduction to their roles, they were treated to yet another yummy selection of curries and finally allowed to go to bed for a good sleep in preparation for the busy week ahead.

Tomorrow marks the start of an intensive two weeks of training to make sure we’re 100% prepared for when the venturers arrive. We’ll be learning how to fend for ourselves on project sites, going on a trek and all the PMs will find out where their projects will be. They’ll also be getting the chance to go and visit their project sites for a recce and meet the project partners. In between joining in on the training I’ll be updating the blog with what everyone’s been up to and most importantly what projects they’ll all be going on so watch this space!

In other news, it would seem that while Hannah and I were away picking up the rest of the team one of the Fieldbase cats decided to have kittens in our tent! Luckily Lou and Sally were on hand to rescue them and play mum so we’re slowly adding to our Fieldbase pet collection – next stop a cow and maybe a friend for Julia!  

Saturday 24 September 2011

Going under – Raleigh style

Yesterday we all went for our swim assessments, something that all the other Project Managers and Venturers will need to do, so listen up!

We went to Huskurhaddir where we had to swim 200 metres and then tread water for 2 minutes. It was slightly different from your average morning dip as we were in a reservoir (watch out for the underwater bushes) with stunning mountains surrounding us.

A truly beautiful setting.

Tim and Mark getting ready for the swim assessment

The girls getting into position! 
A picnic lunch and some creative sun protection!

After we had all successfully completed our swim assessments, Mark showed us around a previous Raleigh agricultural livelihood preservation project. Raleigh have been working in this particular location for the last three years to help protect farmers crops from being trampled by wildlife, in particular elephants.

Elephants, beautiful though they are, will go out of their way and trample over anything and everything to get their trunks on a tasty bunch of bananas, or whatever else might take their fancy.  

This is bad news for farmers since it severely impacts their crop yields and in turn their ability to support their families. Without outside help, a farmers only option is to stay up through the night on 'elephant watch', and of course the lack of sleep then effects their productivity.

Raleigh built and installed a solar powered electric fence to deter the elephants and also dug a trench to stop them passing over into the village. 

Mark showing us the solar powered electric fence and elephant trench. 

After our swim assessment and tour we had a quick picnic lunch before going on to visit one of our project partners, MyCaps, to say hi to the Airbus team before they headed out on their bio-gas project.

Checking in on Airbus

Today Fieldbase has been a hive of activity as we prepare for the arrival of our project managers on Sunday morning. Anthony, Hannah and I will be heading off to Bangalore shortly to pick up the team so we’ll see you all at the airport!

Getting Fieldbase ship shape and ready for action

In between finishing off all our jobs we had a chapatti making lesson from Mangalore, who lives at Fieldbase with her family. We’re all determined to pick up some top tips for Indian cooking to treat our friends and family when we get home!  

Making the mixture for the chapattis

Theja showing us how to cook the chapattis 

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Time flies...

Well it’s official. Fieldbase feels like our home. We’re part of the furniture, have chucked out the cutlery and all getting pretty professional at eating with our hands...the right one of course!

So apart from getting to grips with the delicious South Indian cuisine...what else have we been up to? Absolutely loads is the answer and no one can quite believe that we’ve only been here four days!

The logs team (Sally, Tim and honorary member Andy) have been getting to grips with shopping ‘Mysore style’ and making sure we’re stocked up with everything we need. Lou has been out on a few shopping trips as well and feeding Mark’s passion for lamination, making sure we’ve got everything to make Fieldbase run smoothly.

Hannah and I have been meeting the local printers to make sure everything’s in place for the end of expedition magazine and Julia the chicken? Well she’s certainly making herself feel at home and coming in the house to say hi probably a little too much for Sally’s liking!

Julia having a sneaky 'beak' round Fieldbase

And Anthony? Well he’s been doing a recce of the local hospitals and doing a lot of counting to make sure we have enough supplies in the medical kits. A couple of trips to the hospital later to pick everything up and we’re prepared for anything!

One of our local hospitals 

But you know what they say about all work and no play so we’ve made sure we’ve done some non-Raleigh Mysore exploring and I’m pleased to say our collection of skirts, tops and in my case pink sparkly bangles is growing!

 The markets of Mysore
 Quick Chai stop on the way to visit the printers
Choosing some decorations 
Lou making incense in the market

We also had a visit from the Airbus guys who came via Fieldbase on their way to their project. This was a great opportunity for us to put all our training into action, in particular the infamous three bowls!

Andy showing the Airbus group around Fieldbase

In other exciting news our new Deputy Programme Manager, Helen, arrived at Fieldbase today. Helen has just spent the last few months on Expedition in Borneo as their Finance Manager and we’re looking forward to merging her Raleigh experience and ideas with ours and making sure we have the best Expedition ever for our venturers!
Welcome to Helen! Straight off the plane and already down to work!

Tomorrow we’re off for our swim test in a nearby reservoir so I’ll be sure to post lots of pictures of how we get on! 

Monday 19 September 2011

Hello and welcome!

I’m Sarah and I’ll be the Communications Officer for this expedition - I’m delighted to be writing the first post on this blog.

There are lots of exciting projects planned for the next three months and this is your one-stop-shop to getting all the latest news and updates from the project sites and Fieldbase.
Before I start telling you about what we’ve been up to so far…here are a couple of rules about how the blog works and how to use it.

1)     We’ll be updating the blog 2 to 3 times a week so you can keep up to date with how everyone’s doing. We’ll tell you who’s doing what, how they’re doing it and, of course any project gossip! There'll also be lots of pictures so you can really see what life on expedition and in India is like! 
2)     Your family and friends can post comments on the blog – we’ll make sure that all the comments are printed out and taken to the relevant project sites so you’ll be able to keep in touch with friends and family back home
3)     You’ll also be able to give us messages for back home and we'll put them on the blog so everyone knows what you've been up to
4)     Please remember though…this is a public blog so anyone can read it. With this in mind, please bear in mind what you write  - more personal messages might be best to put in a letter which we’ll deliver personally

So, back to the fun stuff!

The advance Fieldbase team arrived on Sunday morning at Bangalore airport after a 9 hour flight from Heathrow. We were picked up by two of our drivers, small Manju and big Manju and after a four hour drive (with a Chai and breakfast stop) we arrived at Fieldbase to a lovely welcome from Country Director Mark and our Fieldbase pet chicken.

Quick Chai stop for a well needed sugar hit!
Left to right, Tim, Loggs, Sarah, Comms, Lou, Admin, Mark, Country Manager, Sally, Loggs, Andy, PM and Anthony, Medic. Taken by our wonderful photographer, Hannah
Lou making friends with our pet chicken, Julia 

After a much needed cup of coffee we were straight into business matters and had a rundown of our roles and a tour of Fieldbase.
 Mark helping us get to grips with the luxury conveniences at Fieldbase!

The advanced teams making their 'to do' lists!

After getting our heads around what needed to be done ahead of the other Project Managers arriving on Saturday we had a delicious vegetarian selection of curries for supper and then headed to bed for a much needed sleep!

What with trips into Mysore to pick up essential supplies, swimming tests in a local jungle river and lots of paper work to be completed it’s going to be a busy week!

Saturday 3 September 2011

Goodbye 11E – you have been a delight

Yesterday was a sad moment waving off all the lovely individuals we have had the pleasure to meet on expedition 11E. They have all achieved so much during their time here in India and we hope the memories that they have made here will stay with them for a lifetime, we wish them luck with what they go on to do after Raleigh.

The venturers left here at lunchtime yesterday: some were heading home, some have decided to stay here in India to travel onwards and the chicken which was brought back from Echo 4 has now become a permanent resident here at field base – she is currently clucking in the office looking for either food or attention, both of which she is a big fan of.

The majority of the venturers headed off on the bus to Bangalore and spent the night in a dormitory on the outskirts of Bangalore, PMs Donks, Lindsay, Catherine and Lou accompanied them to ensure they got there safely. The group had one final stop off at Coffee Day to fortify themselves with cake and coffee before arriving at their dormitory for the night.  Apparently not much sleep was achieved as the group was far more interested in chatting to each other than sleeping.

Everyone who was flying this morning got on their flights, so don’t worry nobody has been left behind. The airport PMs returned here to field base at lunchtime and we are all busy putting field base to rights again after the mayhem of wash up – a sign of a good time.
I thought I would leave you with some of my favourite photos from expeditions and a little something from Catriona. Thank you all for getting involved and sending messages to loved ones and friends who have been out here with us. 

For the final time from expedition 11E this is field base listening out. 

A little Reminder of Raleigh 11E - By Catriona Duncan 

There is something unique about Raleigh
To be the change you want to see
I became a Raleigh 11E venturer
Left to embrace India’s culture and food
Stripped of daily comforts from the start it felt hardcore
Challenged physically and mentally you can’t go on anymore
Out on the community, trek or environmental phase, one does wish
To have access to the internet and phone to hear how much you are missed
Although fieldbase do their best giving out treats and notes on the loop
This can bring tears of joy and trigger a list of the first things we need to do
When we finally make that journey home and spend time remembering when:

Home from home was camp in the middle of nowhere or a rural village
And you realise that success was determined by eight conditions:
Food came from the locals or from a tin yet it was all for survival
Sleeping was treasured on a comfy basha rather than a soaking wet tent
Water was of equal value after working or trekking for miles
Friendships were made with others who would inspire and challenge you
Family from home were missed but you loved the locals like one too
Technology you swapped for good company, conversations or cards
Privacy or rather the lack of it proved challenging when getting dressed
Education though was something of value and I know I am blessed
Simply being there Raleigh has taught me to appreciate eight things

Without a doubt the 7 week expedition has been my best moment yet
I still regret not staying but I have given myself time to reflect
And believe the accomplishments on Raleigh take a while to sink in
I sometime pinch myself that I did Get Out There and strive
But I owe it to the Raleigh Team at Fieldbase in India since we arrived

A big thank you to Mark and Jules as the in country team
For making it happen and helping to create dreams
For the local villages where Raleigh works and for venturers like me
For the Project Managers, you know who you are
Thank you for bringing out the best in me
You are all inspiring people and great leaders
To the rest of the Logs and Comms teams
Thank you for being there when we called and said hello zero
This is Catriona in the UK calling zero for one last time

I have no idea what you are all doing but I hope this shows
That I loved the experiences of Raleigh India 11E
And to my fellow venturers and friends
Welcome home and well done!
This is Catriona listening out – over