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 29 August 2012

In which we witness the week that was, and wave good bye! Part 2

And all of those shenanigans led, at length, to our last night together. That was it, 5 weeks of hard slog and laughs all over in seemingly a flash. Pass the handkerchief! Drained, delirious, shattered and spent; wet, weary and haggard but happy, our venturers somehow found enough energy to enjoy the evening’s festivities which included a special chicken biryani cooked by our meister chef, Umesh – I’m convinced he must be a deity in human disguise because the quality of his cooking was simply off the chart. I sat shaking my head in disbelief that anything could taste that good, even as I consumed the culinary zenith before me.

We also sat down to an awards ceremony for our best and most inspiring venturers, including resident Mr Motivator, Wesley Jones! Niovi and Tony ‘TJ’ Spence deservedly picked up the awards for best female and best male venture, having shown quality and class in their deportment over the entire expedition.  But, you know, the best thing about Raleigh expeditions is the sense of collective achievement that is felt by everyone at the end. We’ve all found it tough, emotional, frustrating and perplexing at times, yes; but, through supporting each other in those moments, we’ve also found it exhilarating, thought provoking, touching and, more often than not, downright hilarious too.  It’s difficult to think of how it could be better, in many ways.

I like to think that these were the same thoughts going through the minds of our venturers as they waved muted goodbyes to us from the other side of the coach windows. They certainly had the bittersweet expressions of people who know that a great chapter has closed. Perhaps it will console them to know, as they head back to their homelands, that a Raleigh expedition never really leaves you and that, like any chapter, it can be reread at will and elicit emotions that never really diminish. 

Thank you for reading. This is zero, out. 

In which we witness the week that was, and wave good bye! Part 1

This past week, the last of the 12I expedition, saw our hardened venturers journey to the state of Kerala for a final contest known as the Adventure Challenge. In it, both volunteer and manager alike would push their limits as they embarked on a series of pursuits which could earn them points and the chance of becoming the expedition’s Olympic champions.

As they disembarked onto Keralan soil, the three foxtrot teams were naturally overjoyed to see one another for the first time since the 2nd of August when they deployed; but their merrymaking was short-lived, for by the very next morning each team was once again separated by geographical and competitive distance. Their trials had begun.

The adventure challenge comprised five separate disciplines in a set order of rotation: a 10km rafting trip; a 43km cycle ride; an 8km trek; a 13km hike and a survival challenge, all cemented by a series of smaller team puzzles and challenges. Successfully completing each task earned that team their points, but the real beauty of the competition was that, since the challenges were conducted in different locations and since each team started on a separate discipline, no team would meet another until the whole thing was finished. That meant that everyone but the score keepers at field base was in the dark when it came to what challenge they’d be doing next, or how the other teams were faring. 

The challenges were unrelentingly tough. For instance, rafting didn’t merely comprise the paddling of the craft, but its construction too. Grey matter and red muscle were both taxed a great deal as the week wore on. Thankfully, on this, as on all challenges, there was help, given generously and with great expertise by the chaps from Muddy Boots, our project partner for the adventure phase and an organisation which specialises in running adventure challenges in this part of Kerala. Famously optimistic and can-do in nature, the Muddy Boots agents set just the right tone in keeping the various tasks doable but difficult and fun but safe.

The cycling marathon (for a marathon is 42km as the crow flies) would have worn that same crow out with its frequent undulations and provided an unexpected extra challenge to the groups in the matter of whether they’d be able to walk the next day, for walking was just what they did.
The trek and the hike, brutal enough on the plains of Karnataka, took on a new and frequently upwards dimension here in hilly surrounds of Kerala. But while leeches did their best to take vital oxygenated blood from our venturers’ legs, the humbling views from the mountain tops restocked their lungs with gasps aplenty. In total, they went 21km in two days which, to their dismay, was an awfully big circle. 

And now on to the part which all of our recently returned venturers will undoubtedly find difficult to forget, though only for the right reasons, I am sure. The survival challenge is perhaps the hallmark of the Raleigh adventure challenge – a chance for the teams to experience life at its most uncompromising, not least for the live chickens who were either going to stay as pets or end up as dinner. Each group took their turn to live for 24 hours on an entirely unremarkable patch of grass next to a river – unremarkable, that is, except for an abundance of leeches. With them, they took all they could carry in both their pockets and a small drybag, and arrived at the site to find certain other items of group kit such as tarpaulins and bamboo already provided.

Their first tasks were to set up camp and to find food from the surrounding area (cunningly stashed in boxes by the Muddy Boots agents). Each team then set about finding enough firewood to make and sustain a campfire – not a superfluous luxury in the cold night time world of the Keralan jungle, I can assure you! The groups then built a shelter out of bamboo and tarpaulins and began to settle down into their new and often quite wanting abodes. Sooner or later those chickens started to look appetising and the most gamely of our venturers stepped up, after a brief demonstration by the Muddy boots agents, to try their hand at dispatching them into the undergloom. It was never going to be family friendly spectacle, but those who did witness the event were inwardly compelled to do so out of respect for the animals and afterwards felt that they’d have a lot more than poultry to chew on the next time that they ate chicken. 

Then came the night: a night which, by our design, came without a sleeping bag. If the physical proximity demanded by such events didn’t complete the venturers’ bonding process, nothing would. Thankfully, all groups rose the next morning in fine condition although Foxtrot 2 were clearly wrestling with the start of an addiction to midnight snacking. Worrying stuff.
And who won after all of this? Well, our Adventure Challenge Olympic Champions are the redoubtable Foxtrot 3 – a worthy and very close win from a group with a ridiculous level of team spirit. Roy Hodgson, take notes – these people are up there with the Dream Team, The Rolling Stones and The Marvel Avengers. Congratulations to our runners up by name (though not by nature), Foxtrots 1 and 2, who acquitted themselves with gamely industriousness and dignity (well, maybe not dignity since they learned to not shower for a very long time), but certainly industriousness, yes. 

Friday 24 August 2012

The Last Venturer Messages....

Hello all, and sorry for the sporadic internet updates from the adventure phase here in Kerala - blame the sporadic internet connection. Anyway, here are a few messages from our venturers who'll be home in under a week!

From Richard Scott

Hi Dad,
Good to hear from you. We're packing right now and are leaving for the adventure challenge this afternoon which I'm excited about. Hoping to get some good photos.

Quick side note: could you get some porridge before I get back? Because, after having it here pretty much everyday, I can't get enough of it. It's seriously good.

Hope everything is going well. See you soon!


To Charlotte Nedd,
Hey my love! Thanks for your message and I'm glad you liked the blog post - had fun writing it :-) Miss you loads and it's good to hear that Breaking Bad is still brilliant. Missing that now too!

We're leaving for the adventure phase this afternoon which I'm getting excited about. Hope you're having a good time back at home. Missing you. See you very soon! :-) Patrick <3 em="em">

From Amy Kerr,

To Scott Riby,
Happy 1 year anniversary baby! I'm so sorry I can't be with you today but I'm sure Penny will give you extra love. Not long to go and then we can party! I love you so much. Amy Xxx P.S. Make sure Mum gives you my present!!

Friday 17 August 2012

In which we get an owl from Foxtrot 3...at long last...

"After our lacklustre performance in delivering the last blog post, we plan on redeeming ourselves...

The pits have been dug, cow sheds erected and porridge perfected. Even though we fell about laughing the first time as the guys stuck their tools into Brad Pitt and Pittsburgh (the names we have hilariously dubbed our pits), the enormity of the task at hand wasn’t realised until only a few days ago. A good job then, that we had two power tools to help us, in the forms of locals we nicknamed 'Gary Oldman' and 'JCB man' – the latter of whom can excavate, in the space of five minutes, the same amount of soil that half of our group can accomplish in half an hour.

But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves; a lot has happended in these last 17 days, but sometimes what happens in Manalvayal has to stay in Manalvayal. We took two days off to immerse ourselves in the Indian culture of Ooty, beginning with a much needed interest in Dominoes Pizza, and ending with a marathon of retail therapy, haggling, and a nice hot bucket shower. Under the strictest regulations, only burgers and pizzas were consumed on this trip.

Lunghis, saris and and a blue Gulson guitar in tow, we rode back, constantly teetering on the edge of the road - but the skilled drivers knew what they were doing, so they sounded their horns, turned up the bhangra music and we made it safely back. Since then, the boys have not taken their lunghis off, nor has Bipin stopped strumming his guitar.

In case you didn’t know it virtually hasn’t stopped raining here since we arrived, which meant that Dan had a tough sartorial decision to make – shirt on or shirt off? One member of our party has so far managed to faint at the sight three times in one day – her personal best to date.

Over the last few days, it has been a tough graft and, with the project nearing completion, the work seems harder. But Shri, one of the project partners from CTRD Trust and a former Raleigh venturer, granted us a few hours of well earned respite, and we celebrated Indian Independence Day by embarrassing ourselves. After the school children that we visited sang a few traditional songs, the responsibility was thrust on us to take centre stage, and sing for them. Our rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” received only the very best reviews in the Hindu Times and will never be forgotten.

The entire Independence Day was wrapped up by a local family who cooked us tapioca and chicken served on banana leaf. This delicious meal was diligently eaten with our right hand, and dessert, in the form of eggy bread, was followed by what seemed like a photo shoot.
While we’ve been here, we have worked closely with CTRD, who recently invited us to meet a women’s self help group that they set up. It was great to see the grass roots view of social mobility in India, achieved through helping themselves and their families economically. It was also nice to see a completed biogas unit. It was fully functional and we watched it supply cooking gas on our way back.

It sounds like a cliché, but when we say that everyone has had an amazing time on project, we really mean it. We are raring to go for the adventure phase, especially with the group being in high spirits. Our cooking skills and creativity in the kitchen, which are improving everyday, were used to celebrate Tiff’s and Niovi’s sister’s great news (A Level results having come out on the 16th August)by baking them a cake, which read simply “Congrats” using bananas. We are all looking forward to seeing the other Foxtrot groups, and our family and friends when we get home. Lots of love, Foxtrot 3. 

Thursday 16 August 2012

In which we catch up with Foxtrot 2...

Hello everyone at home,

It’s Laura here from Foxtrot 2. Things are going well here in Hagaranahalli. The weather has been great and we’ve been busy building our eco sanitation toilets. We had an amazing day off last week in which we did some shopping in Madikeri; there, we visited Abbi Falls, went to a Tibetan Buddhist temple and were able to enjoy a rare taste of Western food for lunch – I got a veggie burger and fries! Abbi Falls is beautiful, although we were soaking wet from the rain. The Buddhist temple was unreal; there were hundreds of monks chanting prayers, beating drums and ringing bells – it gave us goosebumps. The shopping near the Tibetan temple was also great and many of us bought Tibetan scarves, bags, jewellery and clothing.

Tomorrow (15th Aug) is Independence Day in India, celebrating their freedom from British rule. The girls have got saris to wear on this special occasion. Raleigh venturers will be special guests at an early ceremony tomorrow and we are looking forward to it, especially since we also have the day off work. 

At the moment, my group is busy laying bricks for a new toilet. We are taking a small break to hold baby chicks – something I’ve wanted to do since I was young. India is a big petting zoo and we see baby lambs and calves every day. 

We only have a few days left working in the village before setting out on trek phase. Everyone is getting along great and we can’t wait to see what the adventure phase has in store for us!


Wednesday 15 August 2012

A Very Special Birthday Message!

Today is special for two reasons: first of all, it is Independence Day in India, meaning that celebrations have been going on all over this vast land; and, second, it's Alice's mum's birthday. Alice, one of our VMs, is currently working hard in the village of Hagranahalli and sends the following message...

"Happy Birthday Mum! I hope you're having a great day! I look forward to seeing you in Kerala in a few weeks' time! Lots of love, Alice xx"

Alice and one of the masons, hard at work.

I might recommend to you, Mrs Alice's mum, that you bring her a selection of the finest chocolate biscuits or other confectionery that you can lay your hands on, because she's been a fantastic VM for us here at Raleigh and will have earned her dose of sugary treats several times over by the time you see her. May I also take the opportunity to wish you a happy birthday too!


In which we hear from Foxtrot 1

Over to Patrick Scott for an update on Foxtrot 1’s progress!

"And now, ladies, gentlemen and unreasonably devoted parents, it’s the blog you’ve all been waiting for – the Foxtrot 1 update! What with us being the best Raleigh group ever, there’s been a lot going on in Biddarahalli this week. 

We’ve already completed our work on 6 of the toilets and the other 7 are into their final stages! As scrubs wearing enthusiast, Lars, quipped, the sense of satisfaction gained by completing one is like a swarm of butterflies floating around in a field; though that’s not something you can say about the state of our long drop.

Elsewhere, we’ve had a lot of chai tea, highly excitable schoolchildren and annoying dogs, but the hero of Foxtrot 1 isn’t even human. Munga, our adorable monkey mascot, has acquired quite a depressing backstory since his arrival last week. It’s a harrowing tale involving homelessness and unfortunate removals of body parts, none of which a soft toy should go through. But, since coming to India, he’s been hard working, inspired his own limerick and always has a smile on his face: largely because it’s sewn on!

Next week we’ll be taking a well-earned day off to celebrate Independence Day – not sure what to expect, but we’re told there’ll be a lot of dancing and a chance for some teaching! Plus, we’ll definitely head down to the amazing reservoir for some more dips/futile attempts at washing (see that foxtrots 2 and 3? We have a LAKE!!) Until then, stay on the blog or more of our shenanigans and remember – Foxtrot 1 is Foxtrot FUN! (Blame Harriet for making that up)."

Next time on the Raleigh India 12I blog, an update from Laura in Foxtrot 2!

Monday 13 August 2012

Venturer Messages 3

The Loop is finished and I'm back at Field Base. Here are all the messages to home that we collected during our five day round trip to the three foxtrot groups. Enjoy...

From Camilla Tricker to Lisa Tricker,

Heya, good to hear from you. Yep, I’m having a really good time. Oh God, photos sound awful although Anna and Helena have much worse photos due to my incapability to pull nice faces when the camera’s around. I’m getting on really well; finished my jelly beans today though. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Lots of love. Camilla. P.S. The number is 5004841514 Xxx

From Patrick Scott,

Hi Dad, Sorry about taking so long to reply. Now that we’re on the project phase, there aren’t many chances to send messages! I’m in Foxtrot 1, which is one of the community phases, so I’m pleased that I got the project I wanted. At the moment we’ve completed two toilets and most of the others are nearly done, so we’re making good time!

As I expected, the kids follow you around everywhere – I’ve got some quite good photos of them, as well as loads of the landscapes, houses and the like. The village we’re staying in is called Biddarahalli and, as also expected, there are loads of cows around. There are also a lot of scruffy and very annoying dogs, which makes me appreciate Cody all the more!

We’ve got a couple of days off now, which is nice and we’re going on a trip to a Tibetan monastery and a nature reserve tomorrow. Next week is Independence Day as well, which I’m told involves a lot of celebrations and a parade, which sounds exciting!

Good to hear about Alex’s job interview; hope it goes well. Looking forward to seeing the new and improved front garden when I get back too! I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to write again before leaving as we’re off on the adventure phase in a week’s time so, if not, I hope everything goes well until my return. See you soon! Patrick.

From Victoria de Giey

Coucou les Potes!

Je sais pas si vous venez souvent sur le blog, mais c’est le seul moyen pour que je vous donne des news! Vous etes en Belgique?

Ici, on bosse beaucoup - on a construis 7 toilettes. On bosse de 9h du matin a 17h. Hier, on a rencontre des femmes du village – c’etait dingue! Sinon les enfants sont geniaux!

Bref todo va bene! J’espere que Oscar est ok au Canada,

Love Vic.

From Anna-Josie Linighan

To Caz,

Mummy, I miss you! Nobody here is washing my clothes or eating my food – what is this? I hope you’re OK sans moi, though you’re probably not. I imagine you to be spending each day weeping upon my bed. When do you go to Turkey? Have a great time. India is wet and the toilet situation is killing me. I’ve never craved Shrewsbury so much. I keep eating so I won’t come back skinny or tanned India food is nice. When I come back:

• Please put the new Cosmo on my bed

• Have some peanut M&Ms for me

• Make sure we have lots of bubble bath and nice soap.

• Will you also bring my phone (charged) and my leopard print wedges to the airport please?

Tell Chabz I miss her so much and I’m looking for the best presents in the whole of rural India for you two. Love you so much, even though you need to learn the difference between “your” and “you’re”. Anna-Josie XXx

To Dad,

Thank you for your message – gutted I missed Ennis The Menace! Well done to my boy Bolty too. I hope you are ok and wedding plans are going well for Chloe. Is it ok to buy Reece cigars? I’ll get you some too. I really think it’s appropriate. I’ve made some nice friends and I put up my own tent! But I miss England. The whole ‘not seeing my cat’ thing is not on. Have a fab summer. Love, Anna. XXx

Dear Batman,

Getting your message made my day! I miss Twitter so much. I haven’t yet found Arthur but I’m going to a nature reserve so maybe I’ll bring your one from there. Your results are soon – I hope you do as well as you deserve to. Glad you enjoyed your present and please, make sure you use them. I have 2 traumatic experiences to tell you about, including some live fowl. I also have an embarrassing story to tell you which you will no doubt amuse you. Have a brilliant summer and I miss you x 1000. Love, Anna XXx

From Helena Sutcliffe

I hope everyone is well and having a great time in France/at home/wherever you all are! My project (Foxtrot 1) is FANTASTIC and we are staying in the school house in Biddarahalli.

Building toilets is hard work but very satisfying once we reach each roof and the masons are all very nice. The children are all adorable and we play with them after work and teach them handshakes and stuff – my name has now changed into ‘Ilini’, which is an interesting new development!

We went to the women’s self help group meeting last night, and it was incredible to see how much they had achieved in their work – they give out loans for school students and farmers and try to make a better life for their children. Tomorrow, we are going to a Tibetan temple with monks and also a nature reserve so we are very excited! Lots of love, Helena.

P.S. Thanks for all the medical advice – you’ll be glad to hear I’ve been swimming in tons of stagnant water and not a hook worm in sight! Also, for results, it would be great if you could ring the head office in London – easiest way for it to get out here. Xxx

From Fran Barron

Hi Mum,

I’m in a village with children and loads of cows. I’m staying in the local school. I’m writing this on the 9th August. I might see elephants tomorrow and other animals. I’ve only seen loads of brown frogs and birds here. “Snake” Shyam was cool. I got loads of pictures to show you. We have finished about 7 eco sanitation toilets. We will get to paint them at the end. I’ve written my name in one. I’m with a great group. I do miss western toilets and showers and my bed and of course all of you. Oh, poor you with your wasp sting. It was friendship day in India today. I had a cooking lesson with our chef. The food is really good here, and I can teach you a few things. Working on toilets is hard work but very rewarding and I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to change other people’s lives. I love you loads, Frangipani (as I’m called here). Oh, by the way, when I get back, could you make me a steak with a jacket potato and green beans with loads of love – Frangipani Xxxxx

From Lars Mejnertsen

To Fam. Mejnertsen,

Firstly, I’d like to say that I am very offended that you would refer to Munga like that! He is a valued member of F1, and that monkey has been through a lot in his life, so calling him a creature is just plain rude 

Anyway, I’m doing well. Not been ill yet, though I have a bit of a cold. At the project phase right now, and have built 7 toilets to date (9th Aug). Living arrangements are good although we have a makeshift shower and toilet. There is a reservoir nearby though, which gives us a nice refreshing swim after the work.

It’s been a bit rainier, which has been a problem with drying clothes, but luckily my scrubs are still dry.

Hope everyone is ok


From Nasim

Hi Alex,

Thanks for all the messages. I love them all. I am so glad you’ve ordered your stuff; have you ordered any stuff for me? How much did you get from zoo and what did you get? You said that you start on the 4th – is that August? How good is the Scottish team and are you starting? How is training going? The village is very nice and I am getting on with everyone very well.

I loved your chess story – best message ever. See, I told you it is good. I definitely need some relaxing and I can’t believe that you decided to have a game by yourself. I bet it was boring without me. I told Mitch (the blog man) about what you said, and he laughed. I am loving the message thought. I am also loving the Olympics update. It makes me feel like I actually know what is going on. I have got the message from Mr Walt because we went to Maclikari and I accessed the internet. I hope you get a positive answer. Tell your mum thanks for her lovely message and I am looking forward to seeing everyone. I haven’t got any messages from my family, which is upsetting  I think they just don’t know how to work it  I ‘ve been having such a good time. Have to stop writing now, or Mitch’s fingers will erode. Try to answer all my questions and write me everything. I will be able to get them around the 18th – that’s when we go on the adventure phase. Could you please date everything at the end so that I can read them in order without having to guess. I miss you sooo much and I can’t wait to see you. Love you loads Xxx

From Laura Hamlin
Hi everyone! Thanks mom for the birthday wishes. I got a cake a card, and a banner from my friends here. Things are really good here. My group gets along quite well and we have been working hard building toilets. The weather is really mild, and there are hardly any bugs. I eat curry and rice every day. I can’t wait to eat home food. My arms and hands are covered in henna – we had a little party and everyone decorated themselves. Trek/Adventure phase starts in a week. I’m really excited. Miss you and I’ll tell you everything when I’m home. XoXoXoXo Lots of love.

From Emma Vos

Schatje wat een leuke blog berichtjes! Ik schrif dit berichtje op dag dat we 20 maandjes hebben! Denk aan je en hou super veel van je!! Xxxx

From Lauren Board

To Emily, Lucy, Jessica Bate and Lauren Snook. Thank you girlies for the messages – it made my day today to hear from home people. And really wasn’t expecting to receive a message from Kos! Hope you are having an ace time and got lots of gossip for me. Can’t believe you have actually been stalking me – love it! Can’t wait to see you when I am back. 28th of August – be at my house around 4’o clock please. Gutted you can’t be there though Lu! I am building toilets right about now. Lots of Indian love. Lauren Xxxxxx

To gran and the rest of the family. Thanks for your message – was so unexpected. Didn’t even realise you knew the address. Well done for using the internet, Gran – I’m scared to see what the pictures are like I haven’t had any make up or straighteners thanks. Mum and Dad, thanks for your heartfelt letter...or not! Hope you’re having good holidays and all get back safe! Lots of love – Lauren Xxxxxxx

From Ella Preece

Lily Filmer – Hey Lils, so good to hear from you, Filmers! There aren’t wasps here really, but there are some giant flying things and, from time to time, I have a freak out! I’m actually being very brave here. There are cockroaches and rats where we sleep but I’m coping. Looking forward to the stop! Joe’s cousins are very friendly but eat insanely spicy food! No big spiders yet, Ollie, just lots of chickens and cows.

Mum, Ruby, Tab

Glad all’s ok and you’re keeping Tom busy. Got all the messages today – was so good to hear from everyone. Glad you’re sleeping/enjoying Legally Blonde. I know – so glad I packed those shoes – lived in them! Think I’m getting muscles from all the lifting I’m doing here. Have the stupidest tan ever – milk white legs but top half tanned. An ice cream van came to the village – was so amazing. Having an icecream meant I could skip one curry and rice. We are all doing a music video as well, so that will go on but not sure when as not shot it yet. Don’t worry about me, I’m getting on now and we are like a little family. Lots of love – Ella Xxx

Uncle Neil,

Yes, we are working very hard and the heat makes it a lot harder. We have had many different foods and their tea is called chai. Love, Ella x


We are doing the same pretty cool stuff and tasting different foods. Our village is very nice. All the people are happy to have us here. Lol, thanks for being polite – miss you too! Heard we are doing well with the medals. Hope you’ve enjoyed going. Miss you lots. Hugs and kisses Xxxx


From Sophie Eaton

Hi Mummy, Daddy, Phoebe and Will,

Hope you are all well and that everything is good at home! Flushing loos do seem like a luxury now as squatting is beginning to make my legs ache!  I needed another tee shirt as I wouldn’t be able to survive. That is so good that Will caught his first fish with his rod!!  I am so jealous the fencing was good, I would love to be there. Yes the heat isn’t too bad so it is all good. It has been raining here a bit. The place is really nice – all the children love saying hello to us every morning and afternoon.

Love you lots and see you soon. Miss you! Sophs Xxxx

From Katie Robertson Macleod

Hi Mumma,

Very impressed you can “blog” now! So nice to hear from you. I am in Hagaranahalli village at the moment and it’s pouring with rain. It is such a sweet village and the eco sanitation units are going well. Now that the weather is cooler, it’s easier to work. The people in my group are lovely; last night we had a really nice send off for one of the project managers in the playground of the school we sleep in. Lots of candles, incense, treats, game-playing and henna applying.

I’m making a fun film which I’ll show you when I get back. Can’t wait to see you all soon.

Loads of love. Katie Xxxx

Next time on the Raleigh India 12I Blog: Patrick gives us an update from Foxtrot 1!

Tuesday 7 August 2012

In which we review current project progress...

Well, with “the loop” starting tomorrow morning, now seems an ideal opportunity to put you in the picture with a brief look at what each team has been up to since their deployment. Rest assured that, on my return this coming Sunday, my bag will be replete with messages, guest blogs and photos from the front line, so make sure you tune in then for a venturer’s eye view of the past week.

Foxtrot 1

The first day of Foxtrot 1’s visit consisted of setting up camp and attending meetings with the head mason and a member of our project partner, Mykaps, called Mr Mahadeviah. It must have been a good set of meetings because Foxtrot 1’s progress has been fantastic. They hit the ground running and are well on track, at this point, to finish their 15 toilets on time. Foundations have already been laid and work is currently commencing on erecting the walls of the toilets. Early on, they got the chance to meet some of the beneficiaries of the ecosanitation facilities which they’re building, and this was a great opportunity to put all of their hard work, so far, into context and to realise the human benefit that will come of their toil. We meet with them on Thursday.

Foxtrot 2

Similarly to Foxtrot 1, Foxtrot 2’s first days comprised meetings with a representative from Mykaps, Mr Shankar, and a visit to the project sites where, ever since, they’ve been putting in the hard hours. It’s all paying off for this tough troupe of volunteers though. First, the work sites were successfully cleared, and then foundations for the ecosanitation toilets were laid. At present the team are on course to complete all their building work, having already constructed several chambers and bases for the toilets. We look forward to an extended stay with them, from Friday night through to Sunday, in the company of lots of intrigued schoolchildren.

Foxtrot 3

Foxtrot 3 are getting enough rain for the whole of India by the sounds of it. Thankfully they managed to set up their camp before the monsoon arrived and have made solid progress with the digging of their two biogas pits, currently named “Brad Pitt” and “Pittsburgh”. If anyone knows Brad Pitt, please write to Brad about this. He might be able to fly out and get a photo with the team. We have plenty of pasta and hotdogs to give him. Deal? The coming week will see the foundations of the cow shed get completed and, hopefully, a start made on the construction of the biogas domes within the pits. We shall rendez-vous with them tomorrow.

More reports soon. Toodle-pip for the mo’!

Monday 6 August 2012

Venturer Messages 2

Apologies for the delay in some of these, folks. I'll be heading out to see the project teams this Wednesday and returning to Field Base on Sunday, so expect a whole new set of messages when I get back...

Lauren Board writes

"To Hugo William Maynard Burton. I actually haven't read any of my letters yet - been saving them. So that's good that it's cringe'inell! Yeah, I am having a really good time thank you. You spelt my middle name wrong. Rubbish boyfriend! I don't think I could ever forget that face, hun! Lots of love, Lauren :-) Miss you too xxxxxx"

"Hi family! Hope all's well in the Board household. Am having such a good time here, you don't need to worry about me, I have loads to tell you when I am back. Hope you all have fun in Portugal without me. It obviously won't be the same! Love you all - Lauren Xxxxx"

"Hey Em :-)
Yeah, I am having such a good time here. Still hasn't sunk in that I am actually in India! Missing all you guys and I hope you're not having too much fun without me! Say hi to all the galdems for me please. Hope everyone is safe and well. Lots of love. Lauren xxxxx"

Lars Mejnertsen writes...

"To Hilary Mejnertsen, Happy birthday!!! Hope you have an awesome day and a great time with the family in Tivoli! I am really enjoying it here; we're off to Bidarahalli to start the project. Say hello to everyone for me. Lars."

Elizabeth Graham writes...

"To Mum (Sheena Graham) and James, Don't worry, I got your first message. I hope you're all managing to tolerate each other and that Zac doesn't keep you up all holiday. Tell Dad I said hi and that I hope his navigation system is working and he isn't getting too lost. The food is extremely spicy, however there is yoghurt. I'm really enjoying myself and I am so glad I came. I am now in the middle of packing to set off to the project. I can't wait to get your next message. I love you all so much. Love, Elizabeth Graham Xxxxx"

"Hey Soph, You don't know how happy I was when I got your message. Was not expecting it :-) Oh well, it was to be expected that GB would do pants in the Olympics. I would like to say "haha" fo the weather but it's just be hot here, not a lot of fun - but still nice. Please try to stay safe and not have any other near death experiences while I am away, and tell Sean that I'm not happy he didn't risk his life to try to protect you. I am out on the project phase which is so exciting. The people in India are so friendly - they all want their pictures taken with us! (Feel famous). I hope you're okay and say hi to everyone else! Love Elizabeth Graham. P.S. I'm really sick of curry now:-( Xxxxx"

That's all for now. I'll take your messages out on my visit this Wednesday, so keep them rolling in. You have until Tuesday night to submit them, otherwise you'll have to wait until I come back. Messages from the blog are always so well received, even the littlest ones, so please feel free to pass on your encouragment to our teams. As my next post will show, they're making great progress so far.

Thursday 2 August 2012

In which our venturers deploy!!

Previously on Raleigh India...

The venturers shouldered their rucksacks and set off at ridiculous-o’clock in the morning for a twelve kilometre trek through the country tracks of Karnataka. It was a scorcher of a day (well, hot for wet season anyway) and factor one million sunblock proved to be as great an ally as more basic things like water and boots. If I know anything about chemistry though, it’s that heat makes bonds and, by the time all of our venturers found themselves at their destination, the Raleigh love was in full flow. Despite the fact that project team allocations hadn’t been settled at this point, many found that their trekking groups for that day had become like family or very old friends. In fact, as Harriet pointed out, the atmosphere felt “strangely chilled-out” given that the venturers had only known each other for forty eight hours. Such is the way with Raleigh! Just imagine the tears that will be shed once these guys have bonded for five whole weeks. I might buy shares in Kleenex right now....

Onwards to project allocations! Our mighty venturers found out yesterday which group they’d be in for the coming phase. Here are the team photos:

Foxtrot One will be in Bidarahalli building eco sanitation toilets

Foxtrot One: Back row - Anna-Josie, Amy, Camilla,
Lars, Helena, Patrick, Arunprasad,
Middle row: Francesca, Harriet, Tony
Front row: Johanna (VM), Victoria, Jakhya (VM), Ahbik
Not pictured (Steve Dhiman - PM)

Foxtrot Two will be in Hagranahalli also building eco sanitation toilets

Foxtrot Two: Back row - Pandi, Tony, Fred, David, Jay, Alice (VM), Katherine (VM)
Front row - Nasim, Emma, Katie, Ella, Lizzie, Lauren, Sophie, Laura.

Foxtrot Three will be in Manalvayal building two biogas units

Foxtrot 3: Back row - Laura (VM), Deepti, Tiffany, Sara, Nicky
Middle row - Myriam, Wesley, Niovi, Maddy, Sunil, Richard, Daisy
Front row - Alex, Dan (VM) and Bipin
Credit must go to our Field Base team for managing to accommodate the venturers’ preferences so effectively. Thanks to their efforts, we now have three very merry troupes heading out to the farthest flung corners of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, ready to take on the adventures ahead: adventures which you’ll be able to read about right here on the Raleigh blog. Bring it on!

And onto this morning’s deployment...

I write this post from a recently emptied and therefore rather sombre Field Base. Just a short few hours ago, our VMs and venturers loaded up their buses with kit and set a course for their respective project sites. Au revoir for the present, good volunteers of Raleigh! The mood of their deployment could not have been more different from when we picked them up at the airport last weekend. When they first arrived, they were weary with jet lag, getting to grips with the humidity and unsure of what to expect (though still excited). Now, fully briefed and bonded, they scurried around wide-eyed, seemingly immune to the 6am start time and full of energy and anticipation for the next few weeks’ experiences.

Smiles and chortling could be seen and heard everywhere and, as I sat there looking on, I suddenly realised that I envied them wholeheartedly. In fact, I momentarily debated climbing aboard the bus, in disguise, under the name of “Tony” since we have two Tonys here already. Thankfully I came to my senses, waved them off and went back to my laptop, otherwise who’d be here to keep you updated?

Lars with team mascot!

We’ll be keeping you in contact with your loved ones whilst they’re out working on their projects, so keep those messages coming! It’s been great to see so many venturers writing back and sharing their experiences. Expect a torrent of tales and happy memories when they return home at the end of August.