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Published: April 22nd 2007
One phase down, two to go! Alpha groups arrived back at field base today, most in need of a good wash! Especially the trekkers whose last shower was a fortnight ago, and those at Cape Cross who only managed the odd splash of water behind some boulders and a make shift shower curtain on the beach. The playground team had the cushiest time of it with a shower and flushable loo on site, while REST got inventive with a bucket and the school group at Onameya managed with a tap. We’ve heard tales of gourmet delights too, with Alphas getting creative with their supplies -some of the concoctions including biltong pizza, curry and garlic naan and trifle so all in all not too much hardship.
We wanted to bring you a flavour of life on expedition from those who experienced it first hand, so you can get a true sense of what our teams saw and felt. Below are accounts from each group. Alpha 1 - Okamatapati Junior Secondary School Playground. By Alex Fair
I have just spent phase 1 in Okamatapati doing a community project. Myself and the rest of Alpha 1 spent the last 19
days constructing a playground for the local boarding school.
It has been a learning curve dealing with the challenges of Raleigh life, including the food, living conditions, heat and local culture. Although it was all worthwhile when we saw the delight on the children’s faces when the playground was completed and ready for them to use.
As well as learning how to build a playground using manual tools, we learnt a lot about the local community and how they live their lives. We attended assembly several times to listen to the children sing which was amazing. The school children challenged us to numerous netball and football matches, all of which we lost, but it was in good spirits and we had lots of fun.
The food has exceeded my expectations. It is amazing what you can make over an open fire. We managed to make pizza, cake, flapjacks and a variety of different bread. Mmmm! It certainly makes a change from rice and mille meal!
Overall, there were ups and downs but all problems which seemed insurmountable were solved by team work and perseverance. I have had a great time and made lots of friends. Bring
on phase 2! Alpha 2 - Onameya Junior Primary School. By Alex Smith and Rosie Willmot
Alpha 2 arrived at Onameya hot, tired and a little despondent at where we were to spend phase 1. On the first day, as we prepared to camp in the heat of the midday sun, morale was pretty low. However, after a few modifications, including a shower, fire pit and seating area, base camp started to feel a lot more like home.
School building started off digging a metre deep trench all the way around the site, and unloading many, many bricks. We then had an (unplanned) three day Easter weekend due to lack of aggregate for the cement. Once this arrived though, we were back on track and could get on with laying the foundations. After that we were able to get on with some positive building. It was looking pretty good by the time we’d finished with it.
We experimented quite a bit with food on our phase, most popular being Laura and Rosie’s luncheon roll burgers, Rich and Suzie’s curry and naan bread and ‘sloppy fish’. Puddings involved rusk and apple crumble and two very tasty birthday
cakes. Killing the goat was not what any of us were expecting. After much debate over whether we really did want it to die, there was a general consensus that it was a good idea (for spiritual development etc) so goat was officially on the menu. Some people watched, some didn’t and there were some very mixed opinions about morality, vegetarianism and culture clashes going on for the next 24 hours. One thing was definite though - it tasted really good!
Local people at Onameya were friendly and enthusiastic. The children all had these massive grins and absolutely loved having their pictures taken. Alpha 2 slowly got used to having an avid audience whilst building and teaching English at the existing school was certainly an experience (the hokey cokey went down well!).
On Easter Sunday we even managed to make it to the local church, dressed in our Sunday best (t-shirts and sarongs for the girls). The service was about three hours long and completely in the local language, but interesting all the same. They also asked if we wouldn’t mind building them a new church. Maybe next time guys..
Driving through Etosha on the way back
to field base we were lucky enough to follow a male lion for a good twenty minutes, as well as seeing zebra, giraffe, springbok, ostrich and hyena! Cheers to our driver ‘Klinky’ for his awesome safari skills! Alpha 3 - REST. By Gemma Doherty
The Rare and Endangered Species Trust, or REST as it is better known, is a very fitting name for Alpha 3’s project site. The area in which the 11 of us, plus our three PMs spent our first phase of the expedition was more a descriptive word than a name. Despite being surrounded by nothingness as far as the eye could see, we quickly got on with the job in hand. We were to build, or continue to build, an aviary for endangered and injured vultures, as well develop a hide which is to be used to view wild vultures feeding - an interesting site to say the least. Once we had brought our rather ghostly campsite to life by digging the largest long drop known to man and clearing a fire pit which we soon discovered was a water drain for the entire camp site, we were introduced to Maria, the owner of
the farm and the founder of REST.
As you can probably imagine, our opinion of vultures at the time wasn’t particularly favourable owing to their rather gory reputation. Maria, however, began to explain to us the importance of vultures to Namibia and the rest of the world. On visiting the old REST site, where the vultures are currently housed in a distinctly smaller aviary, we began to appreciate the importance of these birds. Their roles in the eco-system, farming, disease prevention and immunisation are indispensable and the work we were doing in wiring the aviary and creating a better home for them really began to reveal its importance.
Our work progressed slowly but surely and our group formed a tightly-knit unit very quickly. Being in complete isolation for three weeks with only the oryx and jackals to keep us company gave us a perfect opportunity to get to know each other as well as crack on with the work. Saying that, however, I have never seen happier or more excited faces than when Jim, the country director visited in our third week, accompanied by the mobile tuck shop! Alpha 4 - Cape Cross Seal Reserve. By Hannah
Smelly seals, rocks and Marny, the loveable National Park ranger - welcome to Cape Cross Seal Reserve! No, seriously, I think Alpha 4 have done pretty well to cope with all that. Oh, and not forgetting the stone wall we knocked down.
The aim of the project was to demolish 70 meters of stone wall to allow for a visitors’ walkway with wheelchair access to the Seal viewing point. It will also give the 200,000 seals who live there more room. It hasn’t all been an easy phase and the work has been hard and monotonous.
We lifted our spirits by singing well known classics from The Sound of Music and Oliver! On the 14th we had an un-Valentine’s Day where we had a partner for the day. We had to write them a card and give them a good gesture. Our PM Simay got into the swing of things and read all the group’s cards first whilst singing love songs! ‘twas beautiful! It was also quite a giggle watching our medic Louise fit inside one of our food barrels shortly before falling over while still inside! There are photos if anyone wants to take a
Some of Alpha 4 have related the weather at Cape Cross to such places as Brighton, yes, Brighton England! And it is fair to say that there seems to be a special Cape Cross cloud which stays with us most mornings. But when the sun comes out the coast and the rolling surf are beautiful. It’s a real privilege to not only have the beach to ourselves but be the only people to ever camp there. On behalf of Alpha 4 I’d like to thank our PMs, Louise, Phil and Simay for their support, patience and motivation throughout the last three weeks, not forgetting Jim of course who bought us chocolate cake when he visited! Alpha 5 - Trekking along the Goantagab river. By Anthony Chung
The trekking phase has definitely been an unforgettable experience for me. It was, frankly, harder than I had imagined, yet my ability to complete it was beyond my expectations.
The whole team experienced extreme weather, heavy backpacks, swarms of insects and a long route to the ocean. The team’s determination and motivation was critical to our success and our extraordinary performance brought us to the finish point. Along the
way, we had great fun - cooking around the camp fire, games, singing..so many memories to treasure.
And I will miss so much the amazing scenery trekking in the river bed, with the special plants, steep, rocky mountains, remote desert, unending flat landscape and at the end the giant Atlantic ocean. The world is so big and we are so tiny in it.
This experience has triggered my desire to visit other parts of the world and the fact that we were away from civilisation gave me peace of mind to review my past and plan for my future.
In a nutshell, the trekking phase has helped prepare me for the challenges ahead. I highly recommend the Raleigh expedition to any young person who is looking for cross-cultural experiences and unbelievable personal growth. Alpha groups for phase 2
depart for their projects on Monday 23 April. Details as follows: Alpha 2
will continue the work of the last Alpha group’s efforts to build a school for the learners of Onameya Junior Primary School. The project will take a further six weeks to complete and will end in a grand opening ceremony attended by
project partners and the local community.
Project managers: Sophie Pell, Manda Sharpe and Lucy Kentish. Participants: Josephine Close, Lee Daley, Gemma Doherty, Mary Gee, Ben Priest, Christine Johnson, Hannah Young, Amy Meza de Paz, Billy Bambrough, Emma Dunford, Chung Mang Cgi, William Morton. Alpha 3
will head to REST (Rare and Endangered Species Trust) the home of the Cape Griffon Vulture and continue working on a new aviary and sensory trail.
Project managers: Linda Fenner and Monica Babb. Participants: Thomas Erikson, Alexandria Fair, Sean Patterson, Alexandra Smith, Benedict Haywood, Rosie Willmot, Victoria Payne, Imogen Ainsworth, Saul Hardman, Alexander Maxwell-Scott. Alpha 4
will be continue our last team’s work at Cape Cross, home to over 200,000 Cape Fur Seals. This team’s challenge is to develop a campsite and put in enviro-loos as well as do a litter sweep of part of the coastline.
Project managers: Simay Adil, Toree Weller and Rosie Jones. Participants: Richard Lewis, David Williams, Imaan Petra, Nicholas Reid, William Reed, Kerry Usher, Daniel Williamson, Annie Turner, Astrid Branum, James Norton. Alphas 5 and 6
will continue on the trekking trail negotiating the Goantagab (dry!) river bed. Each will trek around 240kms en
route to the Atlantic Ocean. During their venture, teams will map animal and vehicle tracks and measure the dimensions and locations of any of the unique Welwitschia plants they discover.
Alpha five project managers: Alex Ridyard, Siann Lloyd and Chris Connolly. Participants: Nicola Good, Daniel Boyd, Michael Allison, Laura McGuire, Chris Spencer, Brendan Cavanagh, Daisy Faulkner, Claire Smith, Matt Nguyen, William Balfour, Sarah Seymour, Kate Whalley.
Alpha six project managers: Sarah Walter, Mandy Talbot and Phil Duma. Participants: Thomas Rice, Louise MacMillan, Trevor Ferros, Rebecca Hocking, Susannah Larmont, Richard Thomas, Ali Scarisbrook, Owen Ensor, Iain Macleod, Lucy Martin, Fiona Wynn, Sam Picton, Maximillian Taylor-Smith.
Staff at field base this phase with country director Jim and DEL Phil will be logs man Julian, Jo our artist, Louise our medic, and Kate our press officer, in between visits to project sites.
We wish everyone a memorable second phase and will be posting accounts of their adventures when back at field base for changeover two on 12 May
. In the meantime, it’s great to read your comments and we’re really pleased you’re enjoying the updates. The messages are always passed on and gratefully received so please keep them coming.
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