Participant accounts of phase one and phase two allocations

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April 22nd 2007
Published: April 22nd 2007
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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 Young

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 look!

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, 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.

Additional photos below
Photos: 30, Displayed: 30


22nd April 2007

For Trevor
Hi Trev, we are glad to see that you have been improving your manual skills - we still have many DIY jobs to do. You must have enjoyed the flushable loo and flapjacks (a handy combination!) It all sounds a bit cushy... how are you ever going to sit in an office again?! Good luck with phase 2!
22nd April 2007

Welcome back
Great to see you're all back in one piece! Well done, it looks like you all had an amazing time. Really great photos! Good luck with the trecking Kate! We'll all be thinking of you and having no idea what you will be going through but our thoughts and Will will be with you xx lots of love and thank you to all the team for all their updates and care to every one X
22nd April 2007

Bravo to all the teams
So happy to read that all the teams survived their first phase of the expedition. Thank you Gemma for giving us news of Alpha 3 team. Matt we almost did not recognize you on the photos posted, your hair has grown so long! Knowing your feelings towards birds, you must be very proud for having made through the REST phase. Congratulations. Enjoy your trekking phase. with love from Mom and Dad
22nd April 2007

So, are there any other similarities between Namibia and Brighton? A nice pier perhaps? A thriving gay scene even? Just wondered...!!! ;-) Great to read the updates from everyone, you guys are all making a real difference! Hannah, love you loads, and the Spag Bol is nearing perfection. Andy
22nd April 2007

Hi Kate
Hi my big sis missing you loads. Hope you are having loads and loads of fun, and not missing us too much! Hope all is going well and enjoying yourself a lot. I am waiting to hear about everything. Hope you have loads of pictures to show us! You have a present awaiting you here which I got you from Rome (well actually Capri) but any way I think you will like it! Well anyway continue enjoying yourself and having as much fun as possible! please don't come home smelliny of seals, but if you do there is a shower awating your prioitorial use! miss you your amazing little sister! xxxx love you xxx
22nd April 2007

Great to see all the photos of phase 1,especially Dan Boyd. Hope the trip is living up to expectations, we're all missing you especially your little sister (Nicki).Hoping your experiences helping on the loft are being put to good use. xx
23rd April 2007

So good to hear about everything Gemma
It is so great to be able to read about everything you are all doing it sounds such a brilliant experience. I've given the blog address to so many people and they are loving being able to follow your progress. Gemma it was amazing to speak to you on the phone yesterday we really didn't think we would hear your voice until June 8th. You sound like you are really enjoying yourself even if you are rather dirty and hot!! Glad to see you are keeping up your writing skills while you are away! Lots and lots of love from us all and a BIG BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY for 20th May. Love Mum Dad big brother Ben and little brother Josh xxxx
24th April 2007

To Alex Fair - from some of the clan
Hi Alex, Mum sent the link for this site - what good stuff you are doing! Well done, keep up the good work and have a really wicked time. The next phase sounds fab! I'm jealous but looking forward to seeing the photos! Lots of love from Iola, Judd and Sioned. x
24th April 2007

The griffon
Good to read about alpha 3 and the griffon(s) and to see the pictures. Its great to hear read your news. It was also amazing to speak to you -really took me by surprise. Strange to think your great, great aunt and uncle lived in Ojiwarongo(?sp) and you have been there too! Hope the trek goes well and Happy Birthday on the 20th May - I think by the blog you are not the only one to have a birthday then Luv Mumxx
25th April 2007

Yo Sam P
Hope your enjoying your phase seal clubbing! - have seen the photo with you holding a hammer. Surely this is against the 'rayleigh rules' but can you bring me back some seal skin slippers anyway take it easy, hope trekking is cool and remember not to offer to carry the radio, trust me...
26th April 2007

To Thomas Eriksen
You look like you are all having a really good time! The account by Alex is good to read. I wonder where Phase 2 will send you. It is a great web site for us to see how you are getting on and to see all the other projects. Leif and family are looking forward to having you stay with them. Enjoy it all. Love Dad and Ann
26th April 2007

Lucy Martin (AKA Louseeel)
Hey! Great to read about what you've been up to, looks like your having a brill time. As a good friend i feel that its my duty to celebrate your birthday back here at home on your behalf, one drink for drink fo me etc. Keep smiling luc and keep up the good work, missing you like crazy, kel (AKA kelaooni) x x
27th April 2007

So good to see a bit of what you are doing
Dear Josephine,have just discovered this site We were thrilled to see the pictures and see what you,ve been up to. Looks like a very friendly vulture. We are so proud of what you are doing and I,m sure you will be equally good at brick-laying in phase 2. The food sounds a bit strange but you are obviously being very inventive!!! I,m so glad it,s all going well. We are thinking of you loads and missing your cheerful little face. Be careful and keep safe. All is well at home and you would be proud of my lungeing!!! Much love Mum and HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the 12th May when you get back from the building project.
27th April 2007

For Astrid
Hi Astrid, I have to say I have only just checked out this site as I did not really know much about it, but its great! I have seen that you have done the trek already, sounds tough but fantastic! Photos look amazing. Good luck with the seal project - bet you are happy about that one. Im so jealous! Missing you loads and have fun! x x
27th April 2007

Hair today gone tomorrow !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wow we found out at last !! you look like Jens as far we can see. Love you lots and enjoy the last stage of this wonderful trip. mummy bear .x. hey ast, its finn love you and hope all is well and ur having a ball! have fun and make the most of it while ur there! peace love and hair grease! F.x hi its jens you look like me.
30th April 2007

Kerry - bricky chic!
Well done to everyone, including those in the"hub" of it all at base! Give yourselves a well earned "pat on the back!" Great journals and photos. Well done Alpha 2; a fantastic accomplishment, no doubt the little learners can't wait for their new school. Kerry - clearly Grandpop's "watch and learn" theory has paid off - well done bricky chic!.............. Good luck with Phase 2. Take care, love mum and dad xx :)
5th May 2007

Super Kerry Usher
Hey Kerry, long time no see! Last night was presentation night, we know you were there in spirit!! You best check out the photos when you get back, you featured in many them despite being in Africa! That will keep you wondering. We all hope you're doing well, looks great! CARROTT X
6th May 2007

Hello little sister
Hi Sis! I've just read your letter and looked at some of your photos. Looks so cool. I've just sent you a birthday card but it probably won't get to you until after your birthday sorry! I hope you are still enjoying going to sleep to the sound of wildlife (as long as it's not lions). Keep making the most of it, you'll never do anything like it again. Lots of love, Thomas x x
6th May 2007

Hello from Bath to Namibia
Hi Josephine, I don't know when you'll be able to check this but Happy Birthday if you check it anytime near your Birthday. I hope you see a leopard or something exciting on the day. It sounds like you're having such an amazing time. I can't believe you built a shower! Cleaning the long drop doesn't sound quite so good. How long is it? Anyway, have fun and remember to keep your trousers tucked into your socks. Lots of love from Sophie x
7th May 2007

Hello Annie Turner alpha 4
Hi Annie, Just logged on, Bethan gave me your project details. From what i've seen of the photographs Namibia looks very Beautiful. Keep up the good work. See you sometime in the future. Love from Dwyn and all at Pen-y-cae.
10th May 2007

Max and the seals
Glad to see you have survived the seals and not lost the expensive sunglasses. We hope the boots hold up for the long walk. Uncle David very jealous - have you met any of his mates yet ? All well here and apartment should be ready for your return. Love from all in Putney
12th May 2007

Hey Danny,its Lyndsey>wishing you a rather bellated happy birthday, and missing you loads and loads!i hope you are having an awesome time, it all looks so cool!all is in order back here, and i only have twelve days left of uni>yay!!!!summer!!!!keep up the good work, keep smiling>we love you loads!!!!will be seeing you soon!xXx
12th May 2007

For Alex Fair
Hi Alex Hope your having fun out there , you haven't got much time left now! Me and Glenn are gettting a new kitten wooo so you can look forward to seeing that! Bring me back a Lion cub !!! Lots of love Katy and Glenn
19th May 2007

awritey LOUISE
21st May 2007

well done
heya kerry only me mellish..u should be really proud of what ya have done it looks amazing out there, cant wait to hear all about it when ya get bk...missed ya "sorry's" at training lol enjoy the rest of it...we got carrot pissed saturday on jades funny lol cya soon luv mellish x
22nd May 2007

Message for Alex Fair
Hello, Alex! I'm enjoying reading the blogs and seeing the photos. Everything looks fantastic. Looking forward to hearing more about it when you're back home. Granny

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