Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A whirlwind visit around Sabah...

The loop is back from a whirlwind visit to all the project sites and has exciting stories to tell.

The loop was split into two parts, the first part went to Alpha 1 and 2 and was undertaken by Mac and Alex. The second part went to Alpha 3, 4 and 7 and was undertaken by Mac, Anna and Phil. Meet the team...

Phil, Anna & Mac


Alpha 1 continue to make great progress on the Kindergarten, even finding time to take on another job that of painting the community hall. They have taken part in an inter village sports day and continue in their spare time to teach and play sports in the community.

 The loop was treated to a great lunch of pancakes by Alpha 1’s Thjis and Tim. James also decided to treat the loop to the dubious pleasure of Durian fruit Ice Cream. Not something Mac or Alex would recommend.

Alpha 2 on the Gravity Water Feed at Tampasak have ‘smashed it.’ They have done an outstanding job and are currently feeling very proud of themselves after completion of the work. It’s been a great effort from both the Alpha teams who have been there to make this project a success. It has been a physically and technically demanding project. The loop was made to feel very welcome, as always. We were treated to a great pasta dinner and then a fun Poker night (not for money - just fun). Jack proved to be great a bluffing his hand and Nick was a great teacher to Mick and Alex.

Early the next morning we left to carry on with our visits of the projects. Since Alpha 2 was already up, seeing that they rise at 05:45 every morning, they clapped the Bravo off.

Next was the visit to the stunning Imbak Canyon, one of my favourite places on earth. The whole Alpha group made the effort to trek out to meet us at ranger camp. The heavens opened as we trekked back in, but the group had already put in place some fruit punch and flapjacks for our arrival, made by the birthday girl Nicky.

No, we're only 'slighly damp'...

Although the rain didn’t really stop, it didn’t dampen the spirits of Alpha 3 as they laid on a great night of entertainment at Chez Imbak. James and Matt were both maĆ®tre d’ for the night, looking good in their ties made from AWAS tape. They served everybody with an amazing three course meal of French Canadian onion soup, Spaghetti Bolognaise and a fruit crumble for dessert.

After dinner America took on Canada in a titanic struggle of chess. Phil Logs and Julian battled it out with Canada coming out on top. A welcome dance was then performed by Sharon, Nicky, Laura and Katie. The fun didn’t end there, though. Flop and Josh then showed us the Dutch game of “Nails into Bottles.” Early the next morning we bid them fairwell and began the journey to Alpha 4 and Sepilok.

We arrived late afternoon to Alpha 4, just in time to see the first post being placed into concrete. This will form part of a broadwalk into the sunbear enclosure. Again, this is and has been a very demanding project, physically and technically. We have been lucky with the technical abilities of PM Leon, Drew, Adam and Joel, as well as the muscle of the rest of the team, especially Danny who is dubbed the Alpha 4 strongman.

Again the loop was treated to a fantastic three course meal. Finger food for starters, then Lloyd the chef with his assistants Catherine and Celine made pizza’s to order. I went for the ‘works’ and wasn’t disappointed. Then we finished on homemade chocolate truffles whilst three teams consisting of The Loop, The V’s and the PM’s played “Never Mind The Borneo Buzzcocks” hosted by Joel and Drew. I can see a future in TV for the both of them. The V’s eventually won with the help of Catherine storming the last lyric round. The night was rounded off by wishing birthday boy Drew all the best as he enters mid twenties. Sabine and Nicky PM presented the cake and a non-alcoholic fizzy grape drink, whilst Jessie PM and Tom led everyone in Happy Birthday.

Again we bid a sad farewell to Alpha 4 and made the long journey across country to Kg Nibang and the Community Hall rebuild project at Alpha 7.

We were welcomed at the impressive bridge at Nibang by Sophia, Ruthie and the team and they immediately made us feel at home. Angus, Ali, Andrew, Courtney and Ro help getting some resupplies back across the bridge. Becky made brews and showed me around the work site. Again they have smashed it, but in this case really carefully. The plan was to take down the existing community hall which has fell into bad disrepair and to rebuild it whilst recycling as much as possible of the materials to build a new community hall.

When I left the community hall was completely down. Aman and Tom have made impressive plans and numbered all bits of wood from the old community hall, so it looks like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The team with Zara PM taking the lead have also been doing some improvements to the gravity water feed system that was recently installed by the Junior Lawyers Division’s Raleigh project.

The team again prepared a great meal made by Becky and James, including garlic bread and a cheese cake. It was then another quiz night hosted by Angus. It was very funny with the questions being mostly about Scottish rugby and “What do you know about Angus” which was my favourite round. It ended in a draw.

So that was the loop! We had a fantastic time and in my year in-country as CPM I have to say it was my favourite. I would like to thank everyone in all the Alpha groups for making the loop a great one for Phil, Anna and me. It just goes to show what you can do with Raleigh Rations!

Keep the comments and letters coming because everyone out on project really loves to receive messages. As I go around it always amazes me what positive effect your letters or blog comments can have. To get something from home while they are in these remote beautiful places means a lot.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Birthday wishes!!

On behalf of Laura Peck we would like to wish her sister a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!