Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Loop goes full circle

So keen was our Loop team to reach the project sites, that they were prepared to overcome any obstacle to get there!

For the final instalment of the Loop's adventures, we catch up on their visit to our environmental projects.  First they headed to Danum Valley to hear the news  from Alpha 3. 

The task facing Alpha 3 was to build a scientific research camp approximately 8km into the rainforest of the Danum Valley Conservation Area.  The first day was spent preparing for the challenge of trekking all their tools, food, personal equipment and a very large pile of Belian wood uphill to their worksite.
With some trees reaching heights of up to 120 feet, the team were certainly impressed by the forest that they would be living in.

They were introduced to some of the wonderful wildlife inhabiting the forest,

and got up close and personal with some of the creatures that would prove rather somewhat less welcome in the Alpha 3 camp!

But despite the blood and the sweat, the team rose to the challenge, developing new muscles along the way,

and were proud of their achievement, as the pile of wood and kit at the foot of the hill finally made it to the top.

And there was still enough spare energy to welcome the Loop with dancing, decorations and delicous baking!

Meanwhile up the road at Alpha 4, the team at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre are also making great progress.  With the centre due to open to the public in Spring 2012, there is a lot of work to be done on the walkway which will lead tourists around the bear enclosure. Alpha 4 are keen to help this happen!

One of the first tasks was prepare the Belian wood to be used for the boardwalk, recycling wood previously used on the site.


Holes were prepared and cement mixed, ready to secure the support posts into the ground.


Amongst all their tasks on the work site, the group found time to entertain the Loop, and to welcome even more visitors from  Field Base, as the Communications team dropped in for  quick visit, along with PM Sam, who came along for the ride.

There was also a visit from another strange being... oh no, that's Graham!

All that excitement and adventure can be pretty exhausting, so it's time for the Loop to head back to Field Base, where there's just enough time to recover before the groups head back to Base Camp for changeover.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Expedition 11I - preparing for take-off

It's a busy time of year at Raleigh Borneo, with not just one, but two expeditions over the summer.  While the ten week projects for Expedition 11D are well under way, the five week projects for Expedition 11I are about to be unveiled to the new team.

As the in-country team prepare to reveal details of the work that lies ahead, the 11I project managers are settling into Field Base, where a warm welcome awaited them upon arrival.

No expedition could possibly begin without the traditional Raleigh name game,

after which, I am delighted to introduce the new team!

Clockwise from top right, we have Tom Moody, Amy Mills, Helen Boothman, Andy Brown, Lucy Bagshaw, Anne Strong, Gabby Brunton, Caroline Banks and Alex Miller.  They are heading off to Base Camp tomorrow, so we will return in a few days' time to see how they got on with their training.

Fieldbase hits the road!

From the (relative) comfort of the radio room, the Field Base team have been keeping in touch with our hard-working teams via the daily radio checks.   Highly impressed with what we've been hearing, we just had to get out there and see the progress for ourselves!

Last weekend, the "Loop" set off on a circuit around our community and environmental projects, returning with news of the great work that is being done... and the great meals that they were fed!  Let's see how the community projects have been getting on since we last saw them.

After an arduous journey across rugged terrain, Alpha 1 finally arrived at their destination, Kg. Sonsogon Magandai.  Settling quickly into their new home, the group eagerly began work on the kindergarten and have barely paused for breath since day one!

First things first, the team began by planning the work that would need to be done to over the course of this three week phase.

As every builder knows, a strong building depends on good foundations, so the first step was to prepare the ground for construction, digging holes for the wooden foundation posts.

  Holes prepared, the foundation posts could be slotted right in,

allowing work on the main structure to begin.

Belian (or ironwood) is ideal for a building such as the kindergarten, being extremely strong, durable and resistant to termites.  But it tends also to be resistant to Raleigh's hand tools, so the group brought in some mechanical assistance,

  and a little bit of extra help from the locals!

By the time the Loop visited last week, the floor was almost in place, and the team was feeling justifiably pleased with their efforts!

But despite all the hard work on the building site, the group still had the energy to decorate their home to welcome their guests with a beautiful, candle lit dinner,

 and a beautiful sunset to boot.

The next stop for the loop was Pulau Maliangin, to find out how Alpha 2 have been getting along on their very own desert island.

Sun, sea and sand - it seemed like a dream come true for Alpha 2 as they boarded the boat that would take them to their home for the next three weeks.

How wrong they were!  Just moments after stepping off the boat, the breeze had picked up, droplets were falling, and within the hour, the rain was horizontal and the wind relentless!  Despite the storm,  the team worked hard to set up their camp, huddling for shelter under the robust communal army tent while the chefs cooked up a storm of their own.

The following day, the team soon set about planning the work for this phase.  This would include finding a water source for the gravity water feed, completing work on a barbecue for future tourists to the island, and placing finishing touches on the composting toilets built by the previous Raleigh expedition.  In the days that followed, the team split, with some getting ready to dig for potential water sources,

while others set to work designing and collecting shells to cement into the barbecue's new artwork,

 and others tackled the joinery on the toilets.

But, as with any community project, time spent getting to know the local community was high on the group's list of priorities, and many happy hours have already been whiled away with the welcoming residents of the island.


A few days and another storm later, the tents took quite a battering. The team awoke to find the "robust army tent" was no more, and in its place remained nothing but a groundsheet strewn with rucksacks and tins of Raleigh rations.

But it seems that the sun does not stay away for long on Maliangin, and just like our friends at the kindergarten, Alpha 2 were rewarded for all their efforts with a beautiful Maliangin sunset to warm the soul.