Saturday, 30 July 2011

First taste of project life for 11I PMs

After a few days meeting with project partners and visiting their project sites, the 11I project managers are back at Field Base.  Excitement is building as they prepare to get out there with their teams in just over a week.

With three of  the four projects based in the Pitas region, Alphas 7, 8 and 9 headed off together to meet up with project partner, Asian Forestry Company (AFC).

The task facing Alpha 7 and Alpha 8 is to build a gravity water feed system for each of the communities they will be based in.  Together they visited the villages of Bambangan Sook and Mandurian Laut, differing hugely in size, but sharing the common problem of access to water.  The warm welcome offered to the PM teams, and the great views, were also a feature of both villages!

Meanwhile, the Alpha 9 team was elsewhere in the region preparing for their environmental project.  Also working with AFC, they will be conducting a biodiversity survey on an area of land which has been set aside for conservation.

The planning visit gave Helen and Lucy a sneak preview of some of the wildlife and environment  they might encounter during the project,

and a chance to test out the infamous Raleigh "three bowls" for washing up.

Finally, down in the south eastern part of Sabah, Gabby and Amy met with Yayasan Sabah rangers, who showed them the area they will be working in, building boardwalk across boggy ground.

And they saw for themselves just why the beauty of the Taliwas Forest Reserve should be enjoyed by more people.

After a day planning the work, they tested out their new camp,

but don't worry - they identified a number of improvements which will be made before the groups arrive next week!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Expedition 11I projects unveiled

Our five-week expedition may be short, but the projects are no less exciting than the longer ones!  Back from their jungle training, the 11I project management team were eager to discover where they would be spending their three-week project phase.

First our two community projects:


The first of our projects is located in Pitas, the poorest region of Sabah.  Kampung Bambangan Sook is a village of 12 houses, with poor infrastructure and lacking basic amenities such as running water and electricity.   After extensive discussions with our project partner, Asian Forestry Company (AFC), the villagers have identified the need for running water as their primary goal.  The Alpha 7 team will build a gravity water feed system to bring water to each house.

The lucky project managers will be Andy and Alex.

Alpha 8

Also in the Pitas region, Kampung Mandurian Laut is a slightly larger community, with approximately 40 houses.  Although a gravity water feed system was built in the 1990's, it was inadequate and only supplies half the village.  It is now in disrepair, with little or no water pressure due to numerous leaks and clogging with debris.  The challenge for Alpha 8 will be to reconstruct and extend the system, so that it is fully functioning and supplies the entire village.

Relishing the prospect of this project are project managers Tom and Caroline.

Next, our environmental projects:

Alpha 9

For the first of our environmental projects we remain in the Pitas region, and with Asian Forestry Company.  AFC is a sustainable forestry company with a comprehensive community development and conservation programme.  A sizeable area of AFC's land has been set aside for protection and enhancement under this conservation scheme.  The Alpha 9 team will be working alongside the company's biodiversity expert to complete an environmental survey, to identify whether this land can be categorised as High Conservation Value Forest and be protected accordingly.

The PMs excited to be leading this project are Helen and Lucy.

Alpha 10

Our final project takes us down to the south-eastern corner of Sabah and the Taliwas Forestry Reserve.  Managed by Yayasan Sabah, whose aim is to maximise the potential of the rainforest for the people of Sabah, Taliwas is destined to become a scientific research centre in the not-too-distant future.  To that end, Alpha 10 will be helping improve the infrastructure, by extending the elephant-proof fencing to protect researchers in their camp from the pygmy elephants for which the area is famous.

The fortunate PM team is Amy and Gabby.

The PMs are currently visiting their project sites, learning more about the work that lies ahead.  Once they return, we will give you a sneak preview of what is in store for the venturers!

Phase 2 commences!

With the groups out on project for almost three weeks, there was much excitement as Expedition 11D reunited for changeover at Base Camp this weekend.   More important even than the promise of a real shower, was the chance to catch up with friends...

... and news from home, as the Field Base team delivered letters and parcels and the comments posted on this blog.

For some, most important of all was to learn which team had won the "Come Dine With Me" competition to impress the Loop with their culinary skills and hospitality.  A tight-run contest, the winners were a very proud Alpha 1!

When applying to take part in an expedition, venturers choose to stay for one, two or three phases,  and so it was that we found ourselves bidding farewell to Denise, who had chosen the single phase option. 

For those that remained, it was time to find out their destination for the next phase.  Without further ado, let's reveal their fate!

Alpha 1 - Continuing work on the kindergarten at Kg. Sonsogon Magandai, the new team is:  Amy Burn, Andy Devers, Dharushini Bai, Elizabeth Gold, Heloise Richer, Jeral Jackman, Nick Thornton, Rob Taylor,  Rosie Watterson, Sophie Given and Will Essayan.  The PMs for this phase are Caroline and Sam.

Alpha 2 - Off to Maliangin Island where the gravity water feed awaits are:  Bob Chen, Catherine Rowland, Cheah Keat Yew, Daniel Kirk, June Yin Tan, Marcus Pinsley, Megan Daley, Natalia Wong, Olivia Burke, Richard Hughes and Susanna Sek, with PMs Rob and Emma.

Alpha 3 - heading into the Danum Valley jungle, are the following:  Alex Cox, Claire Huxley, Ewelina Stefanska, Georgia Pawson, Harry Clesham, Jennifer Sargent, Philip Gibbins, Sean Holmes, Sheri Whiting, Siong Chou Lilm, Will Poole and Yoke Yuen Chew.  The PMs are Petr and Nick.

 Alpha 4 - making further progress at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre will be:  Ben Langridge, Cameron Robertson, Caroline Jane Green, Catherine Ludlam, Cynthia Alexander, Liza Forsyth, Maandip Singh Gill, Owain Masters, Rujina Khandakar, Shannon Williams, Stephanie Morris and Vincent McAviney.  The PM team comprises Jodie, Julie and Nem.

Alpha 5 - starting their phase on dive island before their jungle trek will be:  Abigail Harris, Alex Ratcliffe, Andy Merritt, Daniel Cross, Claire Ullyett, Deva Gilroy Sen, Emily Gradshaw, Natalie Clerke, Nathan Titus, Nicholas Chong, Oliver Semmence, Patrick Loftus, Sophie Hedges and Theo Bird.  The PMs for this phase are Jock and Beth.

Alpha 6 - trekking in Long Pasia, then diving on Mamutik are the following:  Amer Townsend, Charlotte Russell, Emma Pygott, Katy Horder, Lucy Ryan, Maeve Wiese, Malcolm Outerbridge, Martin Robson, Melissa  Hobbs, Rob Clarke, Ross Weir, Ruba Samain, Thomas Kidner and William Beard.  Their PMs are Simon and Lee.

Fun with the new teams began right away, with a few games - and the obligatory "Raleigh Olympics" soaking.

And then, all too soon, it was time to pack up once more and write last letters home,  before the groups went their separate ways.  Meanwhile, Field Base is standing by, waiting to hear their news!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

11I PMs get ready for action

No sooner had the new Expedition 11I team arrived at Field Base, than they were whisked away to Base Camp to start learning the skills they will need to use throughout the expedition - and to pass onto the venturers when they arrive in two weeks' time!

With Sarah and Marian providing support and expertise, the team rattled through the schedule and quickly acquired the basics, from radios to river crossings,

not to mention the first taste of Raleigh rations!

Basic training complete, the team trekked off towards Jungle Camp.  Although a relatively short hike, it gave the group ample opportunity to enjoy the heat and humidity of the Sabah jungle - something they will experience plenty of as the weeks continue!

Reaching their destination bright and early, there was plenty of time to erect a fine camp, and get the bashas just right - or so they hoped!  

The following day, after a surprisingly cold night beneath the canopy, it was back to Field Base, where the mystery of which PM would be allocated which project would be revealed!

Sun, sea and SCUBA for Alpha 5

Easing themselves gently into their adventure phase, Alpha 5 headed off to beautiful Pulau Mamutik, where they would spend the first week of the phase.

There, under the watchful eyes of Borneo Divers, they began learning the skills they would need to become qualified SCUBA divers.

Having passed both theory and practical tests, the team were awarded the Open Water Diver certificate from PADI (the Professional Association of Diving Instructors).

Now suitably qualified, the team completed their week on Mamutik by taking part in a coral planting dive, putting their new-found skills into practice whilst helping to repair damaged areas of coral reef and increasing their environmental awareness.

And thus the dive phase came to an end, and the team bade farewell to the ocean, and prepared to spend the final two weeks of Phase 1 in the Long Pasia jungle.