Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Venturers have arrived!!

6 Host Country Venturers (HCV’s) arrived at Fieldbase on Sunday morning ready to  meet the team, get their kits organised and head to Basecamp. By 2pm everyone was organised and Nikki and Ernie headed out to Basecamp along with the Logs team and the HCVs to settle in before the rest of the Venturer’s arrived.

The following morning 76 Venturer’s were greeted at Kota Kinabalu airport by the rest of the very excited Volunteer team.  As soon as they walked through the doors they were assigned Delta groups- their training teams for induction week and went to find the PMs who they would be working with.

 They were thrown straight in at the deep end (quite literally) with the first stopping point being the swim assessment. At some point in expedition, every Venturer will cross, swim or bathe in a river or sea or scuba dive, so the swim assessments helps us identify who is a strong, weak or non-swimmer and therefore those who may need more support when completing water activities.

200 metres, 4 minutes treading water and a few name games later, the Delta groups left the pool tired, jetlagged and excited about  what Basecamp would actually be like.

Check back soon to see how the Venturers got on in Induction Week!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Wanderers Return!

The Alpha groups have returned from their Project Planning Visits(PPVs) to a Fieldbase team eager to hear all about their time away. Snippets of stories have been heard over the radio, but here is how they got on:

Alpha 1:
Simon and Phili went to Kampung Komborongo to visit the site where they will be building a kindergarten.

In order to enter the Malaysian school system, a child must first achieve a certain level of education. Without easy access to a kindergarten, this is next to impossible. The kampung already has one State sponsored Kindergarten but this hasn’t got enough capacity to serve Komborongo and the surrounding villages. This project will have a profound effect on the local area, granting increased access to preschool education to the children of Komborogo and its satellite villages.

Phili and Simon were warmly welcomed into the community by the villagers. They attended church on Sunday with the community which is a priviledge in itself and will be staying next door to the JKKK(head of the village) during project. This will hopefully mean that everyone will get to be fully submersed in village life! Komoborongo is an hour away from a beach, so they also have a plan of where they can go on a day off!

Kampung Komborongo

Alpha 2:
Conor, Adam and Candice were in Lalapakon and Mansiat to plan the the Gravity Water Feed that they will be doing in Phase 1.

Many communities in Malaysia have no access to a clean water supply. Most villages collect rain water in large tanks or barrels but this is often insufficient for their needs and so they obtain water from polluted rivers. A Gravity Water Feed System is a simple and often inexpensive solution.

Lalapakon and Mansiat are surrounded by palm oil plantations and therefore their nearest water supply is polluted fertilisers and pesticides. The nearest clean water source is a three hour trek away. This project will supply these villages with clean running water for the first time!

The Alpha 2 PMs arrived just as the village was celebrating a wedding, and much to their surprise were asked to sit in centre stage, to observe the joyful occasion.

The villagers showed the Alpha 2 PM’s to the dam site, where they got rather wet as they had to cross a river 14 times before they even got to the dam site-where they also got wet feet! On the way back, the villagers took them via a different route, through the jungle. When Candice took a moment to tie her shoe lace, there was a slight panic when they turned around and all the villagers had gone. Luckily they hadn’t gone too far and with a bit of shouting the vilagers returned. Phew!

Conor and Candice enjoying a drink from their bamboo cups
Kampung Mansiat

Alpha 3:
Danum Valley Conservation Area is one of the world's most complex eco-systems. Before it became a conservation area, there were no human settlements within the area, making it almost unique. Unsurprisingly, the Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) is one of the world's leading rainforest research centres. The project here will help to increase access into the conservation area to enable scientists to carry out more research.

Alpha 3's project will involve building large concrete water tanks to feed the DVFC and trail maintenance.

Nick, Nikki and Vanessa ventured into Danum Valley and within the first 24 hours had spotted orang-utan, red-leaf monkeys, lizards  and much much more. They were a little anxious that some of this wildlife might invade their camp, but were assured that they would be fine. The team were fine, but unfortunately Nikki’s rucksack met Boris the wild boar. Boris dragged Nikki’s rucksack around, managed to get into it and ate her granola bars, and rather strangely the soap! By the time Alpha 2 got back to camp the swine(in all senses of the word!) had run off, but soon returned when he smelt food cooking begging for more! And so Alpha 3 learnt the hard way not to leave their rucksacks on the ground!


Alpha 4:
One of the least known species of bear, the Sun Bear is mainly found in the rainforests of South East Asia. Despite its designation as "Totally Protected" under Sabah's Wildlife Conservation Enactment, poaching and the depletion of its habitat have brought this small bear into danger and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is being developed as a rescue, rehabilitation, education and research centre.

The Raleigh team will be helping build important infrastructure at the centre by creating and building artificial bear refuges in the enclosures. In the wild, Sun Bears climb trees to escape flooding and to hoard food. These artificial trees will replicate the wild for them.

Lucy and Emily went to Sepilok and definitely had the most adventurous PPV; from a near miss with Emily nearly falling through a board walk to getting chased by some rabid dogs to getting lost in a palm oil plantation for 4 hours! Let's hope they only have good luck from here on in!

Alpha 5 & 6

The trekking element will begin in Long Pasia, in the south western corner of Sabah on the Kalimantan and Sarawak border .The trek will be 10 – 11 days in duration and will involve the team carrying all their own supplies and equipment for the duration. The area is one of the richest plant diversity sites in Borneo and the people of the area have an interesting history as fierce head hunters.

Matt, Emma and Max got the chance to practice their basha building skills again whilst trekking and with just a tumble from Matt, and a very cold night Alpha 5 & 6's PPV was fairly uneventful!

Alpha 7

The Alpha 7 trek-dive-trek consists of five days trekking on the Tudan-Mengkaladom Trail, five days completing the PADI Open Water qualification (or higher) and underwater clean-up in association with Project Aware, and a final eight days trekking in the Kiulu Valley region in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu
Ian, Sheila and Emily went on Alpha 7 PPV, spending the first day looking at Casevac(casualty evacuation) routes, experiencing just how bouncy the Bravos can be in rural areas-their arms got a bit of a work out holding onto the handles. They then went on to trek part of the trail carrying 21kg rucksacks(this is very heavy!) and stayed at their guide Hanri's camp on the first night where Emily saw the "biggest spider she had ever seen" in the toilet. The second day was a trek up ‘Killer Hill’, or as the medics described it, 'Cardiac Killer Hill' which luckily for the Venturers- they don't have to do!

Ian, Emily and Petr very excited for the upcoming day...

View of Mount Kinabalu

So that's it!  The Volunteer Manager team is complete and we are all ready to go!

That's the news for now everyone! The rest of this week involves a lot more training, some fun and games and a lot of work to prepare for the Venturers arrival!