Thursday, 19 July 2012

V's - Get ready for the Jungle!

After a frantic morning of packing, the Fieldbase team have left for Basecamp to welcome back Alphas 1-7. It is time for changeover and for most this will be there first opportunity for a proper shower and toilet. Everyone will receive post and blog messages and no doubt rush to the Raleigh shop to taste their first bar of chocolate and fizzy drink in a long time.

The 5 week Project Managers remain at Fieldbase finalising their reports after returning from their Project Planning Visits yesterday and preparing for the coming weeks. Photos to follow soon.

On Tuesday 24th July, we will be welcoming the 5 week Venturers to Sabah so thought we would post a few top tips before arrival.

You no doubt will be daunted, excited and most likely a little bit nervous but hopefully the following should help:

·         When you step off the plane you will be hit with a wall of hot humidity-most people are seen to be stripping off jumpers and socks before they’ve even got past customs, but don’t worry you do get used to it. Saying that, be prepared to sweat!

·        Don’t make up your own kit list! Follow the one you have been sent.  Luxuries such as hairdryers, phones and high heels will not only be useless on expedition but also most likely ruined! Please remember you have to carry your own rucksack; most people really only end up wearing a couple of changes of clothes so general advice is to pack light- the rest of your kit is heavy enough! If you are travelling on after, or want to bring extra items/clothes you can leave some items at Basecamp when you are out on project. 20kg is the allowed baggage weight on most airlines.

·         On the other hand, if you forget anything we do have a Raleigh shop at induction and changeover so you can purchase things like t-shirts, sun cream, snacks and soft drinks.

·       Bring dry bags! It is very humid in Sabah and more than likely to rain; sleeping in damp clothes and a damp sleeping bag is not pleasant.

·       Manky feet are not your friend! Your feet will bear the brunt of the work you are doing. Along with sweating profusely, you will be crossing rivers and trekking; blisters are a usual occurrence. Learning to look after your feet is of utmost importance and we recommend bringing plenty of good thick socks, blister plasters and anti-bacterial talcum powder.

·         Top tip: break in your boots before you arrive!

 We are looking forward to meeting you all and hope you are as excited about your upcoming adventure as we are! Get ready to Get Out There, the jungle awaits you!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

5 Week PM Allocations have been announced!

It's that time again! Allocations for the next five weeks have been long-anticpated; since the Develoment weekend in April. All has now been revealed, so scroll down to see where our five week PMs will be spending their time in Borneo...

Alpha 8 Kampung Borobi

Gravity Water Feed Repair with Project Managers Helen and Angela (pictured with 5 weeks logistics co-ordinator Nat)

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. Raleigh has agreed to sponsor and work together with Kg Borobi to complete a Gravity Water Feed System. The village came to the Asian Forestry Company (AFC) with a proposal to install this water feed after seeing what Raleigh had done in the neighbouring communities of Pantai and Lihing, so the project will be well supported by the village.

Alpha 9 Kampung Banbagan Gravity Water Feed and House Build with Project Managers Andrew, Alice and Emma

Kg Banbagan was established by house forestry workers previous to Asian Forestry Company's (AFC) stewardship of the land. However it was not registered to the district office in Pitas or Kota Marudu and so received no infrastructure support. As work dried up and due to difficult access to and from the village, people have moved away and there has been a large decline in numbers.

There are only about 5 families inside this village with approximately 12 villagers. The people from this kampung are from the Dusun Sonsogon tribe and most of them do not have a religion.

The community currently doesn’t have a gravity water system and most of the time they need to take the water from the stream nearby. This project will involve finding a suitable dam site and constructing a gravity water feed system.

The second part of the this project will be the building of a house for an old lady in the village. She is in her 80’s and her current house is untenable so she has been taken in by other villagers. The team will be building her a new house next to other villagers who will help look after her.

This is just the beginning of the story for Kg Banbagan and it will be an interesting journey over the next couple of years.

Alpha 9 Bio-diversity Survey and Gazebo Build with Project Managers Nicolo and Jason

Asian Forestry Company (AFC) is implementing a long-term sustainable tree plantation in the Kota Marudu and Pitas Districts with a total area of approximately 60,000ha. To ensure the success and sustainability of the project, a sizeable portion of the land is to be protected and enhanced as part of the company’s conservation program. The aim is to identify and protect areas of rainforest of high conservation value, while also striving to achieve sustainable forestry by replanting areas identified as suitable for logging.

The project will involve establishing a conservation research camp and building infrastructure to enable research and management of the area. The team will also help to determine the boundaries of conservation areas and identify and name areas classified as High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) or of natural interest, such as waterfalls, rock formations and vegetation.

That's all the news for now. The PMs will be off on their Project Planning Visits in a few days where they will experience living in their new accommodation and learn more about the areas they will be living and the work involved from Project Partners. We will update you on their return.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

"It ain't raining, it aint training!"

The above is one of Mac’s (Country Director) favourite sayings, and up until now it’s been rather disappointing for him as the training for this summer expedition so far has seen beautiful sunshine with barely a drop of rain.

However, the five week Volunteer Managers have clearly brought an English cloud with them on the plane; it has rained every day this week! At the start of the week this didn’t cause much displeasure as we could look out at the rain from the comfort of Fieldbase. However, for the last two days the PMs have been at Basecamp, practicing their perang skills, learning how to put up a sturdy basha and set up and use HF radios, assessing the safety of rivers for swimming, washing and crossing, tasting Raleigh rations and enjoying their first soggy trek into the jungle!

The team managed to stay dry on their 3 hour trek into the jungle and arrived in time to get their radio up, put a call into Fieldbase and grab a quick cracker lunch but as they were going about setting up camp the heavens opened, making for very wet hammocks! After a bit of help from the more experienced Fieldbase team, everyone got their hammocks up and tarps straightened out with only Helen’s hammock snapping. Fortunately this was when she was testing it, not when she was sleeping!

Luckily the rain ceased for the morning trek out of the jungle, but the excitement wasn’t over yet - it was mock casevac (casualty evacuation) time. Unknown to all of the VMs, Fieldbase had been planning an emergency situation to see how they would cope and allow the team a chance to put their training into practice. Emma McFarlane, the team medic happened to slip down a slope (a perfectly do-able accident considering the amount of rain we have had) and 'break' her ankle. Unable to walk, it was up to the PMs to get Emma out of the jungle safely. With Alice on the radio to Fieldbase and the rest of the team making a stretcher, helping with the radio, or running between it and Emma, they all did very well in making sure that Emma was kept comfortable and informed of the plan to get her out. A successful Casevac all in all! And don’t worry, we didn’t get them to carry the patient all the way out, they just covered enough distance to ensure that the stretcher could be carried without putting the patient at more risk and showing how heavy and difficult carrying a stretcher can be.

Everyone got back to Fieldbase, a little worse for wear but cheery and ready to hear which project they would be allocated to, so tune in soon to hear all about it!