Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The volunteer managers take on the jungle.

The volunteer managers returned from jungle camp today after a challenging three days away. They were split into groups and sent off with a map and camping equipment and instructed to make their way to their various destinations and find a place to sleep. The teams faced heavy rain and despite having taken a tent with them, all four groups managed to charm their way into alternative accommodations, ranging from a church to a barn. The next day after a 4am start, the groups met up again to learn different techniques for crossing rivers. Then it was off the jungle where we learnt how to set up a jungle camp, where we learnt everything from using a machete safely to putting up a hammock. After a comfortable night’s sleep in our hammocks, it was another early start as we had to pack up and head back to field base. On the way back, we practiced carrying out a casevac, the procedure of evacuating a patient from a project site or trek in the event of a serious medical emergency. Medics Clint and Rich both gave Oscar winning performances as the patients, and were stretchered back to field base by the rest of their team. Tonight the project managers will be finding out which of the fantastic projects they will be working on and preparing to go on their project planning visits over the next couple of days.

The group at an old railway bridge, where they carried out a risk assessment.

Zoe having fun at the river.

Sheila making light work of the river crossing

Sarah striding across the river.

The huddle technique.

The whole group

Holding on for dear life.

Another huddle.

Michael and Ed feeling the strain.

Colleen making her way across.

Becca: glamour all the way!

Zoe finishing her river crossing.

David, Rich, Zoe, Sheila and Guy relxing at jungle camp.

Rich hamming it up.

Sarah and Sheila looking after their patient.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

The project managers arrive

The last two days have seen the arrival of the lovely project manager or 'pm' team and after their long journeys here, everyone has settled in well.

Meet the pms: .from left to right Guido, Michael, Guy, Dani, Tara, Dania, Norman, Ed and Sheila

The medics, Clint, Sarah, Sandeep and Rich.

The whole team!


They got straight into the swing of things with a jam-packed training schedule. After doing swim tests in the morning, the team went on to some radio training. Radios are crucial for keeping in touch with field base while groups are out on project and so it is important to know how to set them up and use them correctly. During projects groups call in a ‘sit rep’ or situation report twice a day so that field base know how they are progressing with the projects and if they need anything. After learning a bit of theory, the volunteer managers were then tested on the phonetic alphabet to see who knew their deltas from their foxtrots before going off in groups to set up a radio and call in a sit rep to Ross at field base.

Tara looking glam in the pool

Zoe enjoying her swim.

Guy putting up the antena

Sandeep showing the others which way to direct the ariels.

David, Becca, Sarah and Alex getting to grips with the radio.

Ed, Guy and Dani with the radios

Last night, everyone got the chance to relax and get to know each other a little bit and this morning it was straight into health and safety training. We were divided into groups and bought the health and safety manual to life by making it into a series of skits.

The audience

Michael and Becca getting into character.

Guy, Raquelle, Sarah, Sheila and Ed do the YMCA!

The team also received training from the medics on everything from dealing with sore feet to giving injections .

Guido practicing his sling technique

Rich demonstrating on Sandeep.

Sheila and Ed practice putting on a neck brace

Clint, Norman, Colleen and Tara performing CPR on me.

Guy saving Rich's life

Dr Sarah giving a demonstration on injections.

Tomorrow we will all be heading out for a three day jungle camp, where we will be learning all about how to survive in the jungle. Check out the blog to see how we get on.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

A trip to volcano Irazu and some new arrivals.

After a hard week’s work at field base, the team took a well-deserved day off and headed off to volcano Irazu. At 3432 metres above sea level Irazu is Costa Rica’s tallest volcano, a two hour drive North West of field base. Our chauffeurs for the day, Zoe, Alex and David, impressed us all with the driving skills they have been learning this week and we arrived just in time to see the beautiful green lake before the clouds arrived. After a week of sunshine, the low temperatures at the top of the volcano came as a shock to the system but we managed to fend off the cold with a few games and icebreakers. Resident artist Becca and photographer David, inspired by the beautiful views, combined their artistic talents and created a multimedia photo poem about the volcano, which will be proudly displayed here at field base to inspire the venturers and volunteer managers to get creative too. See below for a sneak preview!
Back at field base, we welcomed Norman, one of the Costa Rican volunteer managers, and medic Richard. Over the next two days, the rest of the volunteer managers will arrive, and we are really looking forward to meeting everybody and welcoming them to field base. Watch this space for the lowdown on the new arrivals over the next few days!

The field base team: Alex, Zoe, Raquel, Ross, Ray Ray, Colleen, Pedro, Becca, Sarah and David

Keeping warm!

Becca and David's masterpiece!


Dr Richard

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Field base team complete.

Buenos dias!

Well, field base has been a hive of activity since the arrival of the field base team. Yesterday, our accountant Colleen arrived, completing the field base team. Not one to let jet lag get the better of her, she threw herself straight into Raleigh life, getting the accounts into order and even heading out for a six o’clock run this morning!

Everybody else has been busy getting on with the preparations for the arrival of the rest of the volunteer managers and the venturers. Alex, Becka, Zoe and David have also been doing their driver training, learning everything from changing tyres to Costa Rican driving rules.

After all of that hard work, last night we got the chance to let our hair down with a field base salsa class. The team made some impressive moves on the dance floor, although we probably shouldn’t give up our day jobs just yet! After working up a hunger with all of that dancing, we were treated to David’s delicious chocolate and aubergine chilli for dinner- yum!

Yesterday also saw the pitter patter of tiny hoofs as one of the resident cows in next doors farm gave birth to a very cute calf as the field base staff watched. Here you can see the mother proudly showing off her new offspring!

Well, that's all for now but I'll be back very soon to keep you up to date with what's going on here at field base.

Ciao for now!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

And so it begins........

Hello everybody and welcome to the official 9L blog! This is the place to be to keep up to date with what’s happening over the next 3 months on the 9L expedition. As well as being able to see what the volunteer managers and venturers are up to, you can also leave comments to your loved ones here and we will make sure that they receive them- check out the box on the right to see how this is done..

First up we have the permanent staff that live and work at field base all year round to make sure everything runs like clockwork. Country Director Julian(above) and Country programme Manager Ross (below) work tirelessly and often with very little sleep to ensure that Raleigh is a fantastic, worthwhile and rewarding experience for the venturers, staff and of course for the communities that raleigh work with (although as you can see, Ross can always find a moment to check out how his beloved Hibs are doing!)

Alejandra also works here throughout the year and is in charge of the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan venturers, known as HCVs (host country venturers). Having previously been a HCV and a project manager, she is a Raleigh expert and the perfect person to support the HCVs and ensure that they get the most out of their Raleigh experience.

Pedro is our DEL (Deputy Expedition Leader) and this expedition marks his Raleigh hattrick, having completed an expedition here last year and more recently worked for Raleigh in India. Along with Ross, he will be training the field base staff and volunteer managers, imparting his Raleigh wisdom and generally ensuring that things run smoothly.
Rachel, or Raquelle as she is known here, was in charge of admin during the 9F and G expeditions and is back in her new role as Logistics manager. In her normal life, Raquelle is an anthropologist and is actually writing her thesis about Raleigh, and so as well as making sure that all of the logistical systems are in place for the upcoming expedition, she is also busy observing all of the goings on at raleigh as part of her research.

Joining Raquelle in the Logistics team is New Zealender Alex. He recently completed his Pilot training in the UK, and so should find his role as driver a piece of cake!

Also staying on from the last expedition is the lovely Zoe, who having just come back from a few days of well deserved R and R at the beach will be taking over the admin role from Raquelle as well as keeping the whole team happy and motivated in her other role as team coach.

Next up with have super medic Sarah, who at the moment is busy putting together the medical kits for the expedition and who along with Clint, Richard and Sandeep will be keeping the venturers volunteer managers fit and healthy over the coming months.

This expedition we are also lucky enough to have an official artist. Becka has swapped her glamorous life as an actress for the slightly less glam but equally fun challenges of a Raleigh expedition. Becka will be inspiring the venturers and also members of the communities in which we are working to get creative and express themselves through a variety of exciting projects- watch this space!

Also leaving behind a glamorous existence in the UK is our photographer David, who in his regular job as a fashion photographer is more accustomed to taking pictures of models in haute couture than muddy venturers in wellies. He will be busy snapping both staff and venturers throughout the expedition to make sure that you guys at home can share the journey with your friends or family members here at Raleigh.

And finally, me Rachel, known at Raleigh as Ray Ray due to my amazing Ray Mears style survival skills…. or something like that! Having just completed a fantastic 5 week expedition as a project manager, I am back as communications officer, writing the blog and keeping you all up to date with what’s going on at field base and in our projects around Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Well, that’s all for now. I look forward to reading your comments and hope that you enjoy the blog!

Hasta pronto!