Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Artist's Blog: The End

I write this two days after our venturers departed and it seems that the time has quickly disappeared from under our feet. We've been plastered in paint, busy filling our art journals,  making Valentine's Day cards, designing campaigns for the World Days and painting health posts, walls and Venturers' toilets.

It's been a fantastic ten weeks and I've seen some amazing work produced. The enthusiasm has been phenomenal and I want to thank all the PMs for being so facilitating with the projects, even though they've been busy building, conserving and trekking. And of course, an enormous shout-out to our Venturers. I've had the pleasure of seeing some truly creative work produced over the last three months and I'm sure there will be some whose names I will come across again in the foreseeable future.

My last post is dedicated to the final projects here on 13A; the first being Phase 2 Changeover's art activity, and secondly, the health post in La Carona, Conte Burika, where Zulu 9 painted a mural on the front of the new building.

Phase 2 saw our attentions turned to World Water Day for March 22nd. Following our campaign which ran through the duration of phase, changeover was the perfect opportunity to surmise all that we had learnt from the last nineteen days about water, it's scarcity around the world, and access to safe, drinking sources.

It seemed fitting then to turn our attention to those artists who have depicted water in their oeuvre, and one of the most famous paintings to include this element is Japanese artist, Hokusai, whose work 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa' has become an defining piece in the history of art.

Born around 1760, Hokusai is best known as the author of the woodblock print series, 'Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji'. His work came to represent the opening-up of Japan to the rest of the world, their burgeoning travel boom, and Hokusai's own personal obsession with Mount Fuji. By the nineteenth century, many European artists came to be influenced by his work, including Monet, Renoir and the Art Nouveau movement.

One of the areas most in need of a spruce here at Fieldbase has always been the venturer toilets and considering the nature of what we were honouring, it seemed apt to highlight water sanitation in one of the most fundamental spaces.

We co-ordinated one side of the toilet walls, mapping out the wave and then dividing it into ten areas, allowing for each X-Ray group to contribute to the painting. Good job guys!

Seven days after deployment, I made the journey to Conte Burika, to the La Carona community who have had a relationship with Raleigh over the last six years. Our latest project with them was to build a new health post- a very much needed centre which would relieve individuals from the enormous journey they have to make to Golfito, should they fall ill. 

Reynaldo, the community chairman, had specified that they would like to have images which reflected their environment, and included the local wildlife. Zulu 9 took over the front of the post and divided it into two sections- one dedicated to the forest, and the other, to the beach. We completed it in time for the inauguration ceremony. The group also started taking the community's handprints and dotting them along the side of the building and created a beautiful montage with as many people we could gather during the ceremony. 

At the end of expedition, I asked for every group to bring back with them their used plastic bottles so that they could be decorated and used on the terrace on the last few days. Gabby took a beautiful picture of them as tea lights. 

And it's here that we come to the end. A big thank you to everybody for a brilliant three months.   

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Expedition 13A: The Finale

The Venturers have departed - scattering to destinations far and wide as we speak. For 3 months 172 Volunteer Managers and Venturers came together to give their time undertaking an incredible journey. Below is our final slideshow - it is hard to express the hard work, incredible people, amazing communities; those who we have worked alongside, lived next too, eaten frijoles with and shared one of the most unique experiences most will ever have in their lives. Hopefully this will explain what we have been up to! 

With drive, courage, integrity and discovery we completed a school, a health post, a gravity fed water system, 6 new homes, worked in 3 protected areas of natural beauty and environmental conservation and every member of expedition formed 11 teams to trek over 270kms across Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Message from the Country Team:

Expedition 13A is one of the biggest expeditions that Raleigh has organised in the 11 years we have worked in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It gives us great satisfaction to see what a fantastic success the expedition has been and I congratulate all of those who were involved. A great expedition is one where all its participants are able to find the space to learn about themselves, to challenge themselves to think about how they can make a difference to their own societies and one where the groups are committed to the sustainable development of the communities and the conservation of the national parks where they've been working. The measure of the success of Expedition 13A will be determined by how each one of you chooses to use this experience - to make a difference to your own life by living to your true potential and by making a difference to the lives of others through your words, thoughts and actions. Don´t be afraid to make the right decisions in your lives.  

La expedición 13A es una de las más grandes que Raleigh ha organizado en los 11 años que hemos trabajado en Costa Rica y Nicaragua. Me da una gran satisfacción ver el éxito tan fantástico que ha tenido la expedición y quiero felicitar a todos los que estuvieron involucrados. Una gran expedición es aquella donde sus participantes pueden encontrar el espacio para aprender sobre si mismos, que puedan retarse a pensar sobre como hacer una diferencia a sus propias sociedades y donde los grupos estén comprometidos al desarrollo sostenible de las comunidades y la conservación de los parques nacionales en los cuales han trabajado. El éxito de esta expedición 13A se podrá medir de acuerdo a lo que cada uno de ustedes escojan hacer con lo que aprendieron – para hacer una diferencia en su propia vida viviendo con su verdadero potencial y haciendo una diferencia en las vidas de otros a través de sus palabras, pensamientos y acciones. No tengan miedo de tomar las decisiones correctas en sus vidas.

Some of the things we achieve on a Raleigh expedition are measureable in numbers - community centres built, families supplied with water, trails laid and homes built. But our biggest achievements are difficult to quantify – the personal journey each volunteer makes in seven or ten weeks, the challenges of living in basic conditions or tackling steep mountains, understanding new cultures, working in a teams with people from different walks of life and learning about our own place in the world. We´d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in Expedition 13A and thank you to everyone who has supported through this blog especially.

Algunas de las cosas que logramos en una expedición Raleigh se puede medir en números (la cantidad de centros comunales construidos, familias a las que se les suplió agua, senderos hechos y casas construidas). Pero nuestros mayores logros son difíciles de cuantificar: el trayecto personal de cada voluntario en siete o diez semanas, el reto de vivir en condiciones básicas o luchar para subir una montaña muy empinada, comprender nuevas culturas, trabajar en equipos con personas de diferentes trasfondos y aprender acerca de nuestro propio lugar en el mundo.  Nos gustaría agradecer inmensamente a todos los involucrados en la Expedición 13A y les deseamos todo lo mejor en su próxima trayectoria. 

Thank you,Gracias and Pura Vida!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Zulu 10 blog- Agua and Arenilla

As most of you sit reading this blog in the UK, most probably in the pouring rain it may be hard to imagine facing issues of water availability. However, as we have discovered during our first five days in Nicaragua these are problems constantly faced by the villagers of Arenilla. 

Despite facing a fairly substantial language barrier, we spoke to Danilo, the head of the village, about the impact water has on everyday life. One surprising fact we learnt was that even though the main income of nearly all the families in Arenilla is agriculture, the main priority when using water is drinking and cleaning themselves and their homes whilst farming remains firmly at the bottom of the pile. 

Whilst we are lucky enough to be living in houses with direct access t water, there are several households still with no running water. They make a long trek to the main village water source everyday, even though the water is not safe to drink. Luckily, Arenilla never faceses serious shortages of water even in the dry season due to its altitude of 1360mts but the villagers are still careful to conserve water as much as possible. For the 19 days that we are part of the community so will we. 

A message from the Turrisantos Trek

Dear concerned parents of Zulu 3, we will not be returning your children next Sunday. Instead we will be returning warrior men and women who have conquered Costa Rica. Over the last 17 days they have been transformed into self-sufficient capable adults who have climbed hundreds of mountains both physically and mentally. The trek adventure stage has pushed them out of their comfort zone and well into their challenge zone. They have worked together as a team and supported each other through many a tough terrain.

No longer will you have problems getting them up in the morning as they have been getting up at 3.30 everyday walking between ten and twenty kilometres a day. You will no longer hear complaints about trips to the shops. Living only off Raleigh rations of noodles and refried beans, they’ll be sure to appreciate your home cooked food. Also having only worn the same smelly shirt and shorts for seventeen days, they will never take for granted freshly laundered clothes.

Through the entire Raleigh expedition they have stepped up as young leaders and guided their fellow peers. Together they have built schools, houses and a remote medical centre, as well as ensuring the conservation of the Costa Rican rainforest. However on this final phase they have pushed themselves to their physical limits and had the opportunity to trek across the beautiful and mountainous landscape. The skills they have learned over the last ten weeks will ensure they are better prepared to take their next big step into the wider world.

‘Although at the start we thought that our feet would fall apart, here at the end they are still intact and stronger than ever! We love trek!!’

By PM Marie

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Who will benefit from our work in Siares?

Ten minutes after stepping of the bus in Siares, San Ramon we found ourselves surrounded by curious eyes and big grins from the children of the community. Straight away it became clear that they were the motivation for our work.  It was also an indication that they would become central to our daily life in San Ramon over the next two weeks.

Over several days we began noticing the differences between the lives of these children and the children back home. The pre-school we are building is next to the existing school and so we can observe a typical school day. At around 8.30am clusters of children show up outside the school, and much like English playgrounds, begin playing as they wait for lessons to start. However, the teachers turned up and all the children (who were aged between 4 and 15 years) are separated into only two classes.

Due to the age differences the classes seemed more chaotic than back home. We were lucky enough to teach one class English and witness for ourselves the keen attitude to learning that exists here. For some school was the highlight of the day.

Although to us it seemed that there was very little for the children to do around the area they constantly found various ways to entertain themselves. Age was thrown out of the equation and games were universal. Football was especially popular amongst the boys. Despite the very basic football pitch it seemed to be a hotspot for the community. One of the most amusing things to observe were the children wondering around listening to music on San Ramon's version of the iPod - the jukebox. Music didn't stop there, as we discovered in the morning waking up to loud tunes from surrounding houses.

Living with the families of the community we were able to experience family life at first-hand. Here the theme of children continues as it was rare to find a house without any. Brothers, sisters and cousins all lived under one roof as extended families were the norm.

There are roughly 800 people in San Ramon, spread between 80 houses meaning the average household has 10 members. We found that the presence of children brought laughter and love into every family. It was clear that the community valued their children and one of the reasons we feel they were so welcoming to us is because we were helping to build the pre-school. They made us feel like part of the family.

By Cecilia Ricks & Emma Holder