Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Nicole, Sydney University OT student in Cambodia

Everything is going better than great!
Really enjoying the placement and have developed a lovely relationship with the kids. Actually working wth 5 kids. Doing everything therapy from learning to walk, dressing, hand strength and coordination, eating, handwriting, visual perception and gross motor. The staff there are really really lovely, very helpful and extremely keen to learn which is fantastic.
The 2nd project is going heaps well too! Think I've crossed off close to 15 guesthouses/hotels assessments and will get on top of the joyful report writing over the next few days :) It's exciting how interested and open most of the accommodation places have been-(it appears no one has any knowledge on this area.) especially the 5star places that are keen to make some structural changes. It's then going to be really good when it all goes up on Jo and Tom's travel website so tourists can make informed choices before they get here.

Jo and Tom (in country agents) are wonderful!!
It's been great to meet the other volunteers-I feel a bit of a local showing them the ropes.
Myself, Chiara and Tania all went to Angkor wat on Sat - up to see the sunrise and saw a few of the major temples- also went to the Landmine Museum which was very interesting and then Bantey Srey temple. I went to the Silk farm yesterday, was very interesting!

We have had some bid down pours the last 2 days-besides that I'm surprised how little rain there as been.
Hope all is well in Australia-I was shocked when I heard we had a new PM...I have heard very little international news over here.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

World Cup Fever in Tanzania - Gappers Update


Camp life is amazing - at the moment there are only 15 of us known as the three mothers! We are in Moshi for the first month then head off to various places finishing up in Zanzibar for nine days.
Apart from the slight adjustment my stomach is having to make everything else is going well.
The construction project is the dining hall at the local school which will be amazing when its finished - it will be used for 600 children.
At the moment they are all on holidays but there are still some hanging around and lending us a helping hand - one little boy yesterday got a little bit too enthusiastic shoveling sand with me and my finger has come out a little bit worse for wear. There's a fierce rivalry in camp between the British and the Australians (there are 7 of us) but we have banded together to support each other through the world cup!!
Having Swahili lessons twice a week in camp is fun but I'm not very good- its a beautiful language to know though!! and my book is filling up. Soon i will ACTUALLY be a Mbongo (local)

On Sunday we went to an orphanage which was just incredible - there was one little girl who just broke my heart and i know that we will definitely goo back in the next three months. No words can do it justice so when i get a chance i will put as many pics up as i can but the internet can be quite slow!!!

Tash you would hate all the moths - i think there was about 10 around 1 light last night and one decided to go down my top!!! How is everything with you all at home?? Whats news in Australia?? All we get here is the world cup results and CNN crap. Feeling very out of it.

I think we are planning to go to Arusha next week for the night to see the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal but will keep you all updated!!!

Poa Kichizi Kama Ndizi (crazy cool like bananas)


Buenas noches from Canterbury College in Peru

Hola all,

Well we made it after five flights, flight delays and some difficulties talking to the locals, however, everyone is enjoying themselves very much. We boarded in Brisbane with a flight straight to Sydney, after sorting out our boarding passes we continued on our journey to New Zealand where we waited for our 10 hour flight to Santiago, Chile, where we stayed for 8 hours before our next flight, where some members struggled extremely with their first interaction with Spanish which resulted in some completely different lunch to what they set out to get {Brenton}
. Then to his relief some clever Spanish speaking legend ordered donuts for everyone, so we thank Andrew for that. Natasha did a top job organizing our accommodation for our first night in Cuzco, so could we all give her a round of applause.  Next flight was a 5 hour flight to Lima, where we were to stay for 10 hours in the airport, here we met the person to take all our donations to the community project. A lot of the members gained a few hours sleep however some members decided to stay up the entire time in Lima. Our next flight was to Cuzco which was our final destination, however there was a 2 hour delay for our flight, so some more team members caught some sleep.  After a 1 and a half hour flight we arrived at our final destination. We spent our day in Cuzco today {Friday 18th of June} changing our budget to Solas and getting to know the area.
We were exposed to many different cultural experiences, there is a festival approaching and there are many different activities happening all around Cuzco.
We had a very delicious dinner at a restaurant, which was a good changed from Airport meals. Everyone is getting along well and is working well as a team. It is 8.30 p.m. on Friday, we are extremely tired so we will be off. Talk again soon.

Buenas noches.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Ma, the rains are here! Update from the heart of Ghana.

Well the rains have come. The weather is feeling a little bit cooler, and we are coping very well. Annabel and I knew the wet season had come when we were inside, everything went silent and then hurricane winds came through and we ran outside, trying frantically to keep the clothes line down, whilst trying to take our clothes of the line, whilst trying to do it efficiently as the rain started to pour. My legs were shaking, we were saturated, and Annabel had lost one sock in the winds.

We spent the following weekend in Accra, visiting the National Museum, Makola Markets, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, and we finished the Saturday afternoon at the National Cultural Centre which was filled with arts and crafts. Phoebs and I were the only ones that really had the patience for the people grabbing at us, asking for our hand in marriage, telling us it was their turn to have us in their shop, and we even had one man tell us that Australia was in Chicago. In the evening we went to Accra Mall and saw a movie. Yes that's right, in an air conditioned cinema with popcorn (We could've been back in Australia for all we knew). We watched the Prince of Persia, and it was a very enjoyable night.

The following weekend we spent it in Kumasi because our adopted Australian Ed (whose actually English) hadn't been there yet, and is leaving in a week unfortunately. We left for Kumasi early Friday morning and arrived there around lunchtime. We had a really big bus to ourselves which was nice, considering how cramped it can get in a tro-tro. We visited the Kumasi Fort which is now the Ghana Armed Forces Museum. Saturday, we had a very hectic day visiting the Katejia markets, The Okomfo Anokye Sword, National Cultural Museum where we were able to learn about the Ashanti History. In the evening we splurged on a 15 Cedi pizza, at Niks Pizza Place which was well worth it.

With only two weeks left, I think we are all now enjoying our time with the children at school instead of dwelling on how much they're actually taking in. The finish is in sight, and I'm not sure whether we're excited or sad; strange mix of feelings have set in.

Update soon, when I have more internet time :) bye

Crossing Timezones into another World - Gappers long awaited arrival in India.

We arrived at Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi, exhausted. It was 2am Delhi time ( we think thats 6am Sydney time) and no-one, and i mean no-one seemed to speak English. However, we figured out where to go, hopping on a bus that we presumed would take us to the Domestic terminal, where we could catch our next and final flight to Udaipur. By this stage it was 3am and we were irritable to say the least. So when the bus stopped in the middle of the airport, in a dark and empty corner, we were not happy. One weird yet interesting thing to mention though was that the security at Delhi for our flight to Udaipur was much stricter than any of our other international flights - we had to have a tag on everything we took on (including money belts and pillows) and each got frisked for explosives.Well what can i say about India...

Besides all that, after a 2 hour wait in Delhi (it now being 4am), we finally boarded a plane to Udaipur and arrived at 7:30 am Udaipur time. Ravi, one of the awesome Channel Youth Reps met us and escorted us to the truck - the coolest vehicle to exist in India. Imagine a large golf cart, with a bigger engine and plastic removable shields for each window. We sped down what I presume was a main road our of Udaipur for 40 mins, heading to the apartment. It was there that we saw signs of the real India that had so far evaded us at the multiple pit stops. Every second person rides a motorbike, and never with a helmet. We saw a guy holding a door between the driver and himself, a woman riding side saddle with rice...just to name a few.
The horn is used more than the brakes. Every two seconds- BEEP BEEP. We think they use it as a "Hello I'm here" indicator as well as a " Get out of the way" and "How's it going?"
. Hence, its popularity. Finally, we arrived at our apartment in Bedla, a suburb in Udaipur. It's a wonderful place, with high ceilings (for the breeze) and 3 levels - we are at the top, of course. The view from the rooftop and terraces are amazing! However, it is very hot, so going up in the middle of the day isnt advised. At the moment, its about 30 degrees and humid. The staff here are fantastic. There is Ritu, Guarav and Ravi, the hosts. Meena (we call her Meenaji out of respect) is our amazing cook.
And at the moment, thats all I can think of. Today we have spent resting, getting used to the time zone and getting used to the apartment. Tomorrow, the orientation begins!!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Rafting, Bungee Jumping and Milking a Cow. Last week in Nepal for our April Gappers.

Here goes for one of the last updates for village life :(
We leave the village next friday which is super duper saddening. We're all cramming in last minute village-things which crept up on us - the placement has gone so quickly.
We are stocking up on ingredients for our western cook up, planned for tomorrow. It should prove interesting trying to cook over Aama's mud stove/oven. The menu includes a tomato pasta dish (unfortunately Spag Bol isn't possible as our families are of the Chhetri caste, which forbids them to mix the meat of both cow and buffalo with milk and/or veges. We're not too keen on givHello!
ing Spaghetti Goatonaise a go) and possibly some chocolaty-something for dessert.
Ash and I have decided to make our host family a collection of photos in a frame - Apart from faming pictures of their gods, Nepali people arn't too big on hanging things on walls or displaying photos. We thought we might start a trend.

We all just got back from the Tibean border, where everyone goes to launch themselves off the highest canyon swing in the world or one of the longest bungee falls. I was the first jump of the day and it was so worth it. Soph came after me and the others watched from a safe distance. Then we went white water rafting and two of the three rafts (including ours) capzised. Our 'safety' man thought it was hilarious. Andrew and I (who were flung into the water and underneath the raft) found ourselves gasping for air, panicking and laughing all at the same time.

After the underwhelmed reaction of Ragu from our last painting day, we decided to try something conventional. You cant go wrong with a giant, brown and green tree, so that's exactly what we did. I think he was impressed, although he still had the school's discipline enforcer/doorlady monitor every stroke of the paint brush, just incase we started that 'dirty' painting again.

Ash and I got up at 4.30 the other morning and followed Aama around, just to observe her every-mornign schedule. I milked a cow, to the immense amusement of Aama and her friend, although neither Ash or I were too keen on shovelling cow dung with our hands. We slipped outside to watch the sunrise for that one.
Ash crashed at 7am again and I watched Aama make Dhal Baat. Look out, I recorded every step and we're all keen to make it for our families 'village style' when we get back.
Apart from riding on the roofs of a couple of buses, there's nothing much more to report.
Bracing ourselves for this last week,
Jess and the Nepal group.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

First week in Tanzania! - The Curious and Sometimes Random Ramblings of a Wandering Soul

Straight from Annie's very own blog "The Curious and Sometimes Random Ramblings of a Wandering Soul" we have a fresh update from our Gappers first week in Tanzania.

There is so much to tell, even though it has only been a week, there is so much to tell, so much has been happening. I suppose I will begin to bore you with the tale from the beginning, if it becomes to much of a pain to read feel free to bow out at any time

ok, flights over were, how do you say it, excruciatingly long but (and no matter how much you dis it James - brother) Thai airways was very impressive, it was nice to fly with them - watched Sherlock Holmes, was fantastic, want to see it again!!!
We finally arrived in Kilimanjaro airport after flying between Mt Kili and Mt Meru (hoorah, I hiuked meru does the dance) and was the most amazing sight. I nearly cried, I was finally back in Tanzania, after wanting it for so long and after planning it for so long

Home is Mbokomu Camp, Camp Tanzania, located across from the Keys Hotel in Annex, along Mbokomu road. there is a small toilet block, 4 showers, a small mess building, campfire and three large tents in which we all live in blissful harmony (well, so far, there are a few english/aussie rivalries but never fear, with frequent renditions by the 7 australians in camp of Down Under and Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gumtree, True Blue and of course, the national anthem, Aussie pride is staying strong. They just think we're really weird :P)

We started working in the school on our project on Monday, and a typical work day goes a little something like this:

7-9 am brekkie
9 am - leave for work, walk 15 mintues (10 if you're eager) up the road to reach the school
9:15am-12 pm work on the building, either cementing windows mixing cement, plastering etc
12 pm - head home for lunch
2pm - back to the school for work
4pm - home for the afternoon
6pm (monday and friday) swahili lessons
7pm- Dinner

and then the afternoon is ours, to go into town or just chill in camp and sing true blue

Tuesday was an interesting day for me as after dinner, I started to feel a bit funny and later proceeded to break the world record, or at least tanzanian record on how many times one human can vomit in the space of 8 hours (record now standing at 9) needless to say it was a miserable night, and I wasn't the only one, there were 5 victims, though my record stands. Whether it was adjusting to the food or food poisoning no one quite knows, but all better know which is the main thing to be honest.

And the most random things have been happening in between, like on Sunday, a few of us just went out for a walk and cam across a Catholic church procession featuring practically the entire district that apparently only happens once a year, and were invited to join in, so we all sang (as best we could in broken kiswahili) and clapped and danced our way up the slippery clay road all the way to the church. It was an amazin experience, something so random and out of the blue but incredible.

And today, proud me, I got to cement two window frames into their slots and have been doing a lot of carpentry etc. Seriously, this should count as an apprentiship! I'm like Bob the builder without the cheesy theme song! And even better, is we get sooo grubby! (sorry mum!!) but see, now, instead of just being grubby at home, now I am grubby for charity, so it's all good. But seriously, there's no word int he dictionary to describe how filthy we get but moreso how much fun we have doing it.

Well, that's about me for now, we're in this camp for a month and then we will be heading off to our wildlife camp and camp kili where showers are buckets and soap and oh, how shocked the boy's looked :P ooh, I have been doing my own washing by hand as well, very proud!! (though I am not sure if some things will ever be quite clean again :P)

I hope everything Down Under is going swell, miss you all like crazy!!!

until my next trip into town or to an internet point


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Jambo! - Lexi's first GapBreak news from Kenya

Hey everyone! how are you all? This is the greatest place ever. The first day we got here we went for a walk through the village and everyone is so welcoming. The kids are so so amazing and just so much fun to play with! It is sad though heaps of them have skin abnormalities but they're so happy all the same. And yes, we get fed so well, but nothing like at home obviously! Where we're staying is in a little village called Mohaka and there's beds and showers and electricity. We were all so tired most of us went to bed at 7.30, but we woke up at five to the Muslims praying and the monkey's throwing mangos at the roof! We've learnt a fair bit of Swahili, jumbo for instance means hey! Asantisana means thankyou very much.

The people working at the camp are so nice, they show us everywhere, help us with the language, and we start work on Monday so they'll probably be helping us learn how to build and all that too. Everyone at the camp gets along really well already, it is so interesting meeting the people from Europe, especially seeing as I am going there soon! Our main project is to build desks for the kids at the school, and to also build a hut for "mama", she has no roof and it rains a lot at the moment, it should clear up soon though. There's one girl who's taken a particular liking to me, her name is Hoomba", and whenever she sees me she runs up and grabs my hand or tries to jump on my back. She also calls out for me outside the camp fence, she's so cute! The shops here are really cool, I can’t wait to go out and buy all the paintings and jewelry. Seriously having the best time. I am not sure about a sim card yet but I will let you know as soon as I have a phone. I love you and I miss you all!

Lexi x

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Dusty Sunsets - 1 month in for our Peruvian Gappers

Engulfing clouds of dust. The Guttural roar of beastly four wheel engines filling our helmet clad heads, we twisted and turned hair-pin corners. Varying confidence (in my case, very little), but waay too much adrenaline. The fading light of the golden afternoon sun over the neighbouring hills (well, mountains). And so we rode (quad-biking in style) into the sunset on officially our first month in Cusco!

So what´s been happening… Each week, 4 volunteers have started making house visits to some of the children’s homes… I haven’t yet gone, but I’m a little anticipant… we hear about the conditions they live in, and their situations, but I don’t think it really rings true until you see it. To a degree, at the moment, it feels like something we can forget or look over, particularly as what we hear is so unbelievable; that people could be living in such conditions, especially kids who are some of the most beautiful and happy I’ve had the good fortune to meet.
Little by little, our trout sellery/restaurant is making its way to completion. The walls and windows have been plastered on the inside, the ceiling finished, at the moment we’re working on leveling the floor which consists of rocks about three palm-widths. Well, at one point, we thought it was level, but informed by Cosme & Oscar the head-builders it was all wrong the other day, we’re on our way to finishing it properly: just one of our many Spanish to English misunderstandings! Haha.
As well, every day we continue the hygiene project in which we round up all the kids from play, everyone gets a little bit of soap (for some reason they all call it shampoo!) washes their hands and face, and after, receives a dollop of moisturiser for their little hands and faces. Every Monday, to the kids delight, we hand out berry-flavoured vitamins too – the cheeky ones always try to take two, or pretend they don’t have one yet, but soo onto their tricks now hehe.
Teaching has been an ongoing, but rewarding challenge… My kids (clearly the most awesome class ;) ) have now learnt by heart in English: family members (though still mistake ‘father’ for ‘brother’, a rather strange conundrum if taken literally) numbers, colours, and today we’re onto body parts (cue ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes”). I’m ever so proud of them, they’re so keen to learn new things, though they are all at different levels; the faster kids are usually the same ones, so we prepare extra little activities for them, like sheets which they love. It’s hard to keep everyone on task though, their wandering imaginations sometimes make it hard to keep everyone focused! At this point we go for a run outside, or play a ball game in the class.
Realised I haven’t spoken much about what makes up most of my life right now, my host family! Me and Charlotte’s family consists of three younger sisters, Fabi (4), Ximena (6) and Cami (10), our mum Luz who is a full time mum & painter of beautiful religious paintings, and our host dad Edouardo who is an Orthodontist. With three little sisters, it can definitely be said there is never a quiet moment around the house (except for the girls’ school time hehe). There’s definitely something to laugh about everyday at home; whether its Fabi and her constant stream of monologue, usually just to herself if no-ones listening, or Ximena’s songs (the last one was about a butterfly, with some chocolate, in a pool… yeah, I’m not quite sure what’s going on there either..). It’s taken a while to get used to a constant flow of action and noise, and to everything so different from Australia, which is basically, everything! My host-mum still doesn’t really understand why I’m vegetarian (along with every other Peruvian, “vege-whaaa?!) but she prepares the most lovely vegetable dishes, so many traditional “papas” (potatoes) and rice dishes, for us to try traditional Peruvian food. In the same house, upstairs, live two other volunteers and their mum also cooks the most delicious cakes… “cheesekeke de maracouya”, passionfruit cheesecake MMMMMM!
Last weekend, we had the most incredible experience with our family, actually becoming a part of the traditional Torrechayoc festival in Urubamba (about an hour and half out of Cusco). Each year for the past ten years, our family told us, they get together with the same group of family and close friends, to form a dancing group in the festivals parade called the “Majenos”, or country people. Us four girls who live in “Coviduc” got geared up in traditional gear (me and Clarissa sporting a fantastic mustard yellow, and Laura and Charlotte in cherry red) which was a long swirly skirt, long white blouse, sash and traditional bowler hats. Having learnt each dance in about ten minutes before actual showtime, it was hard not to feel a little overwhelmed by the chaos around us: Urubamba had been transformed from a sleepy little country town hidden in the mountains, to a rainbow of endless movement and colour, hundreds of dances which made their way down each street, each with at least fifty dancers in every costume representing different parts of Peru; our favourite were the “demonios” said to hide from Jesus; dressed in bright rainbow striped suits, and twisted masks, you could see them concealed in trees, along the tops of walls and on top of rooves kicking their legs wildly in the air. Every little detail made the festival amazing, even more so that we were actually invited to be such a big part of it; turns out we were literally the only “gringas” (or white girls) in the entiiiire parade, and the attention which came from it was a little overwhelming; ironically, we were dressed in the most traditional, conservative costumes, but still got endless whistles and cat calls at every step, and endless “un photo, por favor!”s; it was like being celebrities for the weekend! I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard, and for so long; we danced for a collective eight hours in the streets, and the whole time my cheeks were hardwired in a smile; Absolutely unforgettable.

Tomorrow, set to go paragliding, & white water rafting, can´t wait to tell you about iiit!
Your Peruvian girl, Michelle