Venturer induction: The story so far….

14th February 2015

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Induction week starts at 7a.m at the Morogoro International School for the swim test; two hundred metres of swimming and two minutes of treading water in a range of styles. In just five days our new arrivals become orientated with life here in Tanzania, learning about the many different elements of their time ahead. Over the course of the week everything from health and hygiene to tool usage, communications, camp craft, and cultural awareness is covered. Expedition basics like hand washing, ‘three bowls’, ‘Deeting up’ (the term for covering all exposed areas in sticky, smelly insect repellent), and ‘Long’s O’Clock’, all quickly become habit to the venturers as they have already to the volunteer managers. 

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Venturers on trek in the Uluguru Mountains, Morogoro.

Split into training ‘Delta’ groups, they take turns serving lunch and dinner; rice, beans, chapatis, chicken, peas, are all eagerly and enthusiastically devoured as the teams get to bond with each other and start picking up Swahili from their host country counterparts. Group sessions debate the Millennium Development Goals, challenging the venturers to see things from a range of different perspectives. Cultural awareness talks look at the differences between the range of nationalities that make up our expedition group here, asking how we view ourselves and each other. Stereotypes are challenged and plenty of laughs had as each group presents their views in turn. 

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Ventures training in WAMO, ahead of deployment.

In the evening it is playing cards that have replaced social media and mobile phones. Even the volunteer managers competitive side comes out over a game of ’Spoons’ and plastic cutlery is sent flying across the training banda to great laughter. Musical tastes are exchanged; Jessie, Anna, and Ed discuss their favourite songs by The Who, Simon & Garfunkel, and James Taylor. Mike ask’s about Stevie Wonder: “Isn’t he that guy who won X-Factor?” to everyone’s great amusement. 

Out on Trek training the venturers get their first taste of the African countryside. The road to the overnight campsite curves to the right from our training centre with the groups passing local children heading into town for the days school. Directions are taken from hand-held GPS units and lead the venturers for around two kilometres of gentle walking before the dirt road bends left and inclines sharply up into the hills. 

Piki-pikis, the chromed colourful motorbikes and preferred form of local transport, freewheel silently down the rutted dirt road as it curves up taking the groups above Morogoro, opening up views over the city and well beyond. The climb finally levels out at a local primary school, much to the excitement of the local children who rush out to greet the groups. From there it is along a panoramic ridge line and then down again through the trees to camp. 

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Heading down to camp Bahati.

Rest for the night is a tree lined scout camp with monkeys in the trees and plenty of welcome shade. Afternoon sessions cover camp craft, water filtration, and river crossing, before it is time to take a well earned break in the waters of a local waterfall in the late afternoon sunshine. In the evening it is a typical trek meal of noodles, chick peas, sweet corn, and corned beef, before a debrief of the day around a small three-stone fire. The venturers stay up late despite the early start, singing and dancing around the campfire. While there may be hard work ahead, for now it’s party time with little but the stars, the fire, and the monkeys for entertainment. 

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Beautiful scenery on the trek to Bahati.

The final day of Induction is spent learning how to put up the large canvas tents that will become home to many over the next few weeks. The volunteer manager teams introduce the projects to the group and share their own experiences from the Project Planning Visits and there is a nervous wait while the Venturers wait to find out their allocations and where they will be heading for their first phase. From then there is little left to do but pack bags and clean up the site before an early and excited bedtime. Next time, we will bring you the results of the allocations day and our completed teams that will be heading out on deployment for Phase One.