Friday 12 September 2008

Jon entertains the crowds

Whilst rummaging through the 1,000 of photos we have I came across this gem of jon, who ever said slap stick was dead.

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Thursday 11 September 2008

So what exactly is a Sand Dam?...

A sand dam is a reinforced concrete wall built across seasonal river beds - 2 to 4 metres high and up to 90 metres across. A pipe is built into the dam, going 20 metres upstream. Over one to three seasons, the dam fills up with water, then sand, which filters water through the pipe built into the dam. About 40% of the volume behind the dam is water, meaning that sand dams can hold an incredible 2 to 10 million litres of water!

Seasonal rainfall leaves riverbeds dry and unable to hold onto any water that arrives.

A concrete dam is constructed by local self-help community groups and Quest volunteers!

Over 2 to 3 seasons water will flow and bring sand to build behind the concrete dam...

The end result is a dry river bed with huge amounts of water being stored and filtered by the sand built up behind the dam. The water table rises, new plants and crops can be grown but most importantly filtered drinking water is available ALL YEAR ROUND.

Fantasticly simple idea that alters hundreds of lives in sub-saharan Africa!

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Ex-Quest Africa boss a hit!

Those of you who knew Lucy King (Africa leader, boss and general Quest hero) may know that she went back to academia a few years ago and has recently been based in Kenya working with elephants as part of her PhD. We were very proud to see that her research has been featured in this month's National Geographic - well done Lucy!!

You can read the article here

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Kenyan Partners Excellent Development UK Charity of the Year!

It really IS Excellent Development!
Our Kenyan Partner Excellent Development is celebrating a resounding win at The UK Charity Awards 2008. They were named Environment Charity of the Year and later crowned Overall Winner of the Charity of the Year Awards from the selection of 10 category winners.

In an emotional speech, Excellent Development co-founder Simon Maddrell said, “I'm quite overwhelmed. To achieve this in just 6 years is a remarkable achievement. We have many people to thank from the past and current trustees, friends, family, donors, our fantastic six staff in the UK and equally fantastic 46 staff in Kenya, who work so hard."

"However, there are 1,293 people who we really need to thank. One is Joshua Mukusya, the founder and inspiration of Excellent Development. His sand dam technology and philosophy is what makes the difference. However, I know he would join me in giving this award to the 1,292 farmers that we work with in Kenya. I know the judges were very impressed with the results of our work - the impact we make is driven by the farmers themselves - so it is them that this award belongs to. "Joshua Mukusya, speaking from Kenya noted, "That's great. This shows that we are really moving somewhere - and of course the Award belongs to all the farmers - they own everything that we do!"

Daniel Phelan, organiser of the Charity Awards 2008 commented: “Excellent Development is a fantastic example of how innovation, passion and vision can be turned into an effective project demonstrating considerable impact. The project greatly impressed the judges with how its excellent management led to a great idea being implemented across so many communities. The initiative is both sustainable and replicable and is a perfect illustration of the inspirational work that takes place within the voluntary sector by charities ranging in size from those with a couple of volunteers operating on limited resources to the largest household names.”
Congratulations to all at Excellent Development for all their hard work.
Check out Excellent's work at!

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Unicorn found in DRC!

Pictured for the first time in the wild, the okapi is so secretive it was once thought to be a unicorn. The relative of the giraffe the okapi was thought to be extinct after years of civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 'amazing and particularly special' creature was photographed by Dr Noelle Kumpel of the Zoological society London. With a long neck, large ears, and zebra markings this strange animal was thought to be a cross breed but it is firmly placed in the Giraffidae family.
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Wednesday 10 September 2008

Meet the staff

As with a lot of website launches, there are a couple of sections which we are still working on finishing. One of these is the meet the staff, so in the meantime, let us whet your appetites with a lovely photo of two of the more responsible members of the Quest office - Jonjon and Simon

You couldn't be in safer hands...

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Southern African Explorer....

Google Earth IS a productive use of time...

Check out all the cool places to experience on our Southern Africa Explorer!

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Things I love about Africa...

(Not sure what the response time in this one was....!)

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Black Holes and Tv removals

I was moving a tv at 08.30 this morning with Jon as my alarm sounded to signal the end of the world. We looked at each other for a moment expecting the world to be sucked into a Black Hole a brief pause our lives about to flash before our eyes... NOTHING!! on with the job in hand.

Now that the European Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is completed and up and running, it would appear that the slew of articles that had popped up quoting doomsayers, might of been a bit over the top. In a recently written artical that stated the 17-mile, $5.8 billion supercollider – which will slam protons together in an attempt to learn more about the building blocks of the universe – will inadvertently create a black hole that will gobble up the Earth.

Prof Llewellyn Smith, however, has assured Radio 4's Today programme that the LHC - designed to help solve fundamental questions about the structure of matter and, hopefully, arrive at a "theory of everything" - is completely safe and will not be doing anything that has not happened "100,000 times over" in nature since the earth has existed. "The chances of us producing a black hole are minuscule," he said, "and even if we do, it can't swallow up the earth." So, folks, who do you believe?

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Tuesday 9 September 2008

New Website!!!

Thanks to all the guys at active parity for designing yet another website for us! Great stuff chaps, it was a bit of a roller coaster we will miss our business meetings and coffee but we got there in the end.

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Reunion Ball

Last night might be the reason why I have been so unbelievably unproductive today. The BAll was held in London and saw many a man wearing dressing and brandishing tiny knives tucked into their socks. The evenings festivites saw Beth give a cracking speach and one Andy Deville getting irate with both the Dj and Manager over the time of closing. It was also great seeing him getting beats from a girl, we are unsure if its the shame or the hang over behind him not turning up to work today . Fantastic turn out from the Africa groups. Good evening had by all.

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Monday 8 September 2008

Emmanuel Jal

“This next artist came out of the horror of a brutal war, a brutal childhood with a clear voice calling out against violence, hatred and materialism. He's going to have a huge influence in the world way beyond his music. He's still developing and exploring his musical voice, but I think you have the opportunity to see someone with the potential of a young Bob Marley.”

- Peter Gabriel introducing Emmanuel’s performance at the Nelson Mandela 46664 Concert, London June 2008.

Musician/songwriter/rapper Emmanuel Jal has one of the most extraordinary life-stories you'll ever hear. Emmanuel Jal was born in war-torn Sudan, and while he doesn't know exactly when, he believes it was in the early 1980s. He was taken from his family home in 1987 when he was six or seven years old, and sent to fight with the rebel army in Sudan's bloody civil war. For nearly five years, he was a "child warrior," put into battle carrying an AK-47 that was taller than he was. Amazingly, he survived front line action and eventually managed to escape with 300 other "lost boys", enduring a 3 month trek on foot without any supplies to reach safety. One of only a handful to survive the journey, Emmanuel was rescued by Emma McCune, a British Aid Worker, who smuggled him to freedom in Kenya and enrolled him in school for the first time.
To help ease the pain of what he had experienced, Emmanuel started singing. In 2005, he released his first album, Gua ("peace" in his native Nuer tongue), with the title track broadcast across Africa over the BBC and becoming a number one hit in Kenya.

Emmanuel Jal has won worldwide acclaim for his unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation born out of his experiences as a child soldier in Sudan. Throughout all this, Emmanuel has worked tirelessly with the United Nations, Amnesty International and Oxfam to campaign against the employment of child soldiers and the illegal trade of arms. Emmanuel founded a charity ‘GUA Africa’ to work with individuals, families and communities to help them overcome the effects of war and poverty. Currently GUA works in Kenya and Sudan, arranging sponsorship for children in the slums of Nairobi, putting survivors of war through school and is in the initial stages of constructing an ex-child soldier rehabilitation centre in South Sudan.

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Churchill the last white man to be called Winston?

A few things happened over the weekend that got the old cogs turning in my mind. The popularity of a name and the manner by which it evolves. According to a recent poll 1 in 4 children under the age of 11 are more likely to affiliate the name Winston with the nodding dog from the insurance commercials. The name has also seen a rise in popularity in many African Nations but is seldom heard in British play grounds. The survey also found that nearly ten per cent of the youngsters confused a picture of US presidential candidate Barack Obama with Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton. Is it any wonder Britain's children don't know much about our historical greats? So For all you expecting Mothers out there please allow me to provide you with a few suggestions...... Forget about your Britney's, Justin's, Peaches, Apples, etc. hows about Florence, Randolph, or Isambard.

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