Friday 24 October 2008

Andy's Gap Year

I was unusually organised at school, at 17 I signed up to spend 3 months in Madagascar in my Gap Year.  It was to be a full year and a half until I actually stepped onto the plane to start my adventure which was to dictate the next 5 years of my life.

I was always interested to travel but until I was 18 had never donned a backpack in my life.  My gap year started with a short stint at Tesco before heading off round Europe with 5 mates from school.  A whirlwind tour lead me to marvel at 10ft high paintings in the Louver, Bungee jumping in Grenoble, eating as much as you can eat pizza outside the leaning tower of Pisa, spending a day and a half on a boat, raving it up on the island of Ios, buying a McDonalds in Switzerland, eating bockwurst and visiting the zoo in Germany and finishing in Amsterdam before flying home courtesy of Stelios.

I returned home to the harsh reality of finding £5000 to pay for my trip to Madagascar.  So I began working night shifts in a stationary warehouse and promotions work in Gatwick airport.  It was a hard 7 months work, lots of injections, buying and borrowing equipment, sorting out malaria meds and researching the project before I was off.

I touched down on the dirty tarmac at Antannarivo.  On the second day it was my 19th Birthday, spent drinking three horses larger.  Next day I spent hanging my head out the window as we drove across the country, ending the day not only dehydrated but sunburnt as well.  Not the best way to acclimatise!  After a few days spent in Tulear in the South West of the country the group headed out to the dry spiny forests to start a detailed survey of the area.  I was to spend the next 8 weeks sleeping on the floor with hairy catapillers, eating beans and rice, catching reptiles with my bare hands and GPSing the unmapped landscape.

My best memory was playing football against the local team.  The whole village turned out to watch, we played on a solid mud pitch, the ball was like a ping pong ball and the referee had an AK47 slung round his shoulder!

It was the time of my life and I was hooked.  I returned in the knowledge that I wanted to return to Madagascar one day but more so wanted to discover what else was out there?  It was to be two years later until I ventured out again this time with Quest Overseas to Bolivia as a volunteer, from their to Peru and Brazil before returning as an intern in the UK office.  As an assistant leader with Quest Overseas in 2007 I worked in Tanzania, Swaziland, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana, before heading off to Central America to continue backpacking.  After a three month trip on local buses from Mexico City to Panama City and everywhere in between I headed off to work for Quest on an eight month stint in Africa.

Andy Deaville – Africa Operations Manager

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Thursday 23 October 2008

Peruvian bid for next Olympics?

London has talked about simplifying the opening ceremony for 2012, I think they could get some tips from our children's project here in Peru! Joking aside though, what a fantastic way to combine sport and teaching kids about other countries - well done guys!

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Africa Credit Crunch

We have been hit hard by the credit crunch over here, but you may think that in Africa the effect has been even bigger. It seems that this is not the case.

This is due smaller economies in Africa which are affected less than huge economies such as the US and Britain and that banks in Africa have been very conservative with their lending unlike over here where recently you could get a mortgage five times larger than your salary. Davindar Sikand, managing director of Aureos Africa Fund, says that "most financial institutions are not directly impacted".

So is it all roses in Africa? The answer is no, it may well be the case that the price of eggs have gone up and you have to take out a small loan to pay for a pint, but Africa is still one of the poorest continents on the planet. The average wage in Malawi is just $170, whereas here in the UK it's $40,000! It's no better in South Africa which has raised investment money on foreign markets and is currently in an energy crisis.

So what is the answer? One might be to save some money and take time out to travel to Africa; you'll spend less than you would in the UK and at the same time boost their economies. Be sure that your money stays in the country you visit by using local tour companies, restaurants and accommodation.

BBC on-line article

The Times online article
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Wednesday 22 October 2008

Norwich have the X Factor too!

There may have been goals galore in the Champions League, but there were a fair few in the Championship too, especially at Carrow Road! Leroy Lita hit a hat-trick as Norwich notched a win which knocked Wolves off the top of the Championship table!

For a side that had scored just one goal from open play in their previous six games and only eight in the first 11 games of the season, a five-goal tally was simply staggering.

Come on you Canaries! Promotion here we come!

After thought from Simon, "I agree Norwich are actually quite good!"
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Champions League: 36 Goals in one night!

Yes last night the English clubs did us proud.  A total of 36 goals were scored in the Champions League equaling the record for most scored in one evening.  My personal favourite was Del Piero's blinding first time shot from just outside the area.  

It was a slightly controversial night with Dimitar Berbatov scoring two goals against Celtic which appeared to be both offside.  However the Celtic boss Gordon Stachan praised Man U, commenting on them as the best Manchester Side he had ever seen and that Wayne Roony was 'unplayable'.  Arsenal celebrated a sweet victory away at Fenerbahce 5-2 as the youngster’s walked all over the likes of Roberto Carlos. 

However the biggest football news of this week was a win for Stoke on Sunday!  Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a top 4 place!

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Welcome to new valued member of staff!

The George Foreman Grill has revolutionized our lunches long gone are the days of boring old ham and cheeses sarnies and hello fish, pork and grilled broccoli. one of the benefits of the grill as Kate will testify is the Black gold that is left after any pork produce has been cooked, you should see her run for the grill!! So a massive please to meet you to George and his black gold! Already employee of the month and probably the year!

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Tuesday 21 October 2008

Quest prepares for Children in Need

With Children in Need fast approaching, the Quest office is in discussion as to how we can do our bit. Latest idea is a sponsored dance off, I'm a little worried about the source of this inspiration though...

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Monday 20 October 2008

Katie's Friends take the Grim Challenge

Lots of respect to Emma Taylor, Tom Morgan and Alistair Richardson for signing up to the Grim Challenge. They will run 8 miles through bushes, lakes and mud in deepest darkest December, all to help raise funds for Katie's Campaign.

See details of the race here
To sponsor them for their stirling efforts, click on their Justgiving site here
To learn more about Katie Ashbridge's Campaign, click on the tab at the top of this page

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Botswana's Good Governance Pays Off

Botswana's former president has won a $5 million prize to encourage good governance in Africa.  Botswana is one of Africa's most stable countries - it has never had a coup and has regular multi-party elections since independence in 1966.

Botswana is the world's biggest diamond producer but unlike other resource rich countries in Africa, this has not become a source of conflict.

Kofi Annan added, "Botswana demonstrates how a country with natural resources can promote sustainable development with good governance, in a continent where too often mineral wealth has become a curse".

As well as the $5m prize, Mr Mogae gets $200,000 a year for the rest of his life.

So if you fancy checking more of Botswana's natural resources then come join our Southern Africa Quest for Mokoro safari's and Big Game Spotting!

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Villa Maria 2006

Don't want you to think that i haven't been thinking about you all! I know that seldom a day goes past when I am not in your thoughts. So for all of you starting your final year of uni or their first, (you know who you are) here is a reminder as to the work you did two years ago. As an after thought i want you all to know that not one of you has any rhythm, however you were the first and still only team to play rugby in Lima against a load of professionals.

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Everyone loves coffee!

Many people cannot start the day without a hit of caffeine, with approximately 70 million cups of coffee drank in Britain on a daily basis!  The industry is approximated to be worth 1 billion pounds a year.  But it looks like a niche in the market has been overlooked?

That's right, when this bear came across this discarded cup he fell head over heels.  Bears have the best smell in the business.  A polar bear can smell a seal through 6 inches of ice and in the North of America they have become more dangerous as they come into camps searching for a free meal.  Campers and hikers are constantly advised to keep all food locked away although it seems all they need is a cup off coffee to tame these wild beasts!

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