For more information on planning an expedition, visit

Friday, 9 August 2013

Epsom & Ewell Team Flight - NO CHANGES EXPECTED

As parents may have seen in the news, on Wednesday morning there was a large fire at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Airport, destroying the international arrivals terminal.  Thankfully, with the exception of minor smoke inhalation, nobody seems to have been hurt.

Thankfully, the post-fire response has been swift.  International flights started flying again yesterday afternoon and should be up to 100% of flights operating normally by tomorrow morning.

We have been assured by the flight agents that the second leg of Epsom & Ewell team flight from Nairobi to Heathrow this Sunday (KQ102) should be operating as normal with no changes to the schedule.

As bookings are in fact still being taken for the flight it is further fair to assume that the flight is as planned.

Quest will notify all parents in the event of any changes, and parents are advised to keep an eye on further flight news.

Final Project Update from Epsom & Ewell...

Thanks to Luke for 'penning' this update from Malawi...

Muli bwanji?

Tonight is our last night in Kachumbe and we are all very excited for the expedition phase. This week has been very successful as we have all worked very hard at painting a school and building a pig pen. Most of us held the piglets which smelt of poop. Whilst building the pig pen, we learnt new skills such as making cement, brick laying and using tools such as trowels. Today we went back and wrote our names on the pig pen and checked on how the pigs were doing in their brand new pen.

Church: Last Sunday we went to church which was completely different to churches in England. They love to sing all the time not only in church but on a day to day basis. This made it very awkward for us because we didn’t know any of the songs; in addition when asked to introduce ourselves,  90% of us were able to do so in Chichewa to impress the Malawians. However, a certain few (Jake and Luke) introduced themselves with a typically British accent, with “My name is Jake/Luke”.  However we all enjoyed the experience and found it very interesting.

Chichewa Lesson: Recently we had another lesson of Chichewa which a lot of us were interested in and have become comfortable with some of the more advanced phrases. The more advanced phrases have got quite a few of our tongues twisted and many people seem to be laughing at as soon as we open our mouths.

Youth group meeting: In the hope to try and better the communication we could make between the  Malawians and the British, we held a group meeting with the Quest group and those of the Kachumbe youth group. In this meeting we discussed the risks, dangers and precautions that are involved with the virus of HIV and aids. It opened our eyes to how oblivious we were to the serious nature of the virus and allowed both groups to widen their knowledge on how to reduce the passing of the virus. Plus we got to make Netty feel uncomfortable, to say the least, with a few awkward questions.

Football: Throughout this week we have had a few football matches against the locals. They have some very talented children which if in England would improve our professional England team and probably increase our chances of winning more matches. Unfortunately the first match we lost 4-1, which we blamed on the ground being uneven and rocky. This was a clear advantage for the Malawians and obviously we were not use to the temperature conditions. However the second football match we got use to the conditions of which the Malawians were use to and actually became competitive. We successfully won 3-2 and regained our dignity.

Home stay: We were given the opportunity to go and experience a actual Malawian’s house and see how they live on a day to day basis. Miss Baker, Asmita, Ashleigh.C and Luke took advantage of this and went for a special dinner and slept round their house. However Luke left after dinner to return to where we are staying as he was feeling slightly unwell. In the morning Asmita fully experience the Malawians’ lives as she woke up to a goat beside her bed. This was a very funny tale to tell to the people that didn’t go to the local’s house.

Test Mountain: On Thursday we were awoken very early in the morning to begin our test mountain. The mountain was called Mt. Michiru (1470m) which is roughly half the size of Mt. Mulanje. There was breath taking views of which you will see in the pictures we took. We had completed the mountain very quickly as if it was a walk in the park. This gave us the confidence we needed to look forward to climbing Mt. Mulanje in a few days time.

Special Dinner: On Saturday we had to prepare dinner for 30-40 people; whom helped us build the playground and the various other projects we have done so far. Luke and Mr. Scott were very excited to help prepare the meal by killing one chicken. There was a lot of blood and gore involved in killing the chicken and they made it obvious to the locals that it was their first time doing this. However there were a lot of complements to the chiefs at dinner. It was a big feast that everyone enjoyed and we took full advantage of the meat on offer as this was our first time since the start of the trip that we have had meat.

Leaving Ceremony: On Sunday we attended the leaving ceremony which consisted of the locals giving us a farewell and good wishes. On behalf of the students Rob who was described as an “outstanding man” gave a small speech to say thank you to the locals for being so welcoming and respectful to us. Mr. Scott also gave a unexpected speech to the locals which was obviously made up on the spot but still gave a very good thank you to the locals for helping us on the project. This made the relationship between the English and Malawians grow stronger.

P.S. Sorry for the late report but we were very busy exploring Africa and we haven’t had enough time to sit down and write this letter.

Mulanje, Luangwa, Salima . . .

Well, the EEHS team have been so busy of late we've only just managed to squeeze an update out of them via leader Nettie...

The final few days on the project whizzed by with work at the feeding centres and helping with nearby village Kumwandika's new pig project - providing the community with a sustainable source of income, as pigs are highly valued in Malawi.  We can't wait to see all the photos back in the UK when an internet connection is finally fast enough to upload them!

Needless to say, Kachumbe village's farewell ceremony saw a few tears shed by volunteers and villagers alike, as the team prepared to leave their home for the past 2 weeks. Once the team had departed their village however, excitement was on about the upcoming adventure!

Mount Mulanje, standing at just over 3000m, was the first port of call for the team, with a challenging  4 day hike up the steep sides of the massif.  A stunning mountain and a real challenge for all.  Unfortunately, Q4C have no monopoly on the weather, even in dry season, and Mulanje's role as a regional rain barrier meant that the mists closed in on the final day of ascent, making reaching the summit too risky to reach.

photo from 2007
After descending, the team had time in Blantyre to dry off before making their way to Lilongwe, where they were to depart for their safari into Zambia, in a slight alteration to the timetable.

South Luangwa National Park is a stunning sanctuary for thousands of animals around the river system of the Luangwa and gave the team an absolutely awesome safari experience.  With both day and night drives, the highlight for the team was the lions seen at night - three large and three cubs!  Along with a recently hunted buffalo, the pictures should be something to marvel at when they come the meantime, here's an older photo of the park to appreciate...

As of yesterday, the team have been up in Salima on the shores of the peaceful Lake Malawi chilling out and enjoying the sun, before a sunset cruise tonight.  Then tomorrow it's time to soak in the last of Malawi's atmosphere while heading back to Lilongwe, from where the team will say 'Tionana Malawi' on Sunday.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A job well done!

After 2 weeks days of hard work, sports, cinema (and a spot of safari), the 18-strong Nelson Thom team all arrived back home safe and sound last week...

On the sports front, many successful games of football, netball, frisbee, rugby were held, culminating in a rounders tournament on the final Wednesday (sadly postponed from the weekend, when it bucketed it down!)  In spite of frustrations with time and the language barrier (and a few cows on the pitch!), our lot persevered and got 4 mixed teams of Nkoaranga Secondary School students together.... fight it out for the fabulous Nelson Thomlinson School Rounders Cup 2013!  The winners were awarded medals on the day and a cup during morning parade the next day, which can be passed on from year to year. And perhaps the proudest legacy of all, the introduction of rounders (and rugby!) into the school's sports curriculum!
The winning team!
Most brilliantly of all for the construction project, the work was completed on the classrooms started - giving a new lease of life to the building with fresh walls and new roofs (that don't leak) and turning the unfit kindergarten into a place of happy learning:

From this dilapidated room.... this shiny new kindergarten!

And, to make their leaders proud, the team unanimously opted for the option of doing a complete renovation on a classroom out of use.  Harder work than the extra mural painting they could have done, but something that will make a huge and lasting difference to the school, giving the cramped learners more classroom space to use!

From this state....
...via a little of this...

...and a LOT of this...

To this beautiful building!
In the words of Mama Nasari, assistant headteacher, "I feel I am going to work in a new school!

Needless to say, the farewell celebration brought out a few tears, when members of the primary teaching staff, the secondary school, local educational administration, and most emotionally, an elder of the whole village, gave their speeches on what the NTS team's work has really meant for Nkoaranga - a place to be proud of.

And finally, a school that can be found as the final touches were put on the new school sign by Miss Southwell and a keen bunch of helpers!


And a brief safari interlude....

And just in case it seems like the 2 weeks were all work and little play, the team did get the chance for a 2 day interlude of safari and cultural experience, with Maasai dancing, medicine walk and boma visit (traditional village).

Safe to say, the safari in the beautiful Tarangire National Park was certainly a highlight for all - watching a family of elephants cross right in front of the jeep and a lion mating (who was not best pleased at being interrupted....issuing a few scary warning growls and a faux charge....eek!)

Abbie, Charlotte F, Bianca, Charlotte D, Johny, Tiff, Jess, 
Dan H, Dan S, Jo, Conor, Will, Laura, Annabelle, Trent
...and of course the fab teachers Miss Southwell, Miss Lovegrove and Miss Simpson!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

A couple of pictures from the Nelson Thom school in Tanzania

All of us here in the office would like to thank Quest leader Chris for sending us these images from Tanzania this morning. From speaking with him we know that the team are doing really well and that work is progressing along nicely. The sanding down of the windows is proving to be a chore but they are digging deep and forcing themselves through the tedium so to complete the job. Over half way through their expedition now and the reward of a Safari is on the horizon as well as a few other surprises waiting for them this weekend.

Keep up the good work.


We do love a team snap!

Supporting the Nkoaranga school by helping to renovate the school.  

Monday, 22 July 2013

Epsom and Ewell High School working hard in Malawi

Muli Bwanji from Kachumbe!

We arrived Sunday night safely after an exhausting 29 hours of travelling. The morning of our first day we had orientation around the village which is surrounded by beautiful mountains. In the afternoon the whole community came together and welcomed us into their village. This was an amazing experience for all of us and we all got involved with the traditional dancing with the whole community, and Luke entertained the crowd with his Diablo.

For the past five days we have been working hard on the project site; this involved us putting together a playground outside the feeding centre for the children of the village, many of whom are orphans. We have learnt lots of new skills making furniture and making swings out of tyres and wood and painting. Between our hard work we have been eating locally made donuts!

Every morning our quest leader Nettie has been getting us up at 6am for exercise sessions which involve running and circuit training, which is hard and fun at the same time but we know it will help us conquer mount Mulanje. Our meals are prepared each day by our cook Judith who is from Malawi. Everyone has enjoyed the food including the mice which are a local delicacy (some people opted out of eating them!).

Overall the group are in good spirits and we can’t wait for the rest of the trip!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Nelson Thom update

Chris has just managed to find time to send in a fantastic update from the NT guys out in Tanzania...  

"The guys arrived pretty tired and bleary eyed into the school on Tuesday.  We had a delicious treat for dinner - rice and meat, which went down well.  On Wednesday we joined the school's daily parade - think school assembly but on your feet, marching around the school grounds, with lots of singing.  Once we had been given a proper tour of the schools, the NT students were visably shocked by the conditions and this left them raring to get stuck in to the tasks at hand.  

Weds, Thurs and Friday's tasks have revolved around sanding and preparing wood for the roof, which the fundi's (builders) have been putting together, with our students assisting them from the ground.  There are also lots of cracks and holes in the walls that needed filling.

We have had a football tournament and frisbee skills session so far and the Tanzania students are super excited about all the sports events.  This weekend its that old English classic, rounders.

So far the NT students have been eating lunch everyday with the Tanzania students, and have been tucking in to Ugali, a staple of the local diet.  Today we had lunch with all the teachers which was very special, and meat was served - a real treat.

Speaking of meat, Dan H, Johnny and William tapped into some carnal instinct last night, stepping up to kill dinner, for our BBQ chicken evening.  This has gone down extremely well as you can imagine.
This afternoon, (Friday), we have split into three groups and are learning about life at either, the orphanage, the primary school or the secondary school.  At the primary school, it is farm day on Fridays which means students bring their tools and work on the school farm, learning new techniques whilst also maintaining the schools food supplies.  At the secondary school, the students have been getting well into the cultural exchange, teaching each other card games from their respective countries.

On Thursday night we had a fantastic Quiz and the 'team with no name' reigned supreme.  On Wednesday we had a really special evening with a visit from a local musician and his keyboards, singing Swahili tunes to us all night - it was lovely.

That's all for now.  This weekend we are having a rounders tournament, and some of the students will be doing a traditional home-stay.  Some of the students will also be dining at the teachers homes, and we are all very excited about church on Sunday".

Chris & Rose (Q4C Leaders)