Video for Crowd Funding Support

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To help us with the more immediate and heavily felt cost of a Carnet de Passage en Douane for Mulungu, we have decided to ask for the crowd’s support… Our Indiegogo campaign will help us directly with the costs of this adventure, in order to raise awareness on work of Tusk and Corner of Hope, so please share it to the world!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/lindikhaya-cairo-to-cape-for-tusk-and-mmi/x/7613587

This happened to be the perfect excuse to finally get round to making a video to share our trip more easily!

 

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Preparation And Shakedown

logoThank you so much to UBITRAC for the amazing mobile tracker device they have provided us for you lovely lot to be able to follow our day to day progress as we drive firstly from Scotland to Dorset, and then from Cairo to Cape Town!

With just an app on our phone and phone signal, we can upload photos and videos for you to see exactly where they were taken! Follow the link below and sign up to see our live progress as we leave Scotland for the South to ship Mulungu to Egypt!

http://www.gaptrac.co.uk/map/9732/39lanium12p8583u4rtt

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Track us on our way down South thanks to Ubitrac!

 

And Here are some of the photos taken this week as we finally completed the final preparations for the big adventure!

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Yes Sandy, 3 people can fit in the front.

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Shopping done, now to sort it out…

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This will definitely do as an awning!

And the organising begins...

And the organising begins…

... and goes on for a while!

… and goes on for a while!

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Will we fit a tent on here? Yeaaaaaah it'll fit.

Will we fit a tent on here? Yeaaaaaah it’ll fit.

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Pick Your Challenge

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This week has presented me with many problems. What to write for you lovely lot being high up there on the list. So as a change, you have got a bit of a brain empty of a post, here it is.

I wrote my first attempt on Monday, listing a complicated pile of problems. I then didn’t post it and by Wednesday the problems had resolved themselves. It has been a bit of a momentous week, so far. Let me explain a little more.

I came back to the UK with a bit of an issue. The law was changed 3 days before I left South Africa, stating that any person who leaves the country with a non-valid visa was not allowed back in for 1 or 5 years depending on the amount of days ‘over-stayed’. I had ‘over-stayed’ my welcome by 56 days which grants you a whopping 5 years in exile. This was luckily not my fault; I had applied for my visa extension which was not returned due to a back log of applications during election time. This whole shebang meant that I had to speed on down to the embassy in London, TWICE. Having appealed I sat nervously twiddling my thumbs, with the result arriving this week.

“Dear Sir (interesting…) The request for the waiving of your undesirable status has been considered and was successful.

THANK GOD. I can finish the drive in the right place and not have to wave goodbye at the border in Zimbabwe.

On other notes … the Land Rover is about to return from visiting Alan (the mechanic) who has spent many expensive hours making it look beautiful, on the inside. Hopefully it will now have lights, a fuel tank that doesn’t leak and new brakes. Trying to look like I know what I’m talking about in specialist garage is a little challenging. I’m sure I give them enough to talk about for a few days after I have left. This time I left them with this little snippet:

‘What’s this?’ – pointing at 4 very shiny silver disc shaped things under the car

‘Brake discs…’

‘What do they do?’

‘Make you stop….’ – oh yes of course why didn’t I think of that, which caused much giggling from the mechanics…

 

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Mulungu’s makeover

 

I have also read a lot of other blogs in a bid to find out about visas; this gives you a mixture of feelings. Wow this is exciting, look at all the incredible things they are doing. Oh dear, this could be hard. Why are we doing it in a car, if people are doing it on a bicycle which seems a lot more challenging? We are definitely taking the easy option.

Pick your challenge… I think is what I have decided, and a bicycle is not it for me right now. Instead I’ll take the South African Home Affairs department, endless conversations with potential (they don’t feel it’s so likely) sponsors and ever increasingly worried friends and family. That is enough challenge for right now. Well done to those who do decide that is their challenge, I am massively impressed. Maybe next time…

What is your challenge this summer?

 

ESS

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Logistics of Mulungu

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With Emma back in the UK, preparations for our trip have just gone up a gear. We have spent a fruitful three days brainstorming, and ticked a lot of boxes off our interminable “to do” list.

Last week, Emma wanted to check what the mileage on Mulungu – the Defender – was and decided to fill up the tank… Little did she know that it has a leak near the brim! The resourcefulness we will need to show during our 4 months journey down Africa shone through, as she siphoned out half of the diesel:

Africa Overland?

Luckily, Mulungu – “White Boy” in Zulu – is booked in for his makeover at the local Land Rover garage this week. We are lucky to have found a vehicle in very good condition, and with the help of the wise team at Strathearn Engineering, we will be ready for a “shakedown” test trip by mid-June.

Mulling over Lindikhaya

Mulling over Lindikhaya

The next step is to buy the camping equipment and find clever ways of making a Land Rover habitable for 4 months… The list of “must haves” gets longer everyday: king-size mattress, oven to bake cakes, a dishwasher, a wardrobe…

TFD

 

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Why Trust in Tusk Trust

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Our UK readers may have seen in the papers recently that a SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) study has recently become a large thorn in the flank of the Fair Trade brand. Also in that of us well intentioned gentrified folk wandering through Waitrose trying to buying ‘ethically’. How convenient it was to pay a few pennies more for coffee and educate Ethiopians!

As convenient as it is to trust these so called ‘ethical’ brands, it is always good to go and check for yourself every now and then. We’re young enough to go and do just that! Fortunately Tusk is doing a great job, and we will only be reminding you of how important their work is.

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An incredibly human-sized team has reached out to so many people over their 24 years of existence that they have raised 20 MILLION POUNDS.

That’s not even the best of it, Tusk has a foot in 17 African countries, through 52 different projects, that’s a lot of feet… It was one of the few charities whose work we could follow throughout most of our drive, offering the best kind of stopover you could hope for on our 15,000km journey.

Yet, that wasn’t the crucial factor for me. Western aid has had a controversial impact in Africa for far too long, for the simple reason that no one thought Africans could help themselves.

“Only Africans [are] capable of making a difference in Africa. All the others, donors and volunteers and bankers, however idealistic, [are] simply agents of subversion.”―Paul Theroux, Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town

Well Tusk did. With its holistic approach to conservation, it has been promoting environmental education, sustainable development and a balance between communities and wildlife in Africa for longer than I’ve been alive.

In the short run, it is irresistibly tempting to focus on saving rhinos and elies. Tusk pushed their horizon further and further though, forever diagnosing the ills of African ecology to find the root of the problem, not just to put a plaster on a broken leg. Through workshops and courses for young and old, Tusk endorsed projects seek to open African eyes to the riches on their doorstep, and how they can benefit from them.

Don’t tell the hungry man he can’t poach to feed his family, but show him how to make a chilli bomb (literally) to keep the elephants off his crops and he might not have to!

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What is Montessori?

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Where to begin?

I usually begin to answer this question by saying ‘it is an alternative form of education.’ How I wish it was not ‘alternative’ but simply just the norm.

Maria Montessori – an Italian scientist – began constructing her philosophy based on what she observed within a group of less privileged children from San Lorenzo.

A little over a hundred years later, there is an ever growing Montessori community with legs in huge amounts of countries around the world.

The philosophy has however become confusing, as there are many strains and versions. In its purest form, it is education for peace, education for humanity, education as an aid to life, which boils down to a few simple points:

 

• creating independence for the child

• giving the child ‘keys’ with which to explore the world around him

• helping to nurture the children’s self-respect, respect for the environment and respect for others.

 

HOW do you do that?!

With a classroom – or ‘environment’ – that is a mini representation of life. Everything is child sized and enables the child to work through concepts created in the concrete (more on this in my next post!). Groups of around 35 children with as few adults as possible (2 or 3) allow the children to function as an interconnected mini society.

As adults, we are purely facilitators. We follow each individual child’s developmental needs. This therefore means supporting and furthering their learning emotionally, physically and academically. We look at education and children in a holistic manner. As we are role models ourselves, we need to take away any preconceived ideas of what WE think the children should learn, then turning to the children themselves and following their interests, using this important factor to bring on the concepts they find challenging.

So how do the children turn out?

They become little people who can adapt to change and enjoy learning. They are happy and care about others; on top of it, each child is confident, can make choices and then, self evaluate. AND have strong morals.

And what part does this play in your drive?

One of the charities we are supporting is Corner of Hope: a Montessori community set up in an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp in Kenya. Here, not only are the children offered schooling, the women are given training which they can then take back to set up their own schools. Fingers crossed this pilot project will inspire and enable many more people to go on and create similar models. I will develop on this in a future post!

If you didn’t know anything about Montessori maybe you now know a little more, or you at least would like to find out more!

Here is a short video clip to watch offering a different way of explaining it! Happy watching!

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Lindiwhat?!

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Lynn in a kayak? What does that even mean?
LINDIKHAYA means, “take care of your home”, not “your mother-in-law in a dodgy floating apparatus”…

It is a first name in Xhosa – Rolihlahla ‘Madiba’ Mandela’s tongue – one of the wonderfully melodic Bantu languages of South Africa (pronunciation tips).

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The Red Earth of Africa

Lindikhaya came into this world the year Madiba left it. It was a modest tribute to choose a Xhosa name, but it also bore a sense of closure. Taking care of your home is the underlying theme of our journey, with its short and long-term implications such as urgent anti-poaching measures and environmental education programs.

So that’s the story of why we chose a name which no one can remember, or even pronounce. By the time we’re finished with it, you’ll all have heard it and read it so many times that it it’ll come up in your dreams, hopefully spelt correctly…

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Emma’s Africa

logo          Whilst one half of this drive writes from the Northern Hemisphere, the other half will begin writing from the Southern. This logistically, is challenging. I’m not sure how we got from an idea, which was frankly just another one of my big plans, to it actually becoming real. We really are driving from Cairo to Cape?! I’m the big thinker… Maybe not always totally based in reality… To this Tristan offers the voice of reason, reality and unending patience to my dream spouting verbal waffling.

          I have this huge need to see it all for real with my own two eyes, to understand what it’s like to live a basic life in a VERY confined space with someone else for FOUR months. Too, be a part of a challenge where you are brought head to head with what you find most uncomfortable, and yet perhaps most comfortable. What would happen if I actually want to live in a tent in the bush? Or just live in Ethiopia…? The latter is a high possibility, the former not so much.

The next fascination to contend with is the option of how we can live our lives. Some live in big houses in the country, others live in tiny flats in the city. Perhaps you live a nomadic life, never resting in one place for too long; this may be out of habit for many, and it brings a new challenge. Then for some it is not a question, it is a necessity to move on to find food. Big people and little people (children) intrigue me; I guess that is why I became a Montessori teacher and then recently a Yoga teacher. How did you come to choose your job, or did it choose you? Why are you in your current situation, do you have an option? Maybe not.

I guess right now I am about to become Nomadic, my reason is to try and take in as much as possible whilst considering all the above questions. To see how people have shaped their lives, whilst taking into account their passions and challenges. Our individuality as humans has created numerous incredible projects and communities that are all different. This journey gives me a unique experience to get a snap shot, with my own two eyes, of all these different options and perhaps I will be able to have a better understanding as to why.

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Emma in Downtown Johannesburg

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Africa is rising, Tristan is climbing

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I am Tristan, 22 years old, and I want to live in Africa.

Admittedly I am African. Well half anyway, I’m also half French, which is confusing to a lot of people including myself. My South African half likes beer, ‘braais’ and game reserves; my French half likes wine, debate and (supposedly) smelly cheese. When asked, I toss a mental coin to choose which nationality I am, or spontaneously decide which will be most controversial…

London could have kept me busy, I would’ve felt comfortable enough in Paris. Perhaps too comfortable. Some may say it’s in my blood, I say it’s now or never. Some may say grass is always greener, I say there’s only one way to check.

Africa is a continent of opportunities, a place in constant evolution, where people find their own solutions to global problems.

The people are wonderful, the land is rich and beautiful, the sky is high and the place is alive. Africa’s future is being shaped everyday by people with a contagious spirit, and I don’t want to miss out. I want to be able to say “I was part of this.”

Yes there are inequalities, but unlike in other places, you can’t hide away from them. You see them every day at the red traffic light (if it’s working) and it makes you want to do something about it.

Entrepreneurship is rampant, where Western solutions have failed, African ones arise. On such a young continent, every decision has a major impact on future generations, which is why it is even more relevant now to push for education and sustainability than ever before.

Lindikhaya is my way of getting acquainted with this vast continent before moving in. Like a present to the host welcoming you into his home, it is my way of saying “thank you for having me”, except that I’m not just staying for the weekend. I’m setting up camp.

TFD

follow me on twitter @tfdoumen

not in Africa, yet: follow me on twitter @tfdoumen

 

 

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Telling people about a mad plan

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Dogs stinking by the fire, the cat on my lap, reminiscing about a rather tumultuous term in London over a cup of tea, last Christmas was a bonanza of home comforts and it was hard to imagine myself somewhere between Zimbabwe or Botswana in 10 months time…

No I haven’t won a holiday in the Okavango, and no I haven’t (yet) decided to go and try my luck as a venture entrepreneur in the so called last frontiers of Africa.

But yes, a few of us will have driven over 17.000km to get there, having started three months earlier in Scotland.

“What?! But you’re mad! You’ll get killed! It’s dangerous! And what about lions? And jobs? Graduate schemes?!” I’m still not sure which of those I’m most afraid of, but those are the typical reactions I get when I first mention this project.

Actually I lie, I also get simple but effective disapproving shakes of the head that remind me so much of the classic “we’re not angry, we’re just disappointed” that your parents give you when you’ve been naughty at school.

“Why would you drive? Why don’t you just take a plane?” For reasons unknown, I struggle to explain the purpose of the trip to those people.

“You’ll never make it, it’s impossible” Those however, I have a lot of time for. It becomes a debate, and who doesn’t love a good debate.

It’s all worth it when every now and then, you tell someone whose face immediately lights up with excitement. A hint of envy comes through when they go off on a soliloquy about their own dreams, to finally come back down to earth and provide constructive criticism on the logistics behind such a trip. Those are the people I spend most of my days talking to at the moment, especially when I need motivation to overcome yet another problem that’s just appeared – problems I most definitely don’t mention to the previous categories of people…

It’s too easy to hide behind a charity fundraiser to justify driving down Africa, as it sounds like such a great excuse to make you feel better about taking a four months holiday, but once you’ve chosen a charity and committed to it, it’s hard to not try your best for it.

Let’s not be hypocritical here, when someone comes up with a plan for an insane adventure, your first thought isn’t for the schools you could be funding along the way but for how much fun you’re going to have and you get carried away. You get SO carried away, how many iPods are we going to bring? What game reserve should we go to? I have a friend in Kenya, it would be great to go see him!

No, the feeling of guilt kicks in later, when you realise the luck you have to even be able to consider driving down Africa, when you realise that you shouldn’t be so selfish and bloody well share with people along the way.

Rapidly, it takes over though and you forget about the safaris and the beers around a campfire, but still you’re not being selfless. At this point, you doubt you’ll manage. Oh you’ll get to Cape Town alright, but what if you make a fool of yourself by having half-heartedly tried to be charitable? What if you don’t help everyone who could be helped? What if you just suck at fundraising?

Once you’ve gone through all those stages, you’re ready to get serious about organising what I heard best described as “something only young people are mad enough to attempt AND get away with”.

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