Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

©Ianthe Butt 2012

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The moral of this blog post is that speed is everything.

I wrote this a little over a week ago, likely you had no clue where Tuvalu was.

Now thanks to blimmin Wills and Kate

you all know don’t you…?

If anyone else had told me they were going to live in Tuvalu I would have been speechless.

No I’m not talking about the royal sweethearts (they’re paying a visit next year)

Anyway, as I said,  if anyone else had told me they were going to live in Tuvalu I would have been speechless.

My travel adventures, pale in comparison to Andy Browning’s:

Have I spent a year studying volcanoes in Montserrat and Mexico?

Travelled round remote Africa?

WANGLED my WAY into the DRC?

Nope. Nope and Nope.

I haven’t.

For Andy, however, moving to the fourth smallest country on the planet – 9 remote islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean pretty standard.

After establishing where the hell Tuvalu was –

the islands are about 700 miles north of Fiji, with a combined land area of 10 miles squared, no high rise buildings and no fresh water –

and before he jumped on a plane for nine months (in fact three planes, totalling 36 hours in the air London-Sydney-Fiji-Funafuti) my question was not ‘really?’ but ‘why?’

Following in the footsteps of some of its better-known Pacific neighbours Fiji and Tonga, Tuvalu is hoping to become a fully fledged member of the World Scout Movement by setting up a national Scout Association.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be invited by the newly set up Tuvaluan Scout organisation to support them in developing their organisation,” he says.

His job, as Scout Development Ambassador, will involve helping the Tuvalu Scout committee to get off the ground, recruit and train adult helpers and leaders and establish a program which is suitable and beneficial for the  islanders.

Anyone between the ages of 5 – 105 will be able to join, and he hopes that they will be able to offer something which is fun for everyone too.

At the same time another focus will be developing the link between the old and young, 

“Having older locals as Scout leaders who are able to teach traditional skills is going to be key.

Being an island nation, fishing and the water is a big part of life in Tuvalu,and keeping skills such as spear fishing and boat building alive, even though a lot of the fishing is now done using modern boats is of huge cultural importance.”

Even in the small corner of the world that is Tuvalu, he tells me, technology is swiftly moving on, and despite the main island Funafuti receiving two flights a week and a cargo ship servicing the rest of the islands ‘sporadically’ , with electricity on the main island and two internet cafes, the community are keen to ensure that aspects of their traditional culture survive. Badges, which Andy will help to develop are likely to be as varied as survival skills and pr and communication.

A geography teacher, sometime volcanologist with a keen sense of adventure, Andy is an avid Scouter himself having joined the beavers at 6, before moving through cubs, scouts and venture scouts.

“Being in the Scouts helped me to grow up with a real understanding of how to be self reliant. I loved camping with my friends, being outdoors, climbing trees and building stuff.”

As well as sparking his sense of adventure, of course, which led him to accept this once in a lifetime post in Tuvalu.

As well as being one of the smallest countries in the world, it is also one of the least visited, with only a handful of tourists ever setting foot there.

Although with its crystal blue waters and tropical beaches it sounds like an idyllic place to be shipwrecked, Andy acknowledges that his trip will have  challenges.

“Being made of coral and surrounded by the sea, Tuvalu has no ground water, and so all water must be collected from rainfall, which may come as a shower or as a full on tropical storm from which there are very few hiding places.”

With a high point of 5m above sea level on the islands, high tides, tsunamis, and sea level rise are major concerns for the nation as well, with some experts believing that Tuvalu will be under water in as little as 50 years.

Hopefully Tuvalu will soon be able to join the list of countries which are able to offer  Scouting and all its benefits to young people. Globe Scribbler wishes Andy all the best in his endeavours.

Scouting is the largest mixed youth organisation in the UK, with over 500,000 young people enjoying the benefits of the fun, challenge, and adventure it offers.

Follow on Twitter: @andyexplores,  Andy’s blog and support the cause and donate here

©Ianthe Butt 2011

photos/Andy Browning

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