News round up

It has been a hectic couple of weeks for the trustees, volunteers and the projects.

Our adventure in snowy Norway continued  with an awesome  dog sledding adventure a visit to the north Cape and  unscheduled coach journey over the mountains to the airport because the ship’s captain made the decision to change course and head south  to find shelter  from an impeding gale force 9 storm.

Very different weather conditions from Rio where temperatures

Samba band

topping 30 degrees have not stopped volunteers Dave and Shelagh  from getting involved in beach trips, parties and Samba concerts with youngsters from the Living and Learning project.

Meanwhile Joe and Rosalba up in the North East have finished the VinB business and headed back to Teresina.

Much closer to home fellow VinB trustees Mary and David have been busy welcoming a new grandson into the world and for David a replacement hip joint.

boy on beach


Just to let you know what the volunteers and youngsters are having to put up with in Rio.

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Hunting the Light

Home to five million people, thirty thousand islands and the Aurora  Borealis. With Vinb chairman  Joe and Rosalba busy  in N.E. Brazil, husband/trustee  Keith and I have slipped off on our own mission aboard the Trollfjord. A cruise/post/ferry vessel  that serves the settlements along the Norwegian coast between Bergen and Kirkenes and affords it passengers views of the  Northern Lights, though there are no guarantees! It all depends on the solar winds so our friend tells us.

Three days into our trip and already our memories will be crowded by images of majestic sombre snow dusted mountains rising from the waters, broken only by occasional coastal strips of habitable land; some affording larger town settlements but innumerable little ribbons of land that are home to communities of maybe twenty or thirty families. The days are short and grey and our Norwegian guide tells us that the people of Trondheim  are anxious for the light reflecting snows to arrive with the  distraction of snow sports.

I had not taken the possibility of sea sickness seriously and once again the sea is getting a bit choppy and I had better get to the cabin whilst I can still stay on my feet.

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News from Teresina

Teresina 2

Flying over Teresina

Rosalba and Joe have arrived safely in Brazil after a long journey – 47 hrs!!
They are now in Teresina with family and all is well. On Friday they leave for Cristino Castro.


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Boa viagem…..


A final wave from Rosalba as she and Joe (VinB Chair) begin their journey to North East Brazil.

Martin our volunteer who has worked so hard to get the micro loan project up and running is leaving Cristino Castro in the near future and returning home to the Czech Republic. Timely, VinB trustees thought, for Joe to meet the families who  have received loans, find a successor to Martin and set up a support group to oversee and develop the scheme. During the visit they will have the opportunity to assess and  oversee repairs to the storm damaged Boa Esperanca, which is used by VinB volunteers. Before making the ten hour coach journey to Cristino Castro the pair will spend a few days in Teresina relaxing and catching up with family and friends.

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Water… a right for all

Dave, our volunteer in the Living and Learning project in Rio, has spent the last few days without running water.  This is what he thought:

So – if you think that I am just a lefty, pinko, bleeding heart please move on BUT in this modern age of technology can we not ensure that everybody in the World has access to clean, safe water. Having caught a nasty waterborne parasite in India which western medicines took 5 months to cure and now we have been without water for just 3 days it makes it even more real to me as to how lucky we are with our Water system (although it should never be a private company more a state utility).

Here in Rio we at least had access to swimming pool water so we could flush the toilets and could buy bottled drinking water. I don’t think our friends in the favelas had the same privilege. On Monday most of the children were absent from the project as they had to help their parents carry water!!

Sorry rant over BUT WHAT IS A MORE BASIC NEED THAN WATER ? If you agree and have time please take a look at the WaterAid site.


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Self catering,getting lost…loving every minute

Dave & Shelagh
Great newsy journal update from Dave and Shelagh who are now into their third week at the Living & Learning project in Rio.

First Week.
Arrived tired but safe to be picked up at the airport by Beth. Lots of hugs. 4 big bags packed with teaching resources and some musical instruments for Tom (much much cheaper in the UK than Brasil). One bag weighed 28 kilos – good old TAP. Drive to the house in Santa Teresa to meet the landlady – a friend (and fellow Psychologist) of Beths. Quick Beer at midnight at the local bar then straight to sleep- very hard bed but made no difference ! ! Have our own shower/toilet and share kitchen, living spaces with 4 others – Richard (English), Anna (half English/Portugeuse), Sylvain (French) and Hamilton (Brasilian).

Dave up early to go to shops for bread. Took a wrong turn out of the gate and…. Continue reading

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Where is Africa….sadly not where it should be

Africa = 15% of world’s population + 20% of world’s land mass + diverse and substantial natural resources = the poorest people on the earth ?

Merrill Cook of has developed an interactive map that enables country to country comparison in seven key areas starting with health, economics and education. When using the map it is important to bear in mind that the numbers have gone through a series of averaging and scaling and that the data for conflict is based on the last 40 years. However the graphic does highlight the huge inequalities that exist, the chronic lack of basic services that people endure, poor government but on a more optimistic note the progress that some countries are making. Its not all war and famine but we know that much more could be done through reforming the structures of international trade and taxation.

Scoring Africa

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Volunteers greeted by friends old and new

Dave and Shelagh return
Volunteers Dave and Shelagh received a wonderful warm welcome from all involved in the Living & Learning project when they returned last week for a further two months.
As you can see, Shelagh has already got busy making masks ready for the Halloween party.

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Great start with a VinB micro loan


As you can see brothers Valdglan and Valdgley have  wasted no time in using their  VinB loan to get their chicken rearing unit  up and running. Martin ( VinB loan co-ordinator) visited them recently and it is good to know that the brothers are getting support from the local agricultural college and have set a high standard for the welfare of their chickens.

It’s wonderful to see our young entrepreneurs with smiles on their faces!!

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Sugar and land grabbing not a sweet issue

VinB has raised the issue of ‘Land Grabbing’ many times, usually focusing on the injustice suffered by indigenous peoples who are forced from the land they have lived on for generations. Often because they cannot produce documented proof of ownership and lack the resources to fight complicated protracted legal battles.

Pepsi-Cola, PepsiCo and the giant retailer Associated British Foods plc whose ‘Silver Spoon’ label is a UK brand leader, are buyers of sugar supplied by growers involved in ‘Land Grabbing’. Oxfam cite ‘slack policy’ as an issue and are leading a campaign to persuade these giant retailing companies to tighten up policy and take responsibility as some of the world’s biggest buyers of sugar to ensure that sugar growing does not lead to land grabbing.

Sign the petition and let the companies know the strength of public feeling;they care what the public think because we buy what they sell.

You can find out how your favourite brands score on workers rights and conditions in Oxfam’s excellent ‘Behind the brands‘ campaign.

20-10-2013 08-39-08

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