AVIF is an innovative online charity, assisting with sustainable development via online & onsite volunteering in rural Kenya, East Africa. We work with partner communities in the Brazilian Amazon, Greenland and Tibet too. Being virtual means negligible administration costs for worldwide impact. We believe in efficiency, honesty and transparency. WE DON'T CHARGE FEES.

".. Kenya was my first step in changing my life this is why I cherish this experience so much, as it gave me self confidence and made me know I can do anything and go anywhere and make a difference" Ingie, 2011


Appreciating rain

Written by Alison on Friday, 25 November 2011 11:15. Posted in Blog

I just spoke to the volunteers, all huddled in a mud hut in the village waiting for the rains to stop. Twice a year the rains fall on the Amboseli plains of Kilimanjaro, literally bringing life. Within hours the "Savanna" - the semi-arid landscape made up of grassland, plains, kopjes, and marshes - changes. There are very few trees here but those that survive have adapted well. Just like the maasai, trees have a difficult life. But they're by no means helpless!
Covered in spines, needles, and hooks, trees have evolved to defend themselves. The "Wait-a-bit Acacia" has opposing hooked thorns, making untangling yourself from them extremely unpleasant. Even thorns have adapted to be able to continue photosynthesis during the dry season.
The Whistling Acacia grows what look like flowers but actually hold nectar and its galls are home to a type of stinging ant which live off the nectar and protect the tree from herbivores. These trees have silver bark, galls and make whistling sounds as the wind blows across the openings to the galls.
"The toothbrush tree is a low bush with characteristic long, arching shoots. When green, the shoots are cut by locals and used as toothbrushes. First, they chew on the end until it resembles a normal toothbrush, and then they brush their teeth with it, spitting out the fragments of wood all the while. It may sound unpleasant, but their smiles tell of a job well done." - Trees of Kenya. 1989. T.C. Noad and A. Birnie

The maasai too are extremely adapted to this environment but water is increasingly becoming a problem.
For volunteers visiting the only problem that needs solving is how to charge a mobile phone! Solar chargers are advisable, but, if like the hardy crew from AVIF, you can totally immerse yourself in life here, you will gain so much. Leaving behind TV's, microwave's, laptops - and electricity - in the Kenyan bush, on the plains of Kilimanjaro, you soon realise not even borders matter. The only power here is fire - but we can share some technology without ruining the culture of the maasai. Solar power. Along with mobile phones - they all make life easier - but none of that matters without sufficient water.
Photo by Emma, volunteering Summer 2010
We've researched Thruraya DSL satellite modems and antennas with pre-paid SIMS, but at around £2,000 thankfully we realised that thats exactly what we SHOULDN'T be doing here. Western society has so much to learn from the maasai - travelling here is such a gift - for education - for understanding. Whats so much more important is for money to be spent in sinking a borehole well to sustain the maasai way of life, one of the only tribes in Africa that refuses to move to the city, live in slums and sit in squalor hoping for a better future - because their futures are already better - and brighter (so long as there's enough water).
I just sent Jackson a text saying its hailing here in North Yorkshire. He has no idea what that means ;)

Christmas CALENDARS 2011-12 from Enkito

Written by Alison on Tuesday, 08 November 2011 11:12. Posted in Blog

On the plains that roll out from the foothills of Kilimanjaro lies a remote maasai village called Enkito. Last year our volunteers Petr, Shiv and Emma spent the Summer there. Waking up to this.
In just over a week Petr returns with Lorraine (UK) and a couple of weeks later Caleb & Kort from the US, to experience life as a maasai and learn how to truly live in symbiosis with nature. The main activities will be helping in the very basic school and learning the maasai customs. There will also be a hydrogeological survey performed by BWS, recommended and overseen by TAK Development  and Hélène M. Van der Roest of www.takafrica.org. Hélène will oversee the training of a water committee in the village to control charging a fee for the water from a borehole well in order to maintain it after drilling. Hélène advises "its very important to set up this kind of Self help system ... When you provide water to a community you also need to make sure they own the borehole and can maintain it .... the goats and cows, for example, cannot drink from the borehole and should not come close to the borehole". TAK are aware of the realities of drilling in this area and have even planned "a cattle drinking area and a fence around the borehole so that they do not destroy and pollute the water".
The volunteers will gain knowledge of this entire process and can hopefully spread the word to fundraise for the well.
Lorraine has already ran a marathon and her Mother is baking cakes. They've helped to cover costs of the survey.
Petr has also been selling calendars of his shots taken in 2010, and has raised a great deal to aid the school and various needs in the community. The calendar in really special - please consider buying one for your family or friends this Christmastime and share the experience with them. Contact Petr for details here.

Volunteering Matters

Written by Alison on Monday, 31 October 2011 19:49. Posted in Blog

United Nations Volunteers have been working together with the internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter & UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo in a campaign to show the world why volunteering matters:

This years International Volunteer Day is 5 December - a critical moment not only for the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme but also for volunteering worldwide. The tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10) will culminate with the UN General Assembly discussing volunteerism. UNV have chosen the theme Volunteering Matters because volunteers have the power to change lives.

In order to showcase examples of volunteer action, from every country in the world, UNV are inviting people, from today until 6 December to submit photos in response to weekly questions posted on their campaign webpage. The photo voted the most compelling by UNV Facebook fans will become the UNV Facebook profile picture for 2012 and on 7 December UNV will reveal a mosaic of your photos, to be a snapshot of our volunteering world.

UNV have also put together various promotional materials, which you can download here to help spread the message.



Power of the Amazon Music AND People

Written by Alison on Saturday, 22 October 2011 12:56. Posted in Blog

This video was made by meu amigo, Leo Chermont, in his studio. He wanted to record the power and the beauty of the people. As he says on the video "Trabalhar assim... nao tem coisa melhor" <With work like this there couldn't be anything better>
Leo, in sunglasses in the video, is also accompanied by children and friends including surfer biologist Diogo "Santos" Lavareda. There are more videos from Leo on Algodoal; "a small fishing village on Ilha de Maiandeua, 180km northeast of Belém, Brazil, an attractive natural retreat with hard, windswept beaches and a sometimes turbulent sea", Lonely Planet states; "The island’s name comes from an Indian word meaning ‘uncountable riches beneath the sea.’ Legend has it that an enchanted city is submerged off the island’s northern tip."
Leo & Diogo are just another, in a long line, of reasons to visit Belem, Brazil with us.

The Amazon Life Changing & Life Supporting

Written by Alison on Monday, 17 October 2011 18:37. Posted in Blog

Its so hard to know where to begin with this place. Belem & the islands of Brazil are intense, passionate, humble, beautiful, powerful ....... Its a place everyone needs to visit. With so many incredible experiences I have to remember the focus of this visit - to gain intel and links for our volunteers to come over and assist the valuable work that AmazonArt is doing here. The future of the Amazon and the communities that live here is integral to the survival and health of the planet. Everyone hears this - reads this and most people then switch over - watch a movie - worry about bills - go cook a meal.

Life always goes on.

But not for those killed by extreme weather - floods - drought - war because of lack of resources. Its all linked to the Amazon. This place and the entire delta, not just Brazil, is the lungs of our planet. Without it we can't breathe and there are a plethora of other consequences. Thats the horror - but people switch off to horror. What people love and enjoy are the pleasures in life - not material things - but real pleasures; music, song & dance.

Watching Fabricio, Junior, Aldair & Adgijel sitting still, in awe, at Diego playing Mozart yesterday was so inspiring.

dsc00192These are young men inspired by dance - street dance - inspired so much that they practice and practice and have become talented and skilled which increases their enjoyment and also for those watching them. These kids are practicing on a concrete floor with a plastic cover - no mat! They're sharing ONE set of shock pads on one knee and one elbow. We can change this - we can provide protective gear - a cool outfit for shows - a rubber mat. You can watch their show - spread the video - get them seen and make people realise what music and dance can do to people.

There will no doubt be many more posts about this incredible place but please feel free to look through the photos on FaceBook and like the Page please. If you're able to travel over and see for yourself, please get in touch and we can make arrangements for you. It WILL change your life x

alison e menina

Photo by Lou Guedes

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