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


Work to be done

Written by Alison on Saturday, 05 May 2012 19:45. Posted in Blog

I'm sat in Abu Dhabi airport killing time the best way - being social. This trip has been incredible in so many ways but most importantly; socially. We've met with people from all walks of life - high-rollers, the elite, local officials, children and some of the poorest of Kenya. I've heard laughter and seen tears, shed tears even.

Bridging the world

Written by Alison on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 17:48. Posted in Blog

I am so stupidly excited. So much is going on that I don't know where to start but the journey will take us right round the world.

While the craziness ensues with KO2 rattling cages to effect change, much bigger projects are spawning which may well enable us to rise way above and match the ethos of Ama Zon Art and Diego Carneiro de Oliveira’s music to plant seeds” around the world to “Change Lives". Diego's incredibly passionate team strive to "Transformando realidades através da Arte"; Change Lives through Art. While KO2 uses a different tool; zero-emission dirtbikes, and AVIF uses volunteering and technology the mission is always the same; bringing people together to learn, gain perspective and to grow as human beings. The latest collaboration is bigger than most.


Bringing the lost generation back on track

Written by Alison on Sunday, 01 April 2012 12:31. Posted in Blog


Its been almost 4 years since 15 April 2008, when KO2 was incorporated as a Community Interest Company (CIC) to help support the work of AVIF. Mentored by a host of professionals from a wide variety of specialist fields, and schooled at the Yorkshire & Humber School of Social Entrepreneurs 2010/11, I still have my heart set on using bikes to inspire young people. One of my mentors was the Youth Officer responsible for Crucial Crew, which used to operate on the site at Defence Estates Forest Moor, Nidderdale, before it was sold; the perfect home for a social venture to re-engage young people.
As a biker and safety marshal as well as a lone parent, I have a deep understanding of the excitement, risk and fascination motorsport holds, and its power to do good. In 2009 I was part of a 7-man (including 1 woman - me) team that raced around the whole of France One Way Round to raise money for St Johns Ambulance.
At the absolute extreme; the TT Roadraces, is a powerful force to effect change and has been promoting green electric battery-power; the future of motorsports since the inaugural TTXGP in 2009. Combining this with a nurturing, IT-based, behavioural-monitoring, life-skills-building model will be an inspiring formula for success.
NYCC acquired the Forest Moor site for a new specialist school, relocating the successful Baliol School, Sedburgh, to provide facilities closer to Harrogate for young people with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties; kids who suffer from complex problems primarily due to chaotic home lives, kids who've never been given structure, emotional support, whose families may have been torn apart due to substance or alcohol abuse, or worse. The new school, Foremost, has been highly supportive of the collaboration for over a year now, offering a field for the dirt track and premises for operations.
KO2's activities are divided between accredited life skills programmes, via the National Childrens Bureau, and time spent with the exciting electric zero-emission dirtbikes. With no noise, petrol, gears or fuss, these bikes, though powerful, are easy to learn to control with discipline, focus and practice.
Among the research gone into setting up this CIC, are studies by the University of Nottingham's, Daniel Nettle, on Evolutionary Biology about the understanding of the psychology behind anti-social behaviour. The Unit for Child Studies at York St John University carries out multiple studies about risk and young people and all this, and more, have been incorporated into the educational and development components that KO2 use to bring the "lost generation" back on track.
Risk, however, is not looked at so holistically, in the authoritarian world, which has already excluded 'this generation'. Steps must always be taken to eliminate as much risk as possible but KO2 is driving change to use risk as a learning tool. To push people to balance risk with common sense, with understanding and compassion, to shoulder the responsibility of risk and to be aware of the risks to others.
To be aware of how your actions affect other people's lives is crucial to a healthy community, a healthy society and a healthy future society.
But we're being blocked!

Negotiations went "legal" back in November 2011 for KO2, with a lease being prepared by NYCC, for premises within the school grounds, while investors drew down start-up funding, while staff were recruited and while preparations were made for operations. In March 2012, after extensive delays by refurbishment contractors, the main school opened its partly-functioning doors. On March 13 the fleet of Zero MX & X bikes arrived from Europe and KO2 became real.
And then stopped.
On 29 March, 2012, NYCC Childrens & Young Peoples Service wrote a letter stating that they were ".. unable to sign any lease" due to risk.
  • On Sport Relief Friday 23 March, KO2 had a "Slalom Mile" prepared for the boys at the main school, to raise funds for UK child-carers; young people like themselves who care for sick/injured family members at home. The event was cancelled due to risk by NYCC Childrens & Young Peoples Service.
  • 4 weeks ago, NYCC cancelled a collaborative weekend event where the Army Foundation College, Harrogate were bringing an entire platoon on site to help build the dirt track. The platoon were all going through Duke of Edinburgh Awards and needed to do 15 hours of voluntary work to help the community. NYCC said No, due to risk.
Luckily 25 Plt. Alamein Co. have been able to reschedule and KO2 are grateful for them coming to their rescue again April 14/15. Assuming NYCC don't block the event due to risk?
We are trying to make sense of this negative response from the very council who would benefit from the significant cost reductions of more supportive activities for young people. KO2 have extensive risk assessments, extensive combined insurance, extensive experience and competence in all areas. “The government agrees with Professor Munro that the system has become too focused on compliance with rules and procedures and has lost its focus on the needs and experiences of children and young people.”
North Yorkshire Safeguarding Childrens Board, 2011


North Yorkshire's Children and Young Peoples Plan 2008-2011 facts:


  • 411 Looked After Children as at March 2009
  • 2650 children ‘In Need’ as at March 2009
  • 265 children with Child Protection Plans as at March 2009
  • In the January 2009 School Census, 416 Primary School pupils (0.97%) and 576 Secondary School pupils (1.42%) had statements of special educational needs
  • 11,781 children with special educational needs (without a statement) recorded as School Action or School Action Plus
  • 1,315 criminal sentences passed upon young offenders in 2008/09, for 2,764 offences
  • 841 young offenders were diverted from Court by Police Reprimand or Final Warning
  • During 2008/09 there was a total of 776 first time entrants aged 10 to 17 to the youth justice system
8 months after the London Riots, something has to change! The government knows it - why isn't North Yorkshire County Council (Risk) listening?



Water water everywhere

Written by Alison on Friday, 09 March 2012 17:10. Posted in Blog

I've had a wonderful catchup conversation with Helene Van Der Roest of www.takafrica.org, a Kenyan-based travel company that also runs a foundation. During a stay in the Netherlands, TAKAfrica have joined forces with the dutch organization FloFlo, brainchild of designer and engineer Floris de Vos, who devised an incredible hand-drilling rig for borehole wells allowing any community to take charge of drilling for water themselves.
After an accident on an oil rig left de Vos lying flat for almost a year, he researched old Chinese methods of drilling using bamboo frames, techniques dating before Christ! With support from Shell and colleagues he designed a unit weighing only 70kg in total allowing anyone, regardless of literacy or background, to drill a well for fresh water, by hand. De Vos then tested the units from Morocco to Namibia, drilling along the way for various communities. Further development has led to a heavier-weight, 250kg electrical unit which, luckily for us, can cope with large depths and especially the lava layers under Amboseli, in the foothills of the volcanic Kilimanjaro, home to our maasai host community of Nkiito.
TAKAfrica and FloFlo will be bringing one of the larger units to Kenya in June/July 2012, drilling 3 wells already scheduled and providing training to each community in maintenance and ownership practice. Villagers must form a Project Maintenance Committee and since it is the women who are involved more directly in collecting water, they "should" count more than men in the committee though cultural issues tend to arise. The group owns and manages the entire operation with the elders investing in both building and maintaining the well as a good, clean, close source of water for the village into the far future.
AVIF need to raise funds for our drilling depth of 280m down into the lava and limestone!
TAKAfrica has already collaborated to bring in a professional, local organisation to perform a hydro-geological survey and cover the paperwork and application to the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA), and for registration & permits. The total works will include drilling, pump, electrical source, storage tank, and even separate watering and feeder areas for cattle.
In Kenya, drylands occupy over 80% of the country, where over a THIRD of the Kenyan population and 50% of the national livestock herd is found. The sustainable development of drylands is a priority as with 70% of Kenyans being subsistence farmers, access to water is a critical issue. Most farmers obtain water from surface water sources – traveling large distances and transporting the water back to their farms. Such surface waters are often contaminated. The maasai women of Nkiito currently have to walk many kilometres and when volunteers visited in November the original settlement was barely habited as the community had had to move to a seasonal enclosure closer to water.
We'll keep you posted with progress but if you'd like to assist please donate via the link Top LEFT or via the FaceBook Page.
Asante Sana

Its not as bad as you think

Written by Alison on Friday, 20 January 2012 21:11. Posted in Blog

Today Ray Kurzweil announced the launch of the Abundance Book which promotes the simple message that "we're living during an incredible day and age" .. "the realization that the world is getting better at an accelerating rate". Having just watched Cool It by Bjørn Lomborg I'm totally up for the positive outlook; concentrating on what we can do right now to make the world a better place. AVIF's volunteers do that every time they get involved - they make change - and with good reason. It feels good. I haven't read the book yet (currently shipping internationally for $24 + $7.99) but it WILL make you feel good and positive about our future. The books authors are true change makers. Dr. Peter Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and launching large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Best known for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private spaceflight and the $10 million Progressive Automotive X PRIZE for 100 mile-per-gallon equivalent cars, the Foundation is now launching prizes in Exploration, Life Sciences, Energy, and Education. Diamandis speaks about the "explosion in connectedness around the world" and uses the illustration of a maasai warrior with a mobile phone ... cue Jackson, our host in Nkiito, Amboseli!.

The book explains 4 major powers of force that are aiding the changes we need to make. Written also by Steven Kotler, bestselling author, award-winning journalist & co-founder and Director of Research at the Flow Genome Project, an international organization devoted to putting flow state research on a hard science footing. He's also the co-founder of the New Mexico-based Rancho de Chihuahua dog sanctuary n'awwwww !

Here are 2 technologies the book talks about that WILL change the world.

  • Dickson Despommier's Vertical Farms could solve the problem of finding the resources to feed the growing population. "By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth's population will reside in urban centers". An estimated area of new land about 20% greater than the entire country of Brazil will be needed to grow enough food. For places like China, India, ALL the Arab Emirates where there's a lot of people and limited farmable land Vertical farms could be built. The incredible part is the cycles sustainability .. "nothing leaves the building except the produce". The system even cleans water and coupled with ancilliary services alongside; grow wheat - make flour & bake bread next door - the system will employ more and more people.

Of course these buildings are capital intensive but as Bjørn proves in Cool It - we've got the funds available - especially with all the Techophilanthropists that will be made in the near future, in addition to the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg et al.

  • Dean Kamen’s Unique Slingshot Water Purifier. Kamen is well-known as the entrepreneur and wild-eyed inventor of the highly promoted Segway scooter. For almost 20 years he has been creating "a radically new way to purify water" thats cheap, extremely energy efficiency and portable.

"Every 8 seconds one child dies from diseases that are related to untreated water. The primary cause for 80% of all sicknesses that are easily preventable in 3rd world developing nations is the lack of clean drinking water".


Kamen’s refrigerator-sized water purifier makes 10 gallons of fresh clean water in 1 hour requiring only 500 watts of electrical power. It employs heat to distill, boil and condense water and then recycles the energy, using the heat captured from his self-developed generator. It is "elegantly simple and maintenance free" able to purify water containing lead, copper and other heavy metals, arsenic poison, latrine waste, crawling parasites, chemical waste and even ocean water!

Kamen states 95% reliability and has made various partnerships with African countries. Now we need a cost-effective smaller "home" version or help with distribution and we know how easily and quickly that will happen simply by looking at the size of Jackson's mobile phones.

Lastly I wanted to write about the incredibly simple back-to-basics way to source scarce water. Our project to drill a borehole well has a cost coming in at £19,000 for a 320m well. This is a lot of money. We're being advised by the established Kenyan-based wwwTAKAfrica.org who mentioned that they'd heard a story about a Dutchman who's invented a way for any community to drill their own well. Enter FLOFLO and Floris de Vos.

The video is self-explanatory and the system so simple that with a team already established in Kenya we're hoping to buy a kit and training for the Nkiito community to drill for their own water supply. TAK Africa will advise along the way and provide pumps and maintenance programmes such as flo feeders for separate cattle drinking. 2012 is really shaping up well.


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