You are invited to join us for a journey along the Hope Road. South Sudan Orphan Education would like to announce the launch of the Hope Road project. Our organisation, made up of teachers, media and business professionals and others is throwing its weight behind the vision of Zacharia Machiek to build a primary school, catering principally to the needs of girls, in the village where he was born. Zacharia is one of the “lost boys” of South Sudan who as a child was separated from his family and barely survived while fleeing from the terrible conflicts that racked his country. He now wants to help his community in South Sudan and has enlisted our support in this task. In this inspirational project the Australian and South Sudanese communities will be coming together to realise new possibilities. We are embarking on a journey down the Hope Road.
The major event of the Hope Road project is a forty day walk, by Zacharia and walking companions, through the cities and towns of northern New South Wales during June and July of this year. The walk will take Zacharia and his companions from Tweed Heads to Sydney.
Zacharia Machiek is a former refugee from South Sudan. He has been able to experience a settled life in Australia that is sharply at odds with the constant dangers he faced as a young boy in his homeland amidst the strife of a brutal civil war. Arising out of his experience of being alienated from his family and community but also with a sense of what can be achieved when a helping hand is extended, Zacharia has become an avid spokesperson for the South Sudanese community in Australia. He has a great enthusiasm for engaging with the Australian community and helping to inform them about his homeland and the troubles that have beset it and only now are starting to be alleviated. The Hope Road project is an extension of that vision but now Zacharia is taking his mission to engage and inform to the road. Zacharia has walked many roads in his time. In his childhood he, and many people around him, were left with no choice but to flee the invading army from the North. The Hope Road walk, though, is motivated by Zacharia’s vision of hope and belief in the good will and generosity of ordinary Australians. On the Hope Road walk, Zacharia will be meeting with Australians from all walks of life and talking to them about his vision. He will also be seeking their financial support to build a primary school in his home village of Abyei Achok.
Zacharia has known hardship but also hope. As a “lost boy” himself Zacharia has experienced how a life can be turned upside down and witnessed how it can all too easily and abruptly be ended. But Zacharia has always found compassionate and supportive people along the way and this has given him a sense of hope. Zacharia has received much of his education as an adult here in Australia and this has been a particularly formative experience for him and has confirmed him in his conviction that education can dispel fear and despair and give rise to a new life-affirming hope. With this rich if sometimes traumatic personal experience to draw on he has come to see the importance that the education of children in South Sudan will play in creating a brighter future there for all. It is this vision that informs the Hope Road project.
Late in 2012, after a long separation from his family and community Zacharia was at last able to return to his country of birth to reconnect with his family and make preparations for school construction. At the time he observed: “The people there have nothing. Schooling of children, when it occurs, is conducted under the trees by volunteers.” The Hope Road project will be lending a hand to South Sudanese people working to make sure that the children and in particular the girls of the village of Abyei Achok receive an education that will serve them well and that will allow some of their hopes and dreams to be fulfilled.
The following sets out the plan for the walk. The Itinerary will be regularly updated as events at various locations are finalised.
Zacharia and his companion will of course be walking, a lot. But importantly they will also be talking to people in the cities, towns and neighbourhoods along the way. For anyone or any organisation interested to meet with Zacharia SSOE will endeavour to make arrangements that will allow this to happen.
Owing to his firm commitment to education Zacharia wants, particularly, to engage with schools and students during the walk. Education, without doubt, will play a massive role in South Sudan as it embarks on the necessary transformations to bring about a brighter future. It is for that reason that it is fitting that a commitment to the value of education should also be at the heart of the Hope Road walk here in Australia. There will be ample opportunity for schools to organise meetings with Zacharia when he is in their neighbourhood. If you would like to send an expression of interest about meeting with Zacharia or having him give a presentation at your school just send an email to one of the addresses below and we will get back to you promptly to settle the necessary arrangements.
We believe that the Hope Road walk will be of interest to schools for a number of reasons:
The Hope Road walk and project is supported by Rotary. Where possible Zacharia would like to meet and talk with local club members as well as district administrators and office holders. District Governors may have already received news about the walk. Certainly, SSOE would be happy to answer any enquiries in this connection.
We will also be making contact with other institutions, community organisations and churches along the way.
What can supporters of the Hope Road project do to help make it a great success?
There are many possibilities. First and foremost for people or organisations in areas that the walk passes through you may simply want to make arrangements to meet and talk with Zacharia. If you contact us we will endeavour to make sure that this can happen.
But if you are in a position to lend us some support there are many things that you could do. You might
If you are in a position to help us we would love to hear from you.
The Hope Road project has many facets – it will have a lot to do for some time to come. Zacharia may even have to get his walking shoes out again at some point! Also, what matters at the moment is that the Australian public embraces the Hope Road project. SSOE would like to encourage you to join in what should be a very enjoyable journey down the Hope Road.
We thank you all for the provision of complimentary accommodation fot the Hope Road walkers and crew.
Janet Dyne, Hope Road Co-ordinator, South Sudan Orphan Education
firstname.lastname@example.org 0402 722 053
Chris Geagea, Secretary, South Sudan Orphan Education
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org 0425 212 518
Rob Clifton-Steele, Committee Member
email@example.com 0414 394 610
Tom Zubrycki, Committee Member
It is expected that in 2015 a documentary film about Zacharia and the Hope Road project will be released. Tom Zubrycki, the renowned Australian filmmaker, will be a documenting the walk and events along the way as a part of a greater film project which will tell the interlinked stories of Zacharia’s personal history and the building of the school in the village of Abyei Achok.