42-day trek across Australia to raise funds for South Sudan school

A man who was separated from his family in South Sudan's civil war has walked almost 1000km across Australia to raise money to build a school for girls.

Zacharia Mawat Machiek wanted to help disadvantaged girls in his home country, where two-thirds of the population cannot read or write.

After walking the more than 600 miles across New South Wales to Sydney in 42 days, he said: “Education is the only way we can have peace. Education is the only way we can accept each other as equal.”

Zacharia is one of the “lost boys” of South Sudan who as a child was separated from his family, fled the civil war and became a refugee.

He moved to Australia in 2001 and now he wants to help his former community in South Sudan by building a primary school in his village.

Zacharia set up a fund-raising campaign called Hope Road – which is run by volunteer group South Sudan Orphan Education – to achieve that, revisited his old village last year to start the project.

He said: “The people there have nothing. Schooling of children, when it occurs, is conducted under the trees by volunteers.”

During his long walk, Zacharia and fellow walker Janey Dyne met ordinary Australians and took time out to explain the plight of people in South Sudan.

A documentary film is being made about the school project. Back To Ground Zero, by film maker Tom Zubrycki, follows Zacharia and wife Ayuen as they visit his former village and then embark on his trek.

You can learn more about the Hope Road project and donate at its Facebook page.