Teacher off to Africa to help poor children

Jessica Barnard, Lucy Barnard and Sammy Chard at the start of the sponsored Escape and Evade challenge
Jessica Barnard, Lucy Barnard and Sammy Chard at the start of the sponsored Escape and Evade challenge

A SHOREHAM teacher is heading to South Africa to help transform the lives of families affected by disease, poverty and injustice.

Jessica Barnard will be leading a team for Zoë-life, an organisation based in Durban, and working alongside other volunteers from the UK and South Africa.

Miss Barnard, of Crown Road, said: “This is part of International Citizen Service, which brings young people together to fight poverty and make a difference where it is needed the most.

“The goal of Zoë-life is to transform the lives of children, vulnerable families and communities.

“I will be volunteering to make a difference in a difficult community with vulnerable children and women.”

Miss Barnard will be visiting children and families to see what help they need and developing health campaigns for schools, organisations and communities.

She will be going into schools to run assemblies and lessons about various topics that affect their lives and sharing her skills with people in the organisation.

The 10-week placement is part of a project organised by Tearfund and Miss Barnard, who was the year-five teacher at Aldrington Primary School in Hove, is busy raising money for the charity.

Along with her friend Sammy Chard and sister Lucy Barnard, she spent three days last week on a sponsored Escape and Evade challenge to travel as far away from home as possible and back in 55 hours, without spending any money on transport, food or accommodation.

They were also set several challenges on the way, such as sharing free food with a homeless person, learning a trick from a skateboarder and taking a photo with someone in fancy dress.

“We managed to travel 737 miles for free, raise £105 on the journey, and were provided with food for the duration,” said Miss Barnard.

“We were completely surprised by people’s generosity, kindness and charitable giving.”

Two particular people stood out, she added, one of them a Stagecoach manager in Bedford who organised bus travel from Cambridge to Peterborough.

“We were also lost for words when we were looking for accommodation for the night in Peterborough,” she said.

All the hotels in a five-mile radius were booked but Travelodge staff allowed the trio to stay in the reception area until their coach arrived at 2am. Another guest gave them pizza and offered his room. When that was declined, he gave them £70 instead, to cover any travel.

The friends set off from Portslade railway station on July 28. They took the bus to Brighton then the train to Bedford. Having travelled by bus and coach to Liverpool Street in London, they walked to Paddington for a tube to Waterloo. Trains took them to Exeter, Taunton and Bristol before the return trip was made by coach to London and then train to Portslade.

Before Miss Barnard completed her teacher training at Southampton University, she took a year out to work and travel.

“One of the best years,” she said. “I just love exploring the world and seeing God’s creation.”

Visit www.justgiving.com/Jessica-Grace to make a donation.