Suffolk teacher to walk across India to encourage people to ‘cherish their natural freedom’
A Suffolk teacher helping deprived children at an Indian “slum school” is embarking on the first recorded hike along the country’s second longest river.
John Massey, who moved from Framlingham to Mumbai with his family last year, said he had been shocked by the lack of open space in the city and hopes his hike will remind children back home to “cherish their natural freedom”.
The father-of-two will be raising funds for the Door Step School he volunteers with and The Brain Tumour Charity, in support of his friend Mat Bayfield, the Suffolk musician who has raised thousands after being diagnosed with an inoperable tumour.
Setting off on April 6, Mr Massey will follow the Godavari River, the second largest river in India, up to 1,500km across the breadth of the country. He hopes to complete the challenge in 45-60 days, setting himself a target of 30km a day, which he will walk from 5am to avoid the 40C heat.
While he has made basic preparations and will be equipped with medical supplies, Mr Massey says he plans to do the walk “unguided and unplanned”.
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Having founded a consultancy business, Playground Playtimes, which advises schools on activities, Mr Massey said he is “extremely fit” - and hopes his excursion will promote healthy attitudes among Suffolk children.
After 15 years living in Suffolk, Mr Massey said he had taken for granted the ability to walk through fields and parks or beaches and woodland.
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“By moving to Mumbai, all this was stripped away from me, and I don’t like it,” he added. “I think every human being should be allowed the natural freedom, of being able to walk, without the risk of being killed by traffic. So I want people that do have this natural freedom to enjoy it more and cherish and appreciate it.”
Mr Massey also wants to help the school where he volunteers with a “phonics programme” to teach English.
“I’ve been teaching 20 years and it’s brought it home to me why I wanted to get into teaching in the first place,” he added. “The poverty here is extreme but the children are so keen to learn.”
Mr Massey will be joined by others along the journey, including his wife Michelle, who used to work at Rushmere Hall Primary School and their two children Theo, 12, and Andrew, 10.
Visit Mr Massey’s blog at Playground Playtimes to find out more and to donate.