Travel Heroes / Travel Heroes Journal

Introducing Australia & New Zealand's Travel Hero


By Casey ONeill

Australia and New Zealand’s Travel Hero is…


Jackie’s cause, The Sandra Jones Centre, will receive a $5,000 donation from Columbus Direct. In recognition of her amazing work Jackie will also receive $500 personal spending money. 


In 2015 Jackie travelled around southern Africa to explore and catch up with friends. On her travels she visited The Sandra Jones Centre - a home for children in crisis and young girls who have been sexually abused. “I felt my heart land where it belongs”, she says.

In February this year Jackie returned to the Sandra Jones Centre as a volunteer. She has spent the year using her creativity, enthusiasm and genuine warmth to enrich the lives of the young people living there.

Jackie has come to think of the Sandra Jones Centre’s residents as a second family.

I took 12 of our older girls for a walk to the local super market. Arriving at the stall to buy my girls 12 lollipops the lady looked at me and asked "is this your family"? I kind of stood there for one very long second before it bursted out of me "yes, this is my family, I am their Aunty Jackie". I will never forget that moment of realising how much they mean to me.

It is clear that Auntie Jackie’s Sandra Jones family is as fond of her as she is of them.  

Just last Friday we brought home a little two week old baby girl who had been abandoned under a bush. She had been left overnight as her little body was covered in mosquito bites. We brought her back to our babies home where she is recovering soooo amazingly and has now been named.... Jackie Anne after her Aunty.

Jackie is flying home to New Zealand later this month but hopes to return to the centre one day. In the meantime she plans to continue fundraising and building awareness for the Sandra Jones Centre.


The Sandra Jones Centre in Bulawayo Zimbabwe provides a home for children in crisis and for girls who have been sexually abused. In the 14 years the centre has been open, they have housed over 1,200 young people.  

At the Sandra Jones centre children find more than just a place to stay. The centre looks after the health, welfare and training of those in their care. They help them to develop social skills, to build self-esteem and they equip them with the skills necessary to do well once they leave the home. Their aim is to create “socially responsible, spiritually balanced, active and confident young adults that are able to positively contribute to society.”


The $5,000 donation will go towards a new truck. The centre’s current truck is over 30 years old; it has a door that does not open, a broken speedometer, it smokes like steam engine and breaks down weekly. When the windows need to be opened, the team stops the vehicle, pops the hood and runs a length of wire directly from the car battery to the window switch. 

For the team at Sandra Jones a new truck is about more than just comfort. In the intense Zimbabwe heat travelling long distances on foot is intolerable, if not dangerous. To get the children in their care to school, to get pregnant girls to hospital when it is time to have their babies, and to check on the happiness and safety of their girls once they have returned to the community, reliable transport is an absolute must!


It would be difficult to be just like Jackie – from what we have seen she is completely unique! But, we would love you to become a Travel Hero in your own right.

One of the Travel Heroes main goals is to inspire future Travel Heroes. Helpful as a $5,000 donation can be – it pales in comparison to the contribution that Travel Heroes like Jackie and our other finalists have made to their causes. 

Whatever your next trip may be, we want to thank you for being a part of Travel Heroes. We are offering a 10% discount to all members of the Travel Hero’s community. You can redeem it by clicking here if you live in Australia, or here if you live in New Zealand.


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