We established Network Kokoda as a philanthropic not-for-profit company to support our workers, their families and the villagers who live and work along the Kokoda Trail through sustainable initiatives.
This section provides details of our work in these areas over the past decade.
After leading treks across the trail for more than 25 years we have concluded that PNG is a difficult place to help. It is blessed with an abundance of natural resources but cursed with endemic corruption, the complexities of ancient cultural differences and geographic isolation. One observer summarised the paradox of PNG today:
‘PNG’s fundamental nature is elusive, at least to foreigners. The small, culturally diverse population accounts for more than eight hundred and fifty of the six thousand or so existing human languages. Some clans still live among the bones of their ancestors, cloistered in isolated mountain valleys, in hamlets clinging to coastal fringes or scattered along the banks of slothful rivers. Many people live in shantytowns that hug the bounds of the young nation’s callow, betel nut-spit splattered cities.
‘Paradox prevails. It is a land where arse-grass and penis gourds mix with Hugo Boss suits and Rolex watches; where some men mine the hearts of volcanoes for gold, while others worship the spirits of ancestral crocodiles. It is a place where ferociously decorated warriors battle over women, land and pigs, with stout bows and homemade shotguns; where Asian loggers plunder ancient forests alongside Christian missionaries harvesting souls, and where Australian government bureaucrats try to impose their antipodean canons upon a culture where blood and bribery are thicker than holy water.‘
Since independence there has been little improvement in social indicators despite the massive influx of foreign aid – more than $20 billion from Australia alone. It is widely acknowledged that a significant amount of untied foreign aid has facilitated corruption rather than ameliorate it.
Our experiences and observations over the years has led us to conclude that the most effective way of villager communities help meet their subsistence needs; providing them with economic opportunities – and hope!
These needs are based on local agriculture; access to a health clinic; education; and income earning opportunities.
We therefore established Network Kokoda as a philanthropic not-for-profit company to assist in these areas.