Apology to Kokoda Trail Villagers

In recent years the academics have discovered New Guinea. Grave, plump, portentous, they swarm north in their hundreds each winter, generally finishing somewhere near Goroka in the Eastern Highlands where at times they become so numerous that every bush and stone seems to conceal a lurking bureaucrat or anthropologist.  After a few weeks or a few months they return home to prepare brisk solutions for all the problems which beset the land.  Too often they see New Guinea coldly as an exercise in nation-building to be carried out as quickly as possible, with one eye on the taxpayer at home and the other on some ranting demagogue in the United Nations”.
Keith Wiley. Assignment New Guinea. 1965

Olgeta,

We met 28 years ago when you welcomed me into your villages on my first trek with Alex Rama in 1991. At the time you told me that few people trekked across the trail – probably less than 100 each year – and you only made a few kina selling your vegetables at markets.

The following year Paul Keating put Kokoda on the map when he became the first Australian Prime Minister to visit the plateau since the war. He was moved by the experience and his words resonated throughout Australia.

The first 20 trekkers I led across the trail to honour the 50th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign in 1992 were also moved by the significance of the occasion; the traditional welcomes you provided; and the support of your guides and carriers.

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Network Kokoda – Honouring their Legacy along the Trail

Network Kokoda was established by Adventure Kokoda who specialise in the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign. Their trek leaders have a combined total of 160 years professional military experience ranging from the Vietnam war to Iraq and Afghanistan. They have worn the uniform and are committed to the legacy of our Kokoda military heritage.

Our community projects across the Kokoda Trail continue to improve the livelihoods of the  subsistence villages who live along it.

Our objective, as the major philanthropic organization on the trail today, is to earn the respect of local landowners who are the custodians of land sacred to our shared wartime heritage.

We exist to honour the legacy of our Kokoda veterans the PNG wartime carriers.

As a result we have a different approach to normal civilian NGOs in PNG in that we use our networks to establish local partnerships. We don’t hand out funds on behalf of Government or other well-intentioned individuals as this inevitably leads to an attitude of Aid dependency.

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Kokoda 4 Schools

Adventure Kokoda Leadership Plus 4 Schools Program

  • Synopsis
  • Learning Outcomes
  • Essential Due Diligence Checks for School Principals
  • Why Adventure Kokoda
  • Trek Leaders
  • Testimonials

Synopsis

Our ‘Kokoda Leadership Plus 4 Schools Program‘ is based on the historical adversity of the Kokoda campaign. It’s not about victory or defeat – it’s about the ability of the human spirit to conquer adversity. It’s about understanding that their legacy is our liberty. It’s about the development of personal leadership.

‘If you want to discover new horizons you must be prepared to lose sight of land’. The Dalai Lama

Our Leadership Plus 4 Schools program does just that as students embark on a journey to the ‘land of the unexpected‘ – ‘a land with a thousand cultures’ represented by a ‘Parliament of a Thousand Tribes.

Papua New Guinea is also our closest neighbour; our former mandated territory; our wartime ally; and our fellow Commonwealth of Nations member.

Students will be supported by, work with and learn about two of the 850 cultural groups that comprise the island nation – the Koiari and the Orokaiva.

They will be led by experienced army veterans who have a combined total of 160 years professional military experience in combat zones from Vietnam, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan as well as peacekeeping duties around the globe. Their leadership text-book is based on their own personal experiences – and they know how to handle emergencies in remote areas.

OurKokoda leadership Plus Program’ is based on our collective wartime experiences and the evolution of Australian leadership from Gallipoli, where we fought for Britain and lost – to Kokoda where we fought for Australia, and won!

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Angels still exist in PNG

Early this year we were alerted to the plight of a 14-year old Kokoda schoolgirl who needed a a lifesaving heart operation – one that had to be performed overseas due to the medical complexity of her condition.

‘Our daughter’s health is our priority and the further delay of her operation has been a concern for us which is becoming desperate, thereby resulting in our plea for your assistance’ wrote Mrs Doreen Dumu, a nurse at the Kokoda Hospital on 29 January 2019.

Her daughter, Freda, has a ‘tetralogy Fallot‘ which is a serious congenital heart defect. The surgery she requires is not available in PNG and the cost of the operation and rehabilitation in Australia was in excess of $100,000.

We contacted the PNG Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) and suggested that they get every trek operator to submit the name and contact details of each of the trekkers they would be leading across the trail during the Anzac period – a practice that should have been put in place a decade ago to capture the contact details of the 50,000 Australians who have trekked Kokoda since then. Unfortunately numerous requests to establish such a database for fundraising purposes over the years have been ignored.

Their refusal to assist Freda was perplexing in view of an earlier decision by their Acting CEO to ‘donate’ $150,000 to an Australian NGO to hand-out as ‘educational supplements‘ to local villagers on and beyond the Kokoda Trail. Calls for those funds to be reimbursed have been ignored.

We also sought assistance from a close friend and supporter, Jeff Hudson, a Director of the Children’s First Foundation. Jeff worked tirelessly to help ‘create the miracle‘ for Freda but as it transpired it was beyond their resources.

We then tried Rotary Oceana Medical Aid for Children (ROMAC). They were also keen to assist but there seemed to be an issue with Children’s Hospitals in NSW accepting patients from the Pacific.

We wrote to the Minister for Health to see if he could check it out on our behalf but didn’t receive a response.

We also arranged for Emily Kleing from the Oro Community Development Project to assist us with any liaison necessary as she is now residing in Port Moresby, We had previously worked with Emily to help build a TB Isolation Ward at the Popondetta Hospital,

We then published a Facebook post to ‘help reverse the death sentence for a 14 year-old Kokoda schoolgirl’ and invited trekkers to contact the KTA to support our fundraising efforts but they continued to ignore her plight.

Just as we neared the edge of desperation an ‘Angel’ emerged from PNG:

Dear Charlie,
I am so very pleased to inform you that Pastor Dr Kirk head of  our Paediatric cardiology partners “ For Hearts and Souls” will be organizing free surgery for Freda in San Antonio, Texas USA.!! 
Dr Kirk and team have successfully provided minimal invasive approach to repairing congenital heart defect for 13 PNG children at our PIH cath lab and arranged treatment for 2 very complicated children at the Mayo clinic in the US. 
Freda‘s family prayers ensured  that I read your post on FB ( I don’t do FB regularly anymore) and was able to contact Dr Kirk before he and his team left  Moresby this afternoon, upon  completion of their second mission at PIH. 
We will contact the patient and you once we receive more information from US. 
I trust the Kokoda track foundation will be able support the travel expenses for the girl and a guardian.  
FB has received bad press recently for invasion if privacy and manipulations etc but I am glad it connected us to help this girl  and hopefully save her life!
God bless
Dr Amyna

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