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:
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!
In the world of commerce a 46 percent drop in profit would lead to serious analysis of cause and effect. Volatile AGMs would see Directors seeking to reassure shareholders of strategies to arrest the decline.
This is in stark contrast to Government which is unaccountable for results because of the craft of its practitioners and the complexity of its bureaucratic machinery.
Since Australian Environment officials assumed control of the Kokoda trekking industry in 2009 trekker numbers have declined by almost 50 percent from 5621 in 2008 to 3033 in 2018 – despite an injection of more than $50 million of Aid funding.
The official response to the decline inevitably refers to an aircraft crash in 2009 and a couple of deaths around the same period. The reality today is that whenever the scene of the crash-site is pointed out to trekkers the usual response is ‘what crash?’
Prior to the discovery of the $3billion Kodu gold and copper deposit on the southern slopes of the Kokoda Trail near Mt Bini there was no interest in the area or its people from either the PNG or Australian Governments. The appearance of bulldozers from Frontier Resources in 2006 changed that. (more…)
As we kick off our 2019 Kokoda trekking season it’s time to show us your tat’s.
The best 5 tat’s will receive a bronze Kokoda lapel pin – send them through to Tracie at email@example.com
Network Kokoda is proud to announce 20 scholarships for students from Western Sydney University (WSU) to allow them to participate in a 12 day study program at the Iaowari High School on the Sogeri Plateau in Papua New Guinea.
The scholarship program is a collaborative project in partnership with the Hawkesbury Campus of Western Sydney University, Richmond Rotary, Network Kokoda and DFAT. It is being funded by the Australian Government’s new Colombo Plan and is the first project of its kind in Papua New Guinea under the plan.
The scholarship provides WSU students from all disciplines with the opportunity to travel to PNG and will showcase and highlight our shared wartime history and the legacy of our veterans. Students will connect with a diverse group of local organisations including Network Kokoda, Sogeri Community Resource Centre and Iarowari High School and work on local projects aligned to their area of interest and/or discipline for credit. These activities will include:
- Australian World War 2 history including a day trek on the Kokoda Trail and an overnight camp on Goldie River
- Cultural immersion activities, ‘Tok Pisin’ language lessons and community development workshops
- Site tour of Varirata National Park for bird watching and war monuments
- Week long internship/project with local partners: Sogeri Community Resource Centre, Iarowari High School and Network Kokoda
This new partnership is the culmination of a long association between Network Kokoda and Iaowari High School.
Our association with the school started with a chance meeting with a group of female teachers at the school in early 2010. They had all studied agriculture but the subject was not taught at the school because they could not secure their gardens and their produce ‘kept going missing’ soon after the seedlings had matured. (more…)
A long running defamation case brought against The Hon Charlie Lynn OAM OL and Adventure Kokoda by Wayne Wetherall and his trekking company, Kokoda Spirit, was struck out in the Maroochydore District Court last Friday.
The case involved false claims made by Wetherall and plagiarism of the Adventure Kokoda website by Kokoda Spirit.
The court found that Kokoda Spirit and Wetherall had failed to prosecute their claims for defamation against Adventure Kokoda and Charlie Lynn within a reasonable time.
They had tried to blame their solicitor but the court found that they were to blame as well as the solicitor. In throwing out their claims, the court declined to make a finding that Kokoda Spirit and Wetherall had established reasonable prospects of success in their suits for defamation.
Charlie Lynn and Adventure Kokoda were awarded their costs of the 7 year proceeding to be paid by Wayne Wetherall and Kokoda Spirit.