Official Launch of the Sirinumu Dam Women’s Association

We were proud to host the official launch of the Sirinumu Dam Women’s Association at our Network Kokoda Community Learning Centre on 14 April 2016.

This dynamic group is led by Mrs Kila Jonah, one of the most inspirational women I have met over my 26 year involvement in PNG – humble, intelligent and strong – as you can see from her speech below.

The official guests at the opening included:

  1. The Hon Kila Haoda:                       Governor of Central Province
  2. The Hon Peter Namea Isoaimo:    Member for Kairuku Hiri
  3. The Hon Charlie Lynn OL:             Chairman, Network Kokoda PNG
  4. Mr Ogi David:                                    President, Koiari Local Level Government
  5. Mr Avana Korohi:                             Ward 11 Councillor
  6. Mr Geno Waruna:                             Ward 12 Councillor
  7. Mr Kareki Karimu:                            Ward 13 Councillor
  8. Mrs Veva Tom:                                   Member for Central Province Womens Representative
  9. Mrs Mauri Bavea:                              President, Rigo Women in Agriculture
  10. Pastor Oscar:                                      Nafoka SDA Church
  11. Rev Avoa Homoka:                           Bovedabu United Church
  12. Miss Nancy Kwarame:                     Manager for Community Services – PNG Power
  13. Warren Bartlett:                                Sogeri Enterprises
  14. Oggie Erehe:                                       Network Kokoda PNG

Traditional dances were conducted by student groups from local high schools at Sogeri. (more…)

Agriculture – the gateway to community development

Kokoda Anzac 2011 032One of the major challenges we have faced over the years is getting individuals and clans to work together.  This is understandable in a country where more than 80 per cent of the population rely on subsistence agriculture and have limited educational opportunities.

Informal research at the boarding schools we support on the Sogeri Plateau has revealed that students do not regard agriculture as a preferred subject – they see it as a subsistence necessity. They prefer subjects that will enhance their employment opportunities in Port Moresby.

A major impediment to agricultural development in remote villages along the Kokoda Trail is limited access to markets. When we first became engaged with the area in the early 1990s Milne Bay Air since rebadged to Airlines PNG) used to operate a thrice weekly ‘milk-run’ between Port Moresby-Menari-Efogi-Kagi-Kokoda to transport local produce to markets in the nation’s capital. Village airfields were crowded with people and produce on the scheduled flight days.

Mining and gas developments over the past decade have diverted PNG airlines towards meeting the more lucrative demands of resource industries.  Kokoda Trail villagers have therefore reverted to subsistence crops to meet the needs of their local clans.

The Sogeri area used to be the food bowl for our troops in Port Moresby during the war. It has great potential to meet a greater share of the increasing demand in the National Capital tomorrow if local communities can be encouraged to work together. (more…)

Network Kokoda: Honouring their Legacy

NK LogoIn 2008 Adventure Kokoda funded the establishment of Network Kokoda as a not-for-profit charity to honour the legacy of our Kokoda veterans and the PNG Wartime Carriers. Network Kokoda has since been approved as a Developing Country Relief Fund which provides allowable taxation deductions for donors.

We subscribe to the principles developed by the PNG Department of Community Development which, according to former Minister, Dame Carol Kidu DBE, are based on local communities working together to develop sustainable initiatives which generate income to invest in their future.

Network Kokoda initially engaged the services of Mr Sandy Lawson BSc (Agric) as a consultant to engage local community leaders in the Sogeri area and report on a proposal to develop Agricultural Learning Development Centres in the area. Mr Lawson has more than 25 years’ experience in agriculture in PNG and is fluent in both Motu and Tok Pisin.

As a result of Mr Lawson’s recommendation Network Kokoda engaged a young graduate of the Popondetta Agricultural College, Mr Oggie Erehe as a Field Manager. Mr Erehe was born in Kokoda and has a diploma in Tropical Agriculture from the University of Natural Resources and Environment in Popondetta. Network Kokoda are funding his ongoing studies to allow him to obtain his degree in Tropical Agriculture through the University of Technology in Lae.

The Australian Board is chaired by Brigadier Phil McNamara OAM (Ret).  The Executive Officer is Lieutenant Colonel Rowan Tracey (Ret).  Both served as officers with the Pacific Islands Regiment in Papua New Guinea during their army careers and are fluent in Tok Pisin.

The PNG Board is chaired by The Hon Charlie Lynn OL.  The Board of Directors includes The Hon Dame Carol Kidu DBE and Marianna Ellingson, Secretary to the PNG Minister’s Office of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

The most challenging task in the development of village learning centres is to encourage local people, clans and communities to work together. The initial phase involves much discussion, many meetings, trust, mutual obligation, partnerships and a path to local ownership.

We believe agriculture is the most effective gateway to community development along the Kokoda Trail.  We therefore aim to change the subsistence mindset of villagers to one of business entrepreneurship and have established a partnership with the Sogeri National High School and Iaowari High School to establish market gardens at each school to improve the nutrition of boarding students and to demonstrate the economic benefits of marketing produce to local communities. (more…)

Our Kokoda Reunion Dinners . . .

76830_10151190135009761_270743778_nOur Kokoda Reunion Dinners offer a chance for our trek groups to get together and re-kindle the mateships established on the trail.  They also offer an opportunity for us to salute our dwindling number of Kokoda veterans and to raise some funds to assist our philanthropic endeavours in Papua New Guinea.

Our next dinner, the 5th annual ‘Salute to the 39 will be hosted by Gary Blackwood MP at Parliament House in Melbourne on Friday, 28th March at 6.30 PM. This is our 5th annual dinner in the magnificent Queens Room at Parliament House.

The cost is $165 per person for a sumptious 3-course meal with beer and wine.  We can book tables of 10 for trek groups as required.

Gary and intrepid trekker, Bernie Rowell, have hosted a number of these functions where we try to ensure there is a Kokoda veteran at each table. (more…)