The Kokoda Track Foundation
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The Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF) is an Australian philanthropic organisation which was founded in 2003. The aim of this organisation is to repay the selfless help given by the Papua-New Guineans (familiarly known as the "Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels") during World War II. The Foundation is giving back to the people along the track, by helping them to improve their current lives, and therefore, the lives of their future generations. As it is stated on the Kokoda Track Foundation's website: "They were there for us in our darkest hours... now it's our turn to lend a hand"
History of the Kokoda Track Foundation
The Foundation is an Australian not-for-profit organisation that works with the communities living along and around the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Established in 2003, the Foundation initially started by supporting young children in PNG on school scholarships to help them get an education they otherwise would not be able to access. Over the years, the Foundation adopted a much more holistic approach and now works across a wide range of areas to ensure that families and children are healthy, educated and able to improve their lives and futures. The Chairman of the KTF is Patrick Lindsay and Dr Genevieve Nelson is the Executive Director of the foundation. Some active board members include Yahoo Serious and Bill James (co-founder of Flight Centre).
To work to improve the wellbeing and futures of the people of Papua New Guinea by assisting with education and healthcare, by respecting customs and environment, by improving livelihoods, by keeping the story of Kokoda alive, and by identifying and fostering the next generation of leaders.
KTF's Work in Papua New Guinea
The foundation currently works in 4 mains areas of education, health, community development and micro-business. The Kokoda Track Foundation strives to be a trusted, caring and creative organisation contributing to a flourishing Papua New Guinea, whose people enjoy liberty through unfettered access to healthcare, education and human rights and thrive as a respected nation. In 2009, Dr Genevieve Nelson became the first executive director of the foundation.
Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel Scholarships
In 2014, the Foundation is supporting over 450 elementary, primary, secondary and tertiary students on Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel Scholarships. The scholarships cover students’ tuition fees, educational resources and uniform, food, and boarding (where applicable). Scholarships are awarded to students for the rest of their schooling and make an enormous difference to families struggling to pay expensive school fees in PNG.
The Kokoda College will be a state-of-the-art training facility based in remote Kou Kou village. It will offer courses in Elementary & Primary Teaching and Community Health Work. There is a lack of training facilities throughout PNG in rural areas and the Kokoda College is already becoming a beacon of hope for the region and the nation.
Elementary and Primary Teacher Training
Local primary and elementary teachers are urgently needed for schools situated in many of the Kokoda Track communities. In partnership with the PNG Education authorities, the Foundation has trained 56 elementary teachers in the past via its Certificate of Elementary Teaching, and is also supporting some members of the communities along the track to train as primary teachers via the PNG Diploma of Primary Teaching. These teachers will return to their home villages to operate the schools after they have graduated from the course.
School Resource and Infrastructure Support
In 2014, KTF continues to support 43 elementary, primary and secondary schools with vital educational resources and infrastructure support. Each of these schools are supported with a range of resources including textbooks and library books, stationeries, teacher resources, furniture, and general maintenance for classrooms.
Archer Leadership Scholars Program
This year, the Foundation is also continuing its Archer Leadership Scholars program. Funded by the Fred P. Archer Charitable Trust, this exciting scholarship is the first of its kind in PNG. It is awarded annually to six exceptional tertiary students from across PNG who have demonstrated exceptional academic abilities, promising leadership skills and a desire to go on to future leadership roles in PNG.
The Kokoda Track Foundation is currently supporting nine students from villages along the Kokoda Track to train as Community Health Workers at various schools of nursing throughout the country. Once qualified, these community members return to their home village and operate the local aid post. The foundation funds the salaries of Community Health Workers along the Track to ensure that aid posts and health centres remain open and health services are available to local villagers. The foundation also funds and delivers vital drugs and medical resources to aid posts and health centres in the Kokoda Track catchment area including the Kokoda Memorial Hospital.
This year the foundation is continuing the Pawa Givim Meri project in eleven villages along the Kokoda Track. Via Pawa Givim Meri, small business workshops, cooking classes, and literacy training are run with women's groups in villages, assisting them to earn an income from the trekking industry. The women are establishing permanent shop fronts from which they can sell their food and products like solar lights to passing trekkers.
Community Development Programs
Lighting Up The Track
The Kokoda Track Foundation delivers solar lights – to date this has been a total of 4,500 lights - one for every adult along the track! Solar lighting has enormous benefits for communities and helps to alleviate poverty, improve health, and enhance educational opportunities for young children. Communities have been given a vital source of light that is changing lives.
The foundation has responded to disasters including flooding and cyclones in the volatile Oro Province. In January last year, KTF responded to severe flooding that submerged the food gardens of thousands of villagers. KTF arranged the delivery of rice and tinned fish to hundreds of villages during the crucial periods when their food gardens were submerged and couldn't be accessed.
Immediately following the formation of the Kokoda Track Foundation, KTF funded and prepared a Strategic Plan for Tourism for the Kokoda Track. The plan focuses on the environmental, economic, social and cultural aspects of tourism development. KTF now partners with key groups to ensure appropriate implementation of the plan and to ensure that local communities benefit from the growing trekking industry.