BY PATRICK LINDSAY
WE WERE DEEPLY disappointed at recent ill-informed remarks made by ‘Disappointed Track Dweller’ in the Post-Courier about the use of the Kokoda Track Foundation’s funds and our decision to expand our programs to benefit the wider PNG community.
We normally don’t respond to people who do not give their name with their comments but these anonymous claims are so misguided we must set the record straight.
First, the writer has confused the Kokoda Track Foundation with the Kokoda Track Authority.
The Kokoda Track Foundation is an Australian-based not-for-profit organisation that has been helping communities along the Kokoda Track since 2003. All funding for our projects comes from donations raised entirely from the Australian public: individuals, corporations, trek operators, and philanthropists who all want to lend a hand to our nearest neighbour. We don’t receive any funds from trekking fees.
On the other hand, the Kokoda Track Authority is a PNG local government Special Purpose Authority, charged with administering trekking operations along the Track. Its funding comes from fees paid by trekkers.
Second, the writer has failed to do his homework.
This year our Foundation will have 300 students on scholarships, all of whom come from families from the Kokoda Track catchment area. We award these primary, secondary and tertiary scholarships on the basis of the following strict selection criteria: (1) academic merit; (2) gender equality; (3) family need; and (4) residence in the Koiari/Orokaiva catchment area.
The Foundation also supports 35 elementary, primary, and secondary schools with textbooks, library books and stationary. We are currently delivering classroom furniture to many of these schools, as well as hospital beds to aid posts, health centres and hospitals. We fund teacher and health worker training, provide medicines to aid posts and hospitals and we underwrote the Northern Province Seed Restoration Program in response to Cyclone Guba. All of these schools and activities are in the Kokoda catchment area.
Late last year our Foundation won a grant from The Trust Company, a leading Australian trustee company administering the estate of the late Fred P. Archer, that allowed us to establish the Archer Leadership Scholars Program, our first program available to students throughout PNG.
Under the scholarships, each year six outstanding students in their final year of tertiary studies will receive a year-long program of intensive leadership and mentoring activities in PNG and Australia. The program aims to develop leadership skills and abilities through mentoring, community development placements, work experience, tuition and boarding support, resource support, and an exchange program to Australia.
Fred Archer was an Australian who spent 54 years in PNG, a planter, businessman, WWII Coast Watcher and philanthropist. It was his dream to help PNG find its next generation of leaders. Our Foundation has always shared this goal.
As our Foundation grows, we look to expand our programs throughout the Track catchment area and to other needy communities across the country so we can make real differences in the lives of Papua New Guineans.
Patrick Lindsay is Chairman of the Kokoda Track Foundation
The Kokoda Track Foundation welcomes enquiries about any of its programs in education, health, community development, and microbusiness in PNG. Please contact the Foundation’s executive director, Dr Genevieve Nelson on +61 2 9252 2992 or firstname.lastname@example.org