Kokoda Trail expert Charlie Lynn talks about the paradox of PNG and why non-for-profit Network Kokoda has such an important role to play.
"Papua New Guinea is a contradiction – a land of immense natural wealth that sits at the bottom of almost every international index for human development.
One writer observed it is a place where paradox prevails: ‘a land where arse grass and penis gourds mix with Hugo Boss suits and Rolex watches – where some men mine the hearts of volcanos in search of gold while others worship the spirits of ancestral crocodiles – where ferociously decorated warriors battle over women, land and pigs – where Asian loggers plunder ancient forests alongside Christian missionaries harvesting souls – and where Australian Government bureaucrats try to impose their antipodean canons on cultures where blood and bribery are thicker than holy water’.
It is a land of a thousand cultures – a Parliament of a thousand tribes – the land of the unexpected which is easily exploited by foreign miners and Asian loggers with deep wallets.
In recent years a more insidious form of exploitation has emerged with subsistence villagers along the Kokoda Trail. Local guides and carriers are vulnerable because they are desperate for work and have no other source of income. There are increasing reports of them being overloaded, underpaid and poorly equipped which is contrary to the spirit of Kokoda."
Network Kokoda honours the war time legacy of our Kokoda veterans and the PNG wartime carriers through agriculture, education, health and leadership initiatives by partnering with the villagers along the Kokoda Trail.
The organisation subscribes to the principles developed by the PNG Department of Community Development which is based on local communities working together to develop sustainable initiatives which generate income to invest in their future.