by Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby
The Kokoda Track continues to be an attraction in PNG.
A group of 15 young men and women from Youth with a Mission (YWAM) in Australia took on the challenge of a 96km journey, spending a total of 37 days on the track.
YWAM is largely known in PNG for their health charity work and this marked the first time they sent a team to take on the historic track. This could be the longest time a group or individual has spent on the famous track.
It was a total of nearly 6 weeks. The group arrived in Port Moresby, with some members physically tired and others bruised, but spiritually empowered. The group was welcomed with shouts of “ORO! ORO!” from their hosts at the Bert Brown Memorial Church in Hohola.
The fifteen young men and women from YWAM had broken into two groups. One group flew to Kokoda and started their journey from there. The other group walked from Owens Corner near Port Moresby and met at Efogi, located at the border of Central and Oro province.
Kara Medlock is the team leader of the YWAM group. She described her experience as “life changing” and “amazing.”
“For me, just having the modern day fuzzy wuzzy angels as our trekking guides, they have changed my life. Their commitment, their excellence, their intelligence.”
While it was definitely a different experience for the Australians, the porters who escorted the two groups along the track found the experience to be fulfilling as well. Jack Touno has been providing porter services for decades now. He says this experience is quite special for him because the trekkers had time to spend with people from communities along the track.
“Ol disla tim wokabaut, na five-six days stap wantaim ol manmeri lo ples. Ol even wokim gaden, digim kaukau na ol filim how ol manmeri lo ples i filim.” [This team not only walked; they spent five-six days with people in their villages. They went to the gardens, dug up sweet potatoes and felt how the people felt. They had a real community experience].
Wilford, who has done the Kokoda Track over 40 times already, said this was a very different experience.
“Sampla trekking save kamap lo seven deis o nine deis tasol, disla wantaim ol misinari em 37 deis,” Wilford said. [Trekkers usually spend seven to nine days but this group of missionaries spent 37 days, which was a different experience for us].
According to Wilford, a critical time came when the group ran out of supplies. He was concerned that the visitors would not be able to adapt to eating local food. However, that concern was short-lived when everything that was cooked that day the local way was eaten.
Peter is one of two youths from the Bert Brown Memorial Church at Hohola who was part of the team. His church hosted the YWAM group during their stay in PNG.
It’s a very difficult walk, he said, but people living along the trek have a harder time.
“Igat sevises olsem helt na edukesen, but sampla hap, ino gat nes na tisa. Em sampla samting gavaman iken lukluk lo em,”he said. [There are services such as health and education, but there are places with no nurses or teachers. Those are some things the government must address].