Keeping the Spirit of Kokoda Alive
Sydney, Australia: In partnership with the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby, the Kokoda Track Foundation recently brought together two Papua New Guinean authors and an artist with Papua New Guinean and Australian students in Kou Kou village, PNG, to create a commemorative children’s book.
Held at KTF’s Kokoda College in the first week of July, renowned artist Jeffry Feeger and authors Iriani Wanma and Rashmii Bell delivered the workshop to 85 students from Kokoda Primary School and Melbourne’s Haileybury College. The event acted as an important embodiment of KTF’s larger strategic goal of ‘keeping the spirit of Kokoda alive’. The workshop marks the first phase in the production of the children’s book, intended to recognize the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda Campaign.
This opportunity placed Papua New Guinean and Australian students side by side to participate in an interactive workshop including a live painting demonstration, creating illustrations, sharing information and engaging in both group and individual reflections.
Students contemplated the legacy of the brave Australian and Papua New Guinean men, women and children who contributed to the war effort, and how that legacy lives on today. The discussion also emphasized the importance of passing down the story of the Kokoda Campaign to younger generations.
“The Kokoda 75 Children’s Book will ensure that the legendary stories of heroism and mateship from the Kokoda Campaign live on through the perpetual bond that exists between Australia and Papua New Guinea,” said KTF CEO Genevieve Nelson.
Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis said the book was an inspiring project and one of the many ways the High Commission was marking the 75th anniversary of the World War II campaigns in PNG.
“An important part of this has meant giving equal weight to commemorating Papua New Guinea’s experience of the war. They are stories that should be told to every Australian and Papua New Guinean schoolchild, and I am pleased that we have been able to contribute to this wonderful initiative,” Mr Davis said.
The book will convey students’ reflections, narration and artwork depicting the courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice of the Australians and Papua New Guineans that bravely aided and fought alongside each other to protect the land and people of their neighbouring nations during World War II.
The book will be launched in November to coincide with the Kokoda Day celebrations. Over two thousand copies will be distributed along the Track to various schools and villages to raise awareness of the region’s history and to emphasise the strong ongoing relationship between Australia and PNG. The books will also be sold in Australia, with all proceeds being directed back into the continued printing and distribution of the book.
About KTF: The Kokoda Track Foundation is an Australian aid organization providing innovative and sustainable solutions in education, health, livelihoods and leaderships to Australia’s nearest neighbor, Papua New Guinea. Key projects include teacher training, health infrastructure, micro businesses, and our leadership program, all of which are aimed at helping PNG to thrive as a respected nation in the Asia Pacific Region.