Our most long term relationships are with the people of PNG and in particular the villages of Buna, Gona and Sanananda. Staff and clients of GTA have been regular and welcome visitors to these villages for the 15 years we have been in operation.
We love interacting with the kids at the Buna school, and have been able to provide some much needed materials for their use. Australian schools often have books that have are no longer required, and the kids at Buna have been the happy recipients of many of these, and other materials necessary for day to day activities at school.
In addition, we have assisted both financially and physically with other village infrastructure works in Buna, and continue to work with village representatives and through the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF). GTA donates $25 per trekker booking to the KTF, to be invested in appropriate projects for their community.
Donating funds is only one way we support these villages. As the only ongoing employer in the region, we take our responsibility to this wonderful community very seriously. With our encouragement, the team have created a committee to select porter teams for each trek. Selections are based not only on performance on the track – ability to carry weight, approach to customer service, teamwork and leadership skills, etc – but contribution to the community.
On many occasions young men who have lost their way have been encouraged to join the trekking team, and have benefited from lessons learned on the track: ability to take instruction, teamwork, fitness, customer service and others. In addition, they learn that our clients are genuinely interested in learning about them and their culture, and conversely, that there is much for them to learn about the world outside their village.
We are delighted with our team’s enthusiasm for learning, and endeavor to provide personal development opportunities when we can. First aid and food management training are only two areas, and recipients of training are expected to bring their new skills back into the village community.
Our team in their new uniforms recently had the pleasure of meeting the Australian Governor General at Isurava Memorial on Anzac Day – how excited they were chatting with such a warm and engaging woman who was genuinely interested to hear what they had to say.