Scout on track to promote Kokoda

National, Normal



JOHN Daire of Ebei village is just one of 60 local volunteers who are improving health services for the people living along PNG’s famous Kokoda Track. Mr Daire completed a training course last June and now travels to villages in and around Kokoda, teaching the locals how they could look after themselves better. “People still blame illness on sorcery,” he said. “They often don’t have the courage to seek help. Educating them on signs  and symptoms helps change their behaviour.” The six-week course which John completed was organised under AusAID’s Kokoda development programme. The course trains local villagers as volunteers to help the people along the Kokoda Track corridor to better look after their health, coordinate health activities, and link villages with health providers. The final group of volunteers graduated recently in Sogeri, which followed courses in Efogi in Nov 2008 and Kokoda last June and now sees 60 volunteers plying their new health skills along the track. Mr Daire mastered first aid techniques quickly, however, examining pregnant patients made him a little nervous. “In our culture men are not allowed to deliver babies, but our services were needed so we were received well by the villages. “To save a life is more important than our beliefs, that’s how I see it.” The six hour return walk from his village to the Kokoda District Health centre is just a routine for the father of three. “I don’t think about the walk, for me it’s the people in more remote areas that are not so lucky in accessing health care.” Mr Daire’s quietly spoken passion for improving community standards saw him elected by his peers as Kokoda Coordinator of the volunteer programme. He believes that education will sustain the programme and he makes sure to pass his skills and knowledge to his wife for the benefit of their children. “For years people have been suffering, but the Kokoda Development Programme is doing something good and people are starting to take action.” “Other leaders are now approaching us to educate their villages.”