A group of seven Cairns locals are getting their hiking boots and backpacks ready today as they prepare to begin their 10-day trek along the historic Kokoda track in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The group are trekking Kokoda to raise funds for North Queensland based charity, YWAM Medical Ships. YWAM Medical Ships deliver healthcare and training to remote areas of PNG via their medical ship, MV YWAM PNG, which is docked in Cairns today before she sails to the Southern region and Huon Gulf for her next deployment.
The trek will be operated by Getaway Trekking who have been operating charity treks for the last four years.
To date, the trekkers have raised almost $30,000 which will be allocated toward five local young people joining an outreach aboard the MV YWAM PNG next year, and the MV YWAM PNG’s onboard laboratory which will improve YWAM Medical Ships’ capacity to provide essential diagnostic services to rural areas.
YWAM Medical Ships Cairns Community Ambassador and Kokoda trekker, Ms Yolonde Entsch, said it was an honour to trek Kokoda for a cause she is passionate about.
“YWAM Medical Ships are doing incredible work in PNG – the MV YWAM PNG and her team 100+ of volunteers have capacity to deliver primary health care, dentistry, optical and diagnostic services to some of the country’s most remote areas.
“I volunteered aboard the MV YWAM PNG last year and was incredibly impacted by the hardships many people in remote areas of PNG endure on a daily basis.
“A patient that stuck with me was a young girl who was dying from suspected Tuberculosis and HIV. Her face has been running through my mind during my training over the last number of months, spurring me on to keep going.
“I’m very thankful for the local businesses and individuals who have cheered us on by generously giving toward this vital work,” said Ms Entsch.
YWAM Medical Ships Managing Director, Mr Ken Mulligan, said he was grateful for the trekkers fundraising efforts.
“The team have done an excellent job advocating for YWAM and PNG within the Cairns community over the last number of months.
“We appreciate their initiative, hard-work and all the time they have invested. Their efforts will directly impact thousands of lives – a big thank you to every person who has supported them,” said Mr Mulligan.
The trekkers gathered aboard the MV YWAM PNG yesterday morning for a send-off with the vessel’s crew before they flew out to PNG this morning.
Since the beginning of 2016, the MV YWAM PNG has treated over 30,000 patients in 171 villages.
Local Cairns supporters include Getaway Trekking and Adventures, Ports North, My Pathway, Industry One Coffee, Century Cranes, Grunt Media, Blackwoods, Forty Winks, Cairns Taipans, Seven News, Cairns Floral Supplies and Cornetts Supermarkets.