Life in the third world has never been easy. Access to health care, sanitation, education and general safety has been a constant battle for many. The Coronavirus pandemic has added a whole new layer of health management to an already underprivileged nation.

More than a decade ago, the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF) was established – an international aid and development organisation which aims to improve the lives and futures of Papua New Guineans. In 2014, UOW alumnus Mike Nelson joined the KTF as Chief Operating Officer, inspired by his sister Genevieve Nelson who is one of the organisation’s co-founding directors and CEO.

KTF works in partnership with communities, government and other partners to design, deliver and evaluate effective development activities in the areas of education, health, leadership, livelihoods and equality.

As part of the organisation’s Teach for Tomorrow project, more than 3,600 elementary school teachers have been trained across 14 provinces, keeping more than 136,000 children in school. The Project also delivers specialised in-service and upskilling on critical issues including gender based violence, child protection and inclusive education.

In 2019, under KTF’s PNG Schools Project, they supported 35 schools and more than 3,500 students with the provision of teachers, resources and building maintenance including WATSAN and solar infrastructure.

Additionally, KTF’s health program has supported more than 40,000 people to access primary health care such as immunisations for infants and children and pre and post-natal care, including supervised deliveries for mothers.

Determined to keep making a difference and with an innate passion for international development, Mike Nelson managed to squeeze in three trips to PNG in the lead up to the COVID-19 pandemic, where he was able to make some valuable progress with his local teams overseeing these programs.

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