It’s not every day that you are afforded the ability experience something so lifechanging, that you want it to stay with you forever.
It’s not every day that you are afforded the chance to experience, if only for a moment, the hardships that people experience each and every day of their lives.
And it’s not every day that you are able to give back to those very people and try to help, even if only in a small way, them on their journey through life.
For a select group of Cronulla Sharks representatives though, this became a reality.
Departing for the Kokoda Track on Monday, October 18, a group of men began their journey from Kingsford Smith Airport, Sydney, bound for the Papua New Guinea capital of Port Moresby.
From here they would venture to one of the most symbolic locations in not only Australian wartime history however a place etched in the overall narrative of our great nation; the Kokoda Track.
“It was something I’ll never forget,” said Sharks hooker Jayden Brailey.
“Mentally and physically, Kokoda was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. I also took a lot of lessons out of the experience which was great.
“It was a great feeling to be able to help out the Menari Village and install light in their homes, makes you realise how something as small as that can have a big impact on people who aren’t as lucky as us that may not have certain things we take for granted.”
The light that Brailey is speaking of was the 75 solar panel systems installed by the travelling party, bringing light to the remote community of the Menari Village along the track for the first time.
Kindly donated by the Australian company Solar Buddy, the solar panels were donated by Australian school students with the idea of enabling these students to develop a deeper understanding of energy poverty and the challenges faced by children and families living in developing countries such as PNG.
Brailey said that to know that he and the expedition crew have left a lasting legacy on the area, is something very special that will stay with him for a long time to come.
“To see these people looking at light, for the first time most of them, was unreal.
“They can now go about their daily lives with the help of solar powered light which is great. To know that we played a part in that, will stay with me for life.
Brailey also said that to walk in the footsteps of the ANZAC soldiers some 75 years after they forged along the Track, was an experience he will take with him for the rest of his life.
“Learning about the war between the ANZAC’s and the Japanese in 1942 on those trails and being able to see where the battles took place had a big impact on me.
“It just makes you appreciate what they did for us.”
Run in conjunction with the Kokoda Track Foundation, the Cronulla Sharks will be looking to make this an annual event, with the hope of bring more goodwill and development to the remote communities along the Track.
Our Club would like to thank both the Foundation, Solar Buddy and the caring people of Papua New Guinea who we encountered along the Track.