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Not even the heaviest downpour in 40
years on the Brown River Swamp in Papua
New Guinea could stop 10 Adelaide men
and women from completing the Kokoda
Track last month.
Their determination to get across the line
meant more than $37,000 was raised for
a Centacare program which supports
disadvantaged families and their young
Centacare Catholic Family Services
assistant director Bernie Victory said on
the third day of the eight-day trek more
than 50mm of rain fell in four hours.
“Locals said it was the heaviest rainfall
they had seen for 40 years,” said Mr
Victory. “The rain was so intense that it
actually hurt the skin.”
He said the downpour followed the worst
drought in a decade, surprising locals as
much as Centacare’s Kokoda Challenge
“The trekkers were amazingly stoic,” said
Adelaide Archdiocese human resources
manager Majella Jovanovich said she was
inspired by the courageous efforts of the
Australian forces in PNG during World War
She said that while she was walking
the track she often thought about how
terrible the conditions must have been.
She said besides the horrific battle that
was unfolding on the track the forces also
suffered greatly from disease and lack of
She said some days on the trek were
difficult but it was a very rewarding
The group ranged in age from 20 to 65
years, with Kathleen Butler celebrating her
65th birthday on the first day of the trek.
Money raised from the Centacare Kokoda
Challenge 2015 – the 12th held since 2004
– will help fund the Bilby Bus.
The Bilby Bus is a supported playgroup
program run by Centacare to provide
activities and assistance to young children
and families who would otherwise be
isolated and miss out on services.
The Federal Government had funded the
service in some capacity since it was
established by Centacare in 2004 up until
June 30 this year. About 8000 people have
used the Bilby Bus over the past 11 years.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Bilby
Bus can contact Bernie Victory on
8210 8200 or email@example.com.
Weathering the rain and the pain
END OF THE TRACK: (L-R) Ali Roush, Rod Jonasson, Graeme Adcock, Anne
Frodsham, Majella Jovanovich, Paul Gill, Brendan Gill, Bernie Victory, Kath Butler
and Judy McAdam.
Among the eight children baptised at the
annual Daniel Comboni Mass last month
was two-year-old Adhel and her younger
The first bishop of Central Africa and
missionary priest holds a special place in
the hearts of African Catholics.
Sudanese refugee Arek John Dut Akol
said she remembered getting dressed up
to attend the Daniel Comboni Mass when
she lived in Khartoum. “Everyone knows
that on October 10 you need to put on a
beautiful dress and get your hair done...
it’s like Christmas,” she said.
“My father always told us it was important
to go to church, not to the witch doctor.”
Arek said she enjoyed attending the
African Mass at St Patrick’s Church
because it reminded her of the services in
Sudan where there was a lot of music and
singing. She also enjoyed meeting other
Africans from Burundi and the Congo.
She said she wanted to pass on that
tradition to her own three children. Her
eldest, six-year-old Piol, attends St
Augustine’s Parish School in Salisbury and
is already coming home with instructions
about the need to pray and make the sign
of the cross.
Arek arrived in Adelaide in 2003 with her
mother and six siblings after three years
in Cairo where Arek, the eldest of the
children, worked as a live-in house maid to
support her family.
Her father died unexpectedly while he
was visiting relatives in South Sudan and
this prompted her mother to flee to Egypt
in the hope of a more secure life for her
The family was forced to sleep on the floor
of a church for several months until Arek
found work and could pay for a small one-
“Mum was crying when I went away
to work...it was very hard but I had to
support my family,” she said.
She met her husband Atak Aluat, from
South Sudan, in Cairo but he moved to
the United States before joining her in
Australia where they had their first child.
The Daniel Comboni Mass was celebrated
by the Vicar General Fr Philip Marshall and
featured singing by the African choir.
Fr Marshall said the Mass was incredibly
vibrant and he could have “stayed all day”.
Special day for African community
BAPTISED: Two-year-old Adhel with her baptismal candle at the Daniel Comboni Mass and (right) Arek with children Adhel and Ater at their home in Salisbury North.
Photos: Ben Macmahon
By Jenny Brinkworth
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