Not many teenagers have had to develop the level of courage and independence that current Kokoda Kid Ali Kosha has, migrating solo from Afghanistan in 2015.
Plunged into an unfamiliar culture with little English, the Springwood State High School Year 12 student said he realised just how lucky people were in Australia.
“Life was pretty hard back in my home country in the villages; it was difficult to get higher education, better health care and access to opportunities like the KCYP (Kokoda Challenge Youth Program),” he said.
“At school we had no computers, we sat on the floor to read and write and there were no different classrooms, sport or community programs.”
As an only child with his widowed mother still in Afghanistan, Ali lives with relatives.
He balances senior studies with working a part-time job on the weekend and after school most days, using the money to help support his mum and cover things like school supplies.
In Year 11 Ali was encouraged to apply for the KCYP.
“The KCYP leaders and team became like a family to me,” he said.
“When I came to Australia I had no English and couldn’t understand anyone at school, so I sat and didn’t say too much, but now I have gained confidence to talk in public and get involved in plenty of activities.”
Ali recently got his driver’s license and is enjoying his school subjects and interaction of his part-time job, which also helps with his English.
“The KCYP helped me a lot because now I have experience; now I am a school ambassador because of what I gained from my leaders and teammates. I am now happy to take on any other challenges that may come to me.”
FLYING THE AUSTRALIAN FLAG PROUDLY IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Kokoda Youth Services Manager Dann Hollingshed said the team witnessed Ali’s independence and communication go from strength to strength during the program.
“The Papua New Guinea trip was where we learnt just how resourceful Ali was,” Mr Hollingshed said.
“He was really on target with everything; every morning he would be packed up and ready to trek.”
Ali said he was extremely thankful for the support of Challenge participants.
“The KCYP helps more youth to get involved in activity and gain more life experience in their younger years; I will never forget this experience.”
Ali would like to pursue a career in Aviation after finishing school, and hopes his mother can live in Australia one day.
To register for the Kokoda Challenge now and help us help youth like Ali, click here.