Creating new life- Sarah McAllister
Inspired by her older brother Luke McAllister, a 2014 graduate from the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program “KCYP”, Sarah McAllister proudly completed the 48km Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge with her peers from Miami State High School in 2014 and again 2015.
Driven by a desire to do more, get out of her comfort zone and try something more challenging, Sarah decided to join the 2017 Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge Youth Program. Sarah’s first success was convincing her parents that their little girl was mature enough to take on such a challenge. At the beginning of the program Sarah was nervous about making new friends, however quickly learnt that she could simply be herself. Sarah enjoyed that the people within the program all came from different backgrounds and everyone was happy to share and celebrate their ranging thoughts, values and beliefs.
Over the 14-month program Sarah learnt many life skills and values that have become highly prevalent in her life since. Sarah learnt how to be patient, understand the value of being present in the moment and how to fully commit. She found that by putting your heart into everything you do; the rewards were extraordinary.
“I miss Kokoda training and I have so many great memories! I miss Wednesday training, getting the gang together with the music and the circuits we used to do. I miss the villages and I miss my porter” she said.
In terms of pinpointing her greatest memory, Sarah revealed it was ‘Sitting next to the ‘Courage’ pillar at Isurava memorial reading a letter from my Mum”. When people ask Sarah to describe her experience in Papua New Guinea “PNG”, she is often left speechless struggling to find the words that express the depth of feelings that are still with her today.
On Friday, 8th November 2019, Sarah’s life dramatically changed when she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Aurora-Lee Sternsdorf, at the Logan Hospital. Sarah shared with us that her Kokoda experience has helped shape the way she supports her daughter.
“Every time I think about the four Kokoda values I can still relate; every word seems to mean more and more”
Courage: “To make the huge decision to have a baby and to go through with the pregnancy not knowing what I was going to be in for”
Endurance: “Enduring the sleepless nights and not being able to do what other 19-year old’s are doing”
Mateship: “Both sides of our family are very supportive in coming together to help create our little family, every item in our house was gifted by family. I want to be able to offer them the amount of support they’ve given me. That’s the Mateship I learnt in Kokoda”
Sacrifice: “I’ve had to sacrifice my financial situation moving away from the Gold Coast, my family and friends to build a better life and the health and well-being of my little family.”
“Whenever I’m having a hard time, I think back to the simple life of PNG where they don’t have a lot yet they’re so grateful for what they do have, they’re so content and happy! Then I remember, I have a roof over my head and sometimes need to take a step back to remember how grateful I am.”
“After knowing the number of applicants the KCYP gets each year, I feel very proud to have been given the opportunity to participate in the program.”
“I’m proud that I committed to something and I feel like I gave it my all. I put my whole heart into it. I knew if I gave it a half-arsed effort, I was only going to get a half-arsed outcome in return. If you give something your all, you will come out with a great experience …. and that’s what I had. There were definitely ups and downs but overall it was so incredible.”
In addition to her primary focus of raising her baby Aurora in a happy healthy environment with her partner Josh, Sarah is looking to engage in more volunteer work, travel the world and has ambitions to complete her nursing studies over the next 5 years. Sarah also mentioned she has an aspiration to complete the 48km Gold Coast challenge again!
Sarah is an inspiration to those around her and truly embodies what it means to be a Kokodian. We wish Sarah and her young family the very best in their future adventures.