My Work Lives On in PNG

One of my goals in PNG was to have everything I did be useful, not just for the Onobasulu but for other language groups as well.  I wanted people who came behind me not just say, that was a nice idea, but to be able to take what I did and use it as is or adapt it for their context.  Last month when I heard about the new PNG language policy one of my main frustrations was that I felt like this invalidated my curriculum work.  I put a lot of time and effort into making the materials great for the Onobasulu and for other language groups as well and I had hoped that the materials would continue to be used and not just pushed aside.  Fortunately, I have been encouraged since then, that they are not being tossed out simply because of the new policy.   A couple weeks ago, I received an email that said that Hauwo, my Onobasulu literacy co-worker, took some of the literacy materials and showed them to someone in the education office and they were impressed with them and wanted to get their hands on similar materials.  There is hope!

And in a recent Catherine Rivard blog post I can see that the literacy courses are still using the Health and Safety Game.  If you enjoyed learning about literacy in Papua New Guinea, Catherine writes in a fun and interesting way about her experiences.  She does a lot of work similar to what I was doing.  This recent post (shown below) talks about village health and includes a picture of my game being used!   This is why I took the time to have it in Tok Pisin and not just Onobasulu.  It’s usable for other language groups as well.  I am so excited that my work continues without me in PNG!   And thanks Catherine for being a part of that.

Smack That Fly!

The fly was larger than her hand, but it didn’t faze the nurse. She slapped the illustrated poster once more and then turned to her audience. “Flies carry disease, polluted water carries disease, and uncontained rubbish and faeces carry disease. This is why your children get diarrhoea.” She paused, looking hard at each of the students. “This is why your children die.”

Students played games to practice making health choices.

Last August, twenty national teachers from eight different languages were seated in the shade, listening intently to the health lecture and furiously scribbling notes. I, along with eight other expat and national staff were leading these teachers in an intense, month-long training to better equip rural teachers in using the local language in education, through topics like principles and practices of literacy, fluency, storywriting, book production, and curriculum and material creation as well as personal development, leadership, and finances. One of my many responsibilities included coordinating the health sessions, and today I had asked a local nurse to present on diarrhoea.

The students hard at work at translating the booklet!

And so, on that afternoon, the students were talking about the causes, prevention, and cure of diarrhoea, the number one killer of children in Papua New Guinea. Later, they clustered into groups as they pored over their notes and strained to translate into their own languages a story which could communicate this vital information to their communities. “Did we get all the meaning?” they asked each other. “Read it again!”

The next evening, as several of the women students gathered on the cool veranda, a young mother from a local hamlet approached them, clutching a crying infant to her chest. As they visited, the students realized that the baby was dehydrated and suffering from pekpek wara (diarrhoea). Without hesitation, the women flew into action, sending for me while advising the mother and offering rehydrating fruit according to their training. But when I arrived to see the infant contently sleeping against his mother, there was nothing I could do but smile. “You’ve done everything right,” I told them. “You now know how to protect your children!”

One thought on “My Work Lives On in PNG

  1. joy i am so pleased that your work continues to improve the life of the onobasulu people group and others. mom my work with raising you is a blessing to me as i see you live out your purposeful life.

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