Light the Match to Literacy

Photo by Deloach“Light the Match to Literacy”

The speakers of the Awa language in Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea received a revision of the New Testament about 20 years ago. However, very few people could read it, and many unpurchased Bibles sat collecting dust and cobwebs. Many of the village women kept their NT in their bilum, carrying it with them to the garden, looking through it, desperately trying to read it. But no matter how much they tried, they couldn’t read. The Bibles eventually became a symbol of shame for them. They got together and put their books into a house, with plans to burn the house and Bibles, along with their shame, to the ground. But just as they struck the match to light the fire, it began to rain. It rained so hard that they began to think that this was a sign from God—God didn’t want them to burn the books!

Later, they expressed their interest in learning to read. This woman came and taught literacy classes using the Awa New Testament, since that was the only literature in Awa. As they learned to read, the people got excited and began to buy the Bibles that had been sitting and collecting dust. When they opened the books, they expected them to be worn and frayed with age, but God had protected them, and the pages were as good as new. Eventually the Bibles sold out because everyone was so excited about getting their own. Now everyone in the village has a New Testament in their bilum and knows how to read it.

Story told to me by Rebecca. woman, Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinean, laughing, smile, traditional dress, Ukarumpa, SIL-PNG Training Centre

Baby Bilums-Wacky Wednesday


One of the unique things about this country is that they make woven bags that are called bilums. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are used to carry vegetables from their gardens, groceries, used like a purse, and even their BABIES! Babies in a bag?! Yes. And the babies love it. It swaddles them and they just love it. Then the women put the handle of the bilums on their foreheads and carry them down their back. Not a very safe method for us whiteskins, but they have incredibly strong heads and necks and are able to carry heavy things like their children, along with all of their produce on the top of their head etc. It is definitely a sight to see! Especially on the small paths that make up the mountain.