Posts Tagged ‘Literacy’

How to make a little go a long way

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Chris and Marina are working in Senegal with the Manjak community. Their work is incredibly important for Bible translation, as this video from Wycliffe USA shows, but they aren’t Bible translators – that work is done by Manjak people. So what do Chris and Marina contribute?

Chris and Marina are literacy specialists, working with Wycliffe’s linguistic partners SIL International. Watch the video to see how their work helps a little Scripture go a long way:

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The Power of Bible Translation and Literacy from Wycliffe USA on Vimeo.

‘It wasn’t as if I wanted to translate the Bible into Manjak. It was that I needed to translate the Bible into Manjak. God’s word is something of greatness, and it’s for all the Manjak people. If the word of God was translated and nobody was able to read, that would make me very, very sad.’ Pierre Nassadiou, Manjak Bible translator

Working with local communities to develop literacy programmes allows many people to access God’s word for themselves for the first time. It also opens up doors to education, health information and legal rights in communities that have been denied these in the past.

If it’s something you feel passionate about, find out more about literacy roles in Wycliffe and the literacy work SIL does.

Why learn to read Manjak?

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

In Senegal and much of the west of Africa, the official language is French. French is what you learn at school, the language of official documents and what the news on the main TV stations is read in. So if everyone wants to speak French, why worry about teaching Manjak speakers to read their own language?

This was the question that a lot of Manjak speakers had when linguistic specialists started helping to plan literacy work among the adults and mother-tongue lessons at school for the children. In the video below from Wycliffe USA, some of those who’ve been part of the literacy programme, including UK Wycliffe members Chris and Marina Darby, speak about why learning Manjak is worth it:

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Marina says she keeps speaking to people who, explaining why they want to learn to read Manjak, say, ‘It’s our language!’ and that one woman explained that it’s like seeing by her own lamp now.Literacy helps members of minority language communities embrace and use their language, learn other languages more easily and have access to a wealth more information. It’s a crucial part of the Bible translation ministry. Find out what you could do to be involved.

You wrote the book that taught us this

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Becoming literate can have a much greater impact on ordinary people’s lives than simply being able to read the newly translated Scripture, as this story from Ghana shows:

Matthew (right) with literacy books behind him

Matthew (right) with literacy books behind him

‘Towards the end of 2013 Hanga literacy worker Matthew Mprah was on his literacy team motorbike taking a cross-country track. A farmer ran out onto the track to flag him down. He said that he and his brother were working on their farm when the brother accidentally cut his leg while using his cutlass and that Matthew should come and help.

Matthew went with him and found that the injured man was lying on his back with leaves tied around the  wound and with the leg raised, supported by a stick. Matthew asked, “How did you know to tie leaves around the wound and to raise the leg to reduce bleeding?” The man replied “What! Are you not the people who wrote the book that taught us this?” The Hanga literacy book of extracts from Where there is no doctor was published in 1987 and re-published in 1996. These men have never been to school, but one of them remembered what that book, written in Hanga, had taught them.’

  • Praise God for the impact that literacy has had on the lives of many who have not had the opportunity for a formal education.
  • Praise God classes have been so successful that more of each of the Hanga reading primers are needed as well as further copies of the training book for school teachers.  Please pray that God will provide all the necessary funds for these books and to bring the teachers together for training.
  • Deforestation is a problem in the Hanga area of Ghana. Pray for a new booklet that is ready for distribution to promote planting fruit trees to help combat this problem.

Find out more about the impact of literacy and Bible translation in Ghana.

‘I’m not going alone!’

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Clare is one of the latest people to sign up with Wycliffe in the UK to serve Bibleless people around the world. After training, now she’s off to Senegal. We asked her about what’s waiting for her in West Africa and how she’s feeling about all the changes…

clare-orrAs I write, it is just over a week until I leave for Senegal to begin a literacy assignment with SIL [Wycliffe's linguistic partner overseas]. I completed my initial training at Redcliffe College in December and can’t wait to put some of what I learnt into action. I greatly enjoyed my time at Redcliffe; there was a real sense of community among the students, who come from all over the world and hope to serve God in many different countries.

Once in Senegal, I will spend the first few months in Dakar, getting stuck in to learning the culture and the language. I love language learning and especially learning about life in other cultures, so I’m looking forward to this part, especially as I know it will also be preparing me for what’s next.

A literacy class in DR Congo. Photo: Heather Pubols.

A literacy class in DR Congo. Photo: Heather Pubols.

During my time in Dakar, we will figure out where the best assignment for me will be. With a national literacy rate of only 40%, there is plenty of literacy work to be done in Senegal. SIL help to provide adult literacy classes as well as assisting with the provision of mother-tongue education in primary schools, before pupils make a transition to being taught in French. These are two key areas and I am looking forward to finding out where I fit into this!

Of course, as my date for leaving gets closer, nerves are setting in too, about whether I’ll settle in, whether I’ll be able to learn the language or cope with the weather and how much I’ll miss home. However, I go confident in the knowledge that I’m not doing this alone – it has been such an encouragement to see how God has led me here and has brought people together to partner with me. I am going to Senegal along with God and all my partners back home and am thankful to God for this assurance.

In Senegal, West Africa and the rest of the world, there are big needs for people who can help others to learn to read and write, giving them access to education, healthcare and the powerful and life-changing words of the Bible. What could you do?

Literacy at the morgue

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Within two weeks of the Oku New Testament launch, the newly translated Scriptures were piercing and comforting hearts in the Oku community, Cameroon. David describes in his blog what happened at the morgue in Yaoundé:

Oku literacy

As I waited outside one of the local morgues in Yaoundé for the levée du corps (removal of the body) to take to the church for the memorial service, I was amazed at the number of people that were there during the work day. A Cameroonian co-worker’s wife, Mary, had gone home to be with Jesus…

But while I was waiting, a co-worker had brought a new Oku New Testament from the dedication two weeks ago in Oku to present to my friend who just lost his wife since he was not able to attend the dedication in his mother tongue. So she was waiting to present it to him and there were many other Oku people around so she thought she would ask someone to read the new Oku New Testament but the woman sitting beside her had never learned to read in Oku, her mother tongue, but as we sat under the overhang outside the mortuary she had her first literacy lesson in Oku. She starting reading in 1 Corinthians 15:20 and also Revelation 7:17. The Oku woman said that “Reading this took away my tears.”

Revelation 7:17 “For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”  NLT (Read complete post)

Reading the Scriptures in the heart language gets the message through like nothing else. But there remain nearly 2,000 language groups worldwide – representing around 250 million people – who still cannot access God’s word in the language they understand best, because translation work has not even begun. You can help to give the story.

Get the message through

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

According to official data, more than 8 in every 10 people in the world are literate. If that’s the case, why does Wycliffe put so much energy into making the Bible understandable for oral learners? This infographic from Global Mapping International (the same people who do Operation World) explains why 8 out of 10 may be an overestimation, and why it’s worth thinking about how we share God’s message…

Find the original infographic here.

Wycliffe wants all people – whether they are oral learners or prefer to read – to be able to access the Bible in a way that clearly communicates God’s message of love. That’s why Wycliffe is partnered with ministries like The JESUS Film, Faith Comes By Hearing, MegaVoice and many others. Find out more about how you could support Bible translation into every language and every form that it’s needed in.

Praying for spiritual victory

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

The word of God in English is available to us in so many different formats and versions. We don’t even have to pay for the multiple versions of the Bible in English that are accessible online. The Avatime people of south eastern Ghana were introduced to Christianity a hundred years ago but they still have no Bible in their language.

The majority of the Avatime profess to be Christian but traditional religion is widely practised alongside Christianity. The manager of the Avatime project, Divine Munumkum asks us to pray that ‘the people of Avatime, especially the churches, would fully commit themselves to the Avatime literacy and Bible translation programmes.’

Photo from Wycliffe USA

Translation work has begun and several books from the New Testament have been drafted and consultant checked*. Divine rejoices that the published books – Matthew, Mark, John, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and James – are being read in churches and at other occasions such as funerals. The Avatime have a low rate of literacy so

‘the project has printed reading books which include proverbs, health, basic primers, numeracy and more. In all there are 11 titles. We are seeking permission from the Education Ministry to introduce the Avatime language into the primary school so pray that we are able to do so.’

There is a feeling of spiritual opposition to Bible translation in this language. Please pray for spiritual victory. One of the areas the project has known opposition in is the area of health. One staff member, Walter, has had a big wound on the top of his left foot for over 6 months. Please pray for Walter’s healing and the good health of all project staff and their families. The Avatime project staff need our support and right now you can pray for them. Please stand in the gap on their behalf today.

The Avatime Bible translation project is supported by our partner organisation the Seed Company; for more information about the project please visit the Seed Company website.

* Translations are checked by specialist consultants to make sure that they are an accurate translation and are clear and natural to the readers.

What can literacy do for women?

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Being literate is something that’s easy to take for granted. For most of the people who will read this, the act of reading won’t even be conscious – you see the words and they automatically mean something. But it’s not the case for millions around the world:

When women attend literacy classes, they learn much more than how to read and write. By the end of a typical programme, participants are able to write notes, stories and letters, read letters and books, tell time, add, count money, and read scales. Suddenly they can interact with the world in a new way, gathering information through reading and expressing themselves through writing. Using their basic knowledge of mathematics, women can shop at the marketplace without fear of being cheated. It is also easier for an individual to bridge into the national or trade languages once they learn to read and write in their mother tongue. [...]

mother2

The ‘poorest of the poor’ in almost all societies are women and children. Literacy gives women the skills they need to manage rural micro-economic businesses, or ‘cottage industries’. These endeavors give women their own source of income, promoting independence and equality and enabling them to improve their homes, buy food and clothing for their families, and pay school fees for all their children – not just boys. As a result, literacy is seen as the foundation for all sustainable community development.

From the Wycliffe USA blog. Read more here.

Without literacy, written words – even the words of God – are meaningless. Help to bring meaning by supporting the literacy work Wycliffe does.

What difference does literacy make?

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

You may not be surprised that literacy is a key part of the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators. What may be a surprise though, is why we put so much effort into making sure people can read and write in their own language.

Naturally, for people to read a Bible or New Testament in their language, being able to read is important. But it’s not the only reason Wycliffe are involved in literacy. Technology permits recordings of Scripture to be shared on solar-powered players, online, or through mobile phones, which can be accessed without fluent reading. Wycliffe’s literacy priority has much more to do with people – and the opportunities it provides for them – than with books. Matt and Liz Wisbey, who support literacy work in different parts of the world, explain why:

Two young boys read, seated next to each other.People learn to read and write best in the language they know the best. Despite this fact (and it is a fact, there is LOTS of evidence to back it up… trust us!), it is estimated that over 200 million children still attend schools where the language used is not their first language! And some people wonder why learning in some parts of the world is so poor still!? [...]

There are other benefits too:

We are excited because literacy empowers people and gives them new opportunities, which can radically change their lives for the better: physically, emotionally and spiritually. Not only will people be able to read the Bible, but they can also access books and development opportunities that may explain how to grow crops better when faced with changing weather patterns, how best to avoid deadly diseases, and how to keep your family healthy. Literacy also allows people to access other rights and knowledge that we take for granted, stopping people from being overlooked or exploited.

Read more from the Wisbey’s blog (and from lots of others) over on their blog.

Literacy makes a difference. Find out more about what it takes to support literacy work.

Questions that need answers

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

It takes a long time to translate a Bible, and there are many communities where there is no access to Scripture, either because nothing has been translated or because there isn’t adequate literacy to read what’s there. It’s a big problem in Papua New Guinea, where there are still hundreds of language communities without the Scriptures.

In this account of an unexpected supplement to a literacy course in Papua New Guinea, we get a glimpse of the hunger for knowledge that the Scriptures bring:

Cross-legged on the veranda, Andrea leaned against the cinderblock as incense from the smouldering mosquito repellent coil drifted upward. Dark draped over the other seated women and toddlers until all she could see were flashes of teeth and eyes. Please, they asked again, how do we pray?

It was the start of the last week of a month-long literacy course held in Saidor village, Papua New Guinea, where twenty-one participants from eight languages were learning skills including curriculum development, storytelling, leadership, health, and Bible study methods. And now, at the shy request of Betty, Andrea, one of the literacy course staff, joined the women participants outside their room.

‘She’s here to answer our questions!’ Lillian announced, dropping next to her. Immediately, the five women eagerly unfolded scribbled lists and began firing questions. How does the Holy Spirit enter my life? Explain baptism. What did Jesus mean by ‘it is finished’? Why do bad things happen? If I try to follow God and fail, will God still punish me? Did the Bible stories really happen? How do I share about God with others? Can I pray in my own language?

Every night that last week, Andrea opened her Bible and prayed fervently for words to respond to their hunger. Without God’s word in their own languages, their questions had long remained unanswered.

Later, Betty touched Andrea’s arm and asked, ‘I know that courses like this are really expensive, so how could I come? Who paid my school fee?’ As Andrea explained about the churches and individuals in other countries who financially support Bible translation, Betty suddenly bent forward, grasping Andrea’s hands. ‘Please, please thank them for me!’ Laughter burst from her, and she couldn’t stop grinning. ‘This course has helped me so much!’

This account was told by Catherine Rivard and Tim Scott. If you’d like to see more about the Bible translation work of Wycliffe’s partners in Papua New Guinea, why not follow their YouTube channel, The PNG Experience.