If you’re hankering for a night in front of a wood fire in a traditional thatched hut but can’t bear the thought of having to manage completely without electricity, maybe you could try a trip to Kuyawage in the highlands of Papua, Indonesia. Wycliffe UK member Alice Eastwood tells us about her recent visit.
‘The Lani-speaking people there live in thatched huts and keep pigs. They eat potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet potato leaves, cabbage, rice and very little else (pork and crayfish occasionally). All cooking is done over wood fires, and in the evenings people sit around a central fire to keep warm, eyes streaming from the smoke if they stand up to move around (only crouching is possible).
The daytime temperature averages perhaps 15 degrees Celsius, so visitors from elsewhere in Indonesia (in our case, two colleagues and me) have to mix hot water from the cauldron above the fire with cold water in a bucket in order to brave having a wash. Locals walk far and fast, often barefoot, despite the cold. Western-style clothes have only been worn in this area for about 30 years; previously, the Lani people wore traditional clothing such as grass skirts.
It might, then, come as a surprise to know that many of the traditional thatched huts in this area have solar panels by which they light their huts at night. Assuming you had brought your international socket adapter, you could plug whatever you needed to into the socket at the back of the hut before heading in the twilight into a nearby field or down to the communal bathing spot at the river. Alternatively (and this was our preference), you could make do without power for just a night or two.
Wycliffe members and Indonesian partners have initiated a mother tongue literacy programme in Kuyawage, which was the reason for our visit. As in many other remote areas of Indonesia, the national language (Indonesian) is scarcely used here. The Lani people are fortunate enough to have the Bible in Lani, and for most it is their only reading text. Helping young children to learn to read in Lani will help them to transition to reading and writing Indonesian in school. This new-found literacy will enable them to read the Bible in the language which speaks best to their heart.’
For more on why multilingual education (MLE) is important and how you can be praying about it, take a look at Jo Johnson’s great post Stepping stones through primary school and beyond.
If you want to know more about Alice’s work or connect with her or another Wycliffe member, please use our Connect page.