With Love From Papua
Written by Teacher Elly – TransformNation Program Director
Fifteen years ago, I prayed asking God to visit Papua, the farthest island from my hometown. God gave me more than I asked for.
Papua has fascinated me for years. More than 250 different tribes inhabit the island. Rich with natural wonders, it boasts one of the biggest and most productive gold mines in the world. But the fact that there are so many unreached children living without access to education, breaks my heart. As a teacher, my first tendency would be to visit as soon as possible and teach as many of them as I could.
But how can I teach them, when we don’t speak the same language? How can I reach them, when their villages are so far away? What can I bring them, when the only way to carry my supplies is on my shoulder? For years, those questions went unanswered along with my prayers. Then at the end of last year, God sent me an invitation to visit His children in Papua.
Together with Paul Richardson and Principal Sosamma, I visited several schools where TransformNation (TfN) teachers serve. There are four graduates and nine interns from TfN who currently serve the children of Papua.
We spent days together listening to their stories and struggles. How they live with limited food and water, and creatively teach without electricity or technology. We witnessed how they poured their hearts out for their students, spending their spare time helping them with their reading. We cried together when a female teacher shared how she struggles to teach in a male-dominated culture and was faced with a heart-breaking situation when two of her students were sexually abused and had to leave the school.
Above: A Papuan mother carrying a heavy load of yams and firewood.
We laughed together as we cooked yams in so many different ways – boiled, fried, baked, buried and burned- as it is the main staple in the area. We saw strong enthusiasm as little children ran noisily into their classroom in the morning, yet managed to stay disciplined when studying.
And we stood in awe as we watched female students share their thoughts, challenging the culture and proposing better solutions. They stood with confidence in front of a lot of people, organized their thoughts, analyzed problems, and shared ideas. It’s beyond my wildest imagination. Talk about the next local female leaders of Papua!
Above: TfN intern, Asa, helping illiterate children in her village learn to read.
I can see clearly how God loves the children of Papua and is using the TfN program to advance His Kingdom. I realize now His plan is to reach children through the young teachers we disciple in TfN. This is exactly what I have been praying for 15 years! A week-long visit has burned my spirit with a life-time desire to disciple more TfN students to share in His good works.