Introduction / History
The outsider's perspective of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has been defined by several memorable images: the Asaro mudmen of Eastern Highlands Province; the elaborate headdresses and painted faces of the Huli people in Southern Highlands Province; and the traditional fire dancing among the Baining people in East New Britain Province. Kairak speakers (pop. 900) are Baining people found near Kokopo, a town in East New Britain Province. The Kairak people’s close proximity to Kokopo has brought urbanisation into the language area. In the face of modern developments, the Kairak people are maintaining their language and distinct identity as Baining people.
Community leaders in the Kairak villages of Malabunga and Ivere have expressed an earnest desire to have the Bible translated into their own language. Currently, the people use the Bibles of two local trade languages, Tok Pisin and Kuanua, as well as the English Bible in church. SIL seeks to come alongside the Kairak community through a programme called the New Britain Initiative (NBI). If developed, this programme would focus on training Papua New Guineans in translation practices and then oversee teams of national translators as they work on the New Testament. The Kairak people want to be able to read God’s word in their own tongue and are enthusiastic about the prospect of being involved in this programme.
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