Introduction / History
The Opao people live along river banks in Gulf Province, about a two hour ride in a motorized canoe from Kerema, the provincial capital. The area is swampy. Sago grows well in the area and is a major source of food for the Opao people. They also plant gardens and fish in the rivers. They grow betel nut which they sell in Kerema and Port Moresby.
The Opao people travel by walking or by canoe. There are many canoes made from hollowed out trees; most canoes are paddled by hand but some have outboard motors. Walking between villages can involve traversing stretches of muddy swamp. Some children regularly walk for two hours through a swamp to get to school.
Christianity first arrived in the Opao area in the 1930s when the United Church began work in the area. More denominations have begun work in the area since then and most people would claim to be Christians. However, traditional religion and magic are still strong in the area and many people do not attend church.
The Opao language is the people's heart language yet they do not have God's word in it.
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