Linguist joins youth mission

National, Normal

The National, Monday October 14th, 2013

 SUMMER Institute of Linguistics member Phil Carr has joined the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) medical ship Pacific Link in south-western Papua New Guinea. 

The partnership proved beneficial to both organisations, as well as to the people living along the Fly, Bamu and Gama rivers in Western.

YWAM had been dispatching a ship from Australia for the past three years to improve quality of life for people in remote areas of Papua New Guinea through medical services and through upgrading of skills of local health workers. 

As Carr had worked as a linguist in Papua New Guinea for the past 25 years, he was able to interpret for the local people in some of the villages. 

He translated primarily for the optometry team and, occasionally, for doctors and nurses when they evaluated and treated sicknesses ranging from tuberculosis to malaria to malnutrition.  

He helped team members understand local culture and customs. Travelling on the YWAM ship was beneficial for Carr. 

He was able to reach remote areas that had previously been inaccessible to him. He studied the Bible with pastors and sold scripture portions, Bible study books, DVDs and CDs in several local languages.

The Kiwai speakers listened attentively as he shared a dramatic reading of a draft of Jonah in their language. 

In his interactions with people living along the Gama River, Carr was able to confirm that their language was a dialect of Bamu, not a separate language. Some villages they visited were very remote and extremely poor. 

It was satisfying to bring medical expertise to people who normally could not access health care services, Carr said. 

An elderly man could not see even the biggest letters on the eye chart when he was evaluated, but after the optometrist gave him glasses, he could see.