By MALUM NALU
ANNA Kila (nee Cochran) first came to the beautiful Aiyura Valley of Eastern Highlands in 1966.
The young New Zealand woman had come to the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) at Ukarumpa in Aiyura to be involved in Bible translation work.
This became a life-long relationship with Papua New Guinea.
Next Monday, Feb 12, Kila turns 80 and is back in PNG from New Zealand to celebrate with her many adopted children.
She is well-known to thousands of people in the country, former students of Aiyura and Sogeri national high schools where she taught, and for Communication for Development students of the University of Technology in Lae.
I was doing my Grade 12 at Aiyura in 1985 when Kila was one of our English teachers.
The memories coming flowing back as I have coffee with her and one of her adopted sons, Constitutional and Law Reform Commission Secretary Dr Eric Kwa, on Monday.
Kwa, also an ex-Aiyura boy from the Siassi islands of Morobe, was from the Class of ‘87 and is now one of the leading legal minds in the country.
“I first came to Papua New Guinea in 1966,” Kila tells me.
“It became home to me and I became a citizen.
“I worked here from 1966, firstly with Wycliffe Bible Translators or Summer Institute of Linguistics, working as a consultant helping expatriates with linguistic work and translation.
“Then the Bible Translation Association of Papua New Guinea was created to train and encourage Papua New Guineans who wanted to translate the Bible for their people.
“Because I was a citizen, I left SIL and joined the new organisation.
“I was their consultant and teacher.
“Then there came a time in 1985 when I left BTA and went to Aiyura National High School to teach.
“I taught many young men and women who now are in leadership around the country and doing wonderful jobs.”
Kila was at Aiyura from 1985-1990 and at Sogeri from 1991-1992 as head of the language department.
“Then I went from there to Unitech and helped with the development of a new programme, ‘Communication for Development’, training Papua New Guineans to communicate on development issues in this country,” she adds.
“That was exciting. The Kiwi
“It was wonderful to be part of the growth of that course, and again, young people, who are now at work helping the grassroots and multi-national and national companies, and government, to understand the issues of development.
“So often, people at the grassroots don’t understand what’s going on in their area.
“They need people who can be the ‘namel man (middle man)’ to help them understand what the government and multi-national companies are doing for their land, their people.
“This was the idea of this course.
“I was at Unitech from 1993 and worked there for 10 years, including seven of those years as acting head of department of the language and communication studies department at Unitech.
“When I was 65, it was intended that I hand over to someone else to take over.
“I had not been in the best of health, with my heart, so I went back to New Zealand.
“I had to give up Papua New Guinea citizenship and that was a very sad thing for me because I regarded Papua New Guinea as home.
“I have been living in New Zealand since the end of 2003, have had major heart surgery, and now live there with my heart and life really back here because God had given me, while living here, children from all over the country. “
Kila loves PNG despite all the negatives about the country.
“I feel positive,” she says.
“There are negatives about things, but I am thrilled with the progress that I see.
“I know the roads are in the bad way, the Highlands Highway and such, but it’s still the land I love.”
Kila has a soft spot for the beautiful coastal village of Buansing in Morobe, where she did Bible translation work, as well as Hula in Central where the Kila family adopted her as one of their own.
Of course there’s the Aiyura Valley.
“I first was in the Aiyura Valley with Summer Institute of Linguistics from 1966,” she remembers.
“The agriculture station had developed.
“They were developing coffee and experimenting with different kinds of kaukau.
“There were a lot of expatriate didiman there.
“Then the (national high) school opened in Aiyura.
“In 85 I was asked if I would come and teach there.
“That was a highlight.
“It was a wonderful school to teach in.
“We had such wonderful students.
“It was a happy atmosphere.
“It was a vibrant school to work in.
“I loved my time at Aiyura.
“All the staff got along and we had a lot of fun too.
“It was a happy community to live and work in.”
Anna Kila has indeed done much for the country as she turns 80.
By MALUM NALU