Cyclone Pam was regarded as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of Vanuatu – the island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. Sixteen people died, many were injured, and thousands of homes, schools and buildings were destroyed.
The impact of the cyclone was felt across the 83 islands in the archipelago. Among those who lost much was Collinette Siba and her family, who live on the tiny island of Pentecost.
Like many, Collinette lost her home and possessions, yet one precious thing survived – the New Testament translation on which Collinette has been working for 19 years.
We lost everything during the cyclone. Our home and our guest house were destroyed, and we had to take refuge in the church. We were terrified. After the cyclone had gone, we discovered that there was nothing left. But before the cyclone had struck, my husband Robin had put our Bible and my translation books in a plastic container, which he had placed under a table. It was still there, not even wet!
The work to translate God’s Word into the Hano language (also known as Raga) commenced in 1979 but has encountered a number of challenges. Parts of the translation have been lost or damaged in previous cyclones, meaning work has had to be repeated. Obtaining sufficient funding has also been a on-going difficulty. However, it is now hoped that the New Testament will be completed by 2016.
Despite this good news, the translators continue to live and work in exceptionally difficult circumstances. This became clear at a recent translation session in Port Vila.
It quickly became clear to me that the translators are still traumatised. Collinette, her husband and their four children are still living in a tent. Drinking water is strictly rationed and they have to wash in the sea, a 45-minute walk away. They have only received two food packages from the government. There is no hope of them rebuilding their home in the near future. The other translators are facing similar challenges.
Apenisa Lewatoro, Translation Officer at the Bible Society in the South Pacific
Whilst much focus was given to the on-going translation work, the plans for their time together changed.
For two hours every morning, before we worked on the translations, we talked and prayed together. We found a lot of comfort in sharing our experiences. We also decided to translate into Bislama (the common language of Vanuatu) a trauma healing booklet called ‘Healing the Wounds of Trauma: How the Church can Help’.
- Please pray for Collinette and others in Vanuatu who are still experiencing great pain and suffering as a result of Cyclone Pam.
- Pray, too, for the completion of the Hano New Testament and for other translation work ongoing throughout the South Pacific.