On an isolated Vanuatu island, sisters Colinette and Annie Gaviga are completing the final draft of the New Testament in Hano, the language of the Raga people of Pentecost Island.
Over 20 years in the making, the Hano translation project has spanned generations. The Hano translation project began in 1997, when a Hano speaker, Mark Gaviga, approached John Harris, then Bible Society Australia’s Director of Translation, about the possibility of a Hano Bible translation project. John agreed and soon the Hano project began through the Bible Society of the South Pacific with John as the translation consultant.
That year, in the mountain village of Lavusi, Mark Gaviga, with John’s help, began the Hano translation – eating, sleeping and translating in Mark’s one-room house. Everything was handwritten in exercise books. Mark’s young daughters, Colinette and Annie, were curious onlookers.
Mark persisted as long as he could, and then help came from an unexpected source. His eldest daughter, Colinette, took over the task. As the New Testament neared completion, it needed to be digitised onto computer before a final consultant check. God’s hand was evident here when Colinette’s younger sister, Annie, began to work as a translation clerk for the Bible Society in Vanuatu. There, in Port Vila, Annie was able to type out the whole text. John came out of retirement to go to Vanuatu to carry out the final check before printing. Three people who were there at the beginning in the little house in Lavusi came together to complete the work at the end.
Will you help Bible Society continue to translate the Bible into other languages in the South Pacific?
Bible Society is working in the South Pacific to encourage the spiritual life of the people, by providing Scripture translations and revisions as well as Scripture products.
Of all the world’s Bible Societies, the Bible Society of the South Pacific (BSSP) has the world’s most logistically difficult territory to serve. Based in Fiji, it encompasses 16 Pacific Island nations. Some of these nations, such as Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, have the full Bible. But archipelagos such as Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands have hundreds of languages. While most people are multilingual, they have a deep desire for the Bible in their heart language.
Many other small languages still lack Scriptures. Bible Societies struggle to support these remote projects. Translators are voluntary and are helped with only occasional visits by busy translation consultants. Theirs is often a difficult and lonely task fitted in between tending their gardens and other village responsibilities.