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Fall Newsletter 2022

Here's a video posted by a colleague of ours of the High School Manual Arts Workshop during the recent earthquake. The left wall in the video is shared with the Auto shop where Sam works:

Below are the public statements from our organisation on both the political unrest and the earthquake in case you wanted a more detailed description.

Election violence

****Begin Public Statement - to be shared without alteration and in its entirety*****

Papua New Guinea is conducting national elections, which take place every five years. Election-related violence has occurred in several parts of Papua New Guinea in recent weeks. SIL-PNG has monitored these situations, alerted staff, and adjusted plans as necessary.

One of the locations where election-related violence has occurred is in the Aiyura Valley, near SIL-PNG’s Ukarumpa centre. On 3 August, fighting broke out in the Valley, and continued on 4 August, affecting some of SIL-PNG’s operations. Staff working in areas of risk nearby were recalled to the Ukarumpa centre, which is currently safe, though staff are on alert.

Fighting has included the burning of houses in villages near the Ukarumpa centre and may have affected the families of local staff. SIL-PNG department managers are caring for the concerns of their staff on a case-by-case basis.

PNG Defense Forces, police, and local churches are working to stop the fighting.

SIL-PNG encourages all involved to resolve their differences legally and peacefully. Going forward, SIL-PNG will continue to monitor the local and national situation, and will adjust operations as needed to ensure the safety of staff throughout PNG.

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Public Statement on 11 Sept 2022 earthquake

On the morning of 11 September, an earthquake rated at 7.6 occurred in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. SIL-PNG has been able to contact its regional centres and has received no reports of injuries. It continues to check on staff currently in village locations.

There are reports of damage in villages close to the epicentre. Damage assessments are being made, with any relief response to be coordinated thereafter.

Significant damage has been reported at some locations, including at Ukarumpa, e.g., to rain water tanks supplying departments and homes; interior damage to equipment and personal items; etc.

Current priorities are to restore infrastructure and assess and repair damage.

Pray for wisdom for those organizing a response. Pray for communities as they rally together.

*****End Public Statement*****

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12Sep - Earthquake Update

Situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, those who live and work in Papua New Guinea are familiar with earthquakes. But earthquakes of 7.6 magnitude don’t come along every year! When they do, everyone reaches out to family, friends, and colleagues to see if they are ok. Because SIL-PNG staff work in remote village locations where communication options are limited and transport may only be on foot or by air, it takes a concerted effort to get reports in after an event like this.

It is with gratitude that we report that no SIL-PNG staff were injured during the 11 September earthquake. There are reports of damage to villages near the epicentre and a few reports of death and injury. The PNG Disaster Management Team continues to assess damage and discern appropriate responses. SIL-PNG is in contact with this team as well as a Member of Parliament for part of the affected area and has extended the offer of assistance in transporting the injured or flying in relief supplies. Language development work in the area represents SIL-PNG’s longer-term contribution to the region.

News from specific locations near the epicentre:

  • Several SIL-PNG staff from villages near the epicentre shared stories from their areas. We’ve received reports of 1-2 people dead and small numbers of injured as well as houses damaged.

  • An SIL-PNG team is facilitating a Culture Meets Scripture workshop near the epicentre. This team includes the translation advisor, who has worked in the community since 2004, and Scripture Access staff. They were confirmed safe yesterday.

  • Two houses belonging to a partner organization collapsed. Only one family was there at the time, and they were able to get out, no one was injured. SIL-PNG evacuated the wife and children, while the husband stayed to work with the community on next steps.

In the Aiyura Valley, where SIL’s Ukarumpa Centre is located, a number of schools and institutions report damage to power and water systems, as well as to buildings. Cables providing internet to a significant portion of the country remain dysfunctional. Trucks were unable to transit the Kassam Pass for a time, but are now able to do so.

The infrastructure of SIL-PNG’s Ukarumpa centre suffered widespread-but-limited damage. Most offices and homes had items fall off shelves and break; older metal water tanks broke or developed leaks; many plumbing issues have been reported; a few roofs were damaged; and there were a few cases of more significant structural damage. A great deal of work has been underway since shortly after the earthquake, with our Construction and Maintenance staff coordinating the response and undertaking the technical tasks. Many in the community are volunteering to assist with recovery efforts.

There are several specific things we are grateful for:

  • A church service was in progress at the Ukarumpa Centre when the earthquake hit, meeting at an outdoor location. No one was injured.

  • The Ukarumpa Centre’s water system incorporates large metal tanks for storage and distribution. Only one tank was ruined, the rest held.

  • A building that had been undergoing construction had been sufficiently braced that it suffered no damage.

  • SIL Aviation reports that aircraft are undamaged, making scheduled and relief flights possible.

  • The earthquake happened during daylight hours on a sunny day, enabling a lot of response work to occur on the day of the earthquake.

We are especially thankful to have heard of so little loss of life, despite the magnitude of the earthquake.

SIL-PNG will continue its recovery efforts, will remain poised to assist others as needs can be met, and will return as soon as possible to the work of language development, translation, literacy, and training in PNG.

*****End Public Statement*****


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