Monday, May 9, 2011

An Alphabet for Ma Manda

We spent the last week in a village called Kesengen with our friends Ryan and Crystal, translators working with the Mǎ Mǎndǎ language group. There is so much to tell - where do we begin? (This is always the problem when coming back from the village!)

To start off, here is a photo of the Penningtons with their daughter Chloe. (I totally stole this photo from Ryan's blog.) The purpose of the trip was to hold an Alphabet Design Workshop. In other words, we were helping Mǎ Mǎndǎ speakers to come up with their own alphabet for the very first time. Exciting stuff!

Note: this is the same language group that Brian hiked to last November (read more about Brian's previous visit to Kensengen here). At that time we called the language Saut Manda, but since then they have changed the name to Mǎ Mǎndǎ.

Brian drove us to the village in a borrowed vehicle (our truck being too small for four adults and two car seats). The drive is two hours on the highway and then 24km up into the mountains on a rough 4WD road (another 2 hours with "good" road conditions.)

Here is Greg, sleeping peacefully through the mild bumps at the beginning of the off-road part. Towards the end the ride got rougher, and I was multi-tasking trying to sing to him to keep him from freaking out while at the same time trying to keep a large box that had bounced free from it's formerly secure position from falling on top of him. And Brian wonders why I didn't notice certain landmarks along the road!

The truck when we arrived, suitably covered with mud. Don't worry off-road driving fans. There are much more dramatic pictures to come when we tell about the trip home!

And this is the house that we stayed in. It was actually built by Habitat for Humanity. It was pretty nice for a village house. Inside there was a small common room and four 8'x8' rooms with plywood walls and floors.

There are a lot of pretty places in PNG, but the area where Ryan and Crystal work is gorgeous. Kesengen is on a plateau, and all along the edges of the village the ground drops away in steep cliffs. It's surrounded by big rugged peaks on all sides. Sadly, I'm finding that none of my photos really do it justice, because often the tops of the mountains were covered with clouds, or I just didn't have my camera with me at the right time (like at 6am when I was walking through the quiet village towards our bathing area as the sun rose).

The view from the front of our house. Greg has just had his bath and is quickly working on getting dirty again.

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