The Voice of the Abau

Abau Training Centre

A look at the function and facilities of the Abau Training Centre in Yabru village

Introducing the Abau Project and Training Centre

Physical and geographical area

The Abau Project & Training Centre has its home not far from the Sepik River in Sandaun Province. The nearest station with government services is Green River which has its own airstrip.The Abau Area is not accessible from the coast by road. Transport by air is the most reliable option. The airstrip at the Green River Government Station is reasonably well maintained.

The Training Centre of the Abau Project is located in Yabru village, which is a 7-mile hike along a swampy trail and a man-made waterway. In August 2003, the 760 meter long Yabru Community Airstrip was opened right at the Yabru village site with immediate access to the Hauser and the Sepik River.

More than 7000 Abau people live in villages along the Sepik River and its tributaries, starting at the East Sepik Province border all the way upstream till the border with West Papua (formerly called Irian Jaya). The Abau people live in a very swampy area and most of the villages are completely flooded for a number of days of the year. Recent years have been very wet and frequent floods have destroyed food gardens. The only readily available food left after these floods is the staple sago.

Start of Project

The Abau Project seeks to raise the level of literacy among the Abau People, especially among children and women. Children are reached by means of a school curriculum in the Abau Language stressing cultural values. The Abau Project actively supports the curriculum and book production of the Elementary Schools.

Work on Abau Language Analysis was started in 1982 by Arjen and Maija Lock who came under the auspices of SIL, Ukarumpa, EHP 444. The focus of SIL’s work is threefold: Translation, linguistic analysis and literacy.
Translation highlight: The Abau New Testament was dedicated in October 2006,
Examples of linguistic research: the Abau phonology (2007) and Abau Grammar (printed in 2011), both available on line. For the Abau Grammar:

Arnold (Arjen) Hugo Lock. 2011. Abau Grammar. Data Papers on Papua New Guinea Languages volume 57. Ukarumpa: SIL. xii + 483 pp. Available online at http://www.sil.org/pacific/png/abstract.asp?id=928474542179

Literacy achievements: The development of the three year Abau curriculum. Since 1990, active literacy involvement in all Abau speaking villages. Project description and philosophy also available on line:

http://www.seameo.org/_ld2008/doucments/Presentation_document/ArjenLockBuildingResponsiveLifeEmbracing.pdf . (Presented at The 2nd International Conference on Language Development, Language Revitalization, and Multilingual Education in Ethnolinguistic Communities. Bangkok, Thailand, 1–3 July 2008.

Current Facilities

The Training Centre with all residences consists of the following buildings

All the buildings described shown below are located on two well-maintained areas which are linked by a walking path. The smaller area contains the main residential building, an L-shaped house and a two-story Storage building. The larger area contains all the other buildings. The total complex has a total of six water tanks. (Total capacity 11000 gallon)

1. L-shaped residence building (120 m2). Four bedroom house with an adjoined literacy room. Has a solar fridge,12 Volt DC lights and 220 Volt AC lights. The Literacy Room (70 m2) consists of a class room and book production section.

2. Guest house (2 x 45 m2). Two story building. Upstairs: one bedroom house, with 12 Volt DC lights and one 220 Volt AC light. Downstairs: Class room with ‘limbun’ floor which can accommodate 20 students.

3. Translation Office (45 m2). Contains three work tables plus small kitchen and bathroom plus guest room. All the available solar panels are on top of this building. Four independent battery units supply power to the rest of the Training Centre including the L-shaped house.

4. Training Centre Kitchen, (50 m2) Contains double bread oven, two boilers, two ‘namba wan’ ovens, large double sink, table and storage space. Eating utensils for at least 50 students.

5. Mess (also called Fellowship House) (55 m2) Building consists of cement slab and a 1-meter high floor. The two areas are connected by an 8 meter wide three-step staircase, which can seat many people. Building can function as class room or study room as well. Seats 60 people.

6. Classroom with adjoining storage/library facility, (96 m2 & 64 m2) Place of study. Permanent building, sawn timber floor, covered with roofing iron.

7. Student Accommodation - Three ‘bush’ buildings 90 m2 each, divided in rooms. Accommodates at least 15 people per building.

8. Screened-in Student Accommodation and Classrooms (Two Storey Building) – Building has four bedrooms of 14m2 each plus two lofts serving as two large bedrooms of 35m2 each, plus a large downstairs living area of 35m2. There are lights and also a toilet and shower in the building.

9. Three adjoining meeting rooms (20m2 each) with a full-length veranda in front of the building (34 m2). All have lights, computers can be used.

10. Two-story Storage Room (60m2) – Upper room can be used as sleeping accommodation and has lights. The bottom room is for storage.

11. Book store and School Materials Storage and Shipping Place (90 m2) – School and office supplies, exercise books, chalk, pens, pencils, Abau reading and school books, stationary items, stamps, etc.

12. Water supply. More than five 2000-gallon tanks

Abau Project & Training Centre Goals & Guiding Principles

Mission Statement:

The Abau Project & Training Centre exists to further the educational and spiritual development of the Abau people and other bordering people groups. The Abau Project & Training Centre wants to promote the translation, distribution, reading and use of the written Word of God in the local language. It also seeks to promote unity and growth among the existing churches and lastly it seeks to raise the literacy level and education level of the new generation.

Goals of the Abau Project & Training Centre:

1. Support the work of Bible Translation

2. Support Literacy Work and Personal Development in the vernacular by promoting local schools for children and by facilitating Training Centre Courses and Worshop for adults, with a special focus on women.

3. Train and encourage local pastors, youth workers and Sunday School Teachers to use God’s Word in their own language.

4. Produce and dissemminate vernacular materials, along with other school necessities to be used privately or in a course context.

5. Manage the Training Centre at Yabru-village so that this centre can be used for conferences, courses and retreats in the area of education and spiritual renewal.

Guiding principles of the Abau Project & Training Centre:

1. The Abau Project & Training Centre believes in the right for each language group to have at least part of the Bible in their own language.

2. The Abau Project & Training Centre is interdenominational and works together with those churches, institutions and individuals who want to work in harmony for the well-being of the village communities in the Green River Area.

3. The Abau Project & Training Centre is a non-profit organisation. It depends on gifts, contributions and course fees to keep its operations going. The Abau Project has its own treasurer who sends monthly reports to the Netherlands for the benefit of donors who support the Abau Project out of the Netherlands and also Finland.

4. The Abau Project & Training Centre welcomes the opportunity to rent out its facilities for gatherings and courses that are not related to political election issues and have as goals to improve the spiritual or educational aspects of the people in the Green River Area. (Email: hf-abau@sil.org.pg)

5. The Abau Project & Training Centre works with volunteers only. No one receives wages or a salary. There is no system of ‘pinis pe’ or other social security benefits. The project may grant allowances to some types of volunteer labour as directed by the board. These payments are not salaries but more a sign of appreciation and recognition of the work done.