From the remote APY lands to the Promised Land

The sounds of wildlife and chatter in the outback will soon be replaced with boarding calls and the hum of aircraft engines as 16 Pitjantjatjara translators prepare to embark on an exciting trip of a lifetime. 

For 72 years translators from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands, located in the far north west of South Australia have been working hard translating the King James Bible to the local language, Pitjantjatjara. This work began in 1943 with early missionaries and is continued today with the guidance of fluent Pitjatjatjara speaker Paul Eckert, a 62-year-old emissary of the Bible Society who first visited the region as a local school teacher in the early 1970s.

In 2011 Eckert broached the idea that it would be a wonderful opportunity for translation team members to experience a trip to Israel, home of many of the bible stories they were translating. It was understood that such an opportunity could only assist the translators in their complicated and time-consuming work.

Plans for the trip gained momentum in 2014 thanks to funding from an anonymous donor and subsequent donations from several sources including UC Invest have made the trip possible for 16 translators and 5 assistants.

UC Invest were proud to donate $15,000 to the Northern Synod who put the funds toward this worthwhile expedition.  Manager at UC Invest, Paul Barnett explained,

“We were thrilled to learn UC Invest’s contribution to the Northern Synod was going to this project. The impact of such a trip will have an extreme impact on the individual translators as well as the broader Pitjantjatjara community upon the travellers’ return.”

Preparation and logistics has been time consuming and challenging for the organisers. It has included extensive paperwork; such as sourcing birth certificates for 11 of the travellers who did not have one, in order to arrange passports, booking travel arrangements and ensuring the group were fit for the rigors of international travel; not to mention the extensive walking program planned for them once they arrived in Israel.

In the lead up there has been a lot of excitement and perhaps a little trepidation as bible translators located in one the most remote areas on the planet prepare for their September trip.

Interested in the Pitjantjatjara? Hear the bible being read in their local dialect: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/video/id-g1NXU4ZTqMK61ufq9-Tv9P_pUp33A7h-/An-Aboriginal-reading-of-the-Bible

UC Invest is an activity of the Uniting Church SA.

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