Update from the Suggetts: Reaching Rural Communities in PNG

Dot & Colin Suggett are Bethany-supported missionaries who work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Their work with the Turka people of Burkina Faso came to an end on April 1, 2019 and they have begun their new roles within Wycliffe. Colin has joined *SIL’s Language Technology group as their lead tester for Bloom – a software product designed to boost literature production among minority language groups across the globe. Dot is splitting her time: first as exegetical assistant to the South Asia group, and second, as personal coach for new Wycliffe missionaries, helping them succeed in communicating effectively with their supporting constituency.

 

Front cover image for the Bloom book called “Disability is not Inability”
Copyright © 2015, African Storybook Initiative

If I want a book to read…

… I’ve got plenty of options: The public library is a few blocks down the street – from it I can borrow any of its 800,000 titles for free; If I want my own personal copy, “Chapters” is a few kilometres down the road; If I want to buy books in bulk, there’s the “Book Depot” on Welland Avenue; If I want Christian books or Sunday School materials, the local Christian bookstore is really close by; And finally, if I’m just feeling lazy, I can order pretty much any book online with the click of my mouse and a credit card in my hand, and voilà, a book arrives at my doorstep within days! Oh, and did I mention there’s also a huge library at our local University which I can access if I’m really ambitious?

I could go on, but, Wow! The plethora of options available to me not only displays my personal wealth (being able to afford to purchase books for myself), but more significantly, the incredible wealth of literature to which I have access as a speaker of a majority language, English, while living in a wealthy country, Canada.

If you’re reading this newsletter, the above description is probably true for you too. And there’s no shame in that.

But imagine you don’t speak a majority language and you aren’t living in a town so rich in book resources? Imagine, for example, that you’re living in a small village in Papua New Guinea and you speak a minority language. And imagine that you would like to read books, but there is no library down the street and no nearby bookstore, and in fact, the school you attend has only a couple of books you can borrow. Or imagine that you are the teacher of that school. Bloom is designed to help with these needs.

Or imagine, you are deaf, and the language you speak is a Sign Language. Hmmm. Can Bloom also help with that?

Surprisingly, yes! The geniuses setting the vision of Bloom are doing just that. The latest version of Bloom (now in its “Alpha” test phase) has the ability to create electronic books with built-in Sign Language videos. So, when we say that Bloom is designed to empower minority language communities all over the world to author books in their own languages, that now also includes all sign languages.

What is the motivation for all of this effort? God’s unconditional love for all peoples everywhere. And Scripture confirms that God has a soft spot for the underprivileged. That is why I am thrilled to be part of the Bloom team which is working so diligently to empower the marginalized.

I have settled into my new role as lead tester and it’s been a pleasure to make a contribution in that role. I am finding that my experience in language work in Burkina Faso has been useful, as is my distant-past experience in software programming. But there are still plenty of areas where I need to grow. For this, I value your prayers.

If you want to get an in-depth understanding of how Bloom is helping communities in Papua New Guinea, check out the video below, which shows some unique approaches to equipping rural schools in that country.

In appreciation for your support,

– Colin Suggett

 

A Closer Look at Bloom

Do you have skills in software development and does the vision of Bloom resonate with you? And do you sense God calling you to this important work? If so, let’s begin a conversation about that!