Wa’a, the Hawaiian word for canoe, was chosen to express the coming together of seven organisations in the Pacific region. YWAM, The Seed Company, The Jesus Film, Wycliffe Global Alliance, PNG Bible Translation Association and SIL signed the Wa’a Covenant in Kona, Hawaii in September 2011, with the desire to see every Bible-less people group in the Pacific have the Word of God available in their heart language by 2020.
YWAM’s Pacific Link ship makes six trips a year in Gulf and Western, offering eye and dental treatment to remote communities which have limited access to health care. Working alongside the Department of Health, YWAM provides work experience for PNG graduates in dentistry and optometry, and training for medical staff at Daru hospital. In one recent two-week trip the ship’s team gave glasses to 1075 people, did 164 eye operations and treated 514 dental patients.
Three SIL translators and one media specialist worked on the ship, alongside YWAM volunteers from several countries. They used their knowledge of PNG’s languages and cultures to support the YWAM medical team, and also went ashore to do language assessment in Daru's settlements. SIL currently works with 36 of the 90 language communities in Gulf and Western and is looking for staff to work with other communities who have expressed a desire for literacy and translation in their language.
Future partnership plans include producing health materials in local languages, conducting language surveys and distributing translated materials from the YWAM ship, as well as interpreting for the medical workers.
The Wa’a partners continue to explore ways to work together in the Pacific, sharing staff, facilities and expertise in different areas—but this voyage together on PNG's waters has been a very positive one.