SIL-PNG regional centres are providing vital services to language development and translation teams throughout PNG. There are eight regional centres located in Port Moresby, Alotau, Wewak, Madang, Lae, Kokopo, Buka, and Kavieng which serve over 150 language projects. Each centre has an experienced staff that provides valuable assistance to language workers, including services such as guesthouse accommodations, computer technology, financial services and vehicles.
Five of these centres have training facilities that are run in partnership with BTA (PNG Bible Translation Association). Literacy and Language and community development workshops provide training and interactions for citizens located within reasonable travelling distances. Office space is provided for projects when the teams are in town and need a place to work. Efforts that work on multiple languages use the centres as a central location for remote village language workers. Programs such as VITAL (Vernacular in Translation And Literacy) in Alotau and Bougainville Advance in Buka utilize these facilities in order to have regular training sessions and large workshops.
Technology enhancements have made the centres a hub of communications activity. Five of the centres have direct satellite connections that enable residents to have connectivity for email and research capabilities. This access allows citizen language workers to with advisors and consultants overseas.
Access to the regional centres is accomplished in a variety of ways and the centres assist travellers on their journeys. Most are near airstrips, and centre staff provides transportation to and from the airstrips, delivery and purchase of supplies, and help with refueling, loading and unloading of the aircraft. Travellers also arrive by PMVs, trucks and even by boat. The “Kwadima II”, based in Alotau provides water travel throughout the Alotau area and occasionally to other centres in PNG.
Growing Papua New Guinean participation in the language development and translation effort is making these centres a more integral part of the strategy to see work accomplished in new language groups. As one national translator commented, “It’s too hard to work in the village. There are too many distractions. Here at the Wewak Regional Centre, I can work all day or night because I have electricity. I’m not pressured to work elsewhere; I can focus on my work for weeks at a time.”