Retired Adventist teacher empowers adults to read in PNG

Retired Adventist teacher Rahab Balangawi.

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“Why sit in church and only listen when you can read the Bible yourself?” asked Rahab Balangawi, a retired Adventist teacher who has taken up the challenge to teach adult literacy to people who cannot read in Wewak, East Sepik Province (Papua New Guinea).

Mrs Balangawi started the adult literacy project in 2020 when she noticed that some of the people attending her local church didn’t participate in Bible reading and study.

“As a teacher, I understand that people forget things when they only hear them. But if they read it and understand, it will become a part of them that later they can share with others,” she said.

Initially formed by a small group of Adventists, the class grew as people from other faiths became interested and joined the class. With 26 adult students in her class—many of whom had never attended school—Mrs Balangawi found it challenging to teach the basics of reading, such as phonics. But with much dedication and prayer, all of them can now read.

With the help of her assistant Maenda Morris, Mrs Balangawi has recently implemented basic life skills classes in her project, teaching reading on Tuesdays and basic life skills such as cooking and sewing on Thursdays.

“We teach them life skills as a way to help them earn money and provide for themselves and their families. And so far, it has been beneficial to them,” said Mrs Balangawi, adding that she is grateful to the Adventist Disaster Relief Agency (ADRA) for their support in making this adult literacy possible.

“Reading is an essential tool in communication; thus, it is also a necessary tool in Christian witnessing as it is only through reading that we will fully understand the word of God.”

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