It began with a slight quiver at the corner of his mouth.
A minute later, his broad shoulders started to shake. He chuckled aloud, his solemn expression dissolving in a wide, white smile. Elbows on his desk, he covered his face with his hands and gave way to laughter. How could he remain serious when he was being entertained with a brand new story, read aloud to him in his own language—right in his own office!
It was simply a courtesy call.
Knowing how important it was to keep the local government officials abreast of developments in the Aringa Bible translation and Literacy project, Barnabas (leader of the project) and Isaac (Director of Here is Life, the Ugandan partner organization with OneBook, Canada) had just presented this Chairman of the Yumbe District in northern Uganda with copies of Aringa storybooks and primers. Barnabas then stood and politely offered to read him one of the stories. The Chairman was very impressed.
“I know several languages, but yet I cannot read my own language—Aringa,” he confessed regretfully. “I think it will be very difficult for me to learn.”
“I am here for you, at your service,” replied Barnabas. “Call me at any time, and I will come and help you learn.”
Hearing that even women and young children are now learning to read Aringa easily using the literacy materials produced by the project, he was very encouraged.
“Other cultures are encroaching from all sides,” the Chairman said. “We need to preserve the Aringa culture, and that is only possible through the language. Development is not development without the language. Without the language, you are lost! You are lost.”
-Jerry and Kathy, off the road in Uganda