US Embassy Port Moresby: US Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray, Consular Chief Mike Mitchell, and Public Affairs Officer (PAO) Beverly Thacker visited the New Tribes Operations Headquarters in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province on Thursday and Friday, February 9 and 10.
The purpose of the visit was to provide consular services to American citizens and meet with the leadership of New Tribes to learn about their experiences in Papua New Guinea.
Consular Chief Mitchell accepted 30 passport applications including renewals and new passport applications for children born in PNG.
Ambassador Ebert-Gray and PAO Thacker toured the facilities which include a well-stocked medical clinic, store, and K-12 school for the use of the more than 500 missionaries and their families as well as employees of the Mission’s Headquarters.
The New Tribes Leadership Council exchanged information with Ambassador Ebert-Gray about their experiences in PNG. Many of the missionaries have been in PNG for more than 15 years and some of those present were second generation missionaries, born in PNG who had left to attend university in the United States and returned with their spouses.
New Tribes was founded in 1942. Its missionaries live and work in remote villages, spending years learning the local language. They then work with the community to translate the Bible and, in the process, teach the people to read and write their local language, thus preserving it from extinction. They also teach reading and writing in English and Tok Pisin, build churches, and provide religious instruction.
Members of the Leadership Council were unanimous in their assessment that their work has benefitted the people in villages where they work, citing decreased incidents of domestic violence and increased levels of education and health. Many of the children they’ve worked with have gone on to university and are now returning to their home villages to promote economic opportunities and other benefits.
“The dedication of the people of New Tribes Mission to improving the lives of the people of Papua New Guinea is truly extraordinary,” said Ambassador Ebert-Gray. “They sacrifice so much to help ensure that people in the most remote villages of this country have an opportunity to learn to read and write – not only their own local language but also English and Tok Pisin. This, together with the religious work they do will help this country promote equal opportunities for women and help Papua New Guinea prepare for the challenges of the future.”
On Friday Ambassador Ebert-Gray met with two classes of high school students where they discussed U.S. politics, government, and current affairs.
“I am so impressed with the level of education and the accomplishments of these students,” said Ambassador Ebert-Gray. “The Mission school does an excellent job of preparing its students and giving them a first-class education.”