Meet Marlene

The Australian Society of Indigenous Languages (AuSIL) is celebrating 50 years of service from 1961-2011. Among many other projects, AuSIL assisted in the translation of the entire Kriol Bible which is spoken by 30,000 people across the top end of Australia.

“I believe in my heart so much that God has wanted me to be a part of this,” says Marlene. She is one of many Australian Indigenous people who worked on the translation of the complete Kriol Bible leading up to its launch in 2007. Doing the translation was, “hard at first, but… I knew that God was with me at all times and gave me the wisdom [to do it].”

Leading a large group of teenagers in rehearsals for a spiritual dance presentation that night, Marlene is youthful and energetic at 38 and blessed with five children of her own. A youth pastor in her community in Ngukurr, Marlene reports that she and the other Christians meet together every night to fellowship, sing songs and read from the Kriol Bible. “It’s the only Bible that we use in our community,” says Marlene.

Marlene looks back on the great celebration dedicated to the completion of the Kriol Bible. “Everyone was really happy about it because then we could see that we had the whole Bible in our own language.” She observes, “It’s being used throughout the whole territory in different communities. Lots of different people use it.”

Marlene points out that while this translation is essential for all of her community, it is especially meaningful for those youth who drop out of school and stay at home. “They won’t understand English,” she says. “It’s hard for us to read, especially the ones that don’t pass at school… But with our own language it’s easier.”

Marlene’s parents, Ishmael and Irene, also worked as translators on the Kriol Bible. They worked on it for many years until Ishmael passed away. “I’m happy that we’ve got the Bible in our own language today,” Marlene shares, “…Because I can see my father’s work, mother’s work and even my work is all there together. And, for me, as an older daughter, I’m proud of what my father gave me.”

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