“Stories are one of the most useful ways of conveying health truths to an illiterate people and they are lots of fun. Not every health problem is easily adapted to the fable format, but every health problem can be dealt with in a story.” Joyce Chiles
Leatha Jenkins shares in a continuation from the last blog post on Joyce Chiles’ visit to Papua New Guinea.
“Butch and I had the honor of hosting Joyce Chiles last February 2016. We were surprised when she walked off the plane with only a carry-on for a three week visit. Right then we knew that this was no ordinary lady! She continued to strengthen that opinion as she sat on the ground with everyone else, communicated well, and discussed with enthusiasm any topic that came up.
Already excited about storytelling styles, I couldn’t wait to learn from Joyce about her health fables! And I wasn’t disappointed. Below is a brief gist of one of her many fables – translated into English. Joyce told the story orally with expression and hand gestures – the things that really capture the attention of young and old.
The settings where she told this fable was among groups of women that were either leaders or followers being discipled in the Papua New Guinea Highlands churches. I would guess that most of these ladies already use a pit toilet and do their best to keep flies off food. However, village life means they are living with people at many different levels of work ethic and discretion. So this story opened the way for discussion about how to help bring about change in a community by using social pressure. These ladies are united to teach, serve and strengthen each other and their community. Fables and social pressure are perfect tools for them!”
“Why Flies are Our Enemies”
This fable deals with the tricking of a fly by a man and the fly’s desire for revenge.
Basically, the story starts out in whatever is the cultural phrase that introduces fables, such as “Once upon a time” or “Long ago, during the times of the ancestors” and proceeds to tell about a fly and a man who were good friends.
One day the man invites the fly to go hunting. The first day after a long hunt they kill a small animal and when it is almost cooked the man sends the fly off to gather some wild fruit to eat with the meat. As soon as the fly is out of sight the man eats the meat himself, hides the bones, and tells the fly upon his return that a wild dog rushed into camp and stole the meat before he could stop him. So they eat the fruit. The fly is hungry, but the man tells him that tomorrow they will find another animal. The next day the same thing happens. Now the fly is suspicious, but is afraid to challenge the man. The third day when the man sends the fly off to find wild fruit the fly sneaks back to camp and sees the man eat the meat. Now he is enraged and quickly flies home to his tribe to tell all about how he has been treated by the man!
The whole tribe agrees revenge is necessary, but what can small flies do? After some thought an old fly suggests that they can wreak a wonderful revenge because the men in this area all just poop on top of the ground and don’t use outhouses. They can walk around on this poop, getting it on their feet, and then they can crawl all over the people’s food, cups, plates, eyes, sores, things people hold in their hands, etc. This way they can make the people eat poop and this will make them sick with worms, diarrhea, and vomiting. They can even kill some people! All the flies agree this is a terrific idea and even today you can see that they still think it’s a great idea.
This is then followed by a discussion or talk on what the people can do to protect themselves from the revenge of the flies (sounds like a good horror movie title, right?) Joyce Chiles
Leatha Jenkins has served in PNG with her husband, Butch, for many years. In recent years they have had the joy of ministering alongside two of their four children in PNG.