FIVE Israeli nationals spent two weeks assisting thousands of Papua New Guinea villagers’ record their family trees.
Arriving in March, the visitors came as part of a project called Tribal Quest.
The project is a community venture by My Heritage, a leading online genealogy platform where users create their own family trees and access various features that help record and trace their ancestry.
PNG Tourism Promotion Authority said over 4,000 people were interviewed in Mount Hagen, Waghi Valley and along the Sepik River.
Collaborating with local guides, MyHeritage teams spent three weeks in each destination, interviewing hundreds of community members, taking thousands of family photos, gathering information at cemeteries, and attending local community events and rituals.
The teams then processed all the data they gathered, cross-correlated and tagged it, and organised the family history information of over 6,000 members of tribal communities in 55 richly-detailed family trees.
This information is now saved online on MyHeritage, with further expeditions to other remote destinations are currently being planned.
Tribal Quest project founder Golan Levi said the records would help Papua New Guineans honour their ancestors into the future.
“This project aims to allow people around the world — no matter where or how they live — to save their ancestors’ legacies forever, for the benefit of their descendants, and our descendants,” he said.
Tribal Quest’s goal was the preservation of family history in remote parts of the world, with PNG chosen as a destination to carry out the project due to its cultural diversity and the accelerated economic changes it was experiencing, Mr Levi added.
PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA) marketing director Alice Kuaningi met with the team in Port Moresby before they departed the country.
The group told Ms Kuaningi that their favourite place was in Yimas, a village in the East Sepik province, while their most interesting discovery was the biggest family tree they have put together, which was in the Waghi Valley.
This family tree was made up of 745 members going back five generations.
PNGTPA said this trip was the group’s first visit to PNG and they hope to return some day to experience and record genealogies in other parts of the country.
The team was accompanied by PNGTPA Israel market representative Raz Chabel, who has been involved in PNG’s tourism industry for over 20 years.
Also an Israeli national, Mr Chabel is fluent in Tok-Pisin and is an honorary member of a Sepik River tribe.