The Akha people reside in five adjacent countries in Southeast Asia: Thailand, China, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, and number over 616,000. While 90% of the population profess Christianity, only 2% claim to be evangelical. The Akha in all five nations can communicate orally with little difficulty, however, complications arose in written communication, since ten different written forms of the language existed. In 2008, they overcame those obstacles when Akha representatives from the five countries worked together over a course of ten years to develop the Common Akha Orthography (CAO). Despite the availability of Akha literature and Akha language teaching in primary schools, the Akha only have a 5% literacy rate within their population.
The Fellowship of Akha Christians wanted a Bible translation that would be usable in all five nations. They had already begun translating the New Testament when they contacted Bibles International for assistance. BI adopted the Akha project in October 2012. Since the Akha already had other New Testament translations, the FAC wished to include the Psalms and Proverbs in their CAO New Testament translation. BI considered their desire and adopted an amended project in September 2014, consisting of a New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs in addition to a subsequent Old Testament translation. BI senior consultant Ross Hodsdon worked with A-je Kukaewkasem and Buti Sansanee Saedu, the Akha translators, on the New Testament translation.
The dedication for the finished CAO Akha New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs occurred on November 17, 2018. All parties involved with the translation work and reception of the new translation celebrated this momentous occasion with great joy and thankfulness. BI consultants continue to work with the Akha translators on the Old Testament translation towards their completion goal.
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