We have recently offered Communication Professionals to help us donate Interpreter Education to Developing Countries, and one of these countries was Burundi.
What a surprise to receive an email from Wendy Everingham telling us about the time she spent volunteering in Burundi within the local deaf community!
She first went out there in 2011, accompanying a deaf person visiting from the UK and volunteering as an Interpreter.
The deaf person had escaped Burundi after experiencing a 10-year war and spending considerable time in refugee camps. He eventually settled in the UK and continued his education to the University level and beyond..
After returning in 2007 to Burundi, he quickly realised that life for the Deaf community had not improved since he left. He decided to establish the charity Aurora Deaf Aid Africa.
Wendy told us, “I always had a burning passion for going to Africa, and when the opportunity arose to go to Burundi with the Charity, I readily put my name forward, even though I had never heard of the country.”
Wendy has since become a Trustee of this deaf-led charity and went on to explain, “At that time(2011) there were two interpreters in the country, but now there is only one as one has moved to the US. In Burundi, the main spoken language is Kirundi, with, until recently, the main second spoken language being French. They are starting to teach more English in schools now. Deaf people and interpreters use an old version of ASL.
There is no government funding for interpreters, and anyone learning to interpret is self-taught; they often work long hours without breaks for very little or no money.
There is no access to face-to-face training; no resource available, and even online learning can be an issue; as the internet access there can be problematic.”
During her time there, Wendy went through the NRCPD codes of conduct; and told the interpreters she met about the training the UK-based Sign Language Interpreters undertake.
Wendy told us: “we would like to get more face-to-face training and support out there to the interpreters, but the Foreign Office is currently advising against foreign nationals travelling to Burundi; due to the political climate.” Until such a time that the face-to-face support can happen; she believes our donation will be a great resource to them. She said, “this is a fantastic way of getting valuable information to them; that they would otherwise not have access to”. She went on to tell us that this will give them tools to be able to learn more; and be able to think more for themselves. Rather than solely depending on the little resource that is currently available.
We are delighted that our story has provoked this response, and we look forward to working further with Wendy in supporting interpreters in Burundi as well as the rest of the developing world. For more information about Aurora Deaf Aid Africa, you can go to their website www.auroradeaf.org
If like Wendy, you have any stories you want to share with us regarding your experiences working or volunteering as an interpreter in a developing country, we would love to hear from you at email@example.com