The connection starting when we received an email from one of our Sign Language Interpreters – 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 at University level and beyond.
After returning in 2007 to Burundi, he quickly realised that life for the Deaf community had not improved at all since he had left. He decided to establish the charity Aurora Deaf Aid Africa.
Wendy told us “I always had a burning passion to go 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 French. but 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 and 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 spent time going through the NRCPD codes of conduct and telling the interpreters that 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 traveling to Burundi due to the political climate.”
Until such a time that the face to face support can happen, terptree is donating access to online Interpreter education to enable Sign Language Interpreters across the developing world to gain more valuable information, knowledge, and skills.
These donations also give these Sign Language Interpreters the tools to be able to learn more and think more of themselves rather than solely depending on the little resources that are currently available.