Thursday, March 15, 2012

Translators Needed!

My husband and I belong to a Disaster Action Team (DAT) with the Red Cross. It is such a worthwhile volunteer opportunity and I feel so good when I know I was able to help others.

Unfortunately there was a fire that destroyed the home of a family of 5: parents and three small children. When we went to meet with them, we were notified that no one in the family spoke English. The captain of my team tried to get the translators on call this week but they were busy and could not meet with us so we thought we would have to have the translator on the phone during the whole process. Luckily, one of my knitting buddies speaks Spanish fluently and I was able to contact her to ask if she would be willing to meet and help us. She is such an angel and helped us into the wee hours of the morning as we helped this distraught family.

This whole situation made me realize how much we need bilingual volunteers! It also makes me want to go out and learn Spanish in case this happens again. Families that are already traumatized would benefit to know that someone can communicate to them in their own language! I do not want to get into a debate on whether they should learn the English language or not because that is not what this is all about. This is about helping families that are in a tragic situation and I am not going to pass judgments of any kind.

I know that we could have used the phone but I think it would have been confusing and crazy at the time. In fact, it might have put more stress on the family who was already in shock about this whole situation. The three to four hour process would have only been prolonged and everyone was exhausted at this time of night anyway.

My husband later thought about another solution if we needed it. He suggested that we might have gone to a restaurant where we know the employees speak Spanish. Surely one of them might have been willing and able to help us. That would also go for other languages if we needed to do so.

I truly believe that God had a hand in helping us that evening. I had just left my knitting group where my friend was there knitting and she comes a long way to join us. When I got the fire call and found out that we would be meeting in the town where my friend lives, I decided to ask her for her help. Amazingly, she was right near the meeting place when I called and was waiting for us when we got there. With her help, we were able to comfort the family and offer them emergency services (shelter, food and clothing). God had a plan for all of us and thankfully everything worked out perfectly.

Has you ever needed a translator but couldn’t find one? What did you do? Please share.

Image: 'You Will Be Welcome'

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