Saturday, October 27, 2007

Changing the World, One Life at a Time

Many readers may be familiar with the wonderful work of Hablamos Juntos, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to bring national attention to the issue of language barriers to health care.

Some may be familiar with the fascinating compilation of true stories collected about interpreters by HJ. I am proud to announce that the From Our Lips to Your Ears project has received permission to publish stories such as this one from the Hablamos Juntos collection. Special thanks to Yolanda Partida and her team for enabling these stories to reach audiences far and wide.

In particular, the following story, shared with permission here, is an excellent reminder of why the work of interpreters is of such tremendous value to the world.

A moment worth of work, a lifelong memory: Patients value interpreters' help

A woman came into the hospital to have her baby. Being unable to communicate with her, the staff in the Labor and Delivery called me to provide interpretation services.

Unbeknownst to all of us, the woman’s husband had left her the day before. Being upset as well as afraid, she begged me to stay with her during the birth.

The next morning after my shift was over; I went home, never to see her again…so I thought.

Several months ago, I encountered the same woman again, this time in Wal-Mart. She introduced me to her son James.

She had named her son after me.

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