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Meet the Mozambique translators: Communicating crucial information on the ground

Because communication is essential, the work of translators is vital. Meet three translators who are helping people impacted by Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique.  

Translator ThommAt 20 years old, Thomm Inacio knows exactly what he wants to do with his life.

“I finished my grade 12 last year,” says Thomm. “My goal now is to go to university to become a teacher of English and help other people learn as I have.”

Thomm works as a translator for the Red Cross field hospital in Nhamatanda, Mozambique. It is a job that is often challenging, but is a role that is critical for the success of the mission.

“I am in the middle and I translate between different people, patients, doctors and Red Cross,” Thomm explains. “Sometimes, there are patients who come who only speak local languages, like Sena or Ndau. Without a translator, communication between all of them would not be possible.”

His time with the Red Cross has also exposed him to new people and experiences.

“On top of translating, I am also getting knowledge,” says Thomm. “There are so many things that I’m learning and I am getting in touch with people that I never imagined I could be in touch with.”

When Cyclone Idai swept through Nhamatanda with winds up to 200 km/h, the roof was ripped from Thomm’s home, exposing his family’s belongings to the torrential rain. Almost everything they owned was damaged.

“It was so sad,” he says. “But after, we started working to make it OK again. It’s like starting a new life again.”

Translator TabitaTabita Fernando learned to speak English in South Africa, where she spent more than 10 years as a child and teenager. Now she works as a translator for the Red Cross field hospital in Nhamatanda, Mozambique, only a few kilometres from the small village where she was born. 

“With the Red Cross, I have been visiting communities of people who are suffering after the cyclone, people who have stress or mental health issues,” says Tabita. 

She accompanies the Red Cross psychosocial support aid worker on visits to the local community where they assess they needs and conditions of the people. She also translates during trainings provided to local staff and volunteers on various topics, including the fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and psychosocial first aid.

Working as a translator has opened her eyes to new possibilities. 

“Now, I want to be a social worker because I like to help people. There are so many people suffering in Mozambique and I want to do my best to make a change people’s lives.”

Translator MarciaWhen Marcia Saica got a call from her cousin in Nhamatanda about a job opportunity with the Red Cross at the local hospital, Marcia came right away.

“I didn’t know what I would be doing. But after my interview, I was told to start the next day,” says Marcia. “I worked mostly in the cholera treatment centre. There were many cholera cases at first and I was often working in triage.”

After Cyclone Idai, Mozambique had its first cholera outbreak in years, with more than 5,000 cases recorded. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Red Cross and other aid organizations, the outbreak was quickly contained.

“I am thankful because I know that the Red Cross is helping a lot,” says Marcia. “When I first started working, the cases of cholera were so many. But yesterday, we didn’t have any new patients. That is because we are working hard and the people are getting our information and doing what we are asking them to do.”

She says she has learned a lot in her time with the cholera treatment centre. 

“I learned…what to do when the patient arrives for the first time. And now at home I am constantly, constantly washing my hands,” Marcia says, laughing. “But now that I know about cholera and where it comes from, I tell people that they must wash their hands and their food and they must chlorinate their water.”

When asked what she wants do in her life, her answer was simple; 

“Saving lives.”

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Mozambique field hospital opens specialized malaria treatment centre
Meet a logistics aid worker at the field hospital in Mozambique
Stories from the Red Cross cholera treatment cetnre in Mozambique
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