CLEVELAND — A little more than 7 percent of people living in Cuyahoga County are foreign born, according to the Census Bureau, and the coronavirus outbreak is highlighting the need for translation services for this population.
“Most of my community members are not really good in English,” says Chrispin Kamucici, the pastor of Shekinah Apostolic Ministries International on Cleveland’s west side. “Most of them, they don't know English.”
When the COVID-19 crisis hit Northeast Ohio, Kamucici, who is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, started volunteering with Global Cleveland to translate state and local public health information to help his Congolese community stay informed.
“If it is in English, we translate it into Swahili, (and) in French,” says Kamucici.
President of Global Cleveland Joe Cimperman says the non-profit has recruited 40 volunteer translators covering 32 languages.
“People from the international community feel like someone is paying attention to them,” says Cimperman.
The organization is trying to help people who may already feel like outsiders because of a language barrier.
“If we can help them feel as connected as we all want to be, then I think it's one more step further in terms of getting through this incredible pandemic,” says Cimperman.
Russian-born Broadview Heights resident Natalia Streletzky is helping the Russian community get through COVID-19 by translating social media posts.
“I'm just glad I have a chance to make a difference for someone even if it's just one person,” says Streletzky.
Global Cleveland is also working to translate the economic information continually coming out as a result of this pandemic.
The Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund coalition announced Friday that Global Cleveland would receive a $35,000 grant to continue to translate state and local information for Greater Cleveland’s international community.
Global Cleveland is looking for more translators to help. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer.