Police-civilian interaction works well when both parties communicate well with each other. With a language barrier, this becomes very difficult. Such is the case of Nabori, a refugee from Burundi. When a police officer confronted Nabori after he came to the United States, he instinctively reached for his pocket. Years of evading corrupt policemen back home had taught him that his first imperative was to protect what he carried. With limited English skills, Nabori had no way of explaining anything to the officer. He was arrested and taken to jail.
ADC, Inc. first heard of this case through the New City Fellowship in St. Louis. ADC, Inc. arranged a meeting with Nabori’s elderly parents and, with the help of an interpreter, the parents—close to tears at this point--explained the circumstances leading to their son’s arrest and requested ADC’s assistance.
ADC, Inc. contacted the Public Defender who was assigned to Nabori’s case—Ms. Erica Wurst. During the first bond reduction hearing, ADC, Inc. offered to help transport Nabori to and from court, and to monitor his completion of all court services if he was granted bail. The bail was initially denied. Then the bond was set at $30,000. Then, it was reduced to $3,000. On the third hearing, Nadori was granted bail after posting a bond of just $300…all because of Attorney Wurst’s dedicated work and ADC’s cultural knowledge and strong advocacy.
Having secured Nadori’s release, ADC, Inc. continues to advocate for the young man, who dreams of bringing his family, whom he hasn’t seen in six years, to the United States. Through partnerships with Places for People and Family Care Center, ADC, Inc. has helped secure medical and psychological services for Nabori. Nabori is now working on improving his communications skills, and is looking for a job. Once he finds work, he will be a step closer to eventually bringing his family here.
Watch out for updates about Nabori…
Mansa Aholouvi fled her native Togo in 2005 amid the political unrest that followed the death of Africa’s longest serving head of state. She came to the United States seeking freedom and a better life. However, like many other refugees forced to relocate to the West, Mansa did not speak English.
Mansa did not let the language barrier discourage her initially. Eager to find work and be productive, she enrolled in ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and attended religiously for two years. Eventually, she resigned to the fact that it was near-impossible for a 74-year old woman to learn a new language with no one to interpret to her native tongue. So she stopped going to classes.
Mansa’s troubles with ESL paled in comparison to what happened later. About a year ago, she fractured her wrist in a car accident, and rushed to get medical treatment. Unable to communicate with the clinical staff, and unable to find a proficient interpreter, Mansa struggled to get adequate care, and struggled to apply for medical benefits she was eligible for. She recalls that she would often cry in frustration during this time, thinking about the language barrier and what it had done to her life.
When ADC first heard about Mansa, the organization scheduled a meeting with her. Mansa explained her frustration with her inability to go about her daily life with an injured and swollen wrist. Worse still, many of her medical appointments were cancelled last minute due to the lack of an interpreter.
ADC, Inc. proceeded to contacted BJC to inform them that ADC, Inc. offers translation services in most African languages. ADC, Inc. also reached out to Provision Home Care to enroll Mansa in home health services. Now she has a medical professional treat her at home, three days a week, four hours a day.
ADC’s intervention has dramatically improved the quality of Mansa’s life. Mansa had been suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes, conditions she had never heard about before coming to the United States. With ADC’s intervention, her doctor visits have been going more smoothly. At home, she eats better as a result of the home health visits secured through ADC, Inc. Mansa’s life is still drastically different from how it would have been at home, where she would have been able to provide for herself selling artifacts. But, she is grateful to have procured the services of ADC, Inc. and marvels at how much happier she is with her life. She has more time now, she says, to spend some time with her kids, who offer her the hope of a better future for her family in the United States.
Update: BJC is currently working with ADC to draw up a contract for full medical interpreter services.
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