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Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Unique Need in Greeley: Delivering Help in Burmese

By BETH TOLL
When Red Cross disaster responder Dana Bischke was given a somewhat unusual request to find a Burmese language translator during the Colorado Floods, she wasted no time reaching out to many various sources to try and find an expert in the field. 

Dana  and her husband Gene, volunteers from the West Dakota Chapter in North Dakota, are typically deployed after disasters to drive mobile feeding trucks through affected communities to distribute food and clean-up supplies. 

However, for the Colorado floods, Dana was assigned to the in-kind donations team.  Typically during a disaster, the in-kind donations team may be asked to procure donations from various organizations and businesses,  ranging from forklifts to food depending on what is needed for that specific relief operation.

The Burmese language translator request came through to Dana and her team via Health Services Manager Linda Arnold, a Red Cross volunteer from the Eastern Wisconsin Chapter.   Arnold and her team realized that they were unable to communicate basic flood safety tips with members of the Burmese population in Greeley.

 “Flood waters are dangerous and we really needed to be able to share important resources about disease risks and sewage exposure to this population,” said Arnold.  “We didn’t have a way to translate the flyers into Burmese, so we reached out to the in-kind donation team to see if they could possibly track down a specialized translator to donate their services.”

Dana spent several days contacting various sources around the country who continued referring her to different agencies.  Undeterred, she was finally able to find a translator in Colorado who was willing to donate her services to help with the flood relief effort.

"It’s very rewarding to know that you’ve helped a group people to be safe and taken care of,” she said.  “That’s what the Red Cross does, we take care of people.” 

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