WiRED-Armenia Translators at Work
BY ALLISON KOZICHAROW AND BERNICE BORN
hanks to its dedicated translators, WiRED International’s Health Learning Center now offers 15 health education modules in the Armenian language on topics of pressing concern in Armenia such as diabetes, dental hygiene and quitting smoking.
Orthopedic surgeon Ara Nahabedian, M.D., supervises the translations, and Mariam Sargsyan coordinates the work of translators. Ms. Sargsyan said, “We have a unique and useful approach in directly and effectively assisting the health information requirements of our region. The use of questionnaires for parents, doctors, students and teachers in our respective regions helps us come up with an updated list of our communities’ health education needs and enables us to plan the subsequent translations.”
Dr. Nahabedian explained that translating from English into Armenian presents a challenge, since there are two Armenian dialects, Eastern and Western, which differ from each other in words, grammar and spelling. He asked volunteers from Armenia to translate the information into the Eastern dialect, and then he edited the text to conform to the Western translation. Also, Dr. Nahabedian had to transliterate many medical terms directly from the original Latin to avoid using English or Russian vocabulary.
Poverty and the lack of reliable medical information have created serious healthcare concerns for the people of Armenia. WiRED started working there in 2012 to develop a strong and effective program to provide communities in this post-Soviet state with accurate, reliable and effective health education, administrative support and training. The early WiRED effort grew into the partnership of WiRED-Armenia, led by Director Sebouh Baghdoyan. In a recent strategy to advance community wellness, WiRED-Armenia has combined training programs with health screening measures for participants, which puts training into immediate action.
Volunteer translators in Armenia will continue to expand their work by adding new modules in Armenian to the health training library. This growing collection will enable WiRED-Armenia staff to reach greater numbers of people with an even broader range of health topics.
Dr. Ara Nahabedian, Translation Supervisor
Dr. Ara Nahabedian
Dr. Nahabedian, who was born in Aleppo, Syria, got his B.S. degrees in biology and chemistry and his M.S. degree in human morphology at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon (AUB). He entered medical school at AUB as the Lebanese civil war began, and, while a second year student, treated casualty victims. During his residency at AUB he continued to treat wounded and severely injured patients. In 1984, after completing his certification as a specialist in trauma and orthopedics, he headed to the United Kingdom for further training. Currently, he is an orthopedic surgeon at Leighton Hospital in Crewe-Cheshire, England.
Dr. Nahabedian began his humanitarian efforts in Armenia in 1988 after a major earthquake devastated the northern part of the country. Today he travels from England to Armenia to provide free surgeries for adults and to provide medical consultation for children in need. He also collects and transports medical equipment to Armenian hospitals, which are desperate for supplies.
Dr. Nahabedian leads WiRED’s translation team as its Armenian translation director and medical consultant. He said, “I was taught during my medical training that patient education was at the top of the to-do list. Accordingly, the WIRED program of health education modules was a natural means for me to pass basic medical knowledge to the Armenian public.”
Mariam Sargsyan, Translation Coordinator
In 2014 Mariam Sargsyan became a volunteer at a WiRED center in Gavar, Armenia. She had attended a WiRED dental hygiene training session, where she noticed a certain boy and his parents. Not only did the WiRED modules teach the child how to protect his teeth and keep them healthy, but his parents were alerted to a potential medical problem and took the boy to a hospital for further examination. Ms. Sargsyan said, “Since that time I have seen that many Armenians cannot afford medical care in general and have no reliable source of healthcare training. I saw that more trainings and modules needed to be translated into Armenian.”
Today Ms. Sargsyan coordinates a team of WiRED module translators under the supervision of Dr. Nahabedian. So far she has translated the three-part Child Growth and Development, Anemia, and Anatomy Part 1 modules. She also works as a project manager at Good Hope NGO, an organization which provides programs, training and resources to families and children with special needs, and advocates for the rights of disabled children. In recognition of her work, Ms. Sargsyan received a medal from the United States Embassy of Armenia.
Ms. Sargsyan said, “From my experience with WiRED, I learned that an educated population can engage in illness prevention and work more successfully with their doctors and other medical professionals in addressing health problems. Elevating public interest in health and teaching people about preventing disease is the best defense against debilitating health issues that can plague a population.
“My dream is to find donors and sponsors to establish a WiRED International Translation Center in Gavar to boost and increase the number of WiRED modules in Armenian and the number of translators.”
Mariam Hovhanisyan, Translator
Ms. Hovhanisyan, who was born in Yerevan, Armenia, is a high school senior who hopes to attend the American University of Armenia in the fall to major in business. She began translating for WiRED in order to learn about health and various diseases and to increase her language skill in English. When she was told that the translated versions would become learning sources for Armenians, especially in vulnerable groups, she vowed to do her best.
Ms. Hovhanisyan’s first project was to translate the three-part Introduction to WiRED’s Cancer Module. She said, “The module’s vocabulary, sentence structure and meaning were clear. I didn’t need more background information about the disease to complete the translation. As a WiRED translator I learned about cancer, its risk factors and treatments and enriched my vocabulary with medical and biological terms. Since this experience was both enjoyable and useful to me, I would like to do more translating.”
Vardi Snetsunt, Translator
Ms. Snetsunt, who was born in Sisian, Armenia, volunteered to translate for WiRED. Despite having young children to care for, she took the time to volunteer and found the process of translating helped her improve her English and increased her level of knowledge about health care.
Ms. Snetsunt said, “I have always been interested in medicine, in diseases and in emergency care. I believe the translated WiRED modules can educate my friends and relatives about the health issues they encounter and will prove valuable to people who know little about medicine and health care. Health education can help everyone to avoid misinformation about a disease, to spot its symptoms, to get treatment more quickly and to manage recovery.”
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