The translation team for
Ayudando a su Hijo en el Hospital (the English title
Your Child in the Hospital)
is Mario and Oralia Tercero, working with staff from the PlaneTree Health
Library in San Jose, California. The Tercero's personal search
for health information precipitated their move to the United
States and eventually brought them to
PlaneTree Health Library.
Mario was born in Honduras. When he was young, he had only
rudimentary English in school, such as words like "cat" or
"table." However, from 1985 to 1995, Mario lived in San Jose with
relatives there. He attended high school and took ESL classes.
Thus, his first "translation" work was getting through high
school in the US.
Mario returned to Honduras when his mother became ill; as the
only unmarried child, it was his family duty. While studying
Industrial Engineering at university, he met Oralia. They studied
together every night until midnight.
After their wedding, Oralia continued earning her bachelor's
degree in Business Administration while Mario worked as computer
system administrator for Coca Cola's distribution department. The
computer system was in English as were the technical
specifications and instructions. After training himself in
technical English, he then trained the monolingual
Spanish-speaking employees to operate the computer handheld
devices. That translation job was two-fold:
While finishing at the university, Oralia worked in HIV/AIDs
prevention and at a doctor's office with Spanish-speaking
clients. She did not speak English, and for two years studied ESL
on Saturdays. She practiced her translation by listening to
Technical to everyday language (supplying the practical context
and explanation an operator would need)
English to Spanish
Three months before Mario and Oralia moved to the US, Mario got
very sick with a digestive condition. He went to five doctors. No
one, including a gastroenterologist specialist, could tell him
what was wrong. The doctor who finally diagnosed his disorder was
a rheumatologist who had studied in Spain, where the problem is
Mario and Oralia looked for information on the condition, but it
was very difficult to find. Public libraries in Honduras had no
information on health. Oralia assured her husband that when they
went to the US, they would keep looking in the libraries there.
They came to San Jose in early 2000 to stay with relatives and
start a new life. The day after they arrived, Oralia went by bus
to the main public library. Librarians there referred her to the
PlaneTree Health Library. She remembers feeling lost and
frightened, but getting a lot of help.
"I only knew what Mario's condition was called in Spanish. I was
so worried about asking them about it. I thought, 'If I give them
the wrong name of the disease, they will give me the wrong
information. I could kill Mario!'
"I remember the librarian giving me all the attention. I remember
her kind eyes on me. I was freezing. It was February and I
missed the warm weather of Honduras. But the library had the
fireplace going. It was not like any library. I found so much
information. It was amazing."
On a return visit, Oralia learned of the need for bilingual
volunteers. She volunteered every week for eight months. Her
English improved greatly and she was able to help people who
preferred to get information in Spanish.
When they first got to San Jose, the couple did not have health
insurance or money for any medications. So, they based Mario's
treatment on the diet recommendations found in the PlaneTree
books and articles. Mario recalls, "I got better! I was able to
get a job. Then, I got insurance."
After medical treatment during their first year in San Jose,
Mario regained his health. The couple was able to get a car and
an apartment of their own. Oralia got a work permit and resident
status. Mario had become a citizen in 1995.
While Oralia was volunteering at PlaneTree, library director
Candace Ford began to groom her for a position as assistant in
the branch library at the Grail Community Resource Center. Oralia
now combines that work with another part-time position at one of
PlaneTree's health literacy branches.
Mario worked for WebVan and is now in public transportation in
San Jose. His longterm career goal is to go back to school to
prepare for work in the health and human service arenas or other
community-based agencies. "I'm fortunate to be truly fluent in
both languages," Mario says, "and would like to use that ability
to help people live better and learn more, especially about their
Getting healthcare information into the hands of Spanish speakers
is a passion for both Oralia and Mario. Their translation of Your
Child in the Hospital was "a big project for us. We worked hard
to use Spanish terms that will be understood by people from any
Spanish-speaking culture. The book will help many Hispanic
families. It is also valuable for any person in the hospital,
child or adult. We learned a lot about US hospitals from reading
the English version. We are proud to help Spanish-speaking
families get what they need too."