By Chris Palmer, Project specialist for International Programs Department
Each day, Augusto wakes up in his small and unassuming home on the outskirts of Guayaquil, Ecuador. He gets ready for work by starting up his computer for a full day of CFCA letter translations. With more than 2,300 sponsored children and aging members in the Guayaquil project, one can imagine that there are plenty of translations to do in a given year.
Augusto is a simple man with dark, black hair, and his inviting demeanor is calm and genuine as he speaks with passion and wit. He has been translating letters and other documents for CFCA since 1995.
ìIt is important to have a quality translation to accompany the original letter, whether it is from a sponsor in the U.S. to a child here in Guayaquil or a child from here to a sponsor,î he said.
In a given day, Augusto is able to translate on average eight full letters from Spanish to English, only stopping for a lunch break in the afternoon.
ìSometimes I can do more depending on the length of the letter; however, there are a few cases in which children write three- to four-page letters that will in turn take me longer to translate,” he said. “In these instances, I am only able to get four or five done per day. There is one girl in particular from the Mira subproject who I think is slowly trying to write a novel to her sponsor, letter by letter.î
Although taxing at times, Augusto keeps a positive perspective on his important duty and role in the journey of a CFCA letter.
In 1979, Augusto was serving in the Ecuadorian Air Force when, during a “red alert” situation with a neighboring country, he found himself rushing back to the airbase with three other comrades. On the way back they suffered a severe car accident.
ìRight away, I knew I lost the mobility of my legs,î he said.
It was discovered shortly after that Augusto had severed his spinal cord in the accident and would require the assistance of a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Augusto was transferred between military hospitals in Ecuador until, with permission from the minister of defense, he was sent for treatment and rehabilitation to a specialized hospital in Houston, Texas. Even though there were others in the hospital who spoke Spanish, the majority of conversation in the hospital was in English. During his twoñyear rehabilitation stay, a professor came to the hospital to give English lessons to those interested.
It was through immersion in the English language that Augusto slowly turned a positive light on his time in Houston. More than 10 years after his return to Ecuador, Augusto was asked to by a director of a local school to assist in the translations of letters for a sponsorship program called CFCA. Little did Augusto know at the time, but this part-time job would eventually become his full-time vocation.
ìThis is an activity that I do with much care and dedication because it has filled many spaces in my own life,” he said. “In countless ways, this position is therapeutic because it gives me the opportunity to be utilized for the benefit of others. It also keeps me busy while allowing me to pay my daily expenses, as my translation fees are my only source of income.î
The impact of CFCAís program not only affects the lives of those who are sponsored, but the ripples and reverberations continue to affect those in proximity to it. By employing local translators, CFCA exposes the hope and potential of the poor to others in the community.
A translation may seem like a simple act, but this behind-the-scenes service is doing a lot more than transforming one language into another. After meeting Augusto, one can clearly see that the work he does for CFCA brings him much freedom, despite the physical limitations of his disability.
ìIt is through the letters I am able to become acquainted with the customs of each region,” he said. “If you ask me to describe Mira (a town located up in the highlands of Ecuador) I feel as if I am able to picture the landscape and its surroundings in my mind.
“When I translate the letters from the U.S. or other countries, I am able to get a unique description of each of those places also. Although I am unable to travel due to my condition, it is through these letters that enable me to travel all over the world. Each letter is a new journey for me.î