By Adriana Adarve – Owner of Adarve Translations & Donnamarie Leemann – Head of Marketing at Adarve Translations
Today, one of our clients requested a very urgent translation concerning Ebola and facts on how the illness is transmitted. There has been much hysteria recently regarding the Ebola virus, and our client has received inquiries by the bucket load. That hysteria aids the spread of the disease. Unlike HIV/AIDS, which is a slow-moving malady mostly passed on by sexual contact, Ebola is a fast-moving infection caused by the bodily fluids of an infected person passing through the lesions and mucus membranes of others.
The Ebola virus seems to have originated in West Africa. It appears to have been passed on by animal hosts who were eaten as “bush meat” by humans. Human to human infections are caused by contact with the bodily fluids of infected humans.
Ritual practice in the parts of West Africa where the disease has gone out of control aid the transmission of the disease. Bodies are touched in grief. They are washed in ritual practice. From death to burial the bodies of the deceased are in close contact with the living.
If those bodies are in fact infected with Ebola, those still living won’t unfortunately be living for very long.
Tradition and ritual command a great place in the lives of the people who follow them. They provide a window on the past and give people direction as to future actions and decisions. The advent of a disease such as Ebola makes a disconnect in ritual and tradition.
The followers of ancient traditions have a modern decision to make. Contact with the body of a person who is ill with Ebola, contact with the body of a person who has died from Ebola, is a life-threatening act. Ancient after-death ritual and burial procedures are also life-threatening acts. Such contact can infect the griever, and spread the contagion far and wide.
World health authorities have stated unequivocally that the Ebola epidemic can only be quenched at its source. The source of the epidemic is not only a geographical source. It is also a societal, ritualistic and traditional source.
The people of the Ebola “Hot Zone,” in Liberia and in neighboring countries, have a lot of problems to contend with. Life there is very challenging at the best of times and even if they wanted to the local people couldn’t drop and run when yet a new threat looms. At the same time, they will not survive if they cannot adapt to such a virulent new threat.
The West, the prosperous countries, has been slow to react to the threat of Ebola. Until and unless the prosperous, developed nations are able to confront and contain the Ebola virus they will remain vulnerable to it.
The solution is not isolationism. The solution is to go to the source of the disease and root it out: leaf, branch and tendril. Who can imagine what other noxious maladies might be lurking in African rain forests?
I think of the loss of MH370, the Malaysian airplane that mysteriously disappeared earlier this year. No trace of missing plane has been found, but large areas of the sea off the Australian west coast have been mapped for the first time.
It seems that it takes a tragedy for modern humans to devote resources to map and track as yet known microbes and places on our planet. Perhaps we will one day discover the source of the Ebola virus. Perhaps we will one day locate the final resting place of MH370.
In the meantime, it is incumbent upon us to break the cycle of Ebola infection in West Africa, lest it infect us all. We will not be able to break the cycle of infection by isolationism. We must take a pro-active stance and attack the problem at its source, which is to say in the African jungle.
The spread of Ebola is a frightening and a dreadful event. But there is a silver-lining. This current crisis reminds us that we are all connected. However comfortable and secure we Westerners might feel, the possibility of our contracting Ebola has to shake us out of our complacency and remind us that we live in a global world where an obscure African malady can cut our lives short.
Many of the hysterical voices now speaking out call for Ebola-affected countries to be isolated.
More moderate and thoughtful commentators call for greater efforts to help the Ebola-affected countries in Northwest Africa to overcome and stem the spread of Ebola.
What does this discussion have to do with the efforts of Adriana Adarve’s Translation Bureau? The answer is not much and a whole lot.
The people in West Africa who are burying their dead in a way that can affect them, infect them with Ebola, need to translate their ancient rituals into modern practices that can save their lives.
Yeah, sure, we at Adarve Translations give most of our day-to-day attention to translations of medical, technical and bureaucratic documents. But, being specialists who are aware of international questions, we are also concerned about disease control, climate problems and other global matters.
The very best thing that you can do to stop the spread of the Ebola virus is to give a contribution to Médecins sans Frontières, Doctors without Borders, who have successfully confronted the Ebola virus for over a decade.
The second best thing you can do is to not become hysterical about the malady. The USA and Spain have both been inept at containing the virus. That shouldn’t cause alarm to anyone who is not working as a health provider combatting Ebola.
The thing about Ebola is that you have to get it under your skin. If you have and use protective gear correctly it can’t infect you. That’s why Ebola infection has become so wide-spread in West African societies, where they have ritual contact with the dead and, so, become infected.
You have to be very careful. One drop of blood or spit or pee can infect you. On the other hand, if you have proper protective gear that isolates you from the bodily fluids of Ebola victims you have little to fear.
When HIV/AIDS presented, no one knew what to make of it. Ebola is different. We know what it is, how it is transmitted, and the devastation that it causes.
I know that I am being repetitive here, but I must say it again. The way to fight Ebola, and any other similar virulent malady, is to go after it at its source. This method will perforce cause major disruptions in ancient African societies and cultures. However much we respect those ancient values, we cannot permit our modern world to be infected by ancient maladies that can be eliminated by modern methods.
Translations are not simple communications. They must incorporate the full panoply of the past, the future, and what is going on RIGHT NOW.
It’s a hard row to hoe. We do our best.
All the best,
Donnamarie Leemann, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, & Adriana Adarve, Asheville, NC
About the Authors: Adriana Adarve is the owner of Adarve Translations and is fluent in three languages (English, Spanish & French), as well as pluri-cultural, multi-cultural, plurilingual and multilingual. Donnamarie Leemann is an artist and writer who has for many years contributed to the BBC and to many other public forums, and who collaborates at present with Adarve Translations as Head of Marketing.