This morning I came across a heartwarming, humanity affirming story about a California high school that is rallying around a teenage boy named Samedi Djeimguero. Samedi came to San Jose from the Central African Republic in December, alone as a refugee, and he barely speaks a word of English or French…or any language for which it would be easy to find a translater.
He speaks Sango, a language spoken by fewer than 1.6 million people. And he needs a translater.
This brilliant article in the Mercury News by Lisa Fernandez tells the whole story. It ends with an appeal to readers to help find someone who speaks Sango or Kaba (a related language).
After reading the story, I figured the UN Dispatch network might be able to help. This is something that Twitter was built for.
I created this Storify on our search. The embed from the storify is not working at the moment, but highlights include the academic and twitter-prolific Africa expert Laura Seay contacting Africana linguists and @USEmbPretoria alerting the American embassy in Central African Republic.
Let’s do this Team UN Dispatch. I bet you know someone who knows someone who might speak these languages. If you have a good lead get in touch with me @MarkLGoldberg If your lead is truly solid, you can contact Samedi’s social worker directly via contact info in the Mercury News article.
UPDATE: I spoke with the social worker in San Jose handling this case. She tells me that the story is even more complicated. Samedi has a brother who has special needs. They need help for him as well.
They are desperately looking for a translator. Ideally, the person would be located somewhere in northern california. If that doesn’t work, they need someone who is either on Pacific Standard Time (and able to take phone calls during normal hours) or someone who is willing to be on call or available on an emergency basis.
Samedi is essentially mute, says the social worker. He gets frustrated and starts banging his head. He needs counseling, and someone who can provide translation during regularly scheduled counseling sessions or during an emergency. I feel like just a little translator help could go a very long way. Please spread the word.
I’m sure we can find someone on the west coast or in the USA who speaks Sango and English and is willing to help. C’mon diaspora!