Congratulations to Eklas, our October interpreter of the month
Our Interpreter of the Month project celebrates the hard work and achievements of our fantastic interpreters. This month’s winner is Eklas, one of our longest serving interpreters. It was an honour to speak to her and to be able to share her story. Thank you Eklas for all that you do, the entire Clear Voice team is very proud of your work.
I arrived in the UK on the 11 July 1999. I came from Iraq, and I am Kurdish. I speak Kurdish and Arabic, which are the languages I now interpret for. When I arrived, I had very basic English, but I studied and worked to improve it.
Arriving in the UK was very, very hard. Sometimes I would be crying. I felt very alone. When I arrived in Dover I was around people from different countries, speaking different languages, and I felt very isolated. When I went outside, I was scared. Even small things like going shopping were incredibly difficult. It was very hard, but the most important thing was that we were safe. This was why we left Iraq. No matter how hard it was, I knew I was safe in England. Me and my husband were safe.
I remember the people who were working in the hotel where I was staying were very kind. They befriended me and helped me a lot. I remember when I was very tired, and I had very bad headaches the manager helped me contact the doctor. I was grateful for their kindness and help.
It’s very hard for anyone coming to this country, with the different culture, the different language. Women especially may feel ashamed or find it difficult to talk about certain things.
How I became an interpreter
I’ve been an interpreter for a long time, for over 20 years. My husband was working as a chef in a hotel where asylum seekers were staying, and I would help in that situation by interpreting for them. I decided to take up interpreting professionally and so I applied to Migrant Help. I started working with them as an interpreter in 2000, which I did for around 6 years, and I then moved over to Clear Voice when it launched. The Clear Voice team are very good, and whenever they call me or if I ever have any problems, they are always very helpful. They do a great job and are a lovely team.
Sharing my experiences
I have particularly enjoyed working with Syrian refugees, bringing the families from the airport, interpreting for them face-to-face, helping them settle down. From my own experience, I understand the feeling of the people when they arrive. I am very happy to help them, to help them feel relaxed and related to. They listen to me and they are very happy to hear my experience.
I’ve been in this situation. I know it’s hard when you come to a different country when you don’t know the language. You feel shame, you feel scared. Everything is different. I am very happy to help in these situations, and to help families especially.
Coping with the pandemic
The pandemic has obviously made face-to-face interpreting more difficult. Working from home can be a challenge, but everyone tries to do their best. We have used Zoom, Teams, Google Meet: each client has different requirements. The Clear Voice team help explain everything to the client. When you are working with people who don’t understand English, who do not have technical skills it can be a difficult, but we talk through things on the phone to explain everything, to help them use the video.
Interpreting is incredibly rewarding
I love being an interpreter. It’s very rewarding knowing that I’m helping people. Every day I meet different people and hear different stories. When I help people that makes me most happy. When I see the people I’ve interpreted for smile, when I see their faces, when they pray for me or say that I’ve made their day, that makes me very happy. I know that I’ve done something important and something nice. And, especially as I do a lot of face-to-face interpreting, people will hug you, they will cuddle you. It is a very nice thing, a very rewarding thing.