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Ukrainians of Roanoke Valley, Volatia Interpreters Stand With You

Lina Francisco, 37, left, and Tatyana Maidebura, 71 from The Roanoke Times article written by Heather Rousseau.
Lina Francisco, 37, left, and Tatyana Maidebura, 71 from The Roanoke Times article written by Heather Rousseau.

By: Candace Bazile | Volatia - City of Roanoke's Lina Francisco and her mother, Tatyana Maidebura, sojourned through near sleepless nights during the initial stages of the Russian invasion that began Feb. 24. They worked together from different continents to get Maidebura out of Ukraine, as told to Heather Rousseau of The Roanoke Times, April 3.

Ukrainian-born Francisco and Maidebura have this heralding tale in common with other Ukrainian women who presently call the City of Roanoke home and keep in touch with Ukrainian family members through the newly-formed Facebook group Ukrainians of Roanoke Valley and Surrounding Areas. "Mother and daughter shared their story from the safety of their Roanoke home, over a bowl of borscht, a traditional soup made with beets, cabbage, beans, and meat," said Rousseau in the Times article.

Interpretation and Translation Services In Times of War

Her green card intact, Maidebura was only supposed to return home last November for medical appointments and to visit friends and family. She had no idea that she'd be in the middle of the escalation of Russian troops traveling from Crimea to southern port cities on the Black Sea during a full-scale Russian invasion.

In 2022, war-torn countries rile us to cultural contemplation and social action. We live in a world of evermore breech-able city walls, wherein one sense, Volatia's mission to break through language barriers metaphorically opposes our moral directive to help save lives behind the walls of invaded foreign places. In the truest sense of our message and our work, we stand with Ukrainians in the Roanoke Valley who have family in Ukraine.

According to the article, Maidebura does not speak English, but because of her daughter's logistical prowess, she is now back in Roanoke with a story to tell. "Through tears and smiles," said Rousseau, "she showed photos and video of a pharmacy owned by a Ukrainian family who converted their business into a refuge in Chernivtsi near the Romanian border, where the floor was carpeted with mattresses for people fleeing the country."

Similar to what is taking place today in Ukraine, our beginnings as a company are rooted in the struggles of the Rwandan genocide that began in 1994. Our CEO, Baraka Kasongo, understands the need for the City to encourage refugee housing efforts that it has become known for. As a teenage refugee, having made it to the United States after seven years of being shuffled from one refugee camp to another, he was enlisted to translate for other speakers of the two native African tribal languages that he speaks.

A Look Back to Understand the Present

He found his calling when he took on the mission to restore a person's identity, dignity, and purpose by interpreting for them. We stand with Ukraine today because we are guided by the same principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion that led Kasongo to create a network of volunteer interpreters almost two decades ago that later became the Volatia Language Network, helping to restore limited English proficient people from other war-torn countries.

As the City and its prominent businesses unite to take action to provide support and sanctuary for Ukrainian refugees, our national network of over 18,000 interpreters will be ready to assist with interpretation and translation services. Volatia has established relationships with Atlantic and Pacific interpreters to provide nuanced, localized language support to those who are passing through to other parts of the country.

While we make a living performing business translation services and interpretation and translation projects in hospital systems, public school systems, and health and human services agencies across the United States, we strive to make a life worth living for refugee and immigrant communities right here in the City of Roanoke.

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Kaitlyn Dever
Kaitlyn Dever
Apr 07, 2022


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