Edgar Atencio put on his headphones, took two sips of water to clear his throat, and waited for the signal. He was a little nervous but knew that this effort was necessary to help save the lives and protect the health of many of his brothers and sisters from the Ngäbe indigenous people.
Edgar doesn’t want to see pain in his town and that inspires him to help.
The signal came: 3-2-1… Recording !. He took a deep breath, brought the paper with the text that he himself had translated, and calmly exclaimed:
“Anin nemen gwidtä jaraba ruin bren bren negwe mue naune ñakare dikägö ni ngädtäidte turn. Neither tärä nemen bren krúbadte ngwäre nor murie ñaka nemen nakai kuin jire. Janemen ruin bren nie naune ni rabä kökgrä ngen ngerengö 1132 ”.
Those words in Spanish mean: “Let’s stay home as long as possible and don’t go out if we have symptoms. In severe cases, the virus can cause breathing difficulties. If we have suspicions of contagion we can call 1322. ”.
This message in the native language of the Ngäbe is one of many that the United Nations is producing under the “United Territories” campaign to support Costa Rica in the dissemination of health guides and recommendations in native languages: Bribri, Cabecar, Ngabere, Maleku and also in Spanish.
The objective of the initiative supported by the UN is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the 24 indigenous territories of the country.
Allegra Baiocchi, UN Resident Coordinator stressed that the organization is committed to supporting the protection of the health of indigenous peoples as a priority.
“Our agencies are working together to ensure a coordinated response that addresses the specific needs, risks and vulnerabilities of indigenous peoples to ensure full compliance with their rights and that no indigenous population in Costa Rica is left behind,” he said.
UN Costa Rica
Messages recorded by people
The messages that are being produced are recorded by indigenous people from the communities themselves and are carefully crafted to match their culture, idiosyncrasies, terms and references that they use in their daily lives.
Some of these messages indicate:
“Sisters and brothers, the response in the territory to the disease caused by the coronavirus has been exemplary. But we cannot neglect ourselves. To continue protecting our peoples, let us follow this advice:
If we have any of these symptoms: fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, tiredness, headache, loss of smell and taste and nasal congestion; We must call 1322, 9-1-1, or contact the EBAIS, the Health Committee of your territory or the closest Development Association. Symptoms don’t always appear together.
Let’s stay at home as long as possible, keep a distance of at least 3 steps from other people, and wear a mask. If we have to wait for health personnel to arrive some days, let’s try to sleep apart from other people because COVID-19 is very contagious. Remember to follow this advice and share it with the rest of the town.“
The messages are in the final phase of production and once they are ready they will be massively disseminated through community radio, social networks and the most used instant messaging systems in each territory.
This initiative is promoted by the Population Fund of the United Nations (UNFPA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in coordination with the Ministry of the Presidency, the Ministry of Health and pertinent authorities. This effort has also been highlighted by UNESCO as part of the outstanding actions in the follow-up to the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
The UN in Costa Rica also explained that in the coming days graphic materials will be generated for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in the different indigenous languages with the help of Pan American Health Organization, and with the support of the UN Refugee Agency interpretation in Miskito language is expected.