Speaking Up When Others Cannot

Photo by Stephen Elliot in association with

I look into her eyes. I recognize the layers of confusion, elation and exhaustion. These are emotions I’m all too familiar with.

These were emotions I had after giving birth many years ago––when I’d nearly lost my baby.

I’d sat in the medical clinic, shifting my weight, tired from sitting in that room for eight hours. My hands rubbed over my protruding belly. In two months, I’d be holding my baby in my arms.

Why was I here?

None of the staff or the doctors spoke my language, Xhosa. I had been brought into this room without an explanation. Finally, another woman came into the room who spoke Xhosa. She told me that the hospital thought I didn’t want to keep my baby and they were going to have me sign papers to give my baby up for adoption.


My heart still drops when I think of how close I came to losing my precious son. Had I signed those papers, I would have given birth, only to have my baby taken away from me.

I started learning English and eventually became fluent. I then started a business translating from English into Xhosa. Now I spend my days working in places like the Red Cross and other hospitals, translating for both doctors and patients. It’s a place where miscommunication can have tragic repercussions.

Today, I sit beside this new mother and I carefully translate what the doctor is saying. I watch as the confusion leaves her eyes.

Now she understands.

She’s just one of the many women in Cape Town whom I’ve sat beside. This is my passion and my job—advocating for vulnerable women and children.

As the nurse puts the baby into his mother’s arms, I touch the baby’s little toes, and I silently thank God for the time I almost lost my own precious son—the moment that changed my life in more ways than one.

Translation Services Business
Owner in Cape Town

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