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Translations, Translations, Translations

Monique Frangouli
Athens, Greece
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 35 No. 1, February-March 1999, pp. 20-21

The phone rings and I get another call from a mother outside Athens. It's an opportunity to sell another of our Breastfeeding Leaflet Packs and I feel warm inside knowing that this information will help another mother from one of the Greek islands.

Last August was a busy month. Never before have I had so many calls to our summer house, where I even arranged for the telephone to be heard ringing outside.

A great many mothers found the LLL Greece telephone numbers in one of 10,000 free booklets distributed in hospitals all over the country. At first we were worried, fearing we would be overwhelmed by phone calls. Fortunately it has not been that bad.

When I contacted the editor of the booklet I found that the author had simply taken the phone numbers from a Greek translation of one of Dr. Sears' books. Since we had agreed to have our phone numbers included in the book, they assumed it would be fine with us to publish them in the leaflet.

Because there is little reliable breastfeeding information in Greek, a minority language, our packs of LLL leaflets, translated into Greek, have been helpful in spreading the word.

Soon our existing 18-leaflet packs will be sold out and we will reprint. This time we plan a pack of 28 leaflets. The pack is a goldmine of information for Greek mothers. It is easy to read leaflet by leaflet; no dictionary is needed and each leaflet is easy to hold, an important consideration for mothers with small babies.

The expanded pack means we'll also be able to charge a little more and have a bigger profit margin to put toward our next project - translating THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING.

It all started with seven rather amateur, though neatly photocopied leaflets. At time, we thought these were fantastic. There was nothing else available to help mothers who could only read Greek. As a Belgian, I couldn't really appreciate them nor could my co-Leaders who were also all non-Greek.

Our biggest problem, though, was consistency. We had no Translations Coordinator (TC) so the TC file changed hands several times. Each of the original seven leaflets had been translated by a different person.

At first we sold each leaflet separately for a small profit. Then Margarita, Mytilene Island Leader, had a splendid idea to sell them all together in a plastic binder as an information pack for mothers unable to read English.

We soon realized that all the leaflets should be translated by one native Greek speaker who could give uniformity to the text. However, none of the original translators seemed willing or able to translate a second leaflet.

Then Floredia Chryssikou came along. In the two years that she's been a Leader, she not only became the TC of our dreams, translating practically single-handedly all 28 leaflets, but she also translated application materials as our new ACLA for Greece.

Floredia probably shuddered at the inconsistency of our first seven leaflets, although she never said anything because she's far too modest. She just suggested that she do them again before we had them printed, since photocopying was becoming a burden.

My reaction was wary. I didn't want Floredia to do too much and end up feeling overwhelmed. This did not seem like a venture to be undertaken by a new Leader! When she said she would become TC I worried again that it would be too much for her. She was getting a lot of the phone calls as the number of mothers contacting us increased.

Bless her heart, Floredia didn't take any notice of me and went right ahead. She is a determined person, devoted to mothers and babies! When we discovered that she was going ahead anyway, the least we could do was offer help getting the leaflets printed.

We had put aside some money over the years "to translate THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING in the future," but it was not enough to print a pack of 13 leaflets, as they had now become. A few years before, Pampers had sponsored a short leaflet of general breastfeeding information so we went back to them. Even though my Procter and Gamble acquaintance had moved from Greece, we managed to convince the brand manager to sponsor us again for almost half the cost of our pack. We covered the rest ourselves.

When we found that Floredia "couldn't stop translating" and had the text of five leaflets ready, of course we wanted to print them too. We then found a lender we could pay back gradually (and with love!).

Soon we had another ten leaflets ready and began to look for another sponsor. It seemed we wanted to print too few leaflets at too high a cost for it to be attractive. Procter and Gamble declined this time. We tried four other companies and felt we were losing time with the precious text lying in a drawer. We had to find help!

After mentioning the project at one of our Planning/Evaluation Meetings, one Group worker casually agreed to ask her husband who might be able to help through his business contacts.

As a result, we got an appointment with Mothercare (a United Kingdom-based retail chain for mother and baby needs with seven branches in Greece) which agreed to print 5000 folders for the leaflets and 1,000 copies of each of the ten new leaflets we had ready. The folder, with a beautiful advertisement for Mothercare on the back, is in full color; the leaflets are single color.

In hindsight, we feel that if we had presented the idea of printing a larger quantity to Procter and Gamble, they might have agreed anyway.

When I mention the leaflet pack to mothers on the phone, I say that it costs 4,000 drachmas ($12 US) including postage. I tell them that if they want to send more, we will consider it a donation to our nonprofit organization. Some mothers send 10,000 drachmas ($30 US). At first I had to take a deep breath before soliciting funds this way but now I see how generous some people want to be so I'm used to it.

Our leaflets enjoy multiple readership. Doctors leave the pack in their waiting rooms and mothers pass them on to friends, so the same leaflet is read by several people. You can imagine how happy and relieved we are that we have been able to fill this breastfeeding information gap in Greece.

As I put the final touches to this article, the finished leaflet pack was printed and delivered. It's absolutely fantastic!

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