MSAS Airmen aid Gabon eco-guard training translation, protect environment

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

Two Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing were instrumental in a recent partnership building project with the Gabonese National Park Service.

Capt. Reuben Luoma-Overstreet, 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron senior air advisor, and Tech. Sgt. DieuDonne Batawila, 818th MSAS language and culture air advisor, were among a team of 24 French Language Enabled Airman Program scholars selected to translate training  manuals for Gabon’s eco-guards, the Gabonese equivalent of park rangers.

The Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Gabon contacted the Air Force Culture and Language Center to request the translation services from solicited volunteers among their LEAP scholars.

Batawila and Luoma-Overstreet, both advanced LEAP scholars, spent over 70 hours combined working to translate, edit and compile two manuals, totaling 243 pages, from English into French while working from home.

“This involved multiple late nights spent with two documents open side by side,” Luoma-Overstreet said. “On one side, the French translation I was working on, and on the other, the English source material. And in the background, all of my translation notes were open with thoughts on how to write certain things.”

The team diligently searched out reference materials to assist with the translation, and reviewed the document for accuracy and refined until correct.

“Once a sentence is finished, you have to go back and reread it, and then you have to reread entire paragraphs and sections — all to make sure that the translation makes sense and is consistent,” Luoma-Overstreet said. “It isn’t enough to simply find the translation for a given word, you have to see how that word is used in French literature to see if it really is the right word to use.”

The finished products, the Gabonese Patrol Tactics Manual and Survival Manual, will assist the Gabon government’s fight against poaching and wildlife trafficking.

“This manual will serve as the foundation for professionalization of the (Gabonese National Park Service) for many years to come,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. V.P.H. Fernandes, chief of the Office of Security Cooperation, Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe, in a letter of appreciation to Batawila and Luoma-Overstreet.

The project highlights the MSAS mission and showcases what their Airmen are capable of.

“While this was something we took on through the LEAP program and outside of the MSAS, it very much aligns with the CRW line of effort of strengthening effective relationships with teammates, joint and coalition partners, installation leaders, and our local communities,”  Luoma-Overstreet said. “This program was all about building the U.S. relationship with Gabon, and not only did it build that relationship, but it also helps meet the MSAS goal of building partner capacity.”

This experience was rewarding for Batawila, and he looks forward to more opportunities like this in the future.

“As a full-time translator, I had the opportunity to broaden my scope and work in a joint international environment,” Batawila said. “My vocabulary was enriched, and with the experience gained, I look forward to more opportunities in the language community.”