Diamond Project.png

Oregon Health Care Interpreters Association


Scholarship Program

Navigating health care is difficult enough, imagine if you have to do it in a language that ISN’T yourS.


Scholarships through OHCIA- Diamond Project will open pathways to increase access to quality healthcare interpretation for speakers of all languages. JOIN OUR EFFORTS TO ELEVATE VOICES!




In the United States, more than 20 percent of the population speaks a language other than English at home and 25 million Americans have limited English proficiency (LEP) [source].

  Notes:  Chinese includes Chinese, Mandarin, and Cantonese; Hmong includes Mien;  German includes Pennsylvania Dutch.  Source:  MPI tabulation of data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2015 ACS [ source ].

Notes: Chinese includes Chinese, Mandarin, and Cantonese; Hmong includes Mien;  German includes Pennsylvania Dutch.
Source: MPI tabulation of data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2015 ACS [source].

More than 45 million people in the US speaks a second language

A 2017 CENSUS report identifies the top languages spoken in the US outside of English:  40.5 million people speaks Spanish, nearly 3.4 million people speaks Chinese and there are speakers and there are 1.7 million speakers of Tagalog. [source].




Oregon's Refugee Arrival Population - Since 1975, tens of thousands of refugees - 65,832 - have resettled and contribuited to the economic growth of Oregon [source].


deaf kid.jpg


Nearly 4 percent of the US population identifies as either being deaf or having serious difficulty hearing, according to the US Census [source].

From the self identified deaf population 60% have expressed difficulty getting interpreting services.


Child interpretation is a growing challenge

Sad kid 2.jpg

Within these communities interpretation services by children is having a negative impact in health outcomes.

Children interpreting may be embarrassed by or ignore questions regarding menses, bowel movement, and other bodily functions, and relatives tend to either minimize or emphasize psychopathology, and often answer a clinician’s questions without asking the patient [source].


discharge instructions.jpg

People that need language interpretation services undergo more unnecessary medical investigations, report poorer comprehension of discharge instructions, and describe lower satisfaction with the care they receive, as compare to speakers of English [source].



Less services = longer hospital stays 0.75 and 1.47 days

A study reports that patients who did not receive professional interpretation at admission or both admission/discharge had an increase in their length of stay of between 0.75 and 1.47 days, compared to patients who had an interpreter on both day of admission and discharge[source] . 


Patients receiving interpretation at admission and/or discharge were less likely than patients receiving no interpretation to be readmitted within 30 days [source].


Access to literature = access to healthcare - 16%

breast exam.jpg

Language support and translated literature were associated with a 16% increase in women attending clinics breast cancer screening [source].






The journey that led Abdi to become a health care interpreter in Oregon is an inspiring one.  Abdi grew up in Somalia, and for most of his youth helped his father at a family owned clothing store.  Desiring to start a business of his own, at age nineteen Abdi moved to a village in South Africa.  By the time he was twenty one, Abdi owned a local grocery store with three employees under his command. 

One day, as Abdi and a friend were out back of the store, three gunmen charged in and demanded money from the cashier.  A quarrel ensured, and a shot was fired (with no one hit).  Upon hearing the gunshot, Abdi and his friend rushed into the store, his friend leading the way.  Thinking that the approaching footsteps were a threat, one gunmen discharged a bullet that struck Abdi’s friend in the head.  That same bullet exited his friend and entered Abdi’s side, driving right to his spine. 

“I don’t remember feeling any pain in that moment,” Abdi recalls.  He collapsed to the ground, while the gunmen ran away.  Abdi’s friend died instantly, and Abdi himself suffered paralysis immediately from his mid chest down.  Despite a surgery and long recovery, he never regained any feeling in his lower torso or legs. 

Abdi adjusted to life as a paraplegic, using a wheelchair to move and taking medication to keep his digestion system running.  A few years later, Abdi and his younger brother were able to resettle to Oregon. When he first moved to the Pacific Northwest, his English was intermediate, and he used an interpreter at medical appointments.  But Abdi was surprised when it came to spine related medical terminology, he knew better the English words better than his Somali interpreter! 

Determined to help others, Abdi improved his English and started to work as an interpreter for Somali and Maay (a local Somali dialect).  Abdi attended the OHCIA’s Spring 2015 Health Care Interpreter Training, which greatly boosted his medical terminology and knowledge of ethics.  He strongly believes in quality interpreting (especially given his past experiences), and he plans to become Oregon state qualified in Somali.  In addition to serving the community through interpreting, Abdi studies Business at Portland State University, and he is hoping to start a foundation to support disabled people in Somalia.




Imagine growing up in a land where war conflict and racism exploded in front of you every day.  This is what life was like for Ruba, a Jerusalem born Palestinian.  Ruba grew up in a world of privilege and injustice.  Because of her birth place, she had the right to work and travel to any part of Israel.  But Arab Muslims just like Ruba, who were born in Gaza or the West Bank, had major restrictions on any form of travel, let alone receiving essential supplies like water and food. 

After working for a time as a school teacher, Ruba grew frustrated with the injustice surrounding her, and decided to move to America.  She arrived in Oregon and became an interpreter.  

Her first appointment at a hospital was with three specialist doctors, an older gentlemen (the patient) and his daughter.  Though initially intimidated, Ruba was moved when mid-session the patient kissed her on the forehead, a token of appreciation.  “I left the appointment elated,” she shares with a smile. 

From that point on, Ruba saw the value in using her privilege of speaking English and Arabic to do something good for others.  She attended an OHCIA Health Care Interpreter Training, and felt inspired by the focus on the ‘human factor’ and cultural sensitivity.  Now an interpreter for over six months, she continues to hope for racial equality, from the doctor’s office in Portland to the streets of the West Bank.


I will push further towards my dreams of one day having a successful career in the humanitarian and multi
cultural field. I am looking for a goal with a company that I can grow with, and then continue to take new
challenges in the next 10 years and beyond. I am not too hanging upon title but I know that I want to take
more management responsibilities and ultimately step into a leadership position.

Receiving this scholarship will boost my self-confidence, knowing that I not only completed a
very important task, but also took the responsibility of creating a foundation for getting me
closer to my career goals. I believe in the importance of being certified medical interpreter. Therefore, I
plan to work extra hard to obtain a certification in the medical interpreting.

— Diamond Scholarship Arabic Recipient - Fadhel A. - Fall Training 2017
Dear OHCIA Community
I would like to say thank you for granting me the scholarship for the 64 hr training in the medical interpretation field. Not only does it help me benefit my community of Russian immigrants who have difficulty with the English language, but it will also help me in my pursuit of my nursing career. Since I now graduated from nursing and am preparing for the NCLEX, the medical interpretation job has allowed me for a steady income with immense flexibility which helps me in my studies and any expenses that I have. In short, medical interpreting is more perfect for me than I ever thought it could be. I plan on continuing to interpret until I get my nursing license, and then use the interpretation experience on my resume. Furthermore, this experience has already helped me with Russian speaking patients that I had while taking care of them in the program. Throughout my career, I plan on traveling the world to with other medical professionals, and this training will help me in communication with the patients. With great joy I write this thank you letter knowing that you are expanding your program to help more immigrants such as I once was. By helping immigrants with their health concerns, in even small communities, you promote the American dream of allowing people to develop themselves and help them pursue their desires.
Thank you so much.
— Diamond Scholarship Russian Recipient- Elijah V. - Fall Training 2017
201802011 Digit Serial Number__1.JPG


The OHCIA Diamond Project Scholarship Program has been established to provide scholarship awards for promising students with financial hardships, who would like to become medical interpreters and obtain the necessary credentials to provide professional services to the LEP (limited English proficiency) community. 

Such awards are made possible through our generous donors and sustainable program members. 


Individuals like Fadhel and Elijah contribute a more vibrant community for everyone by making communication between cultures possible. Your support can be the fuel behind their efforts.

  • Consider giving to support a movement that is helping all people - no matter where they were born - belong and thrive
  • Support immigrants and refugees learn skills to give their families new opportunities.

Your gift will enable us to help LEP communities, achieve health care equity and eliminate health disparities.


We can’t do this important work without you. 






Giving Monthly creates even more opportunities:


DIAMOND SHAPERS are the foundation of OHCIA - Oregon Health Care Interpreters Association's training programs. When you join OHCIA's Diamond Shapers, you will join a special group of people reaching out each month to shape the future of many individuals.

  • Donating monthly means OHCIA can continuously provide and expand its innovative programs, without interruption.
  • If you believe in the power of our educational programs, a monthly donation is an easy way to make sure your dollars are consistently making a difference. Your commitment is hassle-free, which means you can also suspend or change your donation at any time. 
  • You make a greater impact over the long term.

Give the gift of information in the right language.


Your contribution will open the door to opportunities for individuals, for families and for communities.


Your donation will help a student in pursuit of Healthcare Interpreter Qualification or Certification. Your gift will support their financial path, which includes:

  • 64 hrs. OHCIA training
  • Translation of high school diploma
  • Application fee.
  • Written and oral exam with Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters
  • Oregon Health Authority registration fee.
  • OHCIA mentoring & coaching.


Mail Donations to:

Oregon Health Care Interpreters Association

Attention: Diamond Project - Scholarship Program

9220 SW Barbur Blvd. Ste. 119-315, Portland, OR 97219

Contact us about donating: diamond.scholarship@ohcia.org