Back It Up

By Rachel Greco

In this day and age, electrical power is crucial to many jobs, including Bible translation. Imagine working diligently on translating one of the books of the New Testament when suddenly the power goes out, and you have no idea for how long or whether all the work you’ve done will be backed up safely. 

This was the reality for our Christian brothers and sisters who work at the Bible translation center, Wycliffe Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa. According to Burje Duro, the IT coordinator, “Power outages in the city are frequent. Depending on which part of town you reside in, they can last for 1 hour or as long as 24 hours. In some cases, it can even be longer.” Rarely did the staff or translators receive a warning before the outages occurred. 

During these power outages, email communication and video calls with translators living abroad weren’t possible. Work became stressful, as laptop batteries drained quickly and time was limited. Accessing the center’s Synology NAS*—a file storage device connected to the network—was impossible. 

Wycliffe Ethiopia relies on the Synology to back up the translators’ work to the network and to share files. “All files and projects that are being worked on and all office documents are stored centrally on the NAS before heading out for further backup destinations,” Burje explained. 

The many translators who work at the Wycliffe Ethiopia center rely on the NAS to back up their work automatically. “If we leave this up to the translators,” Burje said, “since most are not technologically literate, mistakes may happen, and some of these may be very costly mistakes.”

A constant source of power is necessary for the smooth operation of the NAS; its life was threatened by these sudden breaks in power. “It would be a great loss if the NAS [stopped] working,” Burje said. 

Because travel had been severely restricted due to the pandemic, replacing a failed NAS would have been nearly impossible. Therefore, it was imperative that the center do everything to keep the NAS working until they could buy a spare. 

Burje reached out to Bill Mayes, manager of the SIL Africa IT team, but he had low expectations because he thought other projects would have priority. “[Bill] had repeatedly mentioned that there’s funding for power systems and internet, but I wasn’t sure if this included us.” Much of this funding comes from people like you giving to JAARS Technology Solutions, so thank you! 

The UPS that gives Burje and Bible translators confidence that their work is protected.

When Bill told Burje that he’d consider the request, Burje was surprised. Bill got him in contact with staff working in SIL Power Systems who guided him through the process of finding the right equipment—their new UPS. The UPS, or Uninterruptible Power Supply, is a large battery that can power the NAS until either the electricity comes back on or the center shuts the NAS down properly to avoid potential data loss. 

“The new UPS has made a difference in my peace of mind,” Burje said. “Before, I was constantly on edge, because every time the power went out, the [NAS] wouldn’t make a proper shutdown. This put all the data on the [NAS] in danger of being corrupted and put the NAS in danger, too. It could fail anytime, and that would have been catastrophic.” 

But with steady power flowing from the UPS to the storage device, Burje can have confidence that the important translation files are safe. The translators also can have confidence that their work is being backed up. According to Burje, the NAS is “humming along just fine. No problems whatsoever.” 

To keep Bible translation work protected and efficient, consider giving to Technology Solutions. Thank you! 

*Network Attached Storage