On September 30th we celebrated International Translation Day. To mark the day, we’re highlighting the work of language professionals and volunteers worldwide who help us to connect with others and access information and opportunities across language barriers.
We’re exploring how our TWB Community of over 100,000 people works at the cross-section of language, technology, and humanitarian aid to drive social good. We’ll explore the motivations behind our community members’ love of language, and why they chose to join us on our mission to build a more inclusive world. Their insights help us understand how translation can help some of the world’s most marginalized people overcome language barriers and participate in conversations that matter to them. Read on to hear our TWB Community member’s voices, as they showcase some of the innovative solutions that CLEAR Global and TWB are developing to improve two-way communication with communities that speak marginalized languages.
The power of collaboration – the TWB community
Through our work, CLEAR Global and TWB are making language inclusion a reality.
Our globally connected community helps people get vital information and be heard, whatever language they speak. Together, we are also contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals by promoting access to information for all language speakers – on climate change, forced migration, gender equality and women’s rights, health, and more. Because millions of people who speak marginalized languages are excluded from vital information, services, and global conversations that affect their lives. Language professionals who speak marginalized languages need equal access to digital resources and opportunities to enable them to support their communities – in their language.
We work at the intersection of language, technology, and humanitarian aid to create inclusive solutions that work for more people. We use research and scalable language technology solutions to improve two-way communication with communities that speak marginalized languages. We also train and empower linguists and non-professional bilinguals to participate in humanitarian and development translation projects on the TWB Platform. We advocate for language inclusion, driving initiatives to make marginalized languages part of global conversations.
- We have translated over 100 million words into more than 200 languages for over 700 humanitarian and development organizations worldwide.
- We have developed groundbreaking language technology solutions such as machine translation engines, speech recognition systems, chatbots, glossaries, and terminology databases for marginalized languages such as Rohingya, Hausa, Swahili, Somali, Tigrinya, and more.
- We have trained over 10,000 linguists and non-professional bilinguals through our TWB Learning Center courses on translation skills, machine translation post-editing (MT PE), target terminology development and glossaries, desktop publishing (DTP), etc.
What motivates the TWB Community?
Responses from our community members.
“I developed a deep passion for languages and cultures from a young age, sparking my interest in becoming a translator. The joy of bridging communication gaps and fostering understanding between people from diverse backgrounds is what ultimately motivated me to pursue this profession. I find immense fulfillment in the power of words to connect and convey meaning across borders using Kinyarwanda, Kiswahili, French, and English. I became involved with CLEAR Global and the TWB Community through my strong dedication to language access and humanitarian efforts. My commitment to facilitating communication in crisis situations led me to collaborate with the organization, aligning with their missions and leveraging my language expertise to make a meaningful impact.” – Uwayo Noel
“What motivated me was the increasing globalization of our world. As our societies become more interconnected, the demand for skilled translators and language experts has grown exponentially. I saw this as an opportunity not only for personal and professional growth but also as a means to contribute to effective cross-cultural communication on a global scale. The passion for helping people and facilitating communication between different language communities served also as a driving force. Being able to break down language barriers for individuals who might otherwise struggle to access information or services is not just a job, it’s a meaningful way to make a positive impact on the lives of others.” – OKafor Nkechi Abundance
“The gap in language services in Sudan motivated me to be a translator and volunteer with TWB. I wanted to practice and improve my language and translation skills while providing a service that matters.” – Najah F. Ahmed
“I am from Ethiopia and many Ethiopian descendants are living abroad, and I heard that they are suffering from language limitations. So, I want to help them access crucial information that is not available in Amharic. In addition to the above, even in my country, many individuals still have problems understanding the labels on imported items that are written in English. When I came to know about TWB from social media, I immediately searched the website. When I looked at the core goal of the organization I really found it interesting and decided to participate and be part of a platform which is basically designed to help people around the world.” – Senait Gebru
Solutions to include everyone
“Through the TWB platform, I’ve contributed to projects like child safeguarding and Kinyarwanda data validation, leveraging my language skills in English, French, Kinyarwanda, and Kiswahili. These initiatives were crucial to me because they align with my passion for language access and humanitarian causes. I believe that valuing languages and ensuring accurate communication is essential for conveying vital messages and making a positive impact on vulnerable communities.” – Uwayo Noel
“I have been able to participate in two projects so far. The first one was ‘WFP audio scripts project’. It was about creating awareness to say no to sexual violence. Personally, I really loved the idea and I believe that everybody should participate in ending sexual violence. The second one was a translation for an earthquake safety project. This project is important for me cause I believe that it might help to protect someone’s life. The translation of this specific information might help some Ethiopian diasporas to understand local disasters and take the required preventive measures to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. Sometimes miscommunication can lead to serious consequences. In this specific case I think my translation might help in reducing risks to human life and property which might occur because of language barrier.” – Senait Gebru
The TWB Community is helping make our solutions even more inclusive with sign language inclusion:
- Check our WFP Community Engagement Glossary terms in Chewa, Sinhala, and Tamil to see their sign language versions (click on the term, then scroll down to the video emoticon).
- We’ll soon be launching our Glossary for Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Ukrainian, Polish, and Romanian sign languages.
Overcoming challenges in translation:
“As a translator and language expert, I have encountered various challenges, including linguistic nuances, tight deadlines, and maintaining cultural sensitivity in translations. Additionally, issues with accessibility and inclusion have arisen when working with languages or dialects that are less commonly spoken or when dealing with specialized terminology. Overcoming these challenges often involves extensive research, collaboration with native speakers, and continuous learning to ensure accurate and inclusive communication.” – Uwayo Noel
“One of the most common challenges is the complexity of language itself. Languages are not static; they evolve over time, and they can be incredibly nuanced. Accurately capturing the nuances, idioms, and cultural context of a text can be a significant challenge. It requires not just fluency but a deep understanding of both the source and target languages. Another challenge is tight deadlines and high-pressure situations. Clients often need translations quickly, and balancing speed with quality can be a real test. This can sometimes result in long working hours and tight turnarounds, which can be demanding.” – OKafor Nkechi Abundance
“I am self-taught. I did not study to become a translator. I developed my English language proficiency without formal education. I learned interpretation, translation, editing, and proofreading through practice.” – Najah F. Ahmed
“So far, meeting deadlines has been the biggest challenge for me. Because when downloading the original document and sending the translated one as well, I often have internet connection problems. There were even times when the internet was fully shut down by the government. The other problem I faced most of the time emanates from my mother tongue itself. My mother tongue which is Amharic has multiple dialects and this takes a lot of my time to ensure the translation I am doing is accurate.” – Senait Gebru
Language solutions by the community for the community:
“My work and involvement with CLEAR Global and the TWB Community contribute to making a significant difference in the world by ensuring accurate and accessible communication in humanitarian settings. By bridging language barriers, we facilitate aid delivery, support vulnerable populations, and promote understanding in diverse communities. This not only enhances the effectiveness of humanitarian efforts but also fosters global cooperation and inclusivity, ultimately making the world a more connected and compassionate place.” – Uwayo Noel
“This work helps to facilitate access to information with a language that is understood by the people who need it. And to assist people in making their stories heard, not only in their region but around the world, which wouldn’t happen without translation and interpretation.” – Najah F. Ahmed
“When I decided to participate in TWB’s projects I was planning to fill the gap that was created by language barriers. I strongly believe that my work so far has helped someone to communicate with other people from different cultural backgrounds. Moreover, my contribution will also help to build better personal relationships among individuals. As I am trying to give all my best in delivering accurate and reliable translation, transcription… my involvement in this organization is definitely an asset.” – Senait Gebru
Being part of the TWB Community:
“My involvement with CLEAR Global and the TWB Community has been immensely rewarding. I’ve had the privilege of contributing to humanitarian efforts and witnessing the direct impact of accurate translation in crisis situations. The satisfaction of bridging language gaps and facilitating better understanding between diverse communities is a significant benefit. Furthermore, the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded professionals and continuously expand my language skills has been personally enriching and professionally fulfilling.” – Uwayo Noel
“Translation work and involvement with global organizations like CLEAR Global and TWB often expose individuals to a wide array of cultures, languages, and perspectives. This can lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the world’s diversity.” – OKafor Nkechi Abundance
“Being part of the TWB Community means continuous learning and development of skills by translating a multitude of topics for different organizations.” – Najah F. Ahmed
“The first and foremost benefit I can tell is I am able to improve my language proficiency both in the source and the target language. I can say that it helps me to improve my understanding of both languages. The other benefit I got from participating in TWB projects as a marginalized language speaker is that I was also able to receive a monetary reward* and I am really grateful for that.” – Senait Gebru
*Our Community Recognition Program is our way of thanking our amazing community members with professional recommendations and more. It includes monetary rewards for some marginalized languages to cover some expenses. Speakers of marginalized languages often face high connectivity costs when offering their online support. We hope that this will allow speakers of marginalized languages to volunteer more with us. Learn more about our Community Recognition Program here.
In honor of International Translation Day on September 30, we want to thank all the language professionals who work with us and support our cause. They are central to making access to information possible for some of the world’s most marginalized people. With a special thanks to our TWB Community, a global network of over 100,000 language volunteers who offer their skills and time to help humanitarian and development organizations worldwide.