5 ways to help people connect this holiday season

Join our appeal to “Meet me in my language.” This International Volunteer Day, we invite you to volunteer, share or fundraise.

"Meet me in my language" this International Volunteer Day, December 5. With TWB and CLEAR Global.

“Meet me in my language” is our campaign to listen to people who speak marginalized languages and enable everyone to get vital information in their language.

Whoever you are, whatever language you speak, you can help people access essential resources and tools in their language. We know we can navigate the world more easily in a language we understand. Now, we can share that privilege with people who speak a marginalized language. Whether you volunteer, share or fundraise, you can help:

  • build communications solutions;
  • advocate for humanitarians to listen better;
  • and give people who provide vital health, protection and information services ways to engage in the right languages. 

So we can make a bigger impact together.

There are eight billion of us in this world.

Four billion people don’t have access to the essential digital communications tools we benefit from every day. It’s time to act. We can make the digital world more inclusive if we meet more people in the languages they speak. By supporting our campaign you will help amplify the voices of the world’s most marginalized people. Help us ensure people are at the center of conversations that affect them, and nobody’s voice goes unheard. Facing a natural disaster, someone who doesn’t read might need advice delivered visually, or via audio. Older people might only trust doctors who speak their language. And someone in a rural community may want to ask questions in their mother language with a voice-enabled solution.

Small actions make big change

The money we raise will improve our community’s online tools so we can reach more people. We will build more accessible language technology solutions, like chatbots for marginalized language speakers. Together we can scale up and create communications channels that include more people in important conversations that concern us all. 

By sharing our message with your friends, or running your own fundraiser, you can support this important work. 

Here are 5 easy ways to take action today:

1. Join the community volunteer

Share your language skills for good. With every word you donate, you will help us reach more people. Join the TWB Community to help people get vital information and be heard, whatever language they speak. Thank you for being part of the solution!

Learn more about becoming a TWB volunteer.
Sign up today.

2. Tell your friends 

If you’ve followed our story, you’ll understand the value of helping people make their voices heard. We want everyone to understand: language is vital. Spread the message: 

See our campaign toolkit and share our posts or write your own, in your language.
Tag us on Facebook and LinkedIn @TranslatorswithoutBorders, Instagram @TranslatorsWB, and Twitter @CLEARGlobalorg

3. Participate in the #MeetMeInMyLanguage campaign 

Post your own video.

Say “Meet me in my language” in your language. 
Use the hashtag #MeetMeInMyLanguage

4. Raise funds for our urgent work

Fundraise on Just Giving.

Or, if your company wants to support our urgent work, see clearglobal.org/sponsor-us 

5. Donate

However small or large, your donation can make a big impact – share the gift of connection with people who speak marginalized languages. 

Donate at clearglobal.org/donate

Putting people at the center of our efforts

When people have the tools they need, when we can get the answers we’re looking for, and really understand and engage in conversations, we’re empowered. We can make informed decisions, protect ourselves and thrive.

Read what our community members have to say about making an impact in their communities:

“TWB has given me the opportunity to give back to society the gifts life has given to me! During my time with the organization, I learnt a lot about different projects, met excellent and lovely people from the TWB team and fellow translators, improved my professional skills and was made to feel that I belong to a community that shares my values. 

It is also very rewarding to know that every day, somewhere, somebody is benefiting from my effort, my knowledge, and my work. 

The ever-growing importance of communications in the current world makes the work and commitment of CLEAR Global and the TWB Community indispensable.” 

Patricia, TWB Community member

Sifat Noor, TWB Volunteer

“I was happy to see there were organizations that worked with languages and translation. But what intrigued me the most was that TWB was accessible to ANYONE, no matter what background they were from, no ‘formal experience’ or ‘study in a relevant field’ were required”  

Sifat, TWB Community member

“At TWB and CLEAR Global, I expect that there will always be a space for new visions to crystalize, new goals to be set, new resources to be provided and new tools to be developed. And this is exactly what today’s world, and it’s never-ending issues – even crises, requires.” 

– Hiba, TWB Community member

Our work makes a difference. 

However you choose to take action this holiday season, thank you from us and every person we reach thanks to your contribution. When we come together, our community, our supporters and sponsors around the world can make a big impact.  

Your words, and your actions, have the power to change lives.

“Meet me in my language” – learn more.

Discover the community impact of our projects around the world

Thank you for being one in a hundred thousand TWB community members! 

This year, we celebrated the milestone of 100,000 members. Together with CLEAR Global, we are making a bigger impact than ever.

TWB is a global network of language volunteers supporting others. Community members translate and localize information for people who have limited resources or digital channels in their languages. The TWB community is at the heart of CLEAR Global. Our nonprofit helps people get vital information and be heard, whatever language they speak.

This holiday season, we want to share personal stories of the real-life impact our work makes.

Whether you need to speak to a doctor, learn how to secure your home or report abuse, information in the right language can make a life-changing difference.

The TWB community is helping create trusted support channels and make people’s voices heard. Hear from of some of our community members who translate, subtitle, and record voiceovers to reach marginalized communities in all corners of the world.

Together, we respond to urgent global challenges:

CLEAR Global's community projects around the world

Some of our projects around the world

With each document you translate, every subtitle you read, and word you revise, you are helping reach more people. Thank you for being part of the solution. Follow our community’s stories of impact and support our campaign to start more conversations, in more languages. 

Salwa’s testimonial – translation provides opportunities

“It was my first time volunteering online, but one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. I discovered that even when you’re home, you can still help others get vital information. This encouraged me to work daily on those tasks.  

I have chatted with other community members – who are my e-friends now. They inspired me with all the work they do while they were going through hard times. I found many people who supported me and encouraged me to show the world what I can do. For me, this was an opportunity to work in different fields and help as much as possible.

I get to help provide language services for different causes especially education and children. It’s more than enough to make me want to continue to volunteer with TWB. I know the work I do will help to enhance someone’s knowledge or help them get needed information. This makes it worth the time… even after a long working day. 

Over the last two years, I’ve seen the TWB Community grow fast. It is amazing that you have reached 100,000 volunteers. And your way of coping with this growth was great as well. I am sure you will always find the support you need from community members. I can see TWB will keep evolving, flourishing, and expanding its capacities and resources to accomplish its mission in the best possible way. And I cannot wait to be part of your next stop on this long journey.”

– Salwa, TWB community member

head and shoulders shot of Salwa waring a light grey and white scarf and black jacket , stood against a dark grey brick wall.

Salwa is a French teacher who has donated 650,404 words in Arabic and French. She has worked with TWB and CLEAR Global on projects supporting health and education for American Red Cross, Concern Worldwide, Save the Children, the H2H Network’s COVID-19 response, and the World Health Organization (WHO), among others. Her skills include translation, revision, subtitling, monolingual editing, desktop publishing (DTP), voiceover, and interpretation. 

Tien helps Vietnamese migrants understand vital advice

“I was inspired by the fact that more Vietnamese migrants will be able to understand the information sent to them. I feel happy that more Vietnamese volunteers are joining the TWB Community. And I think CLEAR Global and TWB Community will develop strongly in the future.”

 – Tien, TWB community member

Tien has long been a committed volunteer for TWB who has donated 82,8553 words to good causes. He has translated and revised with CLEAR Global, COVID-19 task forces, Partners In Health, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and more.

Hiba celebrates team effort in rapid crisis response

Hiba says, “I first discovered TWB at a time when I wanted to do more – to have a bigger meaning than my work, my circle, and me. I wanted to actually have an impact on people’s lives. And TWB just felt like the right place. Joining the community has been one of the best things I did. It gave me this sense that yes, I am doing something that matters. Something that – I hope – makes a positive change.

Plus, I’m impressed by the fact that TWB acts really quick to provide resources and linguistic help whenever a crisis arises, and in just less than three years, as you know, we have had COVID-19, the Ukraine crisis, and more. TWB works really hard to keep up with the language needs that arise. This takes me to the community. After all, this is not the work of one person, but hundreds of people – even thousands. The community now has 100,000 members – who decide to volunteer their time and effort, even on a daily basis, to help other people. This actually gives one hope about the future, no matter how grim the picture looks.” 

– Hiba, TWB community member 

Hiba has donated 1,294,561 words in English and Arabic. She has translated and revised projects for health, migration, and equality projects to help people get vital information with CLEAR Global, CARE International, IFRC, Oxfam, and other nonprofits. 

Usman meets chatbot users in northeast Nigeria 

“We have communications solutions at our fingertips. One Wednesday afternoon after office hours, I got a glimpse into the impact of one of our language solutions. I was at a local coffee shop when I heard a group of young people discussing the chatbot “Manhajar Shehu.” This is what we used to call it during our programs on the local radio’s live show. I keenly listened to their conversation as they debated some of the ways to get vaccinated and some traditional herbs that they had heard cured COVID-19. They had heard so many myths, they didn’t know what to believe. One of them used the chatbot in Hausa and they got reliable answers in seconds as he introduced his friends to Shehu. 

Shehu is CLEAR Global’s AI chatbot which helps people get reliable answers to their questions about COVID-19 in Hausa and Kanuri. Some of them were amazed at how the bot responded promptly and accurately in their local language. I proudly told them I was part of the team that built the bot, which sparked a load of questions. It is of great personal satisfaction to me knowing that people are not only using the bot out of fun, but they’re also glad and amazed with the information they receive from the bot. We are making a great positive impact on the lives of people in North-Eastern Nigeria and Maiduguri to be specific.”

– Usman, from CLEAR Global

Our chatbots have exchanged over 100,000 conversations. One conversation can make a big impact, especially if it can save a life. We can bring more voices into global conversations. With translations, tools, and resources like these, we are helping people who face the most difficult situations. Even with the most innovative language technology solutions, the goal is to connect with a human.

Let’s reach more people – “meet me in my language.” 

Read more community impact stories in our blogs: 

Community translation supports urgent COVID-19 response

In 2020, our community came together to translate critical public-facing content, so that more people could understand it and protect themselves. We translated millions of words into over 100 languages. Read about our community volunteers, French speaker Barbara Pissane, and Spanish speaker Maria Paula Gorgone. 

Our Haitian Creole volunteers provide a lifeline in Haiti

Jean has contributed 170,000 words for projects that help people understand their rights, look after their well-being, and get their needs met – from wheelchair provision to COVID-19 vaccine FAQs for children. Read about how Jean translates to help his local community get emergency assistance following the 2021 earthquake near his home in Haiti. 

Meet migrants and refugees in their language 

Arabic speakers Lilav and Christina spotlight refugee experiences of seeking refuge and needing answers in the face of conflict. Lilav dedicates her time to advocating human rights and languages. Christina is a translator and revisor who believes in globalization and diversity.

We are always amazed by our community’s support and would love for you to get involved. 

You can make a difference. “Meet me in my language.”

  1. Spread awareness #MeetMeInMyLanguage
  1. Volunteer 
  1. Fundraise or donate today 

Meet Nan and Futu: sharing climate solutions in more languages

In May 2021, the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development gathered the world’s education and sustainable development communities to grow awareness on sustainable development challenges. ‘Education for Sustainable Development for 2030’ is the global framework for “the development of the knowledge, skills, understanding, values, and actions required to create a sustainable world, which ensures environmental protection and conservation, promotes social equity and encourages economic sustainability.” To be effective, the conversation about sustainable development must include people from all over the globe, whatever language they speak.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently remarked that “We must act decisively to protect our planet from both the coronavirus and the existential threat of climate disruption.” So we are celebrating the efforts of translators who are informing their communities about the effects of climate change, and bringing more voices into the conversation. 

People by a train in the countryside, Myanmar.

We interviewed two translators whose work is raising awareness of climate change. Nan and Futu are improving lives in their communities in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and beyond.

Over one million Rohingya people have fled violence in Myanmar in recent decades, arriving in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and its coastline is one of the most disaster-prone regions. Myanmar also is at severe threat of natural disasters and suffers from protracted humanitarian emergencies. The unmistakable threat of climate change pervades everyday life. These countries are some of the world’s most hard hit by the effects of the climate disaster. They are especially vulnerable to increased temperatures, cyclones, flooding, and landslides which further risk lives. When there’s little information available in your language, it becomes even harder to protect yourself from climate change and act to prevent it. These translators have worked on projects to help inform the Myanmar- and Bangla-speaking communities.

Nan, Myanmar translator:

  • Fascinated by documentaries 
  • Interested in connecting with and learning from interesting people 
  • Loves stories, and collects classic books, and listens to literature talks 

When she’s not reading or cooking a new recipe from Youtube, Nan works from her home in the northern Shan State of Myanmar. She volunteers for TWB projects on weekends and after work. 

“I love how Myanmar has various ethnic groups and is rich with interesting cultures and traditions. The food is amazing, the nature is refreshing and our people have generous hearts. Even though I belong to one of the ethnic minority groups in Myanmar, Burmese is like my mother language. I love to learn about how the Burmese language developed and its very rich historical background.” 

Nan, Myanmar translator. 

Futu, Bangla translator

  • Stays up-to-date with global trends, human rights, and technological innovations
  • Likes to read and explore the daydreams of writers 
  • Keeps busy with an energetic toddler at home

Futu enjoys working from his home office, situated near the enchanting lake of the Chittagong hills. 

A lake in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Do you see the effects of climate change?

“Yes, I’ve recently read about the drought in Pyin Oo Lwin on the news. It’s a serious issue because people in that neighborhood said they have never witnessed a drought before. Also in my hometown, even though spring has just arrived, some households have to buy water due to drought. And we couldn’t see sunlight for the past four or five days due to open agricultural burning and the sky is covered with haze.”

Nan, Myanmar translator.
Nan shares a photo of her office desk, from which she translates projects for TWB.

“I’m very concerned about the climate change in Myanmar. I wish we could build community-based initiatives to educate people about the effects of using plastic and burning waste and plastic in the neighborhood.”

Nan, Myanmar translator.

Translators play an important role in sharing information about climate change to help people understand the effect and what actions they can take. Key information in the right language can also help people prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters. Nan explains that in her hometown, there are many ethnic groups who can’t speak or understand Burmese. She says it would help if the authorities could connect with local civil societies and try to translate key information into as many languages as possible. 

Due to the geographic location, low elevation, floodplains, and population density, Bangladesh is similarly one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It creates food insecurity, water shortages, and concerns over shelter. Environmental impacts create very real health and safety issues for local communities. This is why it’s vital to make facts available to people in the languages they can speak and understand. It’s important to enable two-way conversations and make local people’s voices heard. Futu believes that:

“The only way global society can truly benefit is from sharing climate change research and implementing solutions.”

Futu, Rohingya translator, Bangladesh.

Nature Now

Nan and Futu worked on the Nature Now project in late 2019. It’s a video featuring climate activist Greta Thunberg and writer and climate activist George Monbiot. They explain that there is a natural solution to the climate breakdown: protecting forests. And they urge us to take simple actions which can have a great impact on our planet. The key message is to: 

:shield: PROTECT: where nature is doing something vital, we must protect it.

:dizzy: RESTORE: help our environment where nature is trying to recover itself.

:heavy_dollar_sign: FUND: start funding initiatives that help our planet and stop funding entities that destroy our planet.

In this incredibly exciting project for the TWB community, we translated and revised the video into 33 languages. You can watch them here.

Nan says she is thrilled to have been a part of the movement by helping the climate solution message reach her community.

“It’s rare to see something like the Nature Now climate solutions film in the Rohingya language. It makes me feel as if I am campaigning to save the world from disasters when I work on these projects. It will be very good for the Rohingya community to benefit from more projects such as this in the future.”

Futu, Rohingya translator, Bangladesh.

Do you have a passion for supporting communities around the globe? By sharing your language skills, you can involve more people in vital conversations about climate change and more. Invite your friends and networks to join the TWB community. Share this link to sign up: http://translatorswithoutborders.org/volunteer/translators

Written by Danielle Moore, Communications and Engagement Officer for TWB. With interview responses by Nan, Myanmar translator for TWB, and Futu, Bangla translator for TWB. To protect their identities, we have used pseudonyms in this piece.

Valérie travels the world and translates

Translators improve lives by translating potentially lifesaving information into languages spoken by vulnerable individuals. Those who volunteer as part of the Translators without Borders (TWB) Community have a range of experiences and skills. They share our vision of a world where knowledge knows no language barriers. We are grateful for all our translators, and we love sharing their stories.

Valérie Thirkettle is a multi-talented translator who has worked with TWB since 2018 and has donated almost 550,000 words of life-saving information. Her dedication and motivation to take on new projects and the care she puts into her translations make it an absolute pleasure to collaborate. Valérie is a lawyer who spent the majority of her career working for a prestigious intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space. Recently, she retired to pursue her passion for translation.

Valérie travels and translates
“How I feel when I sit down to face a big revision task” – Valérie.

A flexible working life 

An avid traveler who divides her time between the Netherlands and South Africa, she enjoys the flexibility of TWB’s internet-based system. It gives her the chance to enjoy her other pleasures, studying literary translation, spending time with family and friends, golfing and enjoying nature, particularly in her beloved Africa. All the while, wherever she goes she can feed what she calls her “translation addiction.”

Valérie in Africa
Valérie enjoys the natural surroundings of Africa.

“I was attracted by TWB’s technology focus. I discovered how much language matters in humanitarian settings, so I hope my contribution can help people. And that it can improve the advocacy efforts of the organizations I translate for.”

Her ability to infuse her multi-sector knowledge into her translation work allows her to work on a number of different projects. “I am a trained lawyer and I have worked in international legal subjects and HR subjects. I like to make myself useful with the skills I have and contribute to the causes that resonate with me, and on a volunteer basis.” 

Valerie keeps in contact with TWB’s Language Services Team by email. She is celebrated as a central, fun member of the community. The team recalls sharing many laughs with Valerie. With her varied experience, Valérie has seen the funny side of translation and mistranslation. She told us a story about a translation she once reviewed in which  she noticed the section to sign and “date” the form mistakenly read “rendez vous d’amour.” “I loved it,” laughed Valerie, “filling in forms suddenly turned into something really exciting!”

Education for everyone

One of her favorite projects with TWB involved the revision and final linguistic sign-off of the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) Network’s How-to Guide to Collective Communication and Community Engagement. This is essential for teaching better communication strategies on the ground. It helps inform people about their rights and situations in languages they understand. 

Translators can often become emotionally involved in a project. When working with Street Child, for instance, Valérie says, 

“I felt a strong resonance with the task, and, like with a good novel, the end came too early!” 

Children in Bangladesh
Children learning in school, Bangladesh.

In fact, projects that assist young people tend to stand out for Valérie. Her time working with Think Equal also left an impactful and memorable mark. Think Equal has developed an early years education program for social and emotional learning. It was a large project in which Valérie took care of the entire revision. It included revising French versions of the program, an extensive set of books, lesson plans, and teaching materials. “The size and spread of this project made it complex, but an opportunity to develop new organizational skills for my translations.” 

Overall, her translation experience has taught Valérie to appreciate the varied skills of other translators. She comments on how they build on one another’s strengths to deliver great work. She’s become increasingly involved in revising tasks and has embarked on qualifications in revising and proofreading. “My work with TWB gives me a great opportunity for continuous learning.”

One of her tips for other Kató translators is to “pay attention to the glossaries and be as consistent as possible with the terminology you use.” Valérie points out that you’re able to ask project managers for feedback throughout the process. “And of course, keep claiming more tasks, the humanitarian sector needs all the language help it can get!” 

Get involved with the TWB translator community.

Written by Danielle Moore, Communications Officer for Translators without Borders. Interview responses by Valérie Thirkettle, Translator for Translators without Borders.

TWB intern is recognized as a Young African Leader

Cédrick Young African Leader YALI
Cédrick Irakoze

At Translators without Borders (TWB), we are lucky to have extraordinary team members who are recognized worldwide. We are always grateful to have uniquely skilled members of the international community choose to be part of our cause. Today, we are proud to share the story of Cédrick Irakoze, Crisis Response and Community and Recruitment Intern for TWB. He was recently awarded a place to be part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) network. The YALI network invests in the next generation of African leaders, providing invaluable opportunities to connect and learn from experts. Learn more about the YALI network here.

Cédrick is a young Burundian language professional. He holds a bachelor’s degree in TESOL  (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from the University of Burundi, and has years of experience as a professional translator. He believes that language can improve or even save lives in this global world. And interaction in the right language can be vital for everyone, no matter people’s language, culture, or the color of their skin.

“TWB is my professional home” – Cédrick

In 2018, Cédrick first featured in our blog as a volunteer translator from English and French into Rundi. This was his introduction to the world of language in humanitarian work: “When I joined TWB as an intern, I joined a community of like-minded individuals serving the global community. Now I call TWB my professional home.” Day-to-day, Cédrick engages and collaborates with our translator community to help create a world with no language barriers. 

But in late 2019, he did something different. He successfully applied for the Young African Leaders Initiative program.

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)

In 2016, Cédrick joined the Young African Leaders Initiative network with over 25,000 other young and talented individuals. In 2019, he met with 108 successful candidates from over 7000 applicants to attend a one-month leadership training course.

A group of YALI network members in Nairobi.
A group of YALI network members in Nairobi.

 

Energetic public officials, business owners, and local and international nonprofit leaders from all over Africa came together in Nairobi, Kenya. On hearing their stories, Cédrick reflected, “The way they are each committed to making their communities better inspired me.” The Translators without Borders team is delighted to have witnessed a team member take on such an exciting, formative challenge.

“Thank you very much. TWB showed me so much love and support before and during the program!” – Cédrick

Cédrick Irakoze, right, with TWB Kenya Manager Paul Warambo, left.
Cédrick Irakoze, right, with TWB Kenya Manager Paul Warambo, left.

It’s all about communication

The course was about inspiring and equipping one another to become better leaders. Participants developed their communication skills and built solutions-oriented networks. These factors are central to the changes these young leaders want to see in society. Each member of the diverse group – native speakers of over fifty languages – played a vital part.

Cédrick Irakoze, left presenting to the YALI network members.

This richness and diversity are reflected in TWB’s own community of translators and supporters, and in our way of working. We too rely on the power of teamwork to make change — to improve communications and access to information worldwide. Cédrick’s big takeaway is that when we come together we can innovate, we can flourish and we can make each other feel valued. 

“Diversity is richness in professional life” – Cédrick 

With the skills he’s learned through this course, Cédrick hopes to make a positive impact in his professional and social circles. “I can’t wait to contribute more and better to our common mission: to create a world that knows no language barriers.” 

Cédrick Irakoze and friends at the YALI network meetup in Nairobi.
Cédrick Irakoze and friends at the YALI network meetup in Nairobi.

 

Start your own journey as part of the TWB community.

 

Written by Danielle Moore, Communications Officer for Translators without Borders. Interview responses by Cédrick Irakoze, Crisis Response and Community and Recruitment Intern for Translators without Borders.

Humanitarian work close to home: Irina Nosova 

Translators improve lives by translating potentially lifesaving information into languages spoken by vulnerable individuals. Those who volunteer as part of the Translators without Borders (TWB) Community have a range of experiences and skills. They share our vision of a world where knowledge knows no language barriers. We are grateful for all our translators, and we love sharing their stories.

Shared philosophies

Irina’s philosophy fits right in with that of Translators without Borders: “In our information-packed society, it is essential to maintain access to vital information for everybody. So, my biggest motivation is helping people by delivering information to interested parties,” says Irina, former lawyer now turned English-Russian translator. Since joining as a volunteer translator in 2016, Irina has translated and revised a total of 110,220 words into Russian, one of our top ten most frequently requested languages.

Irina Nosova English Russian translator
Irina Nosova, translator

The projects touch on all sorts of information, including healthcare. Often, information and research in one language benefit speakers of another language – but it needs to be accurate and it needs to be available. So we asked about a particular project which made vital information available in Irina’s own country, in Russian, her mother-tongue. When tasked with translating an important anti-tuberculosis study she found it to be one of her most difficult projects to date. The translator translated study protocol and presentations to find out more, before later reading news articles and discovering the reality of the tuberculosis situation in Russia.

“I was shocked to find how high the burden of tuberculosis is in my country!” – Irina

Finding practical solutions

Although Irina focuses on the importance of language in Russia, she is also hopeful about how sharing information in many languages can spread helpful and life-changing information. “I hope that the study of novel tuberculosis treatment will speed up the registration of new drugs which are vital for successful treatment,” she told TWB. 

As well as more academic pieces, Irina finds translating personal stories equally important. One of her projects involved translating patients’ stories for partner non-profit EURORDIS – Rare Diseases Europe. 

“I realized that stories shared by patients with rare diseases and their families could inform people in similar situations in Russia about how to deal with those diseases.” – Irina 

Tapping into your skillset

Irina’s desire to help as a volunteer translator has helped her tap into personal and professional skills. “Volunteering improved my time management: I have to calculate and allocate the time I can spend to complete the tasks before the deadline, alongside my other daily tasks. Before launching my own business, I worked as a lawyer and I volunteered with TWB at night, after work. Now, I can be more flexible and am able to contribute more time.”

Her advice for other TWB Community members is to constantly improve your skills, learn new terminology, and check your quality of translation. “Doing translation in Kató – TWB’s online translation environment – requires the same quality approach as any other project: the highest possible. So, before claiming the new task make sure you understand the topic and do your own research to provide the best possible translation.” It helps you understand the context and importance of the situation you are translating about – like in the case of Irina’s tuberculosis project. When Irina dug deeper into the topic she was translating about, she discovered a personal interest in medical translation and later, clinical research. Her projects opened new doors: “Volunteering with TWB improved my resourcefulness and research skills and pushed me to explore new horizons in translation, take new courses, and dig deeper.” 

Join our translator community.

Written by Gloria Malone and Danielle Moore, Communications Officers for Translators without Borders. Interview responses by Irina Nosova.

TWB’s first Arabic translation contest 

We recently held our very first translation contest for Translators without Borders’ thriving community of Arabic translators. Ninety-two talented translators submitted a total of 124 translations on a mixture of humanitarian and literary topics. Each translation was evaluated by fellow community members for accuracy, terminology, and style in order to provide constructive feedback and create greater engagement among the Arabic community.

The winners: humanitarian translation

Shaimaa Elhosan is an English to Arabic translator specializing in humanitarian translation because of her desire to help others. She studied UN translation at the American University in Cairo, which helped her follow her passion.

“I want to help other people, especially children, victims of conflicts, and abused women, people affected by natural disasters. Thus, I volunteered with Translators without Borders (TWB).”

A career highlight as a freelance translator was working on a book titled The Happy Healthy Nonprofit, by Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman. At that point, Shaimaa realized what a leading role nonprofits play in improving difficult situations.

Shaimaa Elhosan, Arabic translator for Translators without Borders
Shaimaa Elhosan, Arabic translator for TWB

The first story she encountered with TWB was poignant: it told of the daily suffering of victims of war. And it highlighted the misleading images of a comfortable life in camps which too often circulate on social media.

She went on to translate the toolkit for the Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, a TWB partner. The toolkit aimed to improve the quality of life and dignity for displaced people living in communal settings. 

Since 2017, Shaimaa has used her skills to translate 8,951 words for TWB and has acquired more valuable experience in humanitarian translation in the process. She continues to study in a constant effort to improve and expand her knowledge.

“I study because I care so much about whether or not the translation communicates the meaning clearly to readers. The TWB team appreciates my know-how and they ask me to participate in more projects. They try hard to support us in translation by providing references and glossaries as much as possible.”

Shaimaa explained that the challenge of communication was made more exciting by this competition. “How could I render the meaning to the readership clearly with such a tricky text? The experience spurred me on to participate in more projects. I’d like to continue to support displaced people, children, and abused women with my work.”

Literary translation

Nabil Salibi won the literary translation category, having received the highest score from his fellow community members. 

Graduation photo from Nabil's Masters in Interpreting and Translating, 2018
Graduation photo from Nabil’s Masters in Interpreting and Translating, 2018

This professional translator is as dedicated to his volunteer projects as he is to his paid work. By volunteering, he hopes to bridge the communication gap between humanitarian organizations and those who seek their support. For Nabil, this means dedicating four to five hours at a time to translate or proof-read texts from his home in Australia.

Since joining TWB in 2016, Nabil has translated 13,592 words. He has focused on projects related to refugees and the conditions in refugee camps, as well as news articles. Nabil also helped translate IFRC’s Global Response Tools Review. That review analyzed the tools we use to respond to disasters, and the risks and challenges related to humanitarian response.

He takes each of these projects seriously:

“Volunteering allows me to appreciate the difficulties imposed by language barriers and the impact on the wellbeing of people who live in communities where they don’t understand the local language.” 

Numerous other translators earned honorable mentions for their efforts. Learn more about their work, and the translation process on the Kató Community Forum.

A shared reward: the language equality initiative

Our highly skilled translators, including Nabil and Shaimaa, will have the opportunity to contribute to Gamayun, the language equality initiative. The goal is to shift control of communication, to allow everyone to share their voice and access information in a language and format they can understand. Using advanced language technology, we’re working with marginalized communities and language specialists to increase language equality and improve two-way communication. Over half of the world’s population simply doesn’t have access to knowledge and information in their own language. Our translators and supporters address this language gap which can prevent people from lifting themselves out of poverty, getting health care, recovering from a crisis, or understanding their rights. Our translators’ efforts enable people to proactively share their needs, concerns, and ideas.

To learn more, click here

What’s next? 

We recently announced two new translation contests open to our French and Swahili translator communities.  If you are already a TWB translator please check the Kató Community Forum for more information. Otherwise, why not join TWB today so you can take part? Entries close on 5 August 2019.

In case you’re looking to take part in a contest, or improve your own translations, our first translation contest winners share some words of advice:  

  • “Make sure you understand the whole article. Context is key.” – Nabil  
  • “I love to translate on paper first.” – Nabil
  • “Never stop reading.” – Shaimaa

 

Written by Danielle Moore, Communications Officer for Translators without Borders.

Interview responses by Shaimaa Elhosan and Nabil Salibi, Translators for 
Translators without Borders.

On the ground in Mozambique: helping survivors of Cyclone Idai get the answers they need in their own languages

Days in Beira, Mozambique are long and humid. The city and its surroundings are still reeling from the destruction caused by Cyclone Idai. Five weeks on, I see people seeking a sense of normality and routine: women and men walking on their way to work, children playing soccer on the street, families having barbecues on the weekend. Their resilience is astounding and yet the uncertainty about how to move forward makes the situation harder to cope with for many.

Credit: Andrew Lind / IOM

At one of the temporary accommodation sites in Beira, TWB’s assessment team and I met some of the people whose houses and livelihoods have been washed away. They patiently answered our survey, but they themselves had too many unanswered questions. Many were confused about the aid available; some had still no idea about the fate of loved ones; others wanted to go back but wondered what conditions were like where they came from.

Without the ability to get answers, I fear people might feel utterly abandoned. Without trusted sources of accurate, timely, and consistent information, rumors and misinformation can exacerbate the crisis. This can lead people to make poor decisions, or make them vulnerable to violence, extortion, and abuse.

The challenge is that people need the right information in the right language, right now. Nobody said it was easy, but if we are serious about our humanitarian commitments to effectiveness and accountability, it needs to be done.

That is why TWB is working with other humanitarian organizations to ensure a two-way conversation with affected people, especially the many that do not speak Portuguese. In the hardest hit provinces, the main local languages spoken and understood include Ndau, Nyanja, Lomwe, and Sena. One of our focuses has been mobilizing translators with the right language skills so that we can support making information available in local languages.

This is crucial work that is inspiring and humbling at the same time. Many of the translators we are working with have been directly impacted by Cyclone Idai. Gustavo, one of our volunteer translators, reminded me about this when we first met.

Gustavo is a high school teacher of English who has been translating critical information into and from Sena. Sitting at a desk in his classroom that still reeked of damp, he explained that people here are no strangers to natural disasters. Yet, a lack of information ahead of Cyclone Idai meant that few were prepared for its devastating impact. “The next day [after the cyclone] we could not recognize where we were. It was like there had been a war or a bomb which had destroyed everything: houses were gone; roads were cut; trees were down; there was no electricity or phone and internet connections,” he said.

Gustavo opened his home to host some of his neighbors and relatives who lost all their belongings. And when he received an email from TWB asking for his availability to help, he said “yes” right away. “I took the invitation as an opportunity to assist those in need with written or oral information in their own language. This is one of the best things I can do to help my community get back on its feet.”

A crisis like a cyclone, by its nature, is a traumatic event. But talking with Gustavo I am reminded about the powerful thing that is meaningful communication. Communicating with people about the situation and answering their questions can be critical. Helping people to understand where they can get help and how they can help themselves improves their psychological resilience and their ability to recover. Doing so in local languages is key to ensuring people understand information and can act on it to rebuild their lives.

There is no quick fix that will address all of people’s questions. However, I know that working with local translators is needed to come at the issue using the right languages. Together with our team, I intend to keep doing so.

As of 30 April, our team of volunteer translators has translated over 70,000 words into relevant local languages. Thanks to their support, we are filling information gaps on issues such as hygiene, health, shelter, safety, and preventing sexual exploitation and abuse. If you would like further information about our language support services in Mozambique, you can contact us at [email protected].

This project is funded by the H2H Fund, a funding mechanism for H2H Network members supported by UK aid from the UK government.

Written by Mia Marzotto, Senior Advocacy Officer for Translators without Borders

An Interview with Liudmila, a Russian translator connecting the world through language

Translators improve lives by translating potentially lifesaving information into often ‘marginalized’ languages spoken by vulnerable individuals. Those who volunteer for Translators without Borders (TWB) have a range of experience and skills and share a vision of a world where knowledge knows no language barriers. We are grateful for all our translators, and we love sharing their stories.

Translation is not the only skill that helps TWB translators connect people through language. A deep understanding of culture, people, and precision can also help nonprofit organizations communicate with people affected by crisis or poverty.

“I am a translator to the marrow of my bones, and a perpetual learner — every translation for me is a discovery.” Liudmila Tomanek, Translator for TWB.

Take, for example, Russian translator Liudmila Tomanek. When she is not freelancing and running her translation company, this linguist with a penchant for perfection translates information for people in need, on a diverse range of topics. To date, she has donated over 225,000 words translated from English into her native Russian. Through her work with TWB, she uses and develops her communication skills and cultural understanding to help people understand vital information, no matter what language they speak.

Working in the real world

As a multilingual translator and interpreter working from English, French, Spanish, and Italian into Russian, Liudmila understandably has a range of experience and cultural knowledge. She draws on this in projects with TWB, and is comfortable working in diverse subject areas. Particular interests lie in journalism, economics, and medical translation.

During her time with TWB, Liudmila has used her deep cultural understanding to translate information on topics ranging from human rights to poverty and infectious diseases. In doing so, she has supported nonprofit organizations such as the American Red Cross, Internews, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Donating words

The very fact that TWB exists and flourishes, she believes, demonstrates that quality skills can be incredibly valuable when it comes to helping a good cause.Book, spectacles, glasses

With her translated words, she reaches out to those who would otherwise lack the access to information they need in a language and format they understand. Liudmila compares her volunteering with TWB to doctors working for Doctors without Borders: professionals using their skills to treat people where the need is greatest. She explains, “professional translators who volunteer for TWB provide information where it is needed and in the language it is needed.” Projects with TWB have opened Liudmila’s eyes to the wide-ranging need for professional translation: from the families of children born with a cleft lip and palate, to natural disaster management.

It helps me to see the world through a different set of spectacles. It removes a curtain from some aspects of life that people prefer not to think or talk about. – Liudmila

Liudmila lists her projects with Operation Smile International among her favorites. “They really do amazing things. They go around the world and give children born with a cleft lip or palate a chance to smile and live a full life. I cry every time I translate their newsletter,” she says.

Befriending technology

And sometimes translating leads to new skills. As a self-confessed old-fashioned type, she was once wary of computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools. However, with Kató, TWB’s online translation platform, Liudmila was converted. Though a professional eye still is still needed to ensure context and quality, this translator now works faster and more consistently with Kató  – and gladly so.

When helping the world communicate, we’re thankful that Liudmila uses skills both old and new.

 

Want to use your language skills for good? Apply today.

To get in touch about any of the topics mentioned in this post, please join the discussion or email [email protected]

 

Written by Danielle Moore, Communications Officer for Translators without Borders. Interview responses by Liudmila Tomanek, Translator for Translators without Borders. 

How I found meaning in my career

Volunteering with TWB is a rewarding and enriching experience.

Translators improve lives by translating potentially lifesaving information into often ‘marginalized’ languages spoken by vulnerable individuals. Those who volunteer for Translators without Borders (TWB) have a range of experience and skills and share a vision of a world where knowledge knows no language barriers. We are grateful for all our translators, and we love sharing their stories.

Iris Translator

Iris Soliman sets out to prove that when the cause matters to you, giving back comes naturally. Since early 2018, this translator’s enthusiasm for TWB’s work has shone through in her personal and professional life. Her support for the cause extends far beyond the translation work itself, as Iris has thrown herself into TWB’s Kató Community forum and social media platforms. Driving TWB’s vision of a world where knowledge knows no language barriers is a dedicated community of translators. They all volunteer because of a shared set of values: they believe in the need to make information available in languages that people understand. Iris embodies the energy and passion shared by many TWB translators.

Advancing a career in translation

The 35-year-old Belgian translator of Egyptian descent works in English, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, and French. Iris began her professional translation career five years ago. And in just one year with TWB, she has participated in over 100 projects and translated over 200,000 words. Those words have helped individuals supported by a plethora of organizations including the NEAR network, Concern Worldwide, and Humanity and Inclusion.

Humanity and Inclusion is where Iris began her volunteering career in the Brussels office and in the field, 10 years prior to discovering TWB. More recently, she has been able to achieve a personal goal of translating a text from Arabic to French and participating in numerous meaningful projects.

Iris is touched by the knowledge that her work with TWB makes a real and discernible impact on lives. A fondly remembered translation was for a smartphone app called Miniila, by Missing Children Europe. The app provides migrant children with information about their rights and the services available to them on their arrival in Europe. In a separate project, she learned that important vaccine stocks in Syria had to be destroyed because they were in a location occupied by Daesh. For Iris, these translations are personal reminders of her lucky situation, while others sometimes struggle to meet basic needs.

Iris Translator

“Now I hope I’ll help all kinds of people – elderly, grownups or children – particularly those fleeing conflict, starvation or natural disasters.”


As an engaged member of the TWB community, Iris is thankful for the knowledge-sharing, the friendly environment and the opportunity to help others while gaining humanitarian experience.

Fitting TWB volunteering into a busy life.

Though she is busy, Iris finds time to dedicate to her volunteer work. For her it is about so much more than doing a job: she is part of a thriving community. While still volunteering for TWB regularly, Iris is completing various online courses and preparing for the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi Chinese proficiency examination. 

Iris hopes that her energetic approach to the translator community will encourage other translators to join. For anyone who is curious, she offers words of advice: “You can always ask the project managers questions (they are more than simply available). And don’t worry if you need to double check, make corrections, or have your work revised. I was like you less than a year ago!” This is all part of her endless desire to make a difference and grow professionally.

“Iris has contributed a substantial number of words on TWB’s translation platform, Kató. But what really distinguishes her is the great enthusiasm she is showing in the Kató Community” Paulina Abzieher, Translation Project Manager for TWB.

If you, too, share our values, apply to join TWB’s translator community today.

To get in touch about any of the topics mentioned in this post, please join the discussion or email [email protected]

Written by Danielle Moore, Communications Officer for Translators without Borders. Interview responses by Iris Soliman, Translator for Translators without Borders. Cover photo by Karim Ani.