Celebrating linguistic diversity and mother languages

Sharing TWB community member stories from Nigeria 

On International Mother Language Day, we’re celebrating the richness of linguistic diversity around the world, with a special focus on the TWB Community. 

We are proud to spotlight some of our 100,000+ community members. Each person brings their unique experiences and skills to their role as a language volunteer. And we all come together for a common purpose – to embrace the power of language and communication for a more inclusive and informed world. 

CLEAR Global and TWB logos on water bottle hat and bag, International Mother Language Day

Embracing language and technology to change lives 

In parts of the world, as much as 90% of the population still do not have access to education in a language they speak or understand. Increasing numbers of children face migration and displacement, making language inclusion critical for their futures. Too many people face exclusion which is detrimental to their education, health, and livelihood opportunities, because of the language they speak. 

At TWB and CLEAR Global, we’re dedicated to bridging the language divide to create real, impactful change – better access and better communication. Thanks to TWB Community members worldwide, we’re empowering marginalized language speakers to get and share vital information in the languages they speak. These powerful stories show the importance of communication and support in someone’s mother language. 

The power of language to unite us all

Hear from TWB Community members Okafor Nkechi and Chinwendu Peace Anyanwu from Nigeria. Learn about their experiences volunteering with the TWB Community to contribute to humanitarian and development projects that support their language communities. These translators have chosen to embrace the power of language and technology worldwide to bring impactful change – equal access to education, health, and climate change information for all.

About Okafor Nkechi, Igbo interpreter and translator in Nigeria

“I am passionate about bridging linguistic gaps and ensuring effective communication between different language speakers. As a member of the TWB Community, I have contributed to projects aimed at improving language inclusion and accessibility. This work ensures that language is not a barrier to accessing vital information and services, particularly for marginalized communities who speak Igbo.”

Okafor

What does it feel like to grow up learning a second language? 

“As a child, I learned in both Igbo, my mother language, and English, as a second language. Learning in a second language posed challenges such as understanding complex concepts and expressing myself fluently. However, through dedication and support, I overcame these obstacles. 

Growing up, I was exposed to a tapestry of my mother tongue which resonated deep within my soul. As I navigated through school, my love for languages grew stronger. I practiced speaking and writing in my mother tongue, and from that, I dreamed of a future where I could use my linguistic skills to make a difference in the world.”

Imagine a more equal future – no one left behind because of language

“One day, while traveling in transit to another state, I saw two different people. One was speaking my mother language, Igbo, while the other was speaking English and it was so difficult for the old women to understand. They struggled to communicate with the missionaries who spoke only in English. Seeing the frustration and confusion on both sides, I felt a fire ignite within me. At that moment, I knew that I had found my calling to be a bridge between those worlds, to ensure that no one was left behind simply because of a language barrier. 

From that day on, I dedicated myself to mastering the art of interpretation. Being an interpreter was more than just a job, it was a passion, a way of honoring my roots and preserving my heritage. I hoped to inspire others to embrace the beauty of their mother tongue and recognize the power of language to unite us all.” 

“My workspace” – Okafor

Hope for inclusive education:

“Inclusive education requires addressing language barriers by providing resources and support for students learning in their mother tongue or a second language. This can include bilingual education programs, culturally relevant teaching materials, and language support services. 

We can make education more inclusive by providing relevant, multilingual education resources, programs, and support for students and teachers. Where possible, we should make education as accessible as possible, whatever someone’s language or communication needs. By training educators on inclusive teaching strategies and celebrating cultural diversity, we can both embrace and respect learners’ identities and needs.”

Mother language access – why is it important to your community? 

“Access to essential services such as health, climate change information, and education in Igbo is crucial for effective communication and understanding within the community. It empowers individuals to make informed decisions and promotes cultural preservation.

Accessing important communications in my mother language, Igbo, is vital for several reasons: 

  • Health services: Understanding medical information, and treatment instructions, and communicating with healthcare providers in Igbo ensures clarity and accuracy in healthcare decisions. It helps to promote patient safety and improves health outcomes by reducing misunderstandings or misinterpretations due to language barriers. 
  • Climate change information: Climate change affects communities globally, including those who speak Igbo. Accessing information on climate change,  its impacts, and mitigation strategies in Igbo allows for greater understanding and engagement within the community. It empowers individuals to take appropriate actions to address environmental challenges and adapt to changing conditions. 
  • Education: Learning in one’s mother language enhances comprehension and retention of knowledge. Access to education in Igbo facilitates a deeper understanding of academic concepts, promotes cultural identity and pride, and strengthens language proficiency. It ensures that all members of the community have equitable access to quality education, regardless of their linguistic background. 

By providing these essential communications in Igbo, we promote inclusivity, empower individuals, and strengthen community resilience. Access to important communications in their language helps reaffirm Igbo speakers’ cultural identity. It acknowledges the value of respecting linguistic diversity in an increasingly interconnected world. Making crucial conversations accessible in Igbo empowers individuals to actively participate in society and engage with essential services and information. It promotes inclusivity,  ensuring that all community members, regardless of their language, age or background, have more equal access to resources and opportunities.”

– Responses by Okafor Nkechi, TWB Community member. 

About Chinwendu Peace Anyanwu, Igbo speaker in Nigeria. 

“I am a native speaker of the Igbo language. I am a linguist. I studied Linguistics and Igbo language at the University of Benin Edo State, Nigeria. I am passionate about language studies and this persuaded me to join several language volunteer programs to help promote, preserve, document, and revitalize languages on the verge of endangerment. I am a translator and an editor.”

Chinwendu

Not allowed to speak your mother language 

The challenges of learning in a second language 

“I got my primary education in my language community [Igbo], it was easier for me to adapt as my parents were competent native speakers and I was able to acquire my first language from this setting. I learned my second language (English) in school but my first language wasn’t neglected. Acquiring Igbo as a first language was an effort made by my parents because, in schools, we were restricted from speaking vernacular, as was called by the teachers then. Sometimes, we were told to speak English and that anyone who speaks the Igbo language will have their name on the blacklist by the class prefect. So it wasn’t easier then for children who were not opportune to have their mother tongue as their first language and this gave rise to them seeing their indigenous or mother tongue as a thing of ridicule. The experience was not fair at all and they also replayed some parts of it in the secondary class, where you must debate and present in a foreign language. If you speak your mother tongue you are seen as unintelligible or you are called ‘igbotic’ or ‘local.’ 

Why study Igbo? – embracing your mother language

This didn’t stop, even in university, though my university education was not in my language. We were always stereotyped as one with a particular mother tongue/accent and this can even push some set of individuals to avoid speaking in public. This scenario led us to learn Benin pidgin English to the extent that it became hard for us to communicate with our mother tongue even among siblings. The thing about all these is when you adapt to different settings you find yourself seeing your language as one made for local champions. This has affected the Igbo language severely as it barely has young competent native speakers and writers. Even when you tell somone your course is Igbo language, the question will be “Why study Igbo? Of all the courses.” It has not been a fair experience, and not involving our mother tongue as the language of education affected our language and deprived us of having everything accessible in our own language.”

Chinwendu

What information is most important for you to be able to access in your mother language?

“The most accessible communications are education, but through different language revitalization platforms like TWB and Wikimedia, we are striving to have more communications in my mother language, especially on climate change and health. 

This is very important as having all words in all languages breaks the knowledge gap barrier and can actually save lives. Having the sum of all human knowledge in every language is a great thing as communication and solution to problems would be easier.” 

– Responses by Chinwendu Peace Anyanwu, TWB Community member. 

A huge thank you to our contributors for International Mother Language Day, whose stories remind us to embrace diversity, break barriers, and promote linguistic equality. 

Will you join us? About TWB

The Translators without Borders (TWB) Community is at the heart of CLEAR Global, a nonprofit helping people get vital information and be heard, whatever language they speak. By joining the TWB Community, you’ll join over 100,000 people volunteering remotely from around the world to make meaningful change through language.

You’ll get a chance to provide language support to local and global organizations, helping bridge communication gaps between them and people living through a crisis – and beyond. You’ll contribute significantly to making information accessible, inclusive, and useful to people who need that information in their language.

You, too, can join the movement for a world where every voice is heard, and every language matters. Here’s how you can get involved: 

Read more on the TWB blog – discover more community member stories told by them. 

Translation connects us: why language inclusion matters

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.

International Tranlsation Day #LanguageInclusion The image shows one three focus group participants in Nigeria, women who are smiling and engaged in conversation with the TWB worker on the left. TWB and CLEAR Global logos

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

Image of Senait Gebru TWB Community member on International Translation Day

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: 

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

Image shows TWB Community member Uwayo Noel with a purple speech bubble reading "kinyarwanda, Kiswahili, French and English language volunteer"  on International Translation Day

“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 image shows a speech bubble with a quote from TWB Community member Naja F. Ahmed, “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."

“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.

If you are interested in joining our community, here’s how you can get involved: 

If you want to find out how to support our mission or follow our work: 

Taking refuge in the refugee camps, Greece, 2016 – TWB Community stories.

Written by Caroline Fakhri, professional interpreter and TWB Community member. 

In the refugee camps in Greece, I was interpreting for the people of Afghanistan of whom many were women. As a woman, I could empathize with their difficulties. Most importantly for the women, they felt able to reveal their inner worries without being judged, because I was not from their culture but still understood their language. This was a huge advantage for them to feel they had a safe space to chat and unburden themselves mentally. Interestingly, many of the Afghan men expressed similar sentiments to the women.  

“People need to be understood, not just on a word-to-word level but at a deeper level of the culture and customs of where someone is from.” 

Fires have burnt the tents in refugee camps in Greece - piles of debris and ashes are shown, with camp tents, people and children in the background inspecting what's left

Caroline Fakhri took this photo of fires in the camps in Larissa, Greece.

The importance of language and communication was expressed to me very clearly by one of the doctors that I was working with at Medicins du Mond

“As an interpreter you are the most important member of our team. Without interpreters we cannot do our job effectively.”

The photo below shows Caroline Fakhri, on the island of Chios in one of the containers where they saw patients.

Caroline holding a baby, in a refugee camp in Greece

“I am a qualified interpreter and English tutor/teacher. I am self-employed and tutor English language and literature to school children up to GCSE level. I also teach EFL to adults and children in schools.  I interpret and have worked in the refugee camps in Greece as well as for local authority clients. My mother tongue is English; I speak Farsi fluently, French at intermediate level and I am learning Spanish at the moment.”

A Farsi interpreter in Larissa, Greece

The black smouldering mess was all that remained of half a dozen or so tents that were burning wildly when we arrived at the camp for our afternoon shift. We were there to attend to the aches and pains of the hundreds of refugees housed in these tents just outside the city of Larissa, approximately 350 kilometres north of Athens. 

What an opportunity. I had jumped at the chance to use my Farsi language skills on a humanitarian mission during the refugee crisis of 2015/2016. This crisis was brought to the world’s attention when the dead body of the three-year-old Syrian Kurdish boy Aylan Kurdi was splashed across the front pages of national and international newspapers, highlighting the cost of this humanitarian crisis, almost on our doorstep. 

Large numbers of Syrian and Afghan refugees had left their war-torn countries and got as far as Turkey. In the majority of cases, they had paid a small fortune. Some had sold all their possessions and given their life savings to smugglers to get them from Turkey to the nearest point in Europe. Many arrived on Chios, where I was sent, as well as Lesbos Samos and Kos. 

The Greek coastguards were rescuing people as soon as they entered Greek waters in the small dinghies they had been packed into, so full there was standing room only. The smugglers sold them life jackets but they were homemade, sometimes packed with newspaper instead of anything buoyant and invariably made from black material to stop them from being visible at night. The majority of sailings took place under the cover of darkness.    

It was just a couple of weeks earlier that I had received a phone call. “Is that Caroline?” a female voice asked, I noted the French accent. “Yes”, I said hesitantly. “Are you ready for your mission? This is Medicins du Monde, Brussels”, the voice continued.  We have 14th March for your availability, is that still the case? 

Momentarily, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t believe I had been successful in my application to go to Greece to work as an interpreter for the humanitarian organisation Medicins du Monde. “All being well you will leave in a couple of days,” the voice said. We are assembling the rest of the team that you will be working with.” 

I put the phone down, jumping up in the air with excitement. In just a couple of days, I would be off to work with people in the now full-to-bursting-point camps on the Greek Island of Chios, as far east in the Mediterranean as you can go before you get to Turkey. I phoned my sister to tell her the news. “You have to go,” she said emphatically.  

First stop, Chios

I arrived in Chios on the eve of the new EU Turkey agreement. From March 22nd, 2016, any migrants arriving from Turkey would be sent back. All the authorities knew this was an impossible task. There was not enough manpower to process all the new arrivals, spring was coming and with the warmer weather, there would be more and more boats. 

After a briefing in Brussels at the Medicins du Monde office and having met my new colleagues, a Belgian nurse, a German doctor and an Arabic interpreter we were on our way. First, we flew to Athens and then by a very small plane, which to me resembled a crop duster, to Chios. Chios is one of the larger Greek islands, sitting just 11 miles from Turkey. It is tantalisingly close for the people who wanted to get to Europe by any means offered. 

On arrival at the tiny island airport, we were greeted by the field coordinator Justine and the logistics guy Remy, both of them French. They gave us a warm welcome, asked if we were hungry, whisked us away to the hotel where we would be staying then took us for our evening meal. During the meal, we all had a chance to introduce ourselves and explain our reasons for wanting to come to work in the camps. The overwhelming reason was to help people in dire need.  

Whilst having our meal, we became aware of the number of refugees along the harbour front promenade: sitting, chatting and eating on the benches, looking out to sea across to Turkey from whence they had arrived. Many, I was told, were waiting to buy tickets for the large ferry which sat moored, towering over the harbour. The ferry company was waiting for authorization to start selling tickets again. Large numbers wanted to get across to the mainland and continue their journey to destinations such as Germany or the UK. Now the agreement was in place, the Greek authorities wanted the camps empty because from Monday anyone arriving would be deemed an ‘irregular’ migrant, detained, their paperwork processed and returned to Turkey. Well, that was the plan. They wouldn’t go to one of the many temporary camps on Chios; they would go to the detention centre way up in the hills, inland. 

Having arrived on Saturday, we were given Sunday off. We spent the day exploring the streets and squares of Chios Town, drinking coffee and getting to know each other in readiness for our first day at the camp on Monday. That Sunday we saw three ferries leaving for the mainland, the majority of people on the ferries were refugees, the people we had come all this way to help.

People leaving refugee camps, hoping for transport, Greece

Little did we realize that tomorrow there would be hardly anyone left in the camps for us to look after. They looked happy, they thought they were on the way to the places they had dreamed about, the places that they had put their lives in danger to reach, but many got stuck in Athens and other places on mainland Greece as the borders all across Europe began to close on them. 

With the exodus of so many refugees, we found the camps almost like ghost towns on the Monday morning. We met the team that we were taking over from. After being shown the ropes, there was little to do so we set about writing up guidelines for interpreters. Lunchtime found us sitting in a sunny square ordering Greek delicacies, lapping up the sun and generally thinking we could get used to this life. But of course, we weren’t on holiday. 

After this slow start, Thursday saw us up at the detention centre, giving the Greek staff the day off for the Greek National Day, and the following Thursday we were at a camp for minors. A holiday camp which in more usual times would be full of holidaymakers having fun, it now housed a very different clientele The owner had very kindly housed minors, travelling on their own, rather than leaving it sitting empty in the off-peak season. The holiday camp stood on the top of a hill surrounded by pine trees with a breathtaking view over the Mediterranean. We climbed slowly up the steep twisting roads in the medical bus, our mobile clinic allowing us to reach so many more people. 

The following Thursday saw us again in the medical bus but right by the beach, attending to the new arrivals who were now considered ‘irregular’ migrants, and were processed accordingly, then taken by bus inland to the detention centre which was now beyond capacity. I saw heartbreaking cases but I also saw what this situation was doing to the islanders, their generosity now stretched as many were still suffering the financial repercussions, left over from the crash of 2008. The now ‘irregular’ migrants were no longer housed in the camps but were left waiting to be processed in a small area where they had landed and this was causing havoc: too many people and too much noise on the locals’ doorsteps, some of whom were fishermen getting up at dawn to get their catch for the day. 

people standing waiting for transport near the road
The Syrian refugees making their way to the road in the hope of getting transport.

With the dwindling number of refugees on Chios, our field co-ordinator made the decision to transfer all of us to a camp on the mainland in Larissa; tickets for the 12 hour sea crossing were purchased and we got ready to leave early on the Saturday morning ferry. Friday afternoon saw a breakout from the detention centre; very disgruntled refugees, now accommodated in the overflowing centre, decided to up and leave and walk some distance down to Chios port where they hoped to get on a ship across to the mainland. 

Locals became alarmed at the large numbers of people wandering aimlessly around. There were no ferries and no tickets. We were due to leave in the morning. We spent our last night getting ready to leave early and the following morning after an early breakfast we walked down to the ferry departure point, but there were no ships in sight. All the ferries had been redirected to the other side of the island, we were told, to avoid confrontation with the refugees, so we drove at break-neck speed to the other side of Chios just in time to see our ferry pulling up anchor and winding in ropes ready to leave. We missed it by minutes. Back to Chios town and a rethink and by midday we were on board ready for the long trip to Athens, arriving at nearly midnight. Piraeus Port was busy; there were tents everywhere. It was chaotic. In the chaos, we found a taxi and we were taken to our hotel, home for the next two nights. 

Life in Larissa

We left Athens around lunchtime and when we arrived in Larissa it seemed as though summer had arrived with us. We stepped out of the car, stretching our legs in the warm evening air. It had been a long journey with a breakdown on the way. The terraces of the bars and cafes were full despite it being a Monday evening. We booked into our rooms at the lovely family-run hotel, the owner giving us a warm welcome as though we were long-lost relations. It wasn’t long before we too found ourselves out on the terraces enjoying a delicious dinner before deciding it was time for bed, we couldn’t keep up with the locals. I was sharing a room with my Arabic interpreter counterpart Ive. This forced sharing has resulted in a lifelong friendship. “I hope you don’t snore,” I said, “otherwise you will be sleeping out on that balcony.” We had a ringside view from our fourth-floor room. We could almost join in with all the excitement in the square without budging from our balcony, but we were here to work. We needed an early night to be ready for our briefing the following morning. And so began life in Larissa for the next three weeks. We were like a little family, eating, working and sleeping together. 

At breakfast the following day we were informed that the Greek army were running the camp and in the morning the Greek Red Cross were on hand to help and that we would start our shifts at 3pm, staying until whenever the army left around 9pm. On Saturdays and Sundays, we worked the whole day and had Wednesday off. Apart from the army, there were no other organisations to help in this camp and as a result from the moment we arrived and set up shop we were inundated with people coming for medical attention. When it was time to leave in the evening, the queue seemed as long as when we had arrived. The doctor really wanted to give every person as much attention as they needed. Everyone had something wrong mentally or physically. We only had one doctor, one nurse, two interpreters and so many hours in a day.

Afternoons went by in a whirl of activity, we tried each day to organise a fair system but it wasn’t an easy task. When we arrived in the afternoons, we were checked in by the army and as soon as the refugees spotted us a queue formed to see us. It was tiring and exhilarating at the same time. 

Then one afternoon without warning the Syrians upped and left. “We have heard the borders are open,” one of them explained. This was not the case. “We are leaving anyway, we are going to go to the nearest border,” and so they left, only to get as far as the main road and that is where they sat for two days trying to get transport. On our Saturday and Sunday shifts, the police escorted us past the camping refugees to the refugee camps; and then just as quickly as they had set up camp they were gone.  

A cardboard sign given to the team working in refugee camps reads "Open the border" in black marker pen. The background has been blurred out to preserve personal identities.
“An elderly lady who came to see the doctor plonked this down in front of us. She didn’t speak a word of English.”

Life settled into a slightly different rhythm as only I was required for the most part, for the interpreting: no more Arabic speakers, no breaks while Ive took over, but there was still not enough time to attend to all the people who came to see us. My afternoons were non-stop now. We wondered how far the Syrians had to travel to cross the borders out of Greece that were now closed. It was probably their first time since Eastern Europe had joined the EU.  

All the refugees had tragic experiences in one way or another but for the women, it was especially hard. Some of them felt able to confide things in me that they didn’t want anybody else to hear. One woman talked of committing suicide as she was scared her new mother-in-law, travelling with her and her husband, would find out she had been married before. “Nobody must know,” she said to me. “Gossip spreads easily.” She wrote me a letter explaining her life. She was heartbroken when I told her my mission was ending. I also met a former gold medalist, a boxing champion from Afghanistan. We joked with him when we saw his T-shirt, proclaiming he was a champion, “Oh were you in the Olympic Games?” I jokingly asked him. “Yes,” he said quietly. “I won the Gold.” Well, that silenced me. He was a gentleman who often apologised for his fellow countrymen’s behaviour; we waved his apologies away. It’s a difficult situation: an understatement. He showed us long-cut wounds on his head. The Taliban with a sword, he explained, had inflicted them on him. He didn’t explain why. 

And then the day of the fateful fire came. And the atmosphere in the camp changed again. Blame was put at the door of the mother cooking food for her children on her camping gas. It was a very windy day. The wind blew the flames and in no time the tents caught light and the fire quickly spread. Thankfully nobody suffered serious burns but the few possessions that they still owned had gone up in smoke. 

The mood in the camp changed from day to day. The outbreaks of common diseases, chicken pox, viruses, coughs and colds, and contact skin diseases such as impetigo were difficult to control. There were big tragedies and small tragedies, but the people never gave up hope of something better because hope was all they had left. 

Words and photos provided by Caroline Fakhri, TWB Community member.

Read more of our community members’ stories – impacting the lives of refugees around the world on the TWB blog:

World Refugee Day: Community member stories

On World Refugee Day 2023, we’re sharing our community members’ stories. Read on to discover Kateryna’s journey and feelings around the word ‘refugee.’

Scroll down to see Jasmin’s story this TWB Community member shares her experience moving away from home because of war at a young age, and how “everyone speaks their own language.”

Kateryna’s journey from Ukraine: about the word “refugee” 

Kateryna Chepiuk, Ukrainian translator and TWB Community member shares her experience.

I’m a student of Germanic philology and translation. I combine my studies with volunteering for Ted, Gwara Media Group, a nonprofit organization of Ukrainian translators, “Invisible Frontier,” and TWB. I have a vast experience of translating and interpreting from subtitles to articles and texts of different origin. During these scary times I feel the need to participate in helping people, especially refugees with my translation skills. I am a refugee myself and I personally felt how valuable, important and necessary the help of volunteers can be.

KATERYNA CHEPIUK sits on a grassy hill in front of a historic building in Poland.

The word “refugee” hasn’t settled with me for quite some time.”

KATERYNA CHEPIUK, UKRAINIAN TRANSLATOR AND TWB COMMUNITY MEMBER

The word “refugee” hasn’t settled with me for quite some time. Not when Russia attacked my country, Ukraine, on 24th of February. Not when we were clutching the emergency bags in the hallway, absolutely clueless where to go or hide in case of the bomb shelling. Not even when we were in a car heading somewhere West. I didn’t even think that I could be one – a refugee, even in the middle of the war. Me and my family were just trying to find a more or less safe place. The status as a refugee struck me painfully and unexpectedly when I received food from the volunteers. It was the middle of the night of the third day of our trip. We were stuck in the middle of the field in the queue to the Polish border among many other unfortunate victims of Russian abuse. The queue went on for kilometers without an end in sight. 

By the time we got there we had run out of food and we were almost out of water. My dogs were slowly dying of dehydration because I had nothing but a cup of sparkling water they refused to drink. It was cold and I dozed off a couple of times but the red flashes of artillery on the black horizon kept me awake, along with the fear that we were the perfect target for the Russian army to strike from the sky a queue of thousands of refugees. A white minivan stopped on the side of the road. We saw that those were volunteers giving the food and hot drinks, though something in me twisted uncomfortably with the thought of taking this food I followed my mother. We were pretty late so we got a cabbage salad and a scone. I hadn’t eaten anything for more than 24 hours, I wasn’t starving, but I was hungry. A thought flashed through my head, “there is no coming back.” With the first bite of the scone the tears started rolling down my cheeks and I finally felt myself identifying with this terrifying word – the refugee. 

Kateryna kneels in the grass smiling with one arm round her dog Sonia in their village near Zhytomyr, Ukraine. Sonia on the left wears a long sleeve light-coloured jumper, black trousers and her hair is down over a red gilet, next to her large black and brown dog, right.
Kateryna and her dog Sonia in their village near Zhytomyr, Ukraine.

June 20 is World Refugee day.

I was lucky to find a safe place in Poland but there are thousands of less fortunate people than me. People who are stuck in the occupied regions, left without shelter and have to constantly move as soon as they’re not welcome in their previous hideout anymore. The prejudice against refugees grows with the continuation of the military conflict, local people always forget that it could’ve easily been their home and that war doesn’t choose only the poor and the sick. Even after moving to safe territories, refugees are still in considerable danger from hate and discrimination crimes. These people are some of the most vulnerable to human and sex trafficking, work exploitation and profiling behaviour. 

As a refugee, I was judged for being Ukrainian, for looking for a safe place, for receiving help and for purely existing. On this day, I appeal to you to remember that a “refugee” is just as much a human being as you are. That the tragedy of losing one’s home is one of the most terrifying things that can happen to a person and which leaves its mark on one’s heart forever. You can try to escape war physically, but you can never escape it mentally. And even when I’m on the streets of Warsaw I’m still on the battlefield on my land. 

Only in love we are united; I know from my experience that kindness is the most powerful tool to fight for someone’s soul. I still remember the cherry cakes our old lady neighbour brought us as soon as she found out we are from Ukraine. We didn’t speak the same language and could barely say a couple of words to each other, but understood each other perfectly, through tears. And the pharmacy worker who gave my grandma glasses as a gift, when my grandma tried to buy a new pair after she dropped her old ones on the way to the Polish border. And the librarians in Bogatynia town, my first shelter, who were so kind to me and gave me a pile of books in English from the fair because I had to leave my library at home, and had been starved of books for months already. In the small refugee world, every kind gesture is a ray of sunlight that reminds one – you are a human being. And as cruel as strangers can be, they can be just as kind as well. 

Jasmin: “Everyone speaks their own language” 

Jasmin Kreutzer, German and English translator and TWB Community member, shares her experience.

 I learned about TWB two years ago, in July 2021, through a social media post about how one can get engaged in volunteering! Of all the volunteering opportunities I knew about, TWB was the most inspiring to join because it gives one access to gaining knowledge about humanitarian response and translation from anywhere in the world, and a range of language skills can be useful for it. I especially want to help projects relating to intercultural connections, such as organizations that work with people from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Watch Jasmin talk about her experiences in this video:

I attend the Oxford Hub Language Exchanges, where no distinction is made between attendees who are refugees or those who are there for other reasons. But, for all of the attendees, one of the main reasons for attending is to work through barriers of information. Sometimes we help the attendees by doing role plays with them, such as going to a doctor’s appointment, as this helps them be prepared for situations they are not used to facing in English. Some of the attendees are children who go to school in the UK, and they enjoy demonstrating the new skills they have learnt (especially in English, but also in other subjects). A big part of the volunteering sessions is the creation of a social community, where events of personal importance are shared with each other, as it can be difficult to make friends and contacts with other UK residents because of the language barriers.

“We don’t know what language she is speaking either!” 

I left Israel at the age of three and half together with my parents just after the second Lebanon War – from there we moved to Germany, which is where my father’s family lives (they are actually of Romanian origin, and migrated to Germany during the Romanian Dictatorship in 1974). 

Because I was so young, my memories of the transition are limited and blurry. I mostly remember not understanding where my friends were and why we had to leave so suddenly. The only memory I have of the war was of waiting for my parents at my grandparents’ house while they went to pick up our belongings from the flat, which was in a war-torn territory. Once we were in Germany, I struggled at kindergarten,  because I did not understand German at first. I spent a lot of time on my own, and the other children often laughed at me. One time the kindergarteners wanted to speak to my parents about the fact that I was always speaking Hebrew in kindergarten, but my parents said: “Sorry, that isn’t Hebrew. We don’t know what language she is speaking either!”

As my personal experience illustrates, language matters to me because it is one of the major tools through which we can communicate with others.

Not understanding a language the same way as others around one puts one at a disadvantage and makes one vulnerable. Language is not just about understanding foreign languages but also about being able to translate between everyone’s subjective experiences. If one thinks about the world through the lens of languages, one is much more attuned to the differences between every single individual and the fact that, to some extent, everyone speaks their own language or has their own meaning. The more we train language skills of all types, the more we can all get better at understanding each other and pursuing shared aims.


To learn more about the TWB Community and how you can get involved, visit our website.

Discover some of the ways our community members make an impact around the world in our blog.

Or visit the CLEAR Global blog to discover how language offers hope away from home for refugees. 

How language service providers help change lives – sponsor the TWB Community

Building a better world for marginalized language speakers 

Revolutionizing communication for communities 

The internet has revolutionized communication, connection, and change, for those of us who can read whatever piece of content we want on the internet in our own language. It’s a different story for people who don’t speak one of the internet’s dominant languages. 

Woman observing a poster in Bangladesh camps - language service providers can sponsor TWB and CLEAR Global projects
CLEAR Global and the TWB Community are on a mission to help more people realize the benefits of access to information and two-way communication. Because today, half the world’s population still can’t access information in their language via digital channels. People care when you speak their language, and it can change lives. 

Thanks to people like you who share our vision, we’re helping create a world where everyone can get vital information and be heard, whatever language they speak. We are set to improve global communication and information access. How? By combining the expertise and innovation of CLEAR Global’s team, nonprofit partners, supporters, and sponsors, with TWB’s 100,000-strong community of language volunteers at our core.

Working as a community: supporting the world’s most marginalized communities to communicate and connect

We work as a community to help improve communication – and daily life – for people affected by war, people who have been displaced, and whose homes have been devastated by natural disasters. We help those most in need of reliable information on how to stay safe, get help, and more. The TWB community’s translations contribute to developing CLEAR Global’s AI-based language technology solutions. And they help provide much-needed language services so nonprofits worldwide can communicate with people in need of support. Together, we enable people who speak their mother language to access the same knowledge and opportunities as those who speak their country’s dominant or national language.

Who the community helps: a one-of-a-kind community of language volunteers powering social good

Our community of linguists donates over 20 million words each year. We translate information for organizations all over the world, working in more than 200 languages — from Amharic to Zulu.

learn more about TWB.

Over ten years since TWB was first established, we continue to partner with nonprofit organizations all over the world to connect linguists and their skills with people in need of critical information. TWB community members contribute to a range of language-related projects, including translation, revision, subtitling, and voice-over. By providing vital information in relevant languages, they’re helping some of the world’s most vulnerable people get answers to their questions in times of crisis, know their rights, and how to stay safe when forcibly displaced. They help people get accurate and reliable health information. And they help those who are most impacted by climate change protect themselves and our planet. By investing in our community, we know that we can make a bigger impact together. We rely on our generous network of sponsors, including language service, localization, and technology industry experts, who share our passion for effective, equitable communication, to help make it happen.

CLEAR Global and TWB Fundraiser with sponsor and supporter Ludejo featuring Andrew
Fundraising for CLEAR Global and TWB with supporter, Ludejo

Giving back and growing skills – supporting language volunteers

With the support of sponsors including those who provide pro bono language services and expertise, we’re building communities of translators in critical languages. And we’re supporting new linguists to grow professionally. At the start of 2023, we launched the new TWB Learning Center, a place for community members to gain experience in humanitarian translation and learn in-demand language industry skills. It’s free, self-paced, and designed for everyone because we believe that every contribution matters – in every language. By making translator training accessible, we can empower linguists and non-professional bilinguals to participate in humanitarian and development initiatives to make their languages part of global conversations. ​​Since we went live, we’ve welcomed thousands of users! We’re also improving our TWB platform, incorporating new language technology to give our community the tools they need to contribute to even more impactful projects. 

The TWB Learning Center - language service providers can sponsor TWB and CLEAR Global projects
Photo: the TWB Learning Center. Ibrahim, left, with a participant testing out a device powered by community members’ translations. It enables displaced people in Bakassi camp, Nigeria, to give feedback to camp staff in their own language. It lets people listen to vital information that matters to them, like how food distribution works.

A few projects our community members have translated recently include:

  • 200,000 words for a Patient Cases project translated into three languages, for International League Against Epilepsy,
  • 800,000 words of safeguarding content translated for Catholic Relief Services,
  • 60,000 words for a Social Responsiveness in Health Service Psychology Education and Training Toolkit translated into Spanish and French for the Council of Chairs of Training Councils, 
  • and 32,000 words translated into Hindi in less than a month for the SPOON Foundation.

Jeff and ursuline, TWB Community members

“My biggest motivation for volunteering with TWB is helping people access vital information in their own language by breaking language barriers. I also want to get more experience and grow professionally to be able to better support my family.”

TWB Community member, Jeff featured left, Ursuline right. Read our TWB blog on supporting the African language community.

Every day, our partners request more support in more languages, and our community steps up to meet the need! 

  • Salwa has donated 650,404 words in Arabic and French on projects supporting children, 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 on the TWB Platform. “To leave an impact,” is the first thing you would hear when you ask me “why”. Salwa, French teacher, and TWB Community member.
  • Tien, “inspired by the fact that more Vietnamese migrants will be able to understand the information sent to them” has donated 82,853 words, translating and revising with CLEAR Global partners, the COVID-19 task, Partners In Health, the IFRC, and more on the TWB Platform. 
  • Hiba has donated 1,294,561 words in English and Arabic. She has translated and revised projects supporting people with health, migration, and equality with CLEAR Global partners, CARE International, IFRC, Oxfam, and other nonprofits on the TWB Platform. 
  • Usman worked with the TWB Community to help develop Shehu, CLEAR Global’s AI chatbot which helps people get reliable answers to their questions about COVID-19 in Hausa and Kanuri. 

Read testimonials from some of our community members in our blog, “Discover the community impact of our projects around the world”

“We are making a great positive impact on the lives of people in northeast Nigeria and Maiduguri to be specific.”

Usman, CLEAR Global Project Officer.

More than translation – life-changing language resources

Our organization offers language services and a lot more. We advocate for the inclusion of under-resourced languages in digital spaces. We develop useful, open-access language resources and tools, and foster collaboration among key players who we believe can make a difference. You can explore our resources and research, filter by topic, program, language, and region on the CLEAR Global Resources Library. With the help of our supporters, we can work together to promote language equality and ensure more marginalized voices are heard.

Right now, millions of people are excluded from vital information, important conversations, and lifesaving services – because of language barriers. Our organization exists to bridge the digital language divide. 

learn more at clearglobal.org

Talking about preventing sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) in Venezuela

Venezuela is facing a severe humanitarian crisis, with millions of people suffering from hunger, disease, and lack of basic services. The crisis has forced more than 5.5 million Venezuelans to flee their country and many refugees and migrants find themselves exposed to poverty, homelessness, exploitation, and abuse (Source: Reliefweb). All of these people need accurate information and access to critical services in a language they understand. Over 50 Indigenous groups live in Venezuela, many with their own languages. Some community members speak little or no Spanish or have limited access to humanitarian information and assistance in their own languages. This poses a serious challenge for humanitarian responders who need to communicate with them about preventing sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA).

Tools for Indigenous Communities, developed by Indigenous People

Humanitarian responders need practical tools to overcome language barriers so they can provide people with effective assistance. To address this gap, we partnered with local linguists and community-based organizations in Venezuela that support Indigenous communities across the country. The remote location of many communities and the low internet connectivity are problematic. So we trained Indigenous linguists to test and validate terms related to PSEA, working offline in three of the most widely spoken Indigenous languages: Pemón, Warao, and Wayúu. These terms are now available in our multilingual PSEA glossary, which helps humanitarians and community members to understand each other clearly and respectfully. By promoting language diversity and inclusion, we can enhance the quality and accountability of humanitarian action. By tackling these language barriers we can empower Indigenous people to be informed and make their voices heard.

Glossaries combat mistranslation and misunderstanding 

We’ve developed multilingual glossaries and conducted terminology testing in various countries to help clarify abstract humanitarian jargon, improve understanding, and address common difficulties encountered in discussing taboo subjects. The aim is to make communication between affected people and humanitarians more effective. 

During glossary development and testing stages, we regularly uncover terms that are confusing, so we work with local linguists to localize key terms that could aid in accurate, effective communication. Some examples from our projects around the world:  

  • In Malawi (Chewa), people found ‘negative coping mechanisms’ confusing. They preferred ‘dealing with a problem in a way that creates more problems’. 
  • In Iraq (Kurdish), the abstract terms ‘whistleblower’ and ‘informed consent’ were not clear. More direct terms like ‘to report’ and ‘approval’ were much easier to understand. 
  • In Haiti (Haitian Creole), the term for a ‘complaint mechanism’ was ‘Plent Mekanis’ in Frenchified Creole. But people preferred the more descriptive phrase ‘fason pou w pote plent’ (way for raising a complaint).

Our community and our supporters have helped us create and share numerous glossaries to help people navigate communication in challenging situations. Our glossaries include terms and definitions on topics such as COVID-19, safeguarding and preventing sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA), community engagement, refugee response, and more. They are available in multiple languages to cater to people in all kinds of contexts, with audio pronunciation and offline access. Our glossaries help people working in humanitarian and development contexts to make an impact with clear, accurate, and consistent communication. When a company decides to sponsor TWB, they have the exciting opportunity to help fund the development and expansion of new and existing glossaries. Explore all glossaries here – and don’t forget to share with someone who could use them. It can make all the difference. 

A screenshot of our glossary - LSP Sponsor, nonprofit, language services for nonprofits, T

Back in 2020, our friends at TransPerfect (TWB Platinum Sponsor) – shared our COVID-19 glossary on social media.

An old friend working in a long-term care facility in a diverse neighborhood reached out to a TWB team member, she was relieved she found our COVID-19 glossary. Her work involved speech pathology primarily in English, but her clients’ diverse backgrounds and languages made her the “go-to” to help figure out communication and understanding issues. Not only was she very grateful – this glossary tool made a real difference for her and her colleagues – but it also helped empower the people she worked with to get the support they needed. We have the opportunity to scale and adapt our resources to make them count in diverse contexts – whenever and wherever people need support. 

Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment with the Resource & Support Hub 

To support people facing vulnerable situations in humanitarian contexts including the Ukraine response, we’ve worked with the Resource and Support Hub to produce a number of resources in various languages. With the support of TWB Community members who speak relevant languages, we:

“We found the plain language editing was really helpful in making these concepts [rights] concrete and understandable. We made the messages and we thought they were understandable, but CLEAR Global took them and made them really much clearer and used words that were digestible.”

Rebecca Hiemsra, Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

Responding to floods in Pakistan: in the right languages

When devastating flooding affected Pakistan in 2022, we knew from previous responses that effective communication can be the key to addressing people’s real needs. The UN says an estimated 33 million people have been affected, with millions still living in poor conditions. Pakistan is facing a food crisis, and people need aid and vital services in a language they can understand. CLEAR Global conducted research on local languages and people’s needs. We then updated our PSEA Glossary to include five key languages for Pakistan, in collaboration with SSD (Social Development Direct) and the RSH (Resource and Support Hub). This free, online language resource supports humanitarians and affected people with communication about protection from sexual exploitation, abuse, and harm. This recent update adds five languages: Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pashto, and Urdu. These languages are essential for reaching millions of people who do not speak or understand Urdu, the country’s official language. 

Pakistan flooding - CLEAR Global's response - sponsor us

Pakistan has high linguistic diversity and low literacy rates. Many people lack the information they need in their language to access assistance, avoid further harm, and prepare for future crises. With our PSEA glossary, we aim to help humanitarian workers communicate more effectively with the people they support, ensuring that they can be informed, respected, and understood. For example, the glossary can help women who experience sexual abuse to make reports to humanitarian workers and seek support in their own language. A young female farm laborer in Sindh told us that: 

“We only get information from our men, we can’t say what we want and what we don’t want.” 

Interview respondant, Pakistan

With this new resource, community support workers and people working in the aid sector will be able to provide more accurate information and awareness on PSEA. Here are some of the ways it can help: 

  • Translators working for local NGOs can use the glossary to translate PSEA materials and messages into the languages of the communities they support, ensuring that they are clear, accurate, and culturally appropriate. 
  • Volunteers working on PSEA awareness in flood-affected villages can use the glossary to prepare communications, answer questions from community members in their native languages, and build trust.
  • Local interpreters can know which terms to use, and better understand what people are saying about their experiences. 
  • Organizations can avoid confusion and stigma and communicate more effectively on PSEA with both communities and their staff with accurate, consistent, and standard translations that are appropriate to the context.
  • Aid workers supporting people in Pakistan and around the world can understand unfamiliar terms, check definitions, select the appropriate words, and prepare for challenging conversations
  • This resource can be used in various contexts, it can help when: providing information and awareness on PSEA, conducting surveys and interviews, reporting and responding to cases of abuse, training staff and volunteers 


We collaborated with Social Development Direct and the Resource and Support hub to define and include locally accepted terminology, so individuals can understand their rights, be heard, and receive the support they need. This need is urgent. At the UN’s annual Committee on Information last month, “the representative of Pakistan voiced concern about the digital divide and the issue of growing inequality in access to timely, multilingual communications.” It was reported that 2.9 billion people have never used the internet, and 96% of those live in developing countries. “The issue of unequal access to information, due to a lack of linguistic diversity, must be addressed.” This poses another challenge on top of recent floods – the delegate for Pakistan referred to TWB’s report highlighting the dangerous information gap that amplifies the risk faced by affected communities (Source: UN Press, April 2023). Explore the glossaries and learn more about how you can support the development of new and expanded resources – visit clearglobal.org You can also learn more about language data in Pakistan at this link.

It’s time to act.

So join us in empowering people through language. When a crisis hits, our global team and community unite language and technology at scale combined with decades of international aid experience to address the digital language divide. This allows us to work as a catalyst for change, building AI-powered language solutions with high social impact. And the vital funds and support provided by sponsors help us reach more people, to create even more change for good. Sounds like a good way to do social responsibility? If you think so, we could work together to use language technology to drive development, create more equality, and give people agency over their own lives. Get in touch today on our website.

We thank Microsoft for their kind Azure donation which hosts much of our language technology resources.

Written by Danielle Moore, Communications and Engagement Officer,  CLEAR Global 

Embrace language equity this International Women’s Day

Community stories of women’s empowerment and gender equality

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, we spoke to some of our talented community members around the world. We invited them to share their own stories on women’s empowerment and gender equality. We hope you enjoy these powerful stories of strong women who are also fellow community members.

They come from different corners of the globe and have their own unique experiences to share, but they share a goal. They want people to know their stories so they can raise awareness about the issues women like them face. Our collective experience as linguists and humanitarians shows us that women are all too often disproportionately affected by societal factors which make them vulnerable to difficult situations. In many situations, women face barriers to education. They face language barriers and a lack of access to information in a language and format they understand. Because of this some women struggle to access the healthcare they need, know their rights, or stay safe. 

  • The stories below include name changes and edits in line with CLEAR Global’s confidentiality and editorial practices. 
  • Trigger warning: this post contains references to discrimination, domestic violence, and rape, which some individuals may find distressing or emotionally challenging. 

Read more on women’s rights and equity this International Women’s Day

Chandler’s story: how lack of support in her native language meant lack of justice.

A TWB Community member with her child standing at the beach near the water. International Women's Day 2023.
Chandler and her son at the beach

Lost in translation means loss of justice: recounting domestic violence in a foreign language

One aspect of the growing trend to move abroad that often goes entirely unconceived is how easily recounting domestic violence to local authorities in a foreign country suffers the inevitable consequences of being “lost in translation.”

I took the Girona city bus from the small village I was coerced into living in. I was fleeing domestic violence with my three-month-old son – no car, no friends or family nearby, and still a struggling command of the local language, Catalan. There was no room for error, and yet, from the moment I left until the present day, the errors I made haunt my drowning need for justice.

I entered Girona city’s police station, frantically looking over my shoulder. I quietly mumbled in Catalan, asking if they had any agents that could speak in English. They must have guessed why and had me wait for Agent Elena. She was a local city police agent that specialized in domestic violence. I asked her if she spoke English, my mother tongue. She smiled and replied “no, but you speak Catalan quite well. Please, tell me what you want to report.” I reported the abuse, and I had no idea how awful it sounded as I was saying it. She reassured me that I had enough language ability in Catalan that I could express the pertinent details to a judge – little did she know that was not the case. However, because the crime was committed in the neighboring village, I needed to retell my story to the appropriate jurisdictional police: Mossos d’Esquadra.

That was when the real “loss in translation” happened. Agent Maria, the local Mossos d’Esquadra agent, overheard my struggles with the language, and even witnessed me using Google Translate to express some of the more horrific details, and yet she didn’t make any effort to double-check she could report the facts accurately, or ask follow-up questions to really understand them. A number of details were tragically lost in translation and this later became part of the fancy footwork the opposing party’s lawyer used to tear my testimony to shreds.

While there are many published stories and research about the subject, there is not enough support for women seeking and obtaining justice and therefore protection measures in a foreign country.

Chandler’s story is just one example of how accessing support and information in someone’s native language can change the course of their life. 

Breaking stereotypes and ensuring fair access to information is what motivates Faria, the protagonist of our next story.

Faria’s story: breaking stereotypes and embracing equity

A woman, Faria, TWB Community member smiling. International Women's Day 2023.
I aspire to create a program to get minority girls interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers by connecting them with mentors from the field, who come from similar cultural backgrounds and speak their parents’ native language.

Coming from a South Asian culture, deep-seated gender norms often confine women to their homes. For many immigrant girls, cultural expectations encourage us to find a husband instead of continuing our education or building our careers. When I shared my aspirations to pursue a career in the medical field, my peers teased me that I would never be able to achieve those dreams as a girl. My parents wanted me to follow in the footsteps of my older sister and marry, rather than build a career. Because I question the norms, I am seen as the shameful black sheep in my family. In an ironic turn of events that greatly shaped my outlook, my family insisted that I attend an all-girls high school to “preserve my modesty,” but that has only further opened my eyes to my capabilities and empowered me to embrace a career in a STEM field. Throughout high school, I participated in women’s rights events such as our annual women’s march, and attended a lecture with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. All these events made me realize that I could create my own path despite cultural restrictions. Being an immigrant and a minority, I had a hard time voicing my concerns because I struggled with the English language. However, seeing many students and staff who were like me at my high school encouraged me to pursue higher education and build a career.

My traditional Bangladeshi parents expect me to spend my time in the kitchen, so I experiment in between preparing meals with my mother. 

I plunged myself into school, working hard to get A’s while taking rigorous science classes. Additionally, I started to participate in extracurricular activities and community service. I wanted my family to see that I could live an impactful life through my studies and caring for our community, but I also feared that my future would still end as a housewife. At some point, I realized that while I love and respect my parents, I believe in myself and have decided that I want to pursue my own dreams by continuing my education and becoming a physician.

I aspire to create a program to get minority girls interested in STEM careers by connecting them with mentors from the STEM field. Leveraging other successful women from similar backgrounds and languages to speak with South Asian young girls would be a tool to help combat these harmful cultural expectations. I believe mentorship programs can help empower young girls and change outdated gender roles. The most difficult part of this project would be engaging with girls who struggle with the local language. Without language, it will be hard to help them see the benefits of getting girls involved in STEM careers; deeply held cultural beliefs are hard to change with language barriers. Fortunately, I had a mentor to speak my native language to help me progress in my studies and career. I would love to give this same chance to girls who are struggling with the local language.

Peace’s story centers on protecting young girls and overcoming cultural barriers.

A woman, Peace Agbo, TWB Community member.

“The fear of who is next lingers in the mind of every parent.”

Just like it was yesterday, I remember the day my neighbor’s child was raped. I was a teenager then and I was sitting outside chatting with my friend. Then, suddenly we saw my neighbor’s child, Monifa, cross the road from the barber’s shop to the place where we sat. She walked in an uneasy and awkward manner holding a bag of biscuits with a gloomy face.

“Monifa, are you okay?” I inquired. She looked at me and didn’t say a word. Later that day I saw my neighbor shouting and seeking help as her little daughter was bleeding. The little girl confirmed that the barber had raped her – a six-year-old child. The police arrested and detained him for some days, but he was quickly released. However, the shame and humiliation he suffered from people sent him away from our area. Monifa is now a grown woman, but her first sexual experience is a pain that she lives with all her life. 

The fact that the mother acted, that the case was reported, and that the culprit was arrested is a positive indicator of the direction our society needs to take if we are to curb violence against women. On the other hand, the fact that he was released a few days later, without further charge and conviction, is a testament to the systemic and cultural obstacles on the path of seeking justice for rape survivors and ensuring that culprits are punished for their crimes.

A woman, Peace Agbo, looking at the window.

Rape victims in my country are beginning to speak up with courage and name their abusers despite the fear of stigmatization, and reprisal, some of the reasons victims have kept quiet for so long. If we do nothing to fight rape, if the law cannot protect people, if abusers can walk freely on the streets a few days after abusing a person, soon our young daughters will be afraid to go out because of the fear and trauma of meeting face to face with their defilers.

 – Peace

Amnesty International reports that following the lockdown imposed to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in 2020 in Nigeria, there was an upsurge in cases of rape: “As reports of rape escalated across Nigeria, state governors declared a “state of emergency” on rape and gender-based violence. They also promised to set up a sex offenders register. But over a year since their declaration, nothing has changed.”

A woman, Peace Agbo, looking at the sunset sky.

TWB, now part of CLEAR Global, has been advocating for over a decade to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse, especially in the aid sector. Sexual exploitation and abuse continue to occur in humanitarian contexts worldwide. We believe that prioritizing language and two-way communication can help prevent it. We worked with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) to make the humanitarian rules on sexual conduct clear and available in languages people can understand, so everyone knows what is acceptable.

We first developed a plain-language version of the principles. Then, we removed legal jargon and complex sentence structures to make the rules explicit and clear. Finally, we translated them into over 100 languages spoken on five continents – from Amharic to Vietnamese.

We want to thank our community members and writers, Chandler, Faria, and Peace, for sharing their stories of life’s inequity as women. It takes courage and compassion to speak up and share your own traumatic experiences for the sake of helping others. We are honored they have chosen TWB to tell their stories.

We would love to hear your story too, and share your experience or inspiration with us on social media.

And join the TWB community today for the chance to work on projects that help embrace equity.

Contributions by 
Chandler Stump, Spanish to English translator and TWB Community member
Peace Agbo, Igbo to English translator and TWB Community member
Faria Islam, English to Bengali translator and TWB Community member

Defying gender inequality: my women-led translation services company’s story

A TWB Community blog post by Maria Scheibengraf

A smiling woman: Maria Scheibengraf, TWB Community member
Maria Scheibengraf

Several authors have studied the dynamics of language and gender, highlighting how society has long perceived translation as a “feminine” activity. This idea is rooted in centuries-old stereotypes: Society has long seen translation as a secondary and derivative activity – unlike the “creative” arts such as literature and poetry. So women undertaking such “lesser” tasks in the shadows was nothing more than a common expectation.

In other words, “Originality, creativity and authority, depicted ’masculine,’ had patriarchal authority empowering them to relegate whatever was female to secondary roles.” (Abdelgawad, 2016). The advice “Good translators are like ninjas – if you notice them, they’re no good” is no accident. I think the underlying message that nobody dares to say out loud is that women should not steal the spotlight from the men authors, deemed to be the real creative geniuses.

In this article, I want to talk about how my experience with leading a translation services company has allowed me to defy traditional gender roles and expectations. My business, which is woman-led and staffed by women, offers translation services for traditionally men-dominated fields such as software, marketing, and SEO (search engine optimization). I’ll start with some personal views about translation, inequality, and the need for empowered women in our industry. Learn more at crisoltranslations.com

Structural inequality is at the root of our industry’s gender divide

The unconscious perception of translation as something “inferior” isn’t the only factor standing in the way of a more equitable gender distribution in the industry.

There are also structural and economic aspects to consider, such as translation work being more suitable for independent contractors than other activities – it’s easier for women to juggle their family life and professional commitments by working as translators.

Because, let’s face it: Women often take the lead in family-related matters, while their men counterparts usually focus on their careers. In Argentina, for example, the distribution of unpaid work in a heterosexual couple is still largely unequal, with women spending up to 6.5 hours a day on housework and caregiving vs men’s 3 hours.

Women choosing translation because of its flexible work hours isn’t an intrinsically bad thing – with freelancing and entrepreneurship comes the potential for higher earnings, which means it’s easier to shatter the glass ceiling. The problem lies in the deeper inequalities that prevent women from finding the time, energy, and resources to make their businesses succeed. How can one possibly balance parenting, running a household, and the pursuit of an entrepreneurial venture without falling into an even deeper pit of exhaustion?

The result is that the vast majority of women translators end up stuck in a cycle of low-paying (don’t get me started on bottom-feeding translation agencies), sporadic gigs, and unable to move forward in their careers. And those few men that do choose the translation industry? They are the ones who can access better-paid and more secure positions. You’ll find them in privileged positions such as managerial roles, executive-level collaborations, speaking engagements, and other high-status opportunities.

Something doesn’t add up

I’ve always thought: if translation is indeed a women-dominated field, then why do so many high-prestige opportunities – translating best-selling books, interpreting at televised events, etc. – seem to skew heavily toward men, featuring a disproportionately low number of women translators? Either there’s a genetic prerogative (which is obviously impossible), or there’s a significant amount of discrimination against women.

My theory is that, when it comes to prestige and visibility, the best opportunities are usually reserved for those who already have the most privileges – men, white people, etc. Put differently: Even if there are no (direct) barriers to accessing translation work, the best opportunities are likely to go to those who already enjoy a certain degree of material and social privilege. Once again, I’m talking about structural inequalities.

All-permeating discrimination, gender and otherwise

One would think that the 21st century would be the age of equality. But, sadly, this is far from being true in many parts of the world – and in our industry too.

About six months ago, I was shocked to find that a renowned industry magazine had launched a nomination for a so-called “Sexiest in localization” award. Granted, they took the precaution to speak of “people” and not “women”, but I found it outrageous that 2022 could still be the year of making people’s looks a factor for recognition. In an industry where the majority of them are women. And despite the magazine saying that by “sexy” they meant “skill, confidence, and intellect” (what?!).

I’m focusing on gender in this article because it’s Women’s History Month. But if we’re to talk about gender inequalities in the translation industry, we must recognize that other forms of discrimination – such as racism and xenophobia – are also rampant.

See Sarah’s post below for another example – how did no one realize that an Asian SEO conference with no Asian experts (international SEO and SEO translation are fields within the translation industry) was just wrong?

A post highlighting the absense of Asian speakers at an Asian CEO conference

My experience as the co-founder of a women-led translation company

Back in 2011, when I started freelancing as a translator, I was already aware of the gender disparities in the field. But then again, I’ve always been overly conscious of any kind of inequality.

I’m autistic, you see (apparently we come with superpowers, one of which is sensitivity to injustice). I guess that also places me at the intersection of two discriminated groups, neurodivergent people and women. I could add that I grew up in an underdeveloped economy where translators receive peanuts for their work.

The stubborn feminist I am, and fuelled by my desire to make the translation industry a better place for all of us, I dreamt of founding a business that would thrive while giving ethics and fair pay the priority they deserve. A sort of “if you can’t find the example, be the example” manifesto, if you will.

That’s how I became the co-founder of a women-led translation company in 2016, together with my three best friends from uni. We proudly run a business that’s built on three pillars: fairness, inclusivity, and camaraderie.

I won’t lie and say it was all easy. It wasn’t. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to battle mansplaining, unwanted comments about my looks, a skeptical attitude towards women in business, xenophobic remarks, or the occasional negative comment about my autism.

The fact that we provide marketing translation and SEO translation services for a typically men-dominated field – software – didn’t exactly help pave the way for us either (SEO also features a higher proportion of men than women). Yet here we are, four women entrepreneurs, fighting the fight and striving to make our mark in a world where we often feel like we don’t belong.

The rewards of being part of a revolution

It may have been tough sometimes, but my business has achieved great things too: we operate ethically, we organize regular training sessions and events to promote career development opportunities for freelance translators, and we annoy at least three bigots a week on social media. Add a few public call-outs to exploitative agencies, and I think we can safely say that we’ve made an impact.

The best part, if you ask me, is the community of women entrepreneurs that we’ve been able to build – a wonderful group who support each other, celebrate each other’s successes, and act as a safe haven in an often hostile industry. A great example is that I asked one of them (María Leticia Cazeneuve, from Humane Language Services) to give this article a look and suggest ideas on how to make it better. On a Saturday. And she immediately said yes.

It can be done: we can create an open and inclusive translation industry for everyone. We just need to work together and keep fighting the good fight. This Women’s History Month, and every month, may all of us be inspired to push for change and make a difference.

About TWB and CLEAR Global

Translators without Borders (TWB) is a global community of over 100,000 language volunteer translators and language specialists offering language services to humanitarian and development organizations worldwide.

TWB is part of CLEAR Global, a US-based nonprofit that also comprises CLEAR Tech and CLEAR Insights. CLEAR Global helps people get vital information and be heard, whatever language they speak. We do this through research and scalable language technology solutions that improve two-way communication with communities that speak marginalized languages. Learn more about this important work at clearglobal.org 

Follow us on social media:

Read more on women’s rights and equity this International Women’s Day

Guest post written by Maria Scheibengraf, English to Spanish translator and TWB Community member. 

Stop labeling women as vulnerable

A TWB Community blog post by Mariana Estrada Ávila

About Mariana

Mariana Estrada Ávila is a specialist in communications and human rights. She has been working with international organizations for more than ten years. In 2018 she collaborated with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in the launch of the #IndigenousWomen global campaign.

A woman, Mariana, TWB Community member, smiling to the camera

It’s time to change the narrative on vulnerability, embrace equity and make women visible

If you work in a humanitarian or development organization, it is likely you’ll  have read or even written or translated many reports, projects, or press releases that mention supporting a common but ambiguous group: “the most vulnerable people.’ And if we look deeper into this vague concept, we find that the first in line are women, followed by children, Indigenous Peoples, migrants, and people with disabilities, among others.

However, in many interviews, rural women, indigenous women, black women, migrant women, and women with disabilities, have agreed that women are not vulnerable people per se. Needless to say, the same goes for Indigenous Peoples, children, migrants, and people with disabilities. As medical doctor and indigenous woman Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine explains, they are people who have been placed in situations of vulnerability by different factors, such as a lack of respect for their rights, marginalization, discrimination, and violence, among others.

Why is the term “vulnerable” problematic?

First and foremost, because it invisibilizes. The problem with the use of such a vague and generalized term as “the most vulnerable people” is that it makes invisible the population that we are trying to prioritize and it ignores the causes of their vulnerable situation. Who knows who you are really addressing when you address such a heterogeneous group? How can you make programs that really help to solve their challenges if the diverse and complex issues and roots are ignored?

Second, the term “vulnerable” carries a negative connotation. It implies that the problem lies with them, or that certain people have some intrinsic characteristics or traits that make them vulnerable. This point has already repeatedly been underlined in the public health sector. The article ‘Vagueness, power, and public health: use of ‘vulnerable‘ in public health literature’ (2019) highlights that the term the most vulnerable people tends to put the burden on the people who are affected, implying that even if programs, policies, and processes change, their vulnerability will remain.

Women are not born vulnerable

Half of the world’s population is not born with fewer capabilities or inherent vulnerability. The systematic lack of respect for women’s human rights, and its intersection with other factors, such as violence, discrimination, or marginalization place women in complex situations of vulnerability. 

For example, see this report published in 2021 on Complaint and feedback mechanisms: Effective communication is essential for true accountability in Nigeria. TWB noted that a lack of access to information in a crisis context could reinforce a situation of vulnerability, whereby women in particular, who often have less access to education and less opportunity to learn other languages, could be disproportionately affected by the lack of information in their own language.

Women around the world have advocated for programs and initiatives that address the root causes that can limit the development of their full potential, rather than an approach that builds on, and reinforces an assumption that they will always need assistance, and can’t lead change. As Pratima Gurung from Nepal underlines, it is important to recognize and make visible the potential of women to contribute to the development of communities and society. 

Using the power of language to change the narrative on vulnerability

What can we do? No one knows the power of words better than those who use language as their main tool of work. First, it is important to promote a general reflection within our organizations. Through our use of language, are we reinforcing society’s tendency to position women as “vulnerable”?  After all, language is one of the most essential components of social dynamics.

Secondly, instead of using “the most vulnerable people” as a catch-all, let us try to identify and name the groups we are really referring to. Let us think about the causes that have put them in this situation. As an example, instead of saying “this COVID-19 pandemic response program will help the most vulnerable people” we can try “this program will help women who were disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic“. This allows us to clearly visualize our target population and the causes that have put them in a vulnerable situation. 

As writers, translators, and communicators we have the power to change the narrative around vulnerability and thus contribute to reinforcing and making visible that there is something behind this condition – that vulnerability is not inherent to women or other people. 

It is important not to forget that a human rights approach to language means focusing on the people and their dignity, rather than labeling them.

About TWB and CLEAR Global

Translators without Borders (TWB) is a global community of over 100,000 language volunteer translators and language specialists offering language services to humanitarian and development organizations worldwide.

TWB is part of CLEAR Global, a US-based nonprofit that also comprises CLEAR Tech and CLEAR Insights. CLEAR Global helps people get vital information and be heard, whatever language they speak. We do this through research and scalable language technology solutions that improve two-way communication with communities that speak marginalized languages. 

We believe in increasing equity for all people, especially those that are disproportionately affected by language barriers. We endeavor, in our communications, to amplify voices that are marginalized due to a lack of resources in their language. We want to create systematic change in the way the world communicates. This means putting people at the center of our programs and prioritizing humanity and dignity. As a nonprofit, we’re guided by the humanitarian principles of humanitarian aid which means delivering lifesaving assistance to people in need, without discrimination (UNOCHA). Learn more about this important work at clearglobal.org. 

Follow TWB on Facebook and LinkedIn. Follow CLEAR Global on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Read more on women’s rights and equity this International Women’s Day

Guest post written by Mariana Estrada, English, and French to Spanish translator and TWB community member

Unlock the power of language with the TWB Learning Center

Discover our free online translator training courses: launching TWB’s new-look Learning Center! 

Introducing the new TWB Learning Center – a place for community members to gain experience in humanitarian translation and learn in-demand language industry skills. 

Part of CLEAR Global, TWB brings together over 100,000 language volunteers globally, helping people get vital information and be heard, whatever language they speak. Together, we’re dedicated to translating and localizing important information to support the world’s most marginalized people. Our community members work to help our nonprofit partners worldwide provide lifesaving multilingual messages, ensuring everyone can understand. Now we’re launching our new-look Learning Center and brand-new, self-paced online translation courses! The TWB Learning Center is a great way for newcomers and language professionals alike to continue to develop their skills and stay ahead in the industry. So, dive in and get ready to learn something new!

Photo: All community members who successfully complete a course will attain a downloadable certificate. Here are our TWB Nigeria team members with their certificates. 

Explore new translator training opportunities exclusive to TWB Community members

Available courses: 

Every contribution matters – in every language: making translator training accessible 

Our team of experts has revamped the existing e-learning platform for translators to provide our community members with free, high-quality courses. These courses are designed to be accessible to both experienced localization professionals and those of you who speak marginalized languages. Even if you’re starting from scratch. Perhaps you speak a language that lacks useful translation training resources? Whether you are looking to refresh yourself on the basics, or learn about machine translation and translating for humanitarian contexts, TWB’s Learning Center courses allow you to develop and apply your language skills. So you can make a bigger impact professionally, and personally. 

Our community members help us make vital material accessible to more people around the world. The work you do matters. You’re helping some of the world’s most vulnerable people get answers to their questions in times of crisis, know their rights, and how to stay safe when forcibly displaced. You’re helping people get accurate and reliable health information. And you’re helping those who are most impacted by climate change protect themselves and our planet. 

Grow your skills and translate for good

The TWB Learning Center offers community members a variety of interactive, self-paced online courses to learn and grow professionally and acquire new skills. Our courses empower linguists and non-professional bilinguals to participate in humanitarian and development translation tasks on the TWB Platform and initiatives for making their languages part of global conversations. These courses cater to everyone, from newcomers to the language industry with no previous experience, to professional translators who are looking to keep up to date with the latest innovations. In the TWB Learning Center, TWB Community members can choose to improve and build their capabilities in areas of their choice, such as translation, machine translation post-editing (MT PE), our computer-assisted translation tool (Phrase TMS), target terminology development and glossaries, desktop publishing, and more to come.

New to TWB, translation, or the humanitarian field?

Everyone is welcome. Our courses are designed to be accessible by speakers of low-resourced and well-resourced languages alike. If you’ve not yet joined the TWB Community, you can sign up today. Learn more about the community and join here. If you’re new to translation and the humanitarian field, complete the TWB Learning Center courses to learn about our translation tools and get practice using your new skills on impactful projects. 

Work towards your professional goals with TWB:

  • Learn about key translation concepts and tools
  • Get familiar with the tools and skills you need to start working on translation tasks with TWB and in your career
  • Develop the experience and capability to take on more complex translator training and explore more specialized topics
Photo: a sneak peek of our Learning Center. Ibrahim, left, with a participant testing out a device powered by community members’ translations. It enables displaced people in Bakassi camp, Nigeria, to give feedback to camp staff in their own language. It lets people listen to vital information that matters to them, like how food distribution works.

Don’t miss out – course certification 

Once you successfully complete a course on the TWB Learning Center, you can download a certificate. Showcase your skills, share certificates with your network, and enhance your resume. We love to see our global community learning and growing – here are some posts people have shared after completing their courses – why not join them? 

Our language volunteers shared their experience

We spoke to Yuriy Kovalenko, English, Ukrainian and Russian translator  who shares our love for learning on the TWB Platform

“I have been working with TWB for almost two years, but more actively since the full-scale war in Ukraine started. Now, for almost a year, the flood of information, manuals, and reports was overwhelming and this required faster rendering of diverse texts into the target language. Faster, but maintaining a high quality of translation, meeting deadlines, sustaining attention to detail, localization, and consistency, to name a few. TWB has a user-friendly platform, comradely and supportive staff, detailed and easy-to-follow Translator’s Toolkit for newbies, a Guide for TWB Community members, and Language Quality Inspection/Assessment.”

Photo: Yuriy at work.

“When I was invited by TWB to attend their online course on MT PE (machine translation post-editing), without hesitation, I signed up and learned how to apply my skills in a more efficient way. Now, this experience allowed me to understand better how machine translation works, and how AI (artificial intelligence) can be helpful in many respects. I now find it easier to translate more accurately using other different platforms and CAT (computer-assisted translation). I definitely recommend these TWB courses to any aspiring professional. The knowledge, skills and experience you acquire and hone will be invaluable. In my case, working with and learning from the TWB made me feel more accomplished.” 

Yuriy Kovalenko, TWB Community member.

Mirriam Kitaka joined TWB as a young Swahili translator:

“I joined TWB in 2019 after a thorough Google search for a translation website that could give me an opportunity to grow as a young translator, and this was two years after my mentor introduced me to the field. When I found TWB, I joined as a Swahili Translator Volunteer (TWB Community member). I have since translated, reviewed, and proofread a lot of tasks on the TWB platform. Under the community recognition program, I have been awarded a Certificate of Volunteer Activity and a Reference Letter as a Translator, not to forget a phone top-up for attaining the minimum threshold designed by the organization.” 

“TWB has given me the opportunity to take courses which have scaled my translation, proofreading, editing, and reviewing skills. For me, they offered specific content and information, especially in the humanitarian field. They are very nice and rich courses that I would recommend current and upcoming translators to study through elearn.translatorswb.org. As I write this, I have donated 42,870 words already. I am also working on a very huge revision project. And I can also confirm that I am now a “TWB Traveller!” Thank you Translators without Borders and CLEAR Global for the opportunity to save lives through my native language.”

Mirriam Kitaka, TWB Community member.

Your invitation to join us

Go ahead and explore the Learning Center’s free translation courses today at elearn.translatorswb.org 

If you’re new to TWB – sign up here. 

Our goal is to make our training resources multilingual, with a special focus on low-resource languages. We are starting by translating our Basic Translator Training course with the support of our community! Our team hopes to make it available in at least ten languages this year. By March, we will upload module two of the Basic translator training course, plus a brand-new course on how to use CAT tools including Phrase TMS. Behind the scenes, are also working on making new training courses available on language quality, developing glossaries, and more. 

Watch this space as we learn and grow together!

We thank Microsoft for their kind Azure donation which hosts much of our language technology resources.

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.