5 Top Tips: Volunteering for Busy People

Living in London, raising four children and working as an English to French freelance translator can get super busy!  I have always been highly aware that there are people on this earth who are in desperate need of help, so I am determined to contribute as a volunteer even if my personal and work commitments can be demanding. Having translated over six hundred thousand words for Translators without Borders in my spare time, I have picked up a few techniques to successful volunteering while juggling a busy schedule.

Here are my 5 top tips:

1. Consider your skills. When I realized that speaking two languages fluently could help other people improve their health and quality of life, I knew that volunteering as a translator was the most valuable skill I could offer.

2. Plan ahead. I plan my week so that I frequently have a few hours free for volunteer tasks. Setting aside an allocated time, helps volunteering become a routine as any other part of my schedule.

Calendar 3. Think of this as a learning opportunity. I usually translate medical, health, and IT focused texts, as I have a lot of experience of this from my work as a freelance translator. However, translating for a non-profit can be very different, making it an opportunity to learn and to develop your skills as a translator in thematic areas that are new to you.

4. Remember your motivation. Helping others has been my dream from a young age. Volunteering helps me to do that. Keep your motivation fresh in your mind, and you will always have time for volunteering.

5. Prioritize your commitment to volunteering. Volunteering for me is as important a part of my life as earning money or taking care of my family. We all manage to find time to watch a film or to play a game. If being a volunteer is important to you, then put it high on your list of priorities.

To sign up as a volunteer with Translators without Borders, click here.

Volunteer TranslatorBy Lamia Ishak, Translators without Borders volunteer translator

Lamia has been a TWB volunteer since 2013, and in that time, she has translated over 600,000 words for non-profit organizations.

Translating knowledge into practice – Dr Subas Chandra Rout on why #LanguageMatters in medicine

How does an orthopedic surgeon find the time to volunteer to translate 315,000 words of medical information – and why?

This week I spoke to Dr Subas Chandra Rout from his home in the Indian state of Odia. Since 2012, Dr Subas has been translating medical content from Wikipedia medical articles from English to Odia so that the people of even remote villages can get basic information about health and diseases using just a smartphone. Odia is a regional language spoken in India by over 40 million people, and Dr Subas is intent on getting simple yet critical medical information to Odia speaking communities; from Zika prevention messages to ways to recognize diabetes, to the dangers of diarrhea.

Helping by translating knowledge

It all started when Dr Subas was asked to translate an article about malaria on Wikipedia. He did it because he knew that people were not generally very conversant on medical topics, although these topics affected them greatly. When he studied medicine, it was through English, and he learned thousands of new technical terms. As a consequence, he found himself then having to learn those thousands of terms in the regional language of his patients so that he could communicate his knowledge across the language divide. This was not always easy, as some languages are often not as well equipped with medical terms as is English. Despite the difficulties, the doctor persisted, and today he continues to break down the barriers to information by translating for Translators without Borders (TWB).

When I asked him how he manages to find time to complete so many medical translations, he said:

“There is a proverb – where there is will; there is a way. I have a will to feed the Odia speaking people with medical knowledge and I will do it until my end.  Time is no barrier.”

He sees Translators without Borders as “a medium that transcends the barrier of space and time” to provide people access to unlimited and accurate medical knowledge.

While talking about the impact he thinks his translations have had on the Odia speaking community, Dr Subas replied that he has witnessed an increase in the number of people who are now aware of the availability of medical articles in their own language. “My labor is starting to bring color,” he said, “Some of the topics have adorned the pages of local newspapers. I am sure that 40 million people will gradually be knowledgeable in basic medicine.”

Translation for Wikipedia

Do you want to participate by translating knowledge? Read more about translation for Wikipedia on the Wikipedia website.

Blog AuthorBy Caterina Marcellini, Translators without Borders Communications Officer