Nairobi is home to the Kenya Training Center, TWB’s only facility for training new translators. Run by Translators without Borders Kenya, this non-profit center was established in April 2012 after realizing the region’s desperate need for translators to share critical health information with local communities, particularly in Swahili.
Since opening, the Kenya Training Center has trained almost 250 people, many of whom continue to work on TWB translations in Swahili and a dozen other east African languages.
Many of the new translators are now also available during a crisis to translate and to disseminate materials to their language areas. Whether it is a flood, long period of drought, cholera outbreak or tsunami, these ‘spider networks’ of local translation teams play a vital role in providing timely information, direct to the people who need it most.
Translation service provider
At TWB Kenya, we also provide translation services – interpreting important health and medical information, such as training materials for community health workers.
Our projects have included translating, subtitling and recording videos for Global Health Media, and translating more than 100 online articles through the Wikipedia Medical Translation Task Force.
In 2013, the Kenya training center was given non-governmental organization (NGO) status under Kenyan law.
Hundreds of local languages
In countries such as Kenya, we found that the majority of health information was initially provided in English, even though only 15-20% of the population has a good-enough grasp of the language.
Although Swahili is a prevalent language across most of east Africa, it is still largely a second language. In fact, well over 200 local languages are spoken in the region, making sharing of and access to information even more of an onerous task.
How we train new translators
Our courses introduce trainees to the fundamentals of translation and interpreting, enabling them to work as translators with their local communities. The training modules include:
- What is translating and interpreting
- How to build terminology
- How to use translation tools
- How to subtitle health videos
- Medical specific modules to provide a basic level of medical know-how on diseases including cholera, malaria, dengue fever, schistosomiasis and trachoma.
- Social health modules on preventing unwanted pregnancies, avoiding unsafe abortions, female genital mutilation and malnutrition
The more specific modules provide basic medical information and cover any translation-specific issues. They also provide lists of commonly used terms.
Training for crisis intervention
As a Translators without Borders Kenya office, we have trained volunteer translators who are involved in crisis intervention outside of the region, such as the earthquake in Nepal, riots in Burundi and current European refugee crisis, to name a few.
The Kenya Training Center is supporting the training of a group of 20 translators in Guinea (West Africa) to work on the translation of a large volume of training documents for health care workers. The aim of this project is to improve the access to health information in local languages by developing the translation capacity in Guinea for underserved languages.
Meet the team
Simon Andriesen, Board President of TWB Kenya
Simon is founder and CEO of MediLingua, a linguistic services company based in The Netherlands specializing in pharmaceutical, clinical trial, biomedical, medical technology, and other health-related information. He designed and teaches a series of courses on medical and pharmaceutical translation, and is involved in training courses for authors of patient information leaflets. Simon has been part of the translation and localization community since 1980. He was a member of TWB’s Board of Directors from 2010 to 2014.
Paul Warambo – Translation and Training Manager
Paul has worked with Translators without Borders right from the time the Kenyan Chapter was opened in the year 2012. He has grown with the organization taking up various responsibilities within the Kenyan office, where his experience in translation and managing translation projects keeps growing.