Our translation and training center in Nairobi

I am just back from my quarterly visit to Translators without Borders’ Translators’ Training Center in Nairobi, Kenya, so this is a good time for an update on the center.

To date, 125 persons have completed our one-week introduction to translation and 30 followed the six-week advanced course. All of the translators and editors who currently work in our center  have followed the advanced course, and have been with us for between 12 and 20 months. Our center is located on a campus with possibly the largest concentration of language experts in Africa. Together, the Bible Translation and Literacy organisation (BTL), SIL (the developers of the Ethnologue), and Translators without Borders employ a group of around 75 persons, all of them professionally involved in translation, linguistics, or language research! Truly an exciting and stimulating environment for our team!

Our staff has spent most of its time working on health, education and crisis translation projects. These include training materials for community health workers, medical articles from Wikipedia, repair instruction manuals for water pumps,  books for very young children, subtitles and voice-overs for health videos , to name some examples. Recently, work has started on the translation of a library of messages and text segments on a variety of topics around crisis intervention. These translations are prepared for distribution during crises and are part of our Words of Relief project that is outlined in the Special Projects article.

The center will soon start training new people to become translators for a range of 12 different Kenyan languages. During a one-week course, they will follow the Introduction to translation program, as well as training to use translation memory tools and to learn specific requirements for the translation of the message library. Trainees will be members of the Words of Relief ‘spider‘ network we are búilding of people who will be translating into their local lanuages in times of crisis.

Over the past two years we have built up contacts with more and more NGOs who  learn about what we are doing, and who are interested in the language support we can provide. For many of the NGOs  we are regarded  as the area’s best kept secret when it comes to translation. And understandably so: In Africa it will be hard to find a dozen trained translators in one office, with computers, internet access, and translation tools, who are translating health information and are prepared to drop everything to translate crisis (war, tsunami, earthquake) related documents when nature strikes. 

On behalf of all in the center, I would like to thank the good people of the OnOurBikes charity bike ride. They have just completed their third big charity ride to support our work in Kenya. This ride was 2,300 KM – what a feat!  We are very grateful for their commitment to our work and would like to especially thank Marek, Lucjan and Ewa of TextPartner, which is the company that organizes the entire ride.  For more information on the charity bike ride, go to www.onourbikes.info.

Simon Andriesen

TWB Director of Training