At Acrolinx, we know just how important language is. It’s how people communicate, form connections and, most important of all, share knowledge and ideas. It’s at the heart of our business and at the core of what we do every day. We also know that language is the key to making information accessible to everyone, and that to do so effectively, particularly during times of crisis, you’ve got to communicate with people in their own language.
Those are just a couple of the reasons why we’re proud supporters of a very important organization called Translators Without Borders. Founded in 1993 by Lori Thicke and Ros Smith-Thomas, this not-for-profit organization brings together translators from around the world and connects them to non-government organizations (NGOs) such as Unicef, UNHCR, ICRC, Oxfam, Action Against Hunger, and Handicap International that are focused on health, nutrition, and education. So far the organization has translated over 25.5 million words in over 100 languages.
Translators without Borders provides a platform to connect local language speakers with non-profit organizations across the planet. In crisis situations, this often happens in quickly assembled rapid response community to directly support the crisis response effort and make sure the stricken populations can be heard.
The devastating earthquakes that recently rocked Nepal are an example of the acute need for translation. As our own Andrew Bredenkamp, who has chaired the board of Translators Without Borders since October 2014, explains, “Aid organizations need to communicate with local people in their native language. In the foothills of Kathmandu and in the surrounding villages, there are many people who do not speak English and it is these people that have been most badly affected by the earthquake. The TWB translation team is delivering aid by enabling the flow of critical communications in the native languages of Nepali and Newari.”
Here are just a few examples of some of the work that Translators Without Borders has done in the short time since the earthquakes struck:
- Translated over 500 terms into Nepali, Newari and Hindi for search and rescue workers and for people monitoring messages coming from the affected populations.
- Translated approved and sanctioned Twitter messages, which contain crucial information about first aid and protection during and after an earthquake.
- Contributed significantly to search and rescue by translating and categorizing local language messages from the affected population.
- Translated and distributed a comprehensive First Aid document from English to Nepali.
- Translated and distributed ‘after earthquake’ messaging and public service announcements from the Centers for Disease Control.
The organization is working on a number of other projects as well. For example, it’s leading the 100×100 Wikipedia Project, an ambitious endeavour to translate each of the 100 most widely read Wikipedia articles on health and medicine into 100 different languages, making the content accessible to much of the world. So far, dozens of articles have been translated into a growing number of languages. Working in partnership with The Open University, Translators Without Borders is also contributing to the Health Education and Training (HEAT) project, with the goal of training 250,000 frontline healthcare workers across sub-Saharan Africa by 2016. Translators Without Borders is helping by translating the health modules into languages used by the community health workers. They are currently working on translating half a million words of training materials into Swahili.
We’re very proud to support Translators Without Borders and encourage you to consider getting involved with this important cause. If you’re interested, there are several ways to help:
- You can make a donation by clicking here.
- You can stay in touch by signing up for their biannual newsletter and monthly updates by clicking here.
- If you’re a trained translator, you can volunteer by completing this volunteer form.
- Last but not least, you can help promote their work on Twitter by following @TranslatorsWB and using the hashtag #TranslationMatters.
We hope you’ll consider getting involved.