We recently held our very first translation contest for Translators without Borders’ thriving community of Arabic translators. Ninety-two talented translators submitted a total of 124 translations on a mixture of humanitarian and literary topics. Each translation was evaluated by fellow community members for accuracy, terminology, and style in order to provide constructive feedback and create greater engagement among the Arabic community.
The winners: humanitarian translation
Shaimaa Elhosan is an English to Arabic translator specializing in humanitarian translation because of her desire to help others. She studied UN translation at the American University in Cairo, which helped her follow her passion.
“I want to help other people, especially children, victims of conflicts, and abused women, people affected by natural disasters. Thus, I volunteered with Translators without Borders (TWB).”
A career highlight as a freelance translator was working on a book titled The Happy Healthy Nonprofit, by Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman. At that point, Shaimaa realized what a leading role nonprofits play in improving difficult situations.
The first story she encountered with TWB was poignant: it told of the daily suffering of victims of war. And it highlighted the misleading images of a comfortable life in camps which too often circulate on social media.
She went on to translate the toolkit for the Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, a TWB partner. The toolkit aimed to improve the quality of life and dignity for displaced people living in communal settings.
Since 2017, Shaimaa has used her skills to translate 8,951 words for TWB and has acquired more valuable experience in humanitarian translation in the process. She continues to study in a constant effort to improve and expand her knowledge.
“I study because I care so much about whether or not the translation communicates the meaning clearly to readers. The TWB team appreciates my know-how and they ask me to participate in more projects. They try hard to support us in translation by providing references and glossaries as much as possible.”
Shaimaa explained that the challenge of communication was made more exciting by this competition. “How could I render the meaning to the readership clearly with such a tricky text? The experience spurred me on to participate in more projects. I’d like to continue to support displaced people, children, and abused women with my work.”
Nabil Salibi won the literary translation category, having received the highest score from his fellow community members.
This professional translator is as dedicated to his volunteer projects as he is to his paid work. By volunteering, he hopes to bridge the communication gap between humanitarian organizations and those who seek their support. For Nabil, this means dedicating four to five hours at a time to translate or proof-read texts from his home in Australia.
Since joining TWB in 2016, Nabil has translated 13,592 words. He has focused on projects related to refugees and the conditions in refugee camps, as well as news articles. Nabil also helped translate IFRC’s Global Response Tools Review. That review analyzed the tools we use to respond to disasters, and the risks and challenges related to humanitarian response.
He takes each of these projects seriously:
“Volunteering allows me to appreciate the difficulties imposed by language barriers and the impact on the wellbeing of people who live in communities where they don’t understand the local language.”
Numerous other translators earned honorable mentions for their efforts. Learn more about their work, and the translation process on the Kató Community Forum.
A shared reward: the language equality initiative
Our highly skilled translators, including Nabil and Shaimaa, will have the opportunity to contribute to Gamayun, the language equality initiative. The goal is to shift control of communication, to allow everyone to share their voice and access information in a language and format they can understand. Using advanced language technology, we’re working with marginalized communities and language specialists to increase language equality and improve two-way communication. Over half of the world’s population simply doesn’t have access to knowledge and information in their own language. Our translators and supporters address this language gap which can prevent people from lifting themselves out of poverty, getting health care, recovering from a crisis, or understanding their rights. Our translators’ efforts enable people to proactively share their needs, concerns, and ideas.
To learn more, click here.
We recently announced two new translation contests open to our French and Swahili translator communities. If you are already a TWB translator please check the Kató Community Forum for more information. Otherwise, why not join TWB today so you can take part? Entries close on 5 August 2019.
In case you’re looking to take part in a contest, or improve your own translations, our first translation contest winners share some words of advice:
- “Make sure you understand the whole article. Context is key.” – Nabil
- “I love to translate on paper first.” – Nabil
- “Never stop reading.” – Shaimaa
Written by Danielle Moore, Communications Officer for Translators without Borders. Interview responses by Shaimaa Elhosan and Nabil Salibi, Translators for Translators without Borders.