On Our Bikes – inspiration to give and to get fit!

Raising awareness while getting fit

Let’s grab our helmets, flasks and cameras, get on our bikes and support TWB! A great way to show others that translation really matters. In many parts of the world it saves people’s lives

In 2012, Marek Gawrysiak, co-founder and managing partner of translation agency TextPartner in Katowice, Poland, met representatives of Translators without Borders (TWB). Fired with enthusiasm about the organization’s mission to see a world that knows no language barriers, Marek wanted to help sponsor the Fund-a-Translator program in Kenya. He, his wife Ewa and a colleague, Lucjan, share a passion for mountain biking, so they decided to organize a long-distance, sponsored cycle under the banner of OnOurBikes.info, to fundraise for TWB. “We were thinking we should do something a little bit crazy which could attract more interest to the cause,” explains Marek. So far, TextPartner’s OnOurBikes sponsored cycle rides have raised over $20,000 for TWB, funding the training of 20 translators in Kenya.

Raising awareness of TWB

To raise awareness of TWB among the wider translating community, the TextPartner team approached John Terninko, Executive Director of the European Language Industry Association (ELIA), which runs a major annual international networking conference. In 2012 the venue was to be Budapest. Marek suggested organizing a 440 km, circular cycle tour, starting in Katowice, which would reach Budapest in time for the conference, and they would flag up the fundraising initiative to participants at the ELIA conference.

John supported the proposal and the first to join the team was Michal Kmet from Lexika in Slovakia who was joined by Raymund Prins from Global Textware in the Netherlands, a former professional cyclist, who helped organize the tour. Both became sponsors and the tour went ahead with 21 further sponsors signing up during the ELIA stopover.

ELIA’s leaders have always supported TWB and our fundraising initiatives”,
says Marek. The ELIA community includes friends, sponsors and cycling
enthusiasts.  “ELIA Networking Days help us gain international recognition as a business as well as raising awareness for our support to TWB. A big thanks to them for their continued support!” adds Marek.

Fundraiser in Berlin
On Our Bikes in Berlin

“Our fantastic TextPartner team of in-house linguists are also enthusiastic supporters.We would not have been able to leave the office for so long had they not been so supportive and well-organized. While the major part of our business involves linguistic services aimed at central European languages, with the strongest focus on our mother tongue, Polish, we also have a DTP department and a print shop where we produce books, brochures and magazines, business cards and laser-marked pencils. We make some of those for Translators without Borders, providing further in-kind sponsorship.”

OnOurBikes makes its mark!

Following the success of 2012, the OnOurBikes tour became an annual event. 2013 was even more ambitious, with a 600 km circuit taking in Ukraine, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. This was followed in 2014 by the Baltic Route, cycling from Poland through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia; with participants taking ferries to extend the trip through Finland and Sweden before returning to Poland – a total distance of 2,300 km! In 2015, the Capitals’ Route included Dublin, London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Berlin. Some participants cycle the whole route, others just join part of it, so the event is exceptionally sociable and fun. During all the tours, bridges and borders are crossed and friendships formed.

In terms of training, Marek explains “our bike rides usually start in spring, so our training takes place in the winter. Surprisingly, the training is fun! We
typically skip lunch to cycle in the woods, in below zero temperatures. We use
spiky tyres for the necessary grip, especially on snow and ice. The woods
are full of wildlife and very quiet at that time. We’d miss the training if we
didn’t have it
.”

On Our Bikes Fundraiser
Selfie on the road

Our next ‘grand tour’ will be in 2017, setting off from Lake Garda in
Italy, then, via Venice, over to Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary – with a stopover
for MemoQ fest -on to Slovakia and back to Poland. But there are events in 2016 too.We are very excited that groups such as Zelenka and Ciklopea are keen to join our new Around the World initiative! The idea is to connect multiple smaller cycling events all around the world in the single aim of supporting TWB’s work. We already have three prospective teams, and more indicating they would like to participate. If anyone else feels ready to join us, please get in touch now!

Translation saves lives

The TextPartner team promote an important message when cycling and raising awareness – emphasizing that translation really matters. It saves people’s lives in many parts of the world. It lifts them out of poverty and empowers them with knowledge. This message is on their banners, leaflets and in their interviews with the media. Marek remarks “Our cycle tours are a call to action to other cyclists worldwide. Let’s grab our helmets, flasks and cameras, get on our bikes and support TWB! It is a great way to show others that translation really matters and that in many parts of the world it saves people’s lives!

Blog AuthorBy Sarah Powell, Translators without Borders volunteer 

Lugha Zima La Teknolojia – The Universal Language Of Technology

The Uber driver told me his 80-year-old grandmother would only accept M-Pesa as payment. She sells bananas up-country. The Uber guy and I are sitting in the infamous Nairobi traffic, chatting about business, robbery and technology. It’s safer for her, he explains, she tells all that she only accepts M-Pesa payments because it means she’s less likely to get robbed. I think his grandmother must be a strong character. M-Pesa is a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinancing service. It was started in Kenya, and the idea quickly spread across borders – and now M-Pesa is used in Tanzania, South Africa, India, Albania and Romania. Funds are transferred between accounts via mobile phone – any cell phone. The system is intuitive and in Swahili, so even basically literate people can use it. You can pay for your vegetables from the street vendor with M-Pesa (she prefers it); you can pay for your Uber driver via M-Pesa. EVERYONE in Kenya pays or gets paid with M-Pesa. The language of technology speaks for itself.

The tech side of Kenya

I was in Nairobi to support the filming of a Translators without Borders (TWB) video and to meet the TWB team there; TWB’s only physical office is in Nairobi; we train translators in east Africa and beyond. I’ve been to Kenya dozens of times – mostly on holiday, but also for work – so I wasn’t expecting to learn much about Kenya itself. I knew that Kenya has a cool tech side, but didn’t think much about it.

I was blown away

The woman we hired for the video, Jane, lives in a slum; she has M-Pesa. She also is confident and comfortable around smart phones, iPads, etc. Jane is functionally illiterate; she can’t sign her name, but she was happy to read her lines from a script on an iPad, sign a receipt with a thumb print and accept money into her M-Pesa account. She is thinking about getting M-Kopa to affordably provide solar electricity to her home in the slum for her phone, lights and radio.

M-Kopa
M-Kopa

Jane knows how to use her phone. She can easily get information from it. Literacy is not a barrier. Basic menus in Swahili work for Jane.

Which brought me, later that day, to iHub (I missed Mark Zuckerberg’s visit by about an hour). I was there to meet Ushahidi and to discuss our growing partnership; but I also wanted to meet the mobile systems providers’ association to discuss developing mobile courses to train translators in very local languages outside of Kenya (TWB already has translators in 11 Kenyan languages). If TWB can develop a larger cadre of local language translators, then more information can be translated into languages that people actually speak and can understand. And, combined with some other projects, including Facebook’s Free Basics, more information can get to more people in a way that they can access themselves.

That’s the crux. Can Jane get the information she wants and needs in her own language? Or can she only get what information “aid agencies” and governments give her – what “we” decide is important to translate? The answer, sadly, is that vital information is mostly in English and what is translated may not be what Jane wants or needs. For TWB, our challenge is to turn that system on its head so that Jane can get whatever information she wants in her language, when she wants it.

The future of information exchange

After a week in Kenya – seeing it not just as a country with a huge refugee population, beautiful beaches and wonderful game parks – I am convinced. Nairobi is a vibrant regional hub where non-traditional business practices are developing rapidly to suit a population of 46 million people, 75% of whom live in rural areas, with 12 main languages and dozens of smaller languages. Kenya really can be the future of information exchange.

As I’m writing this in Istanbul airport, the electricity goes out. I can feel the tension rise. The electricity doesn’t go out in airports. And the last time it went out in Istanbul there was a bomb. The security presence around me is palpable. It reminds me that there is also a lot of tension in Kenya because of recent attacks; there are security checks everywhere. You go through security to get into shopping centers and sometimes within them; security forces are on the streets; you walk through metal detectors to go into hotels and cars are searched for bombs before going into parking lots. The country borders on two unstable and insecure countries; bombings and other acts of violence are, sadly, not uncommon and make people nervous. Graft and corruption are ubiquitous. Kenya and Kenyans have a lot to overcome; but, if any country can do it, Kenya can.

The language of technology

Mobile savvy Kenyans aren’t nervous about technology; new technologies pop-up every day and Kenyans (mostly) accept them – from Uber to M-Kopa to Ushahidi. Ordinary Kenyans, even low income Kenyans, have a sense of what the world outside of Kenya can offer; they know that information is there and that it can help pull the country out of some of difficulties people are mired in now.

I think Kenyans can lead the way in making the world available to Kenyans and, hopefully, the rest of East Africa – and they can make Kenyan ideas and thoughts accessible to the millions of others who can benefit from some of the models that they are developing. It’s super-inspiring; I am excited about working with Kenyan language professors, NGOs, and tech companies to help transform how development happens – so that people themselves have the information they want and can make informed decisions about their futures.

Blog AuthorBy Aimee Ansari, Translators without Borders Executive Director

The story of language and the gift of information

THE GIFT OF INFORMATION

I grew up in a village in rural Kenya. In this village, many people had little or no education. Those who were lucky enough to see the doors of a classroom only reached primary level. The village was essentially an illiterate one. When I learned how to read and write, many villagers asked me to read healthcare fliers to them; prenatal and postnatal clinic booklets that were issued at health centers and in the village. In those days there were frequent disease outbreaks, such as cholera, measles, diarrhoea and malaria. It is by a miracle of sorts that I survived in such an environment, because my mother was also illiterate and public health workers were scarce, and often overwhelmed. The only information on critical health issues came from the government and NGOs who were at that time trying to respond to various health crises. However, this is not the story I want to talk about: the story I want to tell is one about a poor illiterate mother whose second child died from cholera. A story of why the gift of information is vital.

The story of a mother

This story takes place in a time when the efforts to contain the cholera outbreak had been seen to bear fruit. Leaflets were distributed in the village on general hygiene practices. Breastfeeding mothers were told to wash their hands before feeding their babies and to prepare meals in a clean environment. The leaflets also had information about seeking immediate treatment when a child showed symptoms of diarrhoea. Mama Tinda had all those leaflets containing this information. The leaflets were carefully kept in her clinic bag but because she could only read her native language, the leaflets, in English, made no sense to her, and she always relied on health workers to read and explain the information to her. So when her second-born child got diarrhoea, she could not follow the advice on leaflets. Mama Tinda’s only fault was her inability to read and understand English. That child died. During a casual chat with her a few months ago, she told me that she regrets not having an education. As fate would have it Mama Tinda did not have any more children, and because her first child died of malaria she now remains childless.

Join the movement

The story of Mama Tinda and many mothers like her motivates me to support the mission of Translators without Borders; that is to provide people access to life-saving information in their own language so that knowledge can positively impact their lives. This is the story of language that makes me appeal to you to support the saving of lives through language. Support Translators without Borders and give the gift of information.

Blog authorBy Paul Warambo, Translators without Borders Kenya Manager

Reflections from the World Humanitarian Summit: The Optimist’s View

world humanitarian summit, Istanbul, Turkey 23 – 24 May 2016

Last week I had the good fortune of attending the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, the first convening of its kind. Beyond the lovely – and slightly extravagant – opening ceremony, there was real work to be done at the summit. With the mantra, “Leave No One Behind” and the hashtag, #ShareHumanity, the ‘powers that be’ attempted to shift the conversation – and the mindset – within the humanitarian aid community to community engagement and local empowerment. A few significant commitments were made, especially the Grand Bargain target of 25 percent of international funds going to local NGOs by 2020, and initiatives launched, such as the Network for Empowered Aid Response.

Yet session after session, I waited to hear the specific commitments from UN agencies and major NGOs. They were not forthcoming. There were declarations that individual voices matter, that partnerships with local actors are important, and that we just must do something about the migration crisis. These were sound bites, written and spoken without passion. But actual financial or program commitments on a broad scale were sadly lacking.

But does it even matter?

I left feeling relieved that I didn’t fall asleep in the special sessions, but energized by the activities and voices that I heard in other settings throughout the venue. The shift in funding to local and national NGOs and enterprises, coupled with exciting innovations and the involvement of for-profit socially minded companies, will necessarily change the focus to local solutions, with or without the international humanitarian leaders. Whether they survive the shift will be up to them. I was particularly excited by three trends that permeated the summit:

Small enterprises with big ideas.

Throughout the summit’s Innovation Marketplace and wandering the halls, were many entrepreneurs who are figuring out ways to either assist international agencies with the shift to local or simply bypass them; it is a shame that the diplomats and agency directors who walked through the Marketplace to get to the Facebook Live booth did not glance at the cool innovations as they passed. HumanSurge, for example, allows professionals in surge capacity to manage their own careers and their own deployments, opening many more opportunities for employment. The creators of MedBox focus on truly open health content that can be shared by anyone, anywhere, not unlike our local language Words of Relief Repository. Our fellow CDAC-Network member, Ground Truth Solutions, told the special session on People at the Centre that communicating with communities is not just about listening, but acting on what we hear – and listening again.

Bottom-up momentum.

While the leaders may be slow to commit to change, at the field level the shift is clear. In our advocacy for more local language content, we often hit roadblocks at country or international levels. There is a presumption that translation is not that important, or that bi-lingual staff can do it just fine. But field staff really understand the need and are committed to local language as a tool to communicate better with and listen to communities. Those who came by our booth at the summit were thrilled that this issue is getting more attention. Importantly, more and more, field staff in places like Kenya, Guinea and Greece are forcing changes higher up the chain. There are also promising pockets of change within headquarters staff, such as the exciting work being done by UNHCR Innovation’s Emergency Lab, and the ICRC’s team committed to communicating with communities. While commitments on an international level were sparse, individuals throughout the summit were committing to the paradigm shift, and that mindset will seep through the sector over time.

Sustainable funding models.

Probably the most exciting conversations I had at the World Humanitarian Summit were those with like-minded organizations focused on non-traditional funding models. It is critical that we look beyond grant cycles to fund important initiatives and innovations that improve overall response. Many members of the humanitarian-to-humanitarian (H2H) initiative launched by ACAPS, of which we are a member, are considering service funding models as a way to build infrastructure and hire staff that fit the needs of the organization, not just the latest grant proposal. It was encouraging to get many nods of support for our new service funding approach from a wide range of large non-profits and agencies. While institutional funding will continue to be important for organizations like ours, sustainable long-term funding modeled after tech start-ups (and encouraged by such innovative funders as the Humanitarian Innovation Fund), will increase innovations designed specifically to meet humanitarian needs, encourage competition to sort out the best ideas, and allow professionalization of small enterprises and non-profit organizations on the local, national and international level.

A momentum for change

Over three years of consultations leading up to the summit, there were many questions as to whether any of it would matter, whether the UN and the sector could actually change to improve humanitarian response. But as those questions were being asked, change was happening all around us. There is momentum for change on local and even international levels. How it will shake out, and who will be the major players in ten years, is unknown, but I’m optimistic that response will be improved, with or without today’s leaders.

Read more about the World Humanitarian Summit here.

Rebecca PetrasBy Rebecca Petras, Translators without Borders Deputy Director and Head of Innovation

Words of Relief takes flight: Pilot of translation crisis relief network begins

During and immediately following a sudden-onset crisis, one of the most critical priorities for both relief workers and affected populations is sending and receiving information. Yet language barriers frequently complicate this effort. Most recently, aid workers assisting survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines had to manage communications with and among populations that spoke three indigenous languages: Filipino (Tagalog), Waray-Waray, and Cebuano.

Grace Tang
Words of Relief Global Coordinator, Grace Tang

Linguistic barriers are a longstanding, if unresolved, problem in humanitarian operations. In fact, a 2011 report from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Disaster Relief 2.0, cites lack of translation support as a “perennial hidden issue…delaying critical communications and disenfranchising affected populations.” It was the 2010 Haiti earthquake that was the catalyst for establishing Translators without Borders to bridge this communication gap by providing humanitarian NGOs around the world with pro-bono professional translation services.

Jane Nduta Mwangi
Words of Relief Project Manager, Jane Nduta Mwangi

And now with our Words of Relief translation crisis relief pilot in Kenya, funded by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, we are tackling this issue head on. It is exciting—and frankly a luxury—to have the opportunity to explore the very real language and translation needs of crisis-response aid workers in a non-crisis environment. That allows us to take the time to get the various elements of the network just right.

Words of Relief is a translation crisis relief network intended to improve Communications with Communities (CwC) activities when the crisis-response aid workers and affected populations do not speak the same language. It is a tool to be used prior to a crisis (when there is a warning of impending crisis), during the first 72 hours, and then in the three months following the initial crisis. The network focuses on three key components:

  • translating key crisis and disaster messages into 15 world languages before crises occur (the pilot will focus on Swahili and Somali);
  • building a spider network of diaspora who can translate from one of the 15 world languages into regional languages and who are trained to assist right away; and,
  • creating a crowdsourced, online (and mobile) application that connects the translation team with aid workers and data aggregators who need immediate help.

With the New Year, Words of Relief is truly taking flight.  We spent the first month of the project interviewing for and securing the perfect team to implement the pilot. As a pilot of a worldwide system, it was important for us to find a global coordinator who could not only oversee the pilot, but also envision its scale-up to a global system. We have done that with Grace Tang, the Words of Relief Global Coordinator, who started this month and who brings with her 10 years leading and managing international teams in complex humanitarian emergencies with international NGOs such as Doctors without Borders (MSF) and Action Against Hunger (ACF).

Additionally, we have hired a dynamite project manager who will focus specifically on making the Words of Relief pilot successful. Jane Nduta Mwangi, the new Words of Relief Project Manager, holds a degree in International Relations/Political Science, sociology and law and brings to the table experience in establishing and managing teams and establishing structures. We are very excited to have Grace and Jane on board!

One of the first tasks of our team is to develop a monitoring and evaluation plan that will inform the pilot and, importantly, the eventual global scale-up. We are beginning that process this month, working with Nicki Bailey of the CDAC-Network, who is an MEL expert. More to come on our monitoring and evaluation plan in the coming months…

The team is also preparing for our first big pilot activity: A workshop with Nairobi-based aid workers that will focus on the type of disaster and crisis messaging that should be available in local languages before, during and after a crisis, and the way in which they would like to work with our translation crisis relief network. This workshop, to take place the beginning of March, will include professionals from a wide array of aid organizations, and we are currently sending invitations and encouraging involvement. Our March blog will report results from the workshop.

Stay tuned for more news as the Words of Relief build momentum.

Translators without Borders response to the Philippines Typhoon

Thursday (November 7) night at the tcworld Conference this year was like none other for me. Normally a relaxing second moment in the middle of this particular conference, this time I had only one thing on my mind: an enormous typhoon was barreling toward the central Philippines, and Translators without Borders was being asked to activate a team to help deal with the chaos that was bound to ensue.

After dinner I worked through the night assembling our team, putting communications pieces in place, and keeping the vast and wide network of humanitarian aid responders with whom we partner apprised of our capabilities. Meanwhile, I watched as the typhoon made landfall and the area of greatest impact went dark. Mother Nature reminding us who is in charge: A circumstance that has become more familiar over the past four years but, fortunately, one that we are learning to address more quickly in an attempt to use language to save lives.

It was almost four years ago now since Haiti was ravaged by an earthquake. That crisis was a wake-up call for the translation industry—and, more importantly, the international aid organizations—regarding the vital role translation plays during such a crisis. The silver lining to that disaster was the growth of Translators without Borders, with a dedicated board and a committed advisory committee. We now handle more than 750,000 humanitarian words every month through the Translators without Borders Workspace (powered by Proz.com) and we have a vast network of translators ready to help out. This infrastructure was critical in setting up our response to last week’s typhoon. Tagalog (or Filipino) and English are the national languages of the Philippines. There are also eight major dialects; in central Philippines the most important being Waray and Cebuano. We were able to quickly assemble a team of Tagalog translators who could also handle the major dialects. A key factor was that the members of this team of dedicated volunteers were geographically dispersed, allowing us to offer assistance quickly at any time of the day.

With the team assembled, the real work began on Friday, November 8. The initial activation came from UN OCHA via the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN). As a member of DHN, we work with a wide array of committed aid response organizations that help the major responders to quickly put together a picture of the situation, often using micro-mapping and big data to assist. Social media is mined for this work, and our initial role in this activation was to handle the non-English Tweets and public Facebook messages. Additionally, we created a list of key terms – everything from ‘flood’ through ‘damaged’ and ‘injured’ to ‘dead’ – in Tagalog and Cebuano in order to help data miners sort through and prioritize the mountains of information being generated.

As the activation continued and responders on the ground gained a clearer picture of the devastation, we were called in by other partners to be ready to respond. One of our translators worked directly with Humanity Road, a DHN partner that educates the public before, during, and after a crisis. We are also a full member of the CDAC-Network (Communicating with Disaster-Affected Communities), which was created by major aid organizations, including UN OCHA, Save the Children, WorldVision, Internews, the International Federation of Red Cross, and Red Crescent Societies, to improve ‘Communications with Communities’ (or CwC). CwC is being recognized more and more as critical factor during a crisis. While it might seem obvious, it is not simple when all telecommunications are down, cell phone batteries die, and people speak an array of different languages. Through CDAC-N we are on call to assist with communications from aid workers to the affected populations as they work feverishly to get materials and information out. Finally, we are on call with UNHCR, which is the lead organization for refugees, to provide translations of more long term and longer format materials for refugees who will not have proper shelter for many months to come.

Throughout the process, our team of translators has been engaged and committed to help. Unlike many of the other responders to a crisis, Translators without Borders volunteers are intimately linked to the affected communities. In many cases, they have friends and family in the middle of the crisis. Language is the ultimate connector – and once our team members know their loved ones are safe, they use language to make a difference, helping responders save lives. In fact their knowledge of the community and the geographic region allows our team to be supportive in other ways as well, including giving CwC responders contacts in the local media and assessing the on-the-ground communications situation. I am so proud of our team of translators – they are making a difference every hour.
We are also documenting what we have learnt from this latest crisis to improve our own response to the next that will undoubtedly come, and to provide important input to our Words of Relief pilot project, due to  kick off in Kenya next month. With that project, funded by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, we will be testing the concept of a spider network of responders in regional and local languages as well as an interactive, collaborative and mobile translation system to engage people now living away from their homelands quickly and in a meaningful way. Stay tuned for much more on Words of Relief.

Finally, we could not do this without the support of our donors and sponsors. We have a vision to use language to increase access to knowledge and to save lives. Communications IS aid (#commisaid). And in communications, language is key. We will keep telling this story, and we ask you to keep supporting us in our efforts.

 

Rebecca PetrasBy Rebecca Petras, Translators without Borders Deputy Director and Head of Innovation

Translators without Borders Receives Funding for Crisis Relief Network

Translators without Borders (TWB) is pleased to announce funding for a pilot of its Words of Relief system to improve communications between aid workers and local populations during humanitarian emergencies. The funding by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) recognizes the critical role language and translation play in improving crisis response and saving lives.

Translators without Borders will test the concept in Kenya with Swahili and Somali, and will work collaboratively with a number of partners including UN-OCHA, the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities Network (CDAC-N), Acrolinx, Content Rules and Microsoft. TWB was one of six projects to receive funding in HIF’s fifth round of funding; total funding for the projects exceeded one million dollars.

Kim Scriven, manager of the HIF said: “This round of funding has identified an exciting and diverse range of innovative ideas at the forefront of the humanitarian system.” The HIF, supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), funds projects across the world which use innovation and technology to improve the global response to natural disasters and humanitarian crises.

Words of Relief was developed to address a critical problem: two-way communications during and immediately after a crisis. During a prolonged crisis or following a sudden-onset crisis, one of the most immediate priorities for both relief workers and victims is disseminating and receiving information. Yet language barriers frequently complicate this effort. This was particularly apparent after the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake/tsunami in Japan, when NGOs and frontline aid workers realized they were unprepared and unable to communicate in the primary languages of the affected populations. According to a 2012 report by the International Organization for Migration, “Affected households prefer receiving information in their regional language…. [but] the role of regional and local languages is often neglected while devising communication strategies.”

Words of Relief aims to eliminate linguistic barriers that can impede vital response and relief efforts during and after a crisis by 1) building a corps of vetted translators and interpreters, as well as machine translation capacity, in under-resourced world languages; 2) preparing a digital “inventory” of essential crisis response information in multiple local languages that can be accessed on demand by aid organizations, frontline relief workers, and affected communities; and 3) maintaining a network of human and technological linguistic resources that can be mobilized immediately in response to a crisis. The pilot of the program will test processes and technologies to be used in development of a worldwide network.

The pilot is a 17-month project, commencing in November.

For more information about HIF funding click here. To view the HIF’s portfolio of projects click here.

For further information contact: Rebecca Petras [email protected]

 

Our translation center in Nairobi: An update

Swahili Translations

July saw the completion by our Health Translation Center in Nairobi, Kenya, of the translation of some 250,000 words of high-level health information. The content was written by the Open University (UK) to train community health workers in the Swahili-speaking regions of East Africa. The completed modules are Prenatal Care, Labour & Delivery Care, and Postnatal Care. Other modules are in the pipeline, and these are about topics such as Infant Care Nutrition and Family Planning.

The team also recently completed the Swahili translation of ten videos on New Born Care. These instructional videos have been conceptualized and produced by Deb Van Dyke’s Global Health Media.  In total the team has translated more than 20 videos. The work involved the translation of the English captions (subtitles) and putting the Swahili subtitles in the video, as well as recording the narrative, with Rodha Moraa, one of the translation team members, serving as the ‘voice actor’.

The translation team, recruited and trained in the summer of 2012, has now developed into a super group of experienced health translators. The team is also rather unique, as in East Africa there is no other group of experienced linguists and health workers whose skills and educational backgrounds are combined to work on the translation of such material. We are speaking with international as well as local NGOs about involving our translation team in their projects.

Training-In-A-Box

During the coming months we will be investigating the possibility of a program called ‘Training-In-A-Box’.  All training material, lecture notes and exercises will be evaluated, and if relevant, updated. The material will then be organized into one package – one ‘Box’ as it were –  which TWB can use to support the translator training of linguists and health workers all over the world.

The medical modules concern 15-20 ‘Africa-relevant’ topics, including pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, bilharzia, as well as topics from the social medicine field, such as malnutrition, unsafe abortion, female genital mutilation, and more. Each module has between 15 and 50 slides, and we are in the process of typing in the narrative. The material also includes a large section about the profession of translation.

The Training-In-A-Box program is an attempt to bring together our know-how and best practices from years of training a host of translators in many different countries,” says TWB President Lori Thicke. “I’m sure it’s going to make the starting up of new teams in the future a whole lot easier.”

Thank you Fund-A-Translator Charity Ride Sponsors!

The second Fund-a-Translator Charity Ride, developed and organized by TextPartner in Poland, took place earlier this summer.  Our dedicated cyclists organized a ride through five countries in eastern Europe for a total of 589 kilometers!  Each kilometer was available to sponsors for $5. The purpose of the annual ride is to raise funds and awareness for our trainees in Kenya.  Each $1,000 raised helps us train a translator for a year.

This year the event was so successful that the team raised the $2,945 for the ride and then kept going beyond $3,000, ending up with a total of 652 sponsored kilometers ($3,260).   As promised, they rode the additional kilometers in an extra ride to make sure every sponsored kilometer was cycled.

The TextPartner team conceived of the charity ride in 2012 and did their first ride that year to the ELIA conference in Budapest. Plans are underway for the 2014 ride and the route will be announced soon!

Blog AuthorBy Simon Andriesen, Board President of TWB Kenya and CEO of MediLingua

TWB awarded grant from Indigo Trust to support medical translation project for Wikipedia into Swahili

Indigo Trust is a grant making foundation that funds technology-driven projects to bring about social change, largely in African countries. Translators without Borders (TWB) has been awarded a grant of $14,500 by Indigo towards the costs of the medical translation project for Wikipedia – the 80 x 100 Project. The grant will help train and fund translators at the TWB Translator Centre in Kenya to translate healthcare articles into Swahili.

The aim of the 80 x 100 Project is to make the most popular Wikipedia medical articles, on issues like HIV and polio, available in as many languages as possible,” said TWB Program Director, Rebecca Petras. “Existing English language medical content is constantly proofed and improved by Wikipedia’s medical team. The content is translated into multiple languages, mainly by TWB’s vast community of volunteer translators.”

The Indigo Trust is backing the translation of articles into Swahili, by supporting the TWB Translator Training Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Matthew O’Reilly, Program Manager at The Indigo Trust, based in London, said, “The job of translating the English Wikipedia content into Swahili will be done by the translators at the new TWB Centre in Nairobi. 10 translators and 2 editors will work on the Wikipedia translations, using the Centre’s computing facilities and memory translation software. Not only does this make life-saving medical information more understandable, but it also improves the employability of the trainee translators. The finished translations will be proofed and uploaded onto the Swahili version of Wikipedia, which currently has approximately 25,000 articles. Once on Wikipedia, the content will then be marketed to NGOs, community health workers and others. This will help African communities have more access to knowledge and information, in a language they understand, that could save lives.”

Check out the Indigo Trust Blog here.

440 km in 4 days to raise $2,000 for the Fund-a-Translator program

Translators without Borders (TWB) frequently announces donations received from various companies, but what about the huge amount of help that we get from dedicated individuals who do incredible things to raise money through their creativity and hard work? What can you do as an individual to raise money and support us, and what could that amount achieve? This part of the newsletter provides a space for our innovative fundraisers to showcase their fundraising projects, and highlights the ways in which other people can get involved in creative and fun ways to raise money to really make a difference.

One of the main ways that individuals can support us is by raising money for the Fund-a-Translator program, whereby $1,000 will provide a translator’s training, equipment and Internet connection for a period of one year. This single translator’s work may then help save hundreds of lives.

Supporters from Text Partner in Poland did just that. Marek Gawrysiak and Lucjan Szreter cycled 440 kilometers in four days, from their branch office in Katowice, Poland, to the ELIA conference in Budapest to raise money to fund the training of two Kenyan translators. The ways in which the public could help support the bike ride were either through sponsoring as many kilometers as possible, or by spreading the word about the charity.

The company created a dedicated webpage through which donations could be made directly, and also encouraged people to raise awareness of the ride and the charity through social media, providing links to the TWB Twitter page. There was also the functionality to share the bike ride story directly on Facebook and Twitter. The page was complete with a sponsorship progress bar where the amount raised could be tracked, and companies and individuals were able to leave comments of encouragement.

What worked so well about this idea was that a goal was set of raising enough to sponsor two Kenyan trainee translators for a year, and it seemed to help people understand the importance of donating to this cause. The donation process was made incredibly straight forward, and the company linked the donations to a set amount of kilometers. Obviously, this also encouraged the riders to keep on going.

Gawrysiak and his team did indeed reach their goal of raising the $2,000 target, which demonstrates how every penny really does add up. Gawrysiak would like to underline that they owe special thanks to Raymund Prins from Global Textware, the Netherlands, who was one of the “masterminds” of the ride but, unfortunately, could not take part in it himself. His company was also one of the sponsors. Owing to the success of the first bike ride and the public’s growing interest in their initiative, Gawrysiak and his team are embarking on another fundraising ride across five countries, starting May 30 2013, and finishing on June 2, covering a total of 600 kilometers. Throughout the journey they will be talking to local media about the Fund-a-Translator program, and they are encouraging others to join in the ride or to provide support vehicles.

Gawrysiak commented that “I am more than happy to see that so many people are willing to engage in our initiative. It is great fun after all! And I really hope our next ride is going to be even more successful than the first, turning the ‘biking idea’ into a regular, fund-raising event.”

For more information on the bike ride, to sign up to their newsletter, or to bite the bullet and join in part of the next bike ride, go to www.onourbikes.info.

The Text Partner bike ride is just one of the creative ways people in our industry are helping us reach our goal of more humanitarian content available in more languages.  Several individuals have run matching campaigns on Twitter, supporters in Argentina collected funds at an event, GeoGlobal in North America donates every time a customer returns a feedback survey, Moravia donates every time the company’s fun video is watched, and SDL offers funds when the company’s holiday card is opened.  And so many more! Next time we will highlight the creative social hour set up by the Nordic Translation Industry Forum in honor of Translators without Borders.

By Lucy Williams