Language Technology Could Help 157 Million People Get Access To Information

I was exhausted.  It had been a great week in Bangladesh, but the overload of language, smells, refugee camp, seeing old friends, meeting new friends, government, donors, and all the while pretending like I wasn’t jetlagged, was taking its toll.  I just wanted to go to sleep.

My last meeting was in Dhaka with someone in the Prime Minister’s office.  I had little hope of staying awake through the meeting.

And yet, I was captivated.

Bangladesh Help Desk Signage
Bangladesh Help Desk Signage

The literacy rate in Bangladesh is considered low (72.8% according to UNESCO in 2016) but is just below the global average. Literacy among women is lower (69.9%); but, in general, the majority of the people have at least basic literacy skills.  There is 90 percent mobile phone penetration and 96 percent mobile internet access. The International Mother Language Institute, the body in Bangladesh that supports the promotion, spread, and preservation of Bangla languages, says that 41 languages are spoken in the country, only five of which have written scripts.  In the humanitarian response for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Translators without Borders (TWB) finds the situation particularly difficult. Rohingya has no agreed written script. Very few of the refugees can read and write, there are few people who speak Rohingya and anything else well. Add to this mix low radio coverage – not only do the Rohingya not have radios, even if they did there is not even radio coverage in parts of the camps, and about one million people living in poor and difficult conditions that speak many different dialects and you begin to understand why communicating effectively is difficult.

It’s vitally important that there is two-way communication between the people – refugees and local Bangladeshis – and the government and aid workers. Take the issue of the coming monsoon. The formal and makeshift refugee camps have sprouted up all over the Cox’s Bazar district, an area that includes a national park and lush forest. But now the trees have been torn down to make room for shelters and for firewood.  This makes the soil very unstable and dangerous, with monsoon rains promising huge mud pits and the possibility of landslides. It is also a hilly area; tents are built on the sides of hills that will become slippery and unstable with heavy rains and wind. Refugees, as well as local residents, need to know where to go, what to do if there’s an emergency, how to get help for those needing medical attention, and what to do if food gets swept away.  

The challenges abound. The digital world seems a world away.    

And yet, enter Dr. Jami.  In a buzzy, busy office with a high level of excitement and a relatively good gender balance, I was suddenly in the middle of a high tech environment.  Dr. Jami launched directly into what he wanted us to know and do.

Dr. Jami runs the Access to Information (A2I, inevitably) project in the Prime Minister’s office. The aim is to help the people of Bangladesh quickly and easily get information on public services. One of A2I’s projects is the digitization of government institutions; they have developed over 1,000 key government websites.  Dr. Jami is not a language guy (he’s a solutions architect), but he proceeds to tell me quickly that Bangla was only standardized in Unicode five years ago, so there is very little data available from which to build good translation engines.  While there’s 90 percent mobile phone penetration, in 2018 GSMA estimated that only 28-30 percent of those were smartphones. Yet, 96 percent of internet access is via phones. Whaaa? How does that work? It’s also startling how little desktops and laptops are used to access the internet.  

I asked a taxi driver, who was using a smartphone, if he used his phone for the internet.  He replied, “No, but I use it for Facebook.”

There are no data charges for Facebook in Bangladesh – unless you want to see videos or pictures.  Internet use is Facebook and Facebook is only text. Those who are illiterate, or only barely literate, won’t have smartphones.

To Dr. Jami, who needs more people to have smartphones to help ensure they can get access to information, the cost is not the barrier:  There are very inexpensive smartphones in Bangladesh. He believes it is fear of technology, which he believes is associated with illiteracy. To reach his goal of migrating 70 percent of the current mobile phone users to smartphones, he must address fear.

Language is an issue.  With a population of over 157 million people, and one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, you’d think that the language technology for Bangla would be outstanding.  It’s not. That’s surprising. And without that technology, equipping 1,000 websites with dynamic information in Bangla is nearly impossible, not to mention making them interactive and/or adding audio.

The work that A2I is doing is globally relevant, of course.  Other countries are already seeking their support to bring better access to information to their people.  He mentions that they are already working in South Sudan – which has the 2nd lowest literacy rate in the world.  Again, the language barrier is huge. And, again, there is little digital language data.  

Dr. Jami has heard of TWB’s Gamayun project – can we help?  Can we be a neutral broker to bring together the limited language data out there and leverage our knowledge of language and the language industry to help Bangladeshis get access to information about basic services?  

Dr. Jami and the TWB team will continue this conversation – there are still many questions to be asked and answered.  But I was impressed by the enthusiasm and the accomplishments of his team. And I am really excited to see where Dr. Jami and other countries take this exciting initiative.

Written by Translators without Borders' Executive Director Aimee Ansari. This article was also published on HuffPost UK.


Read a related post on The #LanguageMatters blog, ‘Language: Our Collective Blind Spot in the Participation Revolution’.  In TWB’s last blog post, Executive Director Aimee Ansari explains why we need to create and disseminate a global dataset on language and communication for crisis-affected countries. 

A translation worth a million words  

translator
Suzanne Assénat

In 2017, this team of four translators donated over 1.2 million words to the work of Translators without Borders (TWB).

In recognition of their invaluable contribution in mentoring new French translators, the French translation team (Barbara Pissane, Suzanne Assénat, Gladis Audi and Ode Laforge) won the 2018 Translators without Borders Access to Knowledge Award for Empowerment. Their work has allowed TWB to significantly increase language capacity and guarantee translation quality in one of the organization’s most requested language pairs (French to English). You would be hard-pressed to find a group of more deserving and yet modest individuals with such impressive achievements to their names. Having put into words countless life-changing messages, and contributed to the stories of thousands of people in crisis and need, it is inevitable that these women have some tales of their own to tell.

They are Empowerment Award-winning translators, but they are also so much more.

The team is made up of four witty volunteers, translators-interpreters, writers and mothers, each with their own quirks and attributes. Gladis describes herself as a hunger-relief activist and amateur rosarian who likes to explore nuances and innovate solutions; Ode is a teacher and communicator at heart; Barbara has a fondness for early music and tall ships events; Suzanne appreciates her family time and has a keen interest in the music of words and music itself.

translator Gladis
Gladis Audi

 With so many roles, it is a wonder these women smashed the one-million-word mark, but their motivations have been clear from the start.

All four translators acknowledge that their work with TWB allows them to contribute to social change and global awareness. For Gladis, “Spreading knowledge by breaking language barriers is very significant in itself.” Their motivations stem from a desire to feel “closer to people in distress, people living in countries shattered by wars, poverty, climate disasters or disease outbreaks,” says Ode. This work is her way to “express solidarity with them.”

The team tells the most moving anecdotes.

When asked to recount a significant project with TWB, Suzanne proudly remembered a time in which she mentored translation students in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She was impressed by the students’ efforts. They did their work with “little computing hardware, connectivity problems, [while living with the threat of] armed conflict,” but they “kept at it and delivered pretty good translations.”

 translator Ode
Ode Laforge

Ode has a favorite memory that is close to her heart. “How could I ever forget this little book I translated for children in Africa, in which the main character, a little girl living with HIV, was talking about her everyday life?” Ode asks, as she reflects on the human connection that volunteering can foster. “She managed to lead a relatively happy life, taking the drugs she needed, eating healthy food prepared by her loving grandma, avoiding everything that could negatively interfere with her health, fighting difficult moments to stay healthy, playing with other children, and expressing her wish to become a scientist when she grew up, to find a cure for this terrible disease. Despite the seriousness of the topic, this little story was heartwarming and optimistic, but I was deeply moved while translating it.”

Not only has their support left a mark on the lives of thousands, but volunteering for TWB has made a difference to them, too.

This volunteer experience provided the backdrop for a new friendship, which began on the translation platform, between Ode and another TWB volunteer translator, Nadia Gabriel. She describes how they built a friendship “exchanging views on how to best render a tricky sentence or a difficult passage.” Since then, they have met in person and have kept in touch ever since. Ode is so grateful that her work with TWB has given her the opportunity to get to know such lovely friends. 

Finally, these productive translators shared some words of advice.

Gladis advocates balance and encourages aspiring volunteer translators to “work extra hard, have lots of fun, believe in yourself and in the team. A little can go a long way.”

Barbara Pissane translator
Barbara Pissane

For Barbara, it is all about the work ethic of keeping going and finding your work gratifying, You will be proud of the help you give to people and you will grow more confident. Moreover, you will have the opportunity to work with people who are always extremely committed!”

Suzanne recognizes the difficulty of finding the balance when translating as a volunteer and doing it for a living. Her advice is never to feel guilty for not doing enough, and never stay away indefinitely. “Come again, however (in)frequently you can! There’s an analogy to make with blood donations: You don’t and can’t do that very often, but every little drop (well, pouch, whatever) helps make a difference.”

Would you like to share in these life-changing experiences as a TWB volunteer translator? Apply now to get translating.

Written by Danielle Moore, Digital Communications Intern for TWB, with interview responses by Gladis Audi, Ode Laforge, Barbara Pissane and Suzanne Assénat, TWB Volunteer Translators

TWB Glossary for North-East Nigeria

How a glossary helps increase access to life-saving information in north-east Nigeria

Nigeria glossary landing page

The humanitarian community in north-east Nigeria is well aware of the challenges of communicating with a population who speak more than 70 languages. Yet until now, they have largely lacked satisfactory solutions. There are few if any trained interpreters and translators for most local languages. Local staff and volunteers do their best to relay information to communities and listen to the people they meet, but it is not surprising that messages can become distorted when they have to be translated through a succession of languages. The question must be asked, what constitutes ‘access’ to humanitarian relief when language is not taken into account during implementation?

Field teams in north-east Nigeria have not been using standardized terminology in local languages. Even when providing messages in just the two main languages of the response, Hausa and Kanuri, humanitarian organizations have found that translations were not consistent. As a result, already vulnerable communities could receive inconsistent information. This can confuse or prevent people from taking protective actions, accessing available assistance, and claiming their rights. Until that time when the sector communicates in the wider range of regional languages, it must, at least, ensure that what is written and spoken in these two languages consistently and accurately conveys key concepts in a way affected people can understand, as a necessary first step.

Understanding this problem, Translators without Borders (TWB) partnered with the Norwegian Refugee Council and other protection specialists to develop an English/Hausa/Kanuri glossary for two fields: general protection, and housing, land, and property rights.

The process

To create the glossary, TWB pulled out key terminology from internal and external communication documents created by organizations active in each field. Hausa- and Kanuri-speaking staff and sector specialists came together to review and expand the glossary list. In small groups, they analyzed the English meaning of each word and agreed on the best word or phrase to describe it in Hausa and Kanuri. The result is a glossary which conveys as much of the meaning as possible, chooses words which do not stigmatize, and is based on local usage of the two languages.

Challenges arose throughout the process about the intent and meaning of certain words. For example, the term ‘access’ emerged as an issue. The land rights specialists understood ‘access’ as referring specifically to roads, paths, and physical accessibility. For the protection specialists ‘access’ meant removing cultural and gender barriers. ‘Access to information’ was identified as a third meaning, and ultimately the group selected three translations appropriate to the three contexts.

One group of specialists then checked the other’s lists.

After all, if a protection specialist cannot understand the vocabulary of the land and housing team, what hope is there for someone who is not a humanitarian professional?

After two days of debates and corrections, TWB presented the glossary lists to professional translators. They removed inconsistencies in spelling and corrected any grammatical mistakes before the new terms were entered into TWB’s glossary app for Nigeria.

TWB is happy to announce that the glossary is now available for viewing on mobile phones and other devices here: https://glossaries.translatorswb.org/nigeria/. It is designed to support interpreters, translators, field staff, community outreach workers, and enumerators in using the most appropriate and accurate terminology to communicate with affected people.

The glossary can be viewed on Android or iOS devices and will automatically cache, making it available for offline viewing. This glossary is a living document and TWB welcomes feedback and questions, which will help us improve it over time. Our aim is to expand the glossary app to cover further sectors and more of the languages of the people caught up in the humanitarian emergency in north-east Nigeria. We hope you find it useful in the meantime.

Written by Alice Castillejo, Country Program Manager, Translators without Borders Crisis Response

TWB’s Words of Relief program is supported by Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund – a grant-making facility supporting organizations and individuals to identify, nurture and share innovative and scalable solutions to the most pressing challenges facing effective humanitarian assistance. The Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) initiative ‘Accelerating the Journey to Scale’ is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

hif_logoMFA logo

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

At Translators without Borders (TWB), we believe that language is an important demonstration of culture. As an organization, we encourage and celebrate cultural diversity. In fact, the TWB team comes from 17 different countries and speaks a total of 24 languages.* That is an average of 3.5 languages per person!(3.5 each on average).

Diversity Day Diversity at TWB
The TWB team is scattered around the globe

About Diversity Day

After the adoption of UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in November 2001, 21 May was proclaimed World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (also known as Diversity Day) by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Each year, on 21 May we endeavour to widen our understanding of the value of cultural diversity and to understand the role that it plays in peace, stability and development.

* Data collected internally in TWB between 03/02/2017 and 05/02/2017. Total number of participant: 24. 

Africa’s Translation Gap

For Hillary Clinton’s latest trip to Africa, she probably didn’t need to take along many translators or interpreters. Maybe just a French speaker. Of the nine countries on her itinerary, seven are considered Anglophone and two Francophone.

That, of course, does not tell the whole story—far from it. In one of those Anglophone countries, Nigeria, more than 500 languages are spoken.

It’s mainly the elite who speak these colonial languages. In Uganda, it’s English, in Senegal, French, in Mozambique, Portuguese. But most people—especially outside the big cities—don’t understand those languages.

That’s a huge problem for aid agencies trying to get the word out about disease prevention. The brochures, leaflets and posters they distribute tend to be written in those colonial languages.

Lori Thicke, who runs Translators without Borders, told me that she’s visited villages in Africa where you can find a plentiful supply of brochures about AIDS prevention. Many contain technical and sensitive information: how to practise safe sex, how to use a condom. But because the brochures are in written in European languages, it’s often the case that that the not a single villager understands them.

I also talked with Nataly Kelly of translation industry research group Common Sense Advisory. She co-authored a report for Translators without Borders on the state of the translation industry in Africa. You can hear our conversation in the podcast. The bottom line is that, aside from South Africa, no sub-Saharan African nation has much of a translation industry.

There are signs of change. Some African nations are starting to promote their indigenous languages. There’s a debate in Ghana about replacing English as the official language, or augmenting it, with one or more of the more prominent local languages.

The problem is, none of those local languages is spoken across Ghana. They’re regional, and so adopting one of those as the official language would give the impression of favoring a single linguistic and ethnic group.

In South Africa, there are eleven official languages That’s helped with the status of some of the less widely spoken ones, like Ndebele and Venda. It means that some official documents must be published in those languages. That raises their status and has spawned a translation industry—something that barely exists around minority languages elsewhere in Africa.

Many Africans speak two or more languages. In Cameroon, it’s not uncommon to find people who speak four or five languages. That’s led some outsiders to assume that Africa doesn’t have a translation deficit. But it does. Speaking a second language doesn’t automatically make you a translator.

You need training to be able to translate. You also need tools: dictionaries and glossaries of technical terms. And you need to be online to access them.

Translators without Borders has started a training program for translators in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. They’ve begun with Swahili. It’s the closest Africa has to its own link language, spoken now by an estimated 40 million people.

There’s also a Translators without Borders project that connects volunteer translators with Wikipedia and local mobile phone operators. The idea is to translate Wikipedia articles on AIDS, malaria and the like into local languages, and then make them accessible on people’s phones.

But it’s slow-going: Translators without Borders has only a handful of volunteers who know those African languages.

By Patrick Cox

TWB Translator Training Session in Nairobi, Kenya

Meet Translators without Borders trainees in Nairobi, Kenya.

When the trainees have finished this module, they will begin translating a healthcare application into Swahili that can then be accessed via cell phones.

Translating For Humanity

In response to the demand for pro bono translation services worldwide… 

© BY FRANÇOISE HERRMANN, PhD

Founded 18 years ago in Paris by Lori Thicke (CEO of Lexcelera) and Ros Smith-Thomas (co-owner of Lexcelera), Traducteurs sans frontières was established as a charitable organization in France. The name Traducteurs sans frontières was selected because the organization’s first client was Médicins sans frontières/Doctors without Borders, the medical disaster-relief NGO (non-governmental organization) that later won the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2010, Lori Thicke founded Translators without Borders, a sister organization in the United States with non-profit 501©(3) status. Until fairly recently, Traducteurs sans frontières brokered pro bono translation services of approximately 1 million words per year to NGOs, representing about $250,000 of donated services per year. In 2011, however, with the foundation of Translators without Borders in the US, this number doubled, with 1 million words already translated as early as June; a 10-fold projected increase within the next few years was envisioned. (For the most up-to-date figures, see the counter displaying the number of translated words at theTWB Translation Center.)

For all languages

Translators without Borders is equipped to provide pro bono translation services in any language combination. For the first half of 2011, the highest demands were: French to English (34.6%), English to French (16.7%), English to Spanish (9.84%), English to Arabic (3.87%) and English to Russian (2.07%), with the balance (32.92%) consisting of another 40 language combinations, including English to Yoruba (0.33%), English to German (0.90%), English to Turkish (1.13%), English to Persian (1.13%)*.

Translators without Borders vets any NGO requesting its services. This means that all NGOs with which it works are verified in terms of their status as charitable and non-profit organizations. It also means that translators may rest assured that their pro bono services are received for legitimate non-profit causes. The requesting organizations are also vetted to ensure that they do not advocate extreme religious or political views. There are currently 53 NGOs registered with Translators without Borders, and the organization has the capacity to take on 100 more. (Browse the list of NGOs and their descriptions at the TWB Translation Center).

In the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, Translators without Borders partnered with ProZ.com, an online community of 
professional translators and adopted their networking tools. Inundated with requests for translations in Haiti, where an international rescue effort was underway, Translators without Borders initially turned toProZ.com for more volunteer translators, and then to screen translators, because of the spectacular number of responses (800!) from the ProZ.com community of translators. Moving forward, this partnership, born in a crisis of catastrophic proportions, led to the development of the TWB Translation Center, an automated service and delivery platform, donated 100% by ProZ.com. It is this invisible technology quietly empowering Translators without Borders that explains the quantum leap in the number of pro bono translated words in response to an increased capacity to process NGO requests.

As Lori Thicke puts it:

The idea is that with a huge pool of talented volunteers on one side, and an enormous demand from non-profits on the other, the only bottleneck is getting those two groups together. Our guiding principle has been that we don’t need to be in the middle of this process. All we need to do is set certain standards for both translators and charities then put the technology in place to help them work together.” (Lori’s blog, posted May 30, 2011)

At the end of the day

To become listed in the Translators without Borders database of translators, linguists are required to submit an application at the Translators without Borders website (click on Translators>How to volunteer). Only professional translators are finally admitted. Translators are then evaluated via the automated ProZ.com testing platform using a series of Translators without Borders tests that the translator selects in his or her area of specialization and language combinations. A committee of three Translators without Borders translators then evaluates the tests. Once accepted, the translator’s name is registered in the Translators without Borders database of translators, and the translator is supplied with a login ID and password to gain access to the NGO requests via the TWB Translation Center. Once a translation request is fulfilled, it is uploaded to the TWB Translation Center for delivery to the NGO and pick-up. The turnaround time for projects is slightly longer, because this is pro bono work and translators are not expected to spend their entire week on a project.

There are currently 640 approved translators in the Translators without Borders database, and many more have recently submitted test translations. (See the list with photos, and query the database by language combinations and fields of specialization at the TWB Translation Center.) During the month of June 2011 alone, 319 translators were active, translating a total of 186,926 words. Among the 319 active translators, the top 10 (most active) volunteer translators averaged 6186 words of donated translation services, with jobs ranging on average approximately 1000 to 1600 words. As Gail Desautels, Translators without Borders super-superstar with 25 jobs and 16771 words to her credit during the month of June 2011, puts it:

…translating for TWB is the redemption in my day. Not only do I get to travel to countries around the world, but I can also say at the end of the day that I have done something very worthwhile.” (Gail Desautels, from a personal email communication, August 20, 2011)

Even if pro bono work hardly pays the rent, here is how the process completes for Corinne Durand, another Translators without Borders top contributor with 4 jobs and 6795 words to her credit for the month of June 2011:

I had often wondered how to go about bringing my personal contribution to the relentless work of NGOs. TSB/TWB has provided me with a way to do it that fits perfectly both with my personal and professional life. Indeed, I feel very privileged to be allowed to make a little difference by doing something I love.” (Corinne Durand, from a personal email communication, August 21, 2011)

In many fields

The types of NGO translation requests span such domains as legal, medical, healthcare, epidemiology, educational, and agricultural, including the following kinds of requests: translation of eyewitness or awareness reports in conflict areas; documentation for a campaign against child labor; field reports on urban violence; NGO web pages (see, for example,Goodplanet.org); instructions manual for dealing with child trauma victims; manuals for childcare of orphans developed in collaboration with local professionals; requests for micro-funding, directions for coordinating international disaster-relief teams; medical training manuals; medical information for childbirth, childcare, and first aid instructions. Projects range from one page to several hundred, with the larger projects divided among several 
volunteer translators so that no one is asked to translate more than 10 pages.

Translators without Borders clients i
nclude Doctors without Borders, Action Against Hunger, Zafèn, Trickle up, Oxfam, QuakeSOS, Make-a-Wish, AIDES, Handicap International, Partners in Health, Fair Start Training, Medical Aid Films, and many more. During the month of June 2011, the most active organization was Zafèn (representing 28.57% of the TWB Translation Center activity), an organization that organizes micro-financing opportunities in Haiti.

The Translators without Borders motto is “Every dollar we save for an NGO is another dollar that can be spent caring for people in the field.” At a rate of 1 million words (valued at $250,000) each year for 17 years, and the capacity for a projected 10 million words per year, with the empowerment of ProZ.com technology, this is indeed “changing the world, one word at a time” and is truly an impressive feat on more counts than one.

To get involved

If you want to get involved… this is the place to start. Despite moving mountains, Translators without Borders barely covers 1% of the translation needs of NGOs. As Lori Thicke has pointed out, it is not only diseases that kill. The absence of information, or misinformation, is also a major killer—for example, when mothers believe they must withhold fluids in case of diarrhea,
 when boiling milk becomes a cure for malaria, or when smoking is believed to be a cure for migraines and protection from stroke. The organization’s mission is to increase access to information through translation. As Lori puts it:

The elephant in the access to information room is translation.” (Lori’sblog, posted May 16, 2011)

Stay tuned—because Translators without Borders has taken yet another step forward, securing funding to open, as early as February 2012, a Translation Training Center in Nairobi, in the Horn of Africa, that is designed to train healthcare translators. This center is envisioned as a pilot for future Translators without Borders training centers across the world “…wherever there is a devastating mix of extreme poverty, poor health and a non-existing translation infrastructure,” according to Simon Andriesen, Translators without Borders Board Member. This center is envisioned to fulfill some of the tremendous needs for translation in local languages: in Swahili, spoken by 5 to 10 million people as a first language and 100 million people as a second language, and in other local languages such as Maasai, Kikamba and Luo.

Similarly, stay tuned for more exponential ProZ.com community-building activity, linking professional service providers and the demand for services, since the pro bono TWB Translation Center has proved an extremely rigorous field test of ProZ.com technology and its amazing and beautiful capacity for vibrant empowerment.

Now, that’s worshipping Ganesh! **

*All statistics are courtesy of Enrique Cavalitto atProZ.com.

** Hindu deity—Remover of obstacles—represented as an elephant.

AT A GLANCE –
 GUIDELINES FOR GETTING INVOLVED IN PRO-BONO TRANSLATION FOR HUMANITARIAN CAUSES

1. Translators without Borders (requires enrollment and registration to evaluate your credentials and capacities). This is the largest network of humanitarian translation opportunities and services. The non-profit status of the NGOs (non-government organizations) requesting translations, is verified, as well as their causes.

2. Work directly with an NGO or non-profit organization. In this case, verify the status of the requesting organization yourself with a non-profit watch organization such as Charity Navigator.

3. Regular translation agencies sometimes provide humanitarian translation services. In this case transparency is paramount and the best practice. Normally, if an agency accepts a pro bono translation project, it is the agency’s contribution and gift.

© Françoise Herrmann 2011

AT A GLANCE – HUMANITARIAN CAUSES IN 2011

Famine
Drought-stricken Horn of Africa—12.4 million people affected. (UN WFP)

Famine officially declared in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Uganda with catastrophic proportions in Mogadishu.

Water & sanitation
Even without drought 300 to 500 million people in Africa do not have access to sanitation and safe drinking water. (UN WFP)

Japan: March 2011 Earthquake and tsunami resulting in a nuclear crisis—500,000 people homeless, 20,000 perished.

Haiti: Cholera epidemic following the 2010 earthquake that claimed 250,000 lives and displaced more than 1 million people. (PIH)

HIV/AIDS
40 million people estimated living with HIV worldwide, with 95% in developing countries, two-thirds in sub-Saharan Africa. (PIH)

Tuberculosis
Curable lung disease killing 2 million people each year. (PIH)

Childbirth & labor
1000 women die from childbirth or the complications of labor each day: 300 in Asia and 570 in Sub-Saharan Africa. (WHO- UNICEF)

Childhood
22,000 children estimated to die each day from preventable diseases. (UNICEF)

© Françoise Herrmann 2011

Acknowledgements:

Many thanks for the information they have so kindly supplied for this article in a series of phone conversations: Lori Thicke (CEO Lexcelera), co-founder of TSF and TWB, located in France & Simon Andriesen (CEO of Medilingua) located in Holland, TWB Board Member in charge of Operations, and Enrique Cavalitto, ProZ.com Manager, located in Argentina, in charge of the ProZ.com ”white label” technology for the TWB Translation Center.

WEBSITES:

TWB

TSF

Translation Center

Lori Thicke Co-founder of TSF/TWB

Content Rules CEO Val Swisher Joins TWB Board of Directors

Swisher’s Appointment Highlights the Importance of Developing Global-Ready Content

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) June 20, 2012 – Content Rules, Inc. today announced that CEO Val Swisher has accepted an invitation to join Translators without Borders’ Board of Directors. As a general board member, Swisher will act as an advisor on future Translators without Borders projects.

Prior to her appointment, Swisher led several collaborative efforts between Content Rules and Translators without Borders, including developing a training course on “How to Write Using Simplified English” for a new team of translators in Nairobi.

Currently, Val and her team at Content Rules are working with Translators without Borders on the “Simple Wikipedia Project.” Throughout this 2+ year endeavor, a total of 80 medical articles posted on Wikipedia will be translated into simple English, which will enable the pages to be translated into many languages around the world.

Val has already made a tremendous difference in our work in Africa so we are thrilled to welcome her to our board of directors,” says Lori Thicke, Co-Founder of Translators Without Borders. “With her passion and expertise in developing content that can be understood by people of all backgrounds, we look forward to having Val strengthen our impact.”

As CEO of Content Rules, I have worked with many top companies such as PayPal to make “global readiness” content a priority. However, a personal goal of mine is to extend this concept to people all over the world who need simplified content the most,“ says Swisher. “Now with my involvement with Translators Without Borders, I am certain that creating better content to save lives will undoubtedly become a reality.”

Val Swisher earned her B.A. in Social Psychology and Music from Tufts University. She founded Content Rules in 1994 and under her leadership the company has grown to serve 200+ customers and encompass a network of 2,000+ technically-astute content developers. Val is a frequent speaker on how to create, standardize, and get your content ready for the demands of the global marketplace. Before starting Content Rules, Swisher held management positions at 3Com and SynOptics.

Val lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Greg, her son Max who blogs at Good Morning Geek, and frequently travels to Denver to visit her son Matthew.

About Content Rules 
Formerly Oak Hill Corporation, Content Rules reduces the cost of globalizing your content, so you can expand your brands’ footprint into more markets. Implemented in the cloud, ContentRules™ IQ targets companies with an in-house team, reducing the cost of localizing content by up to 40% while enforcing control over content quality and brand standards. For those customers who don’t have an in-house team, Content Rules provides the people and expertise needed in four areas: technical documentation, training development, marketing collateral, and global readiness.

Subtitles for Mothers in India from Translators without Borders

Translators without Borders volunteer Leandro Reis is leading a project to subtitle health films into over a dozen Indian languages including Telugu, Gujarati and Kannada. These films, created by the Mother and Child Health and Education Trust, will encourage hospitals and community health workers to teach new mothers about breastfeeding their babies.

His subtitling work is being carried out on the dotSUB.com platform.

Why is this so important? Because each day 11,000 babies die in the developing world from preventable causes. Of those who die, 22 percent could survive if their mothers had better knowledge about breastfeeding.

Thanks to the volunteers you see here, and many others, Translators without Borders is working to ensure that in the future, mothers in India will know how to keep their babies healthy. Read more here.

Helping Haitians Rebuild

Raising funds to finance deserving projects is something every non-profit must master, and the challenge is exponential when your donors are global. That was the issue Zafènencountered when it launched in 2010. But it wasn’t a conundrum this online Haitian micro-credit program faced for long. Translators without Borders volunteered to translate project descriptions from English into French and Spanish, vastly expanding the number of people who might be inspired to support them.

TWB translators have worked on more than 50 documents that we were able to share with generous people around the world seeking to empower Haitians,” said Griselda Garibay,Vincentian Family administrator for Zafèn. “And they did it all for free, which is a price non-profits can afford!

Garibay said Translators without Borders’ work was especially valuable because the top three languages spoken by Zafèn’s Facebook users are English, French and Spanish. Furthermore, the Haitian Diaspora is active in funding projects, and many Haitians speak French. In sum, TWB has helped Zafèn successfully promote 26 individual projects in three languages that raised more than $500,000 in just seven months.

A recent project translated by Translators without Borders raised money to enroll Haitian families living in extreme poverty in a proven program that enables them to change the course of their lives. Selected families receive construction materials to build a house with a sturdy roof and a floor. They also build a separate latrine, gain access to free healthcare, a water filter and receive weekly visits from a case manager, who reinforces what they have learned to ensure progress along the path to prosperity. Translators without Borders’ translations helped fund a better life for about 1,000 Haitian parents and children as they work toward a fresh start in the New Year.