How soon is too late? How Translators without Borders responds to crisis

When a crisis or a major humanitarian event occurs, timing is everything. The ability to respond to urgent and vital needs quickly can help save lives. However, language is often the forgotten link at this initial stage of crisis response and communication fails because aid workers and affected populations don’t always speak the same language.

Crisis Response after Hurricane Matthew

The destruction that followed Hurricane Matthew which hit Haiti in October 2016 left thousands of people in urgent need of emergency assistance. Most hospitals were unfit to use, roofs from schools and houses were blown away, and thousands of people were left with no food or shelter. As soon as the news was received, aid agencies mobilized their teams in Haiti to assess the situation on the ground and to help those affected. While our aid partners were mobilizing their responses, Translators without Borders set about assembling 50 French and Haitian Creole rapid response translators to ensure that language barriers were not going to impede vital relief efforts.

The rapid response teams (RRT) worked non-stop translating vital content such as geographic mapping of the affected areas and cholera prevention messages. This visual guide gives a snapshot of how TWB responded to the crisis.

TWB crisis response
How TWB responds to crisis

Volunteer

Click here to apply to be a volunteer with the TWB Rapid Response translation teams

Blog AuthorBy Caterina Marcellini, Translators without Borders Communications Officer

12 reasons to celebrate TWB in 2016!

celebrate twb

In 2016 we worked with some wonderful partners to change people’s lives through access to vital information in the right language. We believe that no person should suffer because they cannot access or understand the information that they need.
So lets celebrate TWB with a recap of our year:

January

In JANUARY we were providing translations in six languages to humanitarian aid agencies responding to the European refugee crisis.

Board with translated text
From left to right: Abdelah Lomri, former TWB Arabic Team Leader and Farideh Colthart, TWB volunteer interpreter

FEbruary

In FEBRUARY we worked with the American Red Cross to translate their First Aid and Hazard Universal apps. These apps help enhance individual disaster preparedness and response to emergencies.

march

In MARCH we announced the winners of our third Access to Knowledge Awards, in acknowledgement of their outstanding support.

april

In APRIL we partnered with Global Health Media Project, to bring multilingual health care instruction to practitioners of health through video.

may

In MAY we attended the World Humanitarian Summit where we advocated for the inclusion of language in humanitarian response.

june

In JUNE we made an impact with a new video on how Translators without Borders responds to crisis by working with non-profit partners globally.

july

In JULY we translated the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability into Swahili for partner CHS Alliance.

august

By AUGUST we had trained over 480 interpreters and translators and we had created the world’s first-ever humanitarian interpreter roster.

TWB's team in Greece
From left to right: Abdelah Lomri and Lali Foster, TWB team in Greece

september

In SEPTEMBER we trained 15 Guinean translators so that communities in West Africa can access more health care information in their language.

october

In OCTOBER following Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, we translated cholera prevention messages into Haitian Creole, for affected communities.

november

In NOVEMBER we developed the world’s first crisis-specific machine translation engine for Kurdish languages using content from our Words of Relief response in Greece.

december

In DECEMBER we reached 10 million words translated in one year, something we would not have been able to do without the help of our volunteers and
supporters!

We’ve had some great successes this year but there is still more work to be done! This holiday season, consider a donation to support the work of TWB.