Five Success Strategies for Non-Profits Needing Translations

Volunteer translators dedicate only a part of their time to unpaid humanitarian activities, and this scarce resource is also demanded by other projects and organizations. This means that there may be translation requests that will not be fulfilled.

To improve the odds that your requests for help will be accepted, you should do your best to make the projects attractive to the volunteer translators. Some success strategies are presented in this article.

You need an appealing project

You are asking for a donation of someone’s skill and time, and you need to explain why it is needed. To do so, you should create a project name, summary and description that all explain why the translation will make a difference by helping mitigate damages or risks, by improving education, and so on. Whenever possible, include details such as the nature of the “event” behind the need (earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, civil war outbreaks), the location, the people that will benefit by the project’s deliverables, and so forth.

Provide a reasonable deadline

The choice of the right deadline is a critical factor for project acceptance by the volunteers. In general, more available time means a more likely acceptance. A week is reasonable for documents of up to 2,000 words, but longer times should be considered for larger files. If shorter deadlines are really needed it may be helpful to explain the reasons behind the urgency.

Format should be user-friendly

Format is paramount for a translator. Protected documents are not translatable. PDF files are not compatible with translation tools. PDF files can sometimes be extracted into other formats but this extraction is extra work, and most probably the page layout will be affected, sometimes severely. If you locate the editable document used to create the PDF, you will greatly improve the chances that your translation request will be accepted by volunteers. You will also improve the quality and delivery time of the translation.

Instructions should be complete

Clearly state your needs when you create the translation request. Remember to include all relevant information, such as local variant of the target language to be used, register, and educational level of the people who will use the translation. Most translators working into Iberian Portuguese will decline a text that is supposed to be translated into Brazilian Portuguese, so this information should be available from the start. Also consider adding reference material that could be useful to the translators. Glossaries, similar translated documents, common acronyms and the like will make the translators happier and will result in a better translation.

Build a relationship

Volunteer translators are generous individuals willing to donate their time and professional expertise for a humanitarian cause, and they should not be taken for granted. Remember to thank them. Be quick to answer their queries and to share any good feedback received about their translations. Whenever possible, acknowledge their work within your

Volunteer translators are generous individuals willing to donate their time and professional expertise for a humanitarian cause, and they should not be taken for granted. Remember to thank them. Be quick to answer their queries and to share any good feedback received about their translations. Whenever possible, acknowledge their work within your organization, on our Facebook page and in social media. In short, build a two-way relationship — the best success strategy in Translators without Borders as well as in life.

Bblog authory Enrique Cavalitto from ProZ.com

Monica Oliveira, the “Resource Manager” for Translators without Borders – our Volunteer Hero of the month

For this third issue of our newsletter, we have interviewed Monica Oliveira, who is the volunteer “Resource Manager” for Translators without Borders.  One of her goals is to help Translators without Borders bring in more volunteer translators more quickly through a “Fast Track” process in which translators who are either certified ATA translators, Proz.com PROs or work with an LSP partner such as Lionbridge are automatically approved as TWB translators. Monica shares with us her inspirational thoughts, experiences and dreams as a hardworking mom, social communicator and a true believer in volunteer work.

 

1. If you were to write a brief wiki article about yourself, what facts and personal characteristics would you include?

I am Brazilian, originally from Rio. I hold a degree in Social Communication and I feel passionate about information diffusion. I developed my professional career as a journalist for many years in Brazil. Then, I became a political correspondent. I came to the United States for graduate school, and this is where I got married and had my two kids. Over time, I have moved to translation and localization. Currently, I am the Regional Director for the Americas with Lionbridge.

If you ask any of my friends for a word to describe me, that would be “hardworking”; I am always doing things, with my job, my family, my daughters’ school, and, of course, volunteer work. I am so used to work I do not feel it is hard work anymore!

2. What is your role at TWB?

Recruiting. I am the “Resource Manager” if we have to put a title to it. My task is to build the resource base and to expand it. Another goal is to set up a structure and workflow to make the recruiting process easier in the future.

3. What has motivated you to help TWB?

My passion for the diffusion of information. Let me tell you a story: When I was a journalist in Brazil, I embarked on a scientific expedition into the Amazon to write about the environment. When we arrived in a village, the public health doctors talked to the locals and found out that there were many cases of diarrhea and other water-related diseases. The doctors told them to put a spoon of bleach (chlorine) into the water – that is what large water companies in big cities basically do. It solved a lot of problems! So… such a tiny piece of information made a huge impact on their lives. Since then, I have started thinking about how something small – it might be something simple that many of us take for granted – can change the lives of many other people. When we think about Translators without Borders, this idea fits into place.

4. What is a day in your life like?

My day starts very early, at about five in the morning. I begin with the things I like and my volunteer work. I get my kids ready and take them to school. I work in my office – at home – until around three in the afternoon. I manage to pick up my daughter and have a lunch break. Technology really helps working moms like me! I have to take into account that part of my team is in Asia, and the possibility of working from home lets me hold meetings with them at odd hours due to different time zones.

5. How do you squeeze in time for your volunteer tasks?

I try to complete volunteer tasks early in the morning, or after my kids go to bed in the evening. Depending on the task, I might also devote some time during weekends if it takes longer or if I am too tired in the evenings during weekdays, and I need a fresh brain to do it!

6. What do you consider are the challenges ahead for your role and for TWB?

I think a big challenge is to be able to communicate the goodness; that is, what the job can do for other people; to convince volunteers that maybe two hours a month will not affect their routines very much but it will hugely impact other people’s lives. As we are a volunteer-based organization, we have to be able to attract volunteers and to keep them willing to volunteer their skills and time; to make them feel it is worth engaging in Translators without Borders.

7. What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining a cause like TWB?

I would say that you cannot believe how good it feels when you see the results, and in turn, that makes you feel good about yourself.

8. To what extent do your professional and personal goals come together with your volunteer work?

I have a great passion for the diffusion of information. I want to raise two good people – my kids – and I want to help people raise good people. We need to care, and it is like snowballs: you do it with your kids and it spreads.

9. Could you tell us a bit about teamwork and personal relationships with other members of TWB?

At first, I mainly worked with Lori, but then I also started working more with Rebecca, Enrique and Serena. Most of our work is through virtual interaction, so we have never met face-to-face yet (except with Lori at a conference!)

10. What do you feel is your greatest achievement within TWB and beyond TWB so far and what is your biggest dream in life?

I am very committed to the cause, but I cannot say I have seen any great achievements in regards to my task of bringing in new resources since I only joined a year ago, and results are coming slower than I would like… we can definitely say the best is yet to come.

One of my biggest dreams is to raise two good people, who care and who are committed to good things. My other great dream is to have time to be a writer.

Target shooting…

In paper: Any book, especially a book by Gabriel García Márquez

On the web: Facebook! To interact with my relatives back in Brazil

Open-air activity: Hiking

With friends: Eating

Family gathering: Thanksgiving

Blog AuthorBy Lorena Baudo, Translators without Borders volunteer

Poland to Budapest for Fund-a-Translator

Translators without Border’s Fund-a-Translator program is a new scheme to further help train local people in Kenya to become professional translators.

The team of Lucjan Szreter and Marek Gawrysiak from TextPartner cycled 288 km from Poland to Budapest to help raise money for the Fund-a-Translator Program.

 

They raised $700 on Day 1 of the great ride from Poland to Hungary!

Read more here.

Volunteer hero: Anne-Marie Colliander Lind

For this second issue of our newsletter, we have interviewed one of our volunteer heroines: Anne-Marie Colliander Lind, who helps to raise the money that makes Translators without Borders go round

Q: If you were to write a brief wiki article about yourself, what facts and personal characteristics would you include?

A: I was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, and I’ve spent most of my summers in Spain. Horseback riding was my first true passion and I’ve competed successfully in show jumping until only a few years ago. Since I was little, my dream was to be bilingual, so maybe that is why I accidentally ended up in the translation industry. I have no qualification or experience as a translator, but I have been involved in the translation industry as a businesswoman since 1989. I am an optimistic, outgoing person; I see opportunities rather than challenges.

Q: What is your role at Translators without Borders?

A: My role is to raise funds by bringing more corporate sponsors to the organization. Translators without Borders has grown as an organization and has all elements well in place, however it does need more financial contributions to get to the next level – to reach out to more NGOs.

Q: What has motivated you to help Translators without Borders?

A: Well, I heard about Translators without Borders some ten years ago and charity has always been present in my family, if even on a small scale. As I’m not qualified to be a volunteer translator, I’m happy I could take another role in supporting the cause.

Q: What is a day in your life like?

A: I am an independent business consultant so I travel a lot to meet clients onsite, which gives me the chance to visit new places and countries. It might be that one week I have to travel to Poland, and then I have to go to Spain. In contrast to my travelling I work a lot from home, which is good, since I am then really close to my family.When I work from home, most of my interactions are over the phone, Skype and via e-mail.

Q: How do you squeeze in time for your volunteer tasks?

A: It comes very naturally, for example, in conversations and interactions during industry conferences. I’m very proud of being a representative of Translators without Borders, so it’s easy for me to share my enthusiasm. Then I normally take a few hours a week to do some more active reach-outs.

Q: What do you consider are the challenges ahead for your role and for Translators without Borders?

A: The challenge is sustaining the contribution levels. It is one thing to convince a company to help our worthy cause, but it is harder to convince them to continue. For that reason, we need to share the good work that we do, so that donors are confident that we are making good use of the money. Another challenge is to make sure that we reach as many NGOs as possible with our free translations.  Finally, Translators without Borders will eventually require some professional management and this requires funds. An all-volunteer global organization is not sustainable in the long run, in my opinion.

Q: What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining a cause like Translators without Borders?

A: Much has been said about the translation industry being immature. But, for me, the fact that the industry has a charity organization is a sign of maturity. It is the right thing to give something back to the same industry that feeds you. Language is a necessity and it is also a human right – the right to communicate and the right to understand. It’s easier to support a cause that you are passionate about, in our case: languages and translation.

Q: To what extent do your professional and personal goals come together with your volunteer work?

A: They go well hand in hand; I feel passionate about the translation and interpretation industry – it’s what I do for a living – so it comes natural for me to help the organization.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about teamwork and personal relationships with other members of Translators without Borders?

A: To start with, talking to Lori [Translators without Borders founder, Lori Thicke] is a power of injection; she always has good feedback to offer to you and your tasks. She is also warm and thankful and our interactions are always very enriching. In addition to that, I work with Rebecca Petras, Ulrich Henes, Markus Meisl, Françoise Henderson and many others. And, at every new conference, I get to know new people engaged in Translators without Borders from whom I learn a lot. It’s a very enthusiastic and engaged team!

Q: What do you feel is your greatest achievement within Translators without Borders and beyond Translators without Borders so far and what is your biggest dream in life?

A: I’m very proud of having brought many corporate sponsors to Translators without Borders only by sharing my own passion for the cause. And they are equally proud of supporting us! I try to make as many personal contacts as possible, and manage to make them support Translators without Borders through annual donations, since this is one of the things Translators without Borders needs right now. And sponsors take a lot of pride in that; you can see it in conferences, when meeting in person, at their websites and with their testimonials.

Becoming a mother is my biggest personal achievement in life and therefore my biggest dream is to see my two daughters grow up and become responsible, successful and happy individuals. I also hope to be healthy enough to travel, once I retire, for pleasure and to see for myself the result of different charity activities. But I guess I’ll have to work hard for a few more years first…

Target shooting…

In paper: Any book is good for me

On the web: Twitter

Open-air activity: downhill skiing, horseback riding

With friends: cooking, wining and dining

Family gathering: Swedish mid-summer festivities

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.

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.

Translators without Borders Translator Heros: Marcia Miner

French to English American translator, Marcia Miner is one of the skilled translators who volunteer their time for Translators without Borders. In 2011, Marcia completed 41 projects, totaling 64,228 words donated to NGOs, making her the lead translator with Translator without Borders for the year.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your career path.

A: I’m from Glen Ridge, New Jersey, am fluent in French, and began my translation career as a bilingual secretary at Peugeot’s American headquarters when the French company was exporting cars to the States. My specialty fields are medical, children’s education, the environment, arts and literature.

Q: Why do you work with Translators without Borders?

A: After the Haitian earthquake, I responded to TWB’s appeal for translators and was accepted.  If anything I do can help in some small way to ease the burden on doctors, nurses, teachers, and administrators who are fighting to improve the lives of children and adults around the world suffering under unacceptable conditions, as well as preserve the environment, then I’m glad to do it.

Q: Any particular project / experience with Translators without Borders that you’ll never forget?

A: I especially enjoyed translating a pediatrics/nutrition exam for Doctors without Borders to help train nurses in Kenya.

Q: As a “translator without borders” with such a high count of translated words, what challenges did you encounter (or still do)?

A: I work without translation memory software, and could be much more productive with it.

Q: What do you think of the Translators without Borders Translation Center?

A: The Translation Center runs smoothly and the deadlines are manageable.  It’s easy and reliable for me to send and receive documents.  The administrators are very cordial and polite.

Q: How is the contact with client NGOs via the Translation Center so far? 

A: Contact with client NGOs via the center has been fine.

Q: When you are not translating for TWB, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

A: Raising our puppy and collecting dolls and antiques!

Call for Translation in Kenya’s Kibera Slum

We’ve been invited to Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, to talk about – of all things – translation. “We” refers to a delegation from Translators without Borders consisting of Paula Shannon, Simon and Harriet Andriesen, and myself. Kibera is a place we never expected to find ourselves in. The second largest slum in Africa after Soweto, Kibera is home to approximately 1 million of the poorest people on the planet. Our hosts on this improbable visit are 15 commercial sex workers.

To meet them we have to park in front of the government office and follow the train tracks that squeeze between the stalls displaying plastic buckets, clothes, tin cooking pots, coal. The tracks are so close that when the train goes by on its way to Mombasa or Uganda, it grazes the shanty structures just inches away.

We are late arriving at the drop in clinic run by Family Health Options Kenya and its indomitable manager, Muthoni Gichohi. But cheerful greetings are called out to us as we climb the stairs to the second floor of a tin and wood structure.

The 15 girls – and clearly they are still girls – have been waiting for us in this hot tin room for over an hour. Modestly dressed in tee shirts and jeans, most are still active in the sex industry, but all are also what the Kenyan Ministry of Public Health calls “peer educators”. Their role is to educate other women in the Kibera slum on reproductive health: family planning, nutrition and prevention of AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). And who better to do this work?

The girls are all natural linguists. They have to be. The average African speaks 3 languages: these girls speak up to 10. Kibera is home to 14 different tribes speaking Kikuyu, Kikamba, Luo, Maasai and of course Swahili, the lingua franca. English is only a third, fourth or fifth language.

The girls are proud of their role as peer educators here, and rightly so. They are on the front lines of the worst health care tragedy in the world. The enemy is lack of information and some of the casualties include rampant HIV infections, a large number of AIDS orphans (50,000 according to UNICEF) and female circumcision affecting up to 100% of the girls in some tribes. According to the Center for Disease Control, as much as 20% of the population is HIV positive. FHOK tells us the HIV rate among their peer educators is less than 1%. Knowledge is everything. This is why Translators without Borders has been invited here today. They need our help to share their knowledge of healthy living.

In a room full of women who are not too shy to say what they think, Mildred is particularly outspoken. She tells us that most of the people they are working with understand little English, yet that is the language of over 90% of their written health materials. “When you teach a woman in her language, she is in a better position to understand,” she points out.

Lydia is the nurse in residence. Just slightly older than the girls, she too is wearing a tee shirt and jeans. She adds “If you have a limited English vocabulary, our material may not make sense. What we need are materials they can understand.” Privacy is an issue, so written translations are particularly important so that brochures may be studied at home.

Sitting by the window in a long flowered dress, one of the girls with braided hair chimes in. “They don’t understand our brochures so when they leave us they just throw them to the ground.” She illustrates this by making a throwing gesture.

The girls are used to working in the drop in center as a group, even though they come from many different tribes and represent most of Kibera’s 14 languages. So they want Translators without Borders to train them as a group so they can translate their brochures into their own mother tongues. After all, they know best how to word their messages. They shine with a sense of mission. “We need to translate our materials so we can prevent them from getting STIs to live a healthy life.” The girls are unequivocal, and more than a little persistent. “With translation, we can prevent more diseases.” And they want our help.

With the objective of translating humanitarian information into the languages people need most, Translators without Borders has been drawn to Africa. However, a dearth of translators in most local languages, even those spoken by tens of millions of people, means that to fulfill our mission we must first pass through capacity building. So here we are talking to Africans about training them to translate for their own people. The demand for our training is far greater than we had ever expected. And we never imagined that we would find requests coming from a roomful of commercial sex workers.

On the other hand, who better to educate their peers than this motivated, determined group? The Department of Health Information agrees with us, but they have no budget and must themselves fight to get the money for a singles computer. If we want to help, we have to find our own way to do so. As we prepare to leave we assure the group we will try to find the funding for some computers and a space to train them in. They ask if we can do this soon, maybe in February or March. More people are infected by the AIDS virus every day, more girls die in unsafe abortions, more children are orphaned. There is a tangible sense of urgency.

We have many challenges,” they tell us, although this is amply clear. “So we hope you can support us.”