a TWB Rapid Response Team story
It has often been said that a picture paints a thousand words. For Maria Bountali, a single photograph not only painted a thousand words; it changed her life. The photograph, which accompanied an online article entitled “The Horrors of the Sea,” showed a desperate, exhausted refugee, and touched Maria instantly. She didn’t read the article. She didn’t need to because the photograph told her everything she needed to know. That is the beginning of her Rapid Response Team story.
“His head was just above the water; it felt like his eyes were looking at me. He was helpless. He was truly exhausted”
At the time, Maria was struggling with her own personal issues, but she says that that the image, taken by a Spanish photographer named Juan Medina, gave her a new perspective and changed her way of thinking. That’s when she decided to look for a new volunteering opportunity. Maria comes from a family that advocates community service. Her grandmother and great grandmother were recognized for their generosity and philanthropic work, and she has observed her father, a paediatrician, offer his services for free to those in need since the 1980s. She discovered Translators without Borders (TWB), which gave her the opportunity to help people like the man in Juan Medina’s photograph.
Joining the TWB Rapid Response Team
Maria is now a member of TWB’s Greek Rapid Response Team, translating news articles from the international and Greek media for our crisis response work. She also translates the regular Rumours factsheet on behalf of one of TWB’s key partners, Internews.
Maria says that this work is very satisfying for her. She understands how important it is to provide people with the right information in a language they can understand.
“Many violent outbreaks, and the fire at the refugee settlement in Moria, Greece, reportedly started because people there were very agitated due to the spread of false rumours.”
Giving more people access to accurate information, by translating it into languages they easily understand, is a critical part of the work of TWB.
Maria lives in Brussels and in her spare time she maintains a blog called Great Places to Read a Book, which combines her love of travel, reading and photography. She still hopes to one day meet Juan Medina so she can let him know how a single photograph changed her life.
By Kate Murphy, Translators without Borders Volunteer