Translators without Borders Springs to Action in Wake of Nepal Earthquake
29 April 2015—Translators without Borders (TWB) activated as soon as they heard news of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal from their aid partners and crisis response networks last Saturday. They immediately put the call out for volunteers and received an outpouring of support, mostly from the Nepalese diaspora. TWB built a rapid response team of about 25 professional translators and bilinguals. Working together, they have been providing 24/7 coverage since late Saturday. So far they have worked with many first responders including UNOCHA, International Committee of Red Cross, Humanity Road, Standby Task Force, and the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities Network (CDAC-N).
TWB volunteers are focusing on the languages Nepali and Newari. In the foothills of Katmandu and in the surrounding villages, many people do not speak any English. They were badly affected, and international aid organizations need desperately to communicate with them. TWB builds on the important ‘communications is aid’ principle by adding in the right language.
Currently, TWB is at capacity with its team of translators and does not need to expand the team at this time. What they need most right now is financial support from the international community. So far, with the current funding available, the TWB team in Nepal has:
- Translated over 500 terms into Nepali, Newari, and Hindi for search and rescue teams and for people monitoring messages coming from the affected populations.
- Translated seven approved Twitter messages about first aid and protection during/after an earthquake that have been used widely by all aid organizations.
- Translated and distributed a comprehensive First Aid document, English to Nepali.
- Created and distributed language profiles to help first responders.
- Translated and distributed ‘after earthquake’ messaging from the Centers for Disease Control.
- Monitored local language media, including print, radio and video.
- Transcribed videos that have helped aid workers find problems, including a video on local government abuse of aid materials (tents) for a major aid organization.
- Worked heavily on search and rescue with a number of team members monitoring local language media and relaying information to first responder partners.
- Commenced translating longer form ‘after earthquake’ public service announcements that will be used on radio broadcasts.
- Worked on ICRC translation for their #familylinks program to help find missing persons.
- Created a text to speech tool for Nepali for direct use by first responders.
Aid organizations locally have been able to point to examples where the work of Translators without Borders directly saved Nepali lives. They plan to continue service to affected areas over the next two weeks. The team hopes to grow their response beyond Nepali and Newari to several other local languages.
The Translators without Borders team in Nepal has been working on a thin budget and have requested additional funds to support their work. Those who believe in the life-saving power of communication and language can donate online. Additionally, you support their work when you:
- Sign up for the newsletter to receive monthly updates and a longer-form newsletter twice a year.
- Join the TWB Workspace (for professional translators), a platform for ongoing translation work with the organization’s non-profit partners. More Nepali and Newari translators are needed for that work. To sign up, go to this volunteer form.
About Translators without Borders
Translators without Borders facilitates the transfer of knowledge from one language to another by creating and managing a community of NGOs who need translations and professional, vetted translators who volunteer their time to help.
Through the sophisticated Translators without Borders platform, important aid groups easily connect directly with professional translators, breaking down the barriers of language and building up the transfer of information to those who need it, one brick at a time.