The Daily Telegraph, Mail Online and New Statesman put the spotlight on Translators without Borders
Last month, Translators Without Borders, a charity which provides pro bono translation services for humanitarian non-profits, received much-deserved media attention in three of the UK's leading news outlets, The Daily Telegraph, Mail Online and New Statesman. All three articles ran within days of each other in mid-October and emphasise the crucial role that translation plays in containing the Ebola virus.
Gary Muddyman, CEO of Conversis and Advisor to Translators without Borders, who supports the ongoing PR efforts around the charity, firmly believes that "GALA plays a key role in spreading the word about Translators without Borders - and the important work of the translation community as a whole - to a mainstream media that has been largely disinterested until this point."
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph's Foreign Correspondent Harriet Alexander, Muddyman argued that material in English and French do little to inform healthcare workers and the population in the affected areas of West Africa as many of them do not speak a world language. "People will die because they do not have access to information in a language they can understand... whether it is the cultural practice of kissing the dead soon after death, or eating bats, or simply a lack of understanding about how the disease is transmitted or treated, this lack of information leading to lack of knowledge is costing lives and facilitating the spread of the disease," he explained.
Further to the communication push in the mainstream media on the importance of translation, Lori Thicke, Founder and President of Translators without Borders, shared her view on the Ebola epidemic with the Mail Online, saying: "In Liberia only 20 per cent of the population speaks English...People at the bottom of the pyramid - such as those who live in the slums of Monrovia - are even less likely to be conversant in a European language such as English... Ebola is spread by ignorance, and communicating with people in a foreign tongue is not getting the message across. "
Thicke also wrote a commentary for New Statesman which highlighted the work of Translators without Borders and ways in which translation is key to stemming the Ebola virus.
Commenting on the October media coverage, Muddyman says: "We have to stay focused and constantly remind the media that the work we do as an industry is not just relevant but crucial. The implications of poorly translated material, as in the case of West Africa, can be dire. Any coverage that we can generate around the importance of language and translation, and especially the important work that Translators Without Borders do, is a win not just for our businesses but for audiences everywhere across the world."
Muddyman is currently standing in the GALA board elections. His statement can be viewed here.