Introducing the Translators without Borders Monthly G+ Hangout

Every month, program director Rebecca Petras will host a casual Hangout on the Translators without Borders Google+ page to talk about our latest work to increase access to knowledge through language.

Everyone is welcome to attend. The first Hangout will be Monday, 23 September at 17:00 UK time. Rebecca will talk about our exciting project to create a universal database of simplified English medical terms, as well as give an update on our overall activities. Future TWB Hangouts will feature guests including our sponsors and NGO partners.

Visit the TWB Google+ page for details!

Here is the link to our G+ page:

Please join in and let us know if you would like to attend the hangout on 23 September.

Eric Ragu – Our Translator Hero

Eric is an English and German to French translator. Based in Germany, he is currently Translators without Borders’ top contributor, with over 154,200 words donated.

Hi, Eric! Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Applied Foreign Languages in France, I moved to Germany in order to perfect my German; there I got an M.A. in Translation Sciences from the University of Heidelberg. Then I chose to stay here and to work as a freelance translator. My partner and I recently opened our own translation bureau; I specialize in the public health field. To my mind, one is never smart enough, especially in the translation business, so I devote a lot of time to ongoing professional training. My next challenge: to get a university degree in Public Health and Epidemiology.

What made you volunteer for Translators without Borders (TWB)?

Before volunteering for TWB, I already took on some volunteer projects for the VNU program, but TWB convinced me with its user-friendliness, particularly the ability to download and evaluate the text before applying for the translation.

Was there a TWB project you translated that particularly touched you in some way?

Some time ago, I took part in a translation project about diseases which are quite rare in Western Europe but still significant in some parts of the African continent, such as tuberculosis, leprosy and malaria. A family member of mine was a very active member of a French fundraising association against leprosy, so it was a really good opportunity to get first-hand information about it from him in order to do a good translation job.

Translators without Borders Appoints Director of Fundraising

DANBURY, CT USA – 15 August 2013. The world’s leading non-profit translation organization, Translators without Borders (TWB) has appointed Anne-Marie Colliander Lind as Director of Fundraising to work directly with the humanitarian organization’s growing number of sponsors and supporters. Colliander Lind has been a long-term volunteer for TWB; in her new capacity she will work directly with the program director and board members to help the organization scale to meet growing needs for access to knowledge around the world.

Because Translated Words Make a Difference: The 20 Million Word Challenge

We are asking new and renewing sponsors to join us now to help us reach 20 million words by next year.


Ten million words translated. Words for Syrian refugees, doctors in Haiti, mothers in India and careworkers in Indonesia.

We are translating for humanity. In May we will celebrate 10 million words translated by our volunteers. What do these words represent? More knowledge accessible to more people around the world.

But there is so much more to do. The next 10 million words await translation. Those words include:

• Wikipedia medical articles available in 100 languages

• User manuals for water pumps in Uganda

• The voices of Syrian civilians

…and so much more.

Translators without Borders needs your help to do this vital work. Join us. 

The time, know-how and funding from the localization and translation industry has provided the basis for all we have achieved. But we can do more. 

How can you help? Join The 20 Million Word Challenge.

Whether you are a new sponsor or a renewing sponsor, we need your help to reach 20 million words for humanity!

Please contact: to learn more about sponsorship.

Reza Ebrahimi is our Persian translator of the week

Reza Ebrahimi is a Medical Engineer and English-Persian certified PRO freelance translator.

Reza is active in the Translators without Borders’ Wikipedia and FairStart projects. Having contributed as translator, language lead and editor to 32 jobs, with 43,891 words delivered, Reza is our translator of the week.

Our Volunteer Translates a Health Care Article for the Wikipedia Project into Panjabi

Tejinder Soodan is a Certified PRO member and a dedicated volunteer at Translators without Borders who has just delivered the first health care article in the Wikipedia project into his native Panjabi. This article on Anaphylaxis will be very soon integrated into the Panjabi version of Wikipedia.

Thank You, Translators Without Borders!

Niels Peter Rygaard, creator of FairstartGlobal, thanks Translators Without Borders for their incredible work so far.

He also tells about some of the great feedback he has received from people all over the world who are using or would like to use new and localised language versions of the Fairstart Training Program. 

Ashutosh Mitra: a Translators Without Borders Translation Hero

Ashutosh Mitra is our translation hero, who has contributed more than half of the words donated in the English to Hindi pair within Translators without Border.

When I praised for this, he replied:

"I am just working for a cause, for my mother tongue and for my pleasure.
I do it because I love to do it… Thanks to you and all my friends at TWB.”

Thank you for your work, Ashutosh!

Translators without Borders awarded grant from Indigo Trust that will support medical translation project for Wikipedia into Swahili

DANBURY, CT USA- 7th March 2013 - Indigo Trust is a grant making foundation that funds technology-driven projects to bring about social change, largely in African countries. Translators without Borders (TWB) has been awarded a grant of $14,500 by Indigo towards the costs of the medical translation project for Wikipedia - the 80 x 100 Project. The grant will help train and fund translators at the TWB Translator Centre in Kenya to translate healthcare articles into Swahili.

"The aim of the 80 x 100 Project is to make the most popular Wikipedia medical articles, on issues like HIV and polio, available in as many languages as possible,” said TWB Program Director, Rebecca Petras. “Existing English language medical content is constantly proofed and improved by Wikipedia’s medical team. The content is translated into multiple languages, mainly by TWB’s vast community of volunteer translators.”

The Indigo Trust is backing the translation of articles into Swahili, by supporting the TWB Translator Training Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Matthew O’Reilly, Program Manager at The Indigo Trust, based in London, said, “The job of translating the English Wikipedia content into Swahili will be done by the translators at the new TWB Centre in Nairobi. 10 translators and 2 editors will work on the Wikipedia translations, using the Centre’s computing facilities and memory translation software. Not only does this make life-saving medical information more understandable, but it also improves the employability of the trainee translators. The finished translations will be proofed and uploaded onto the Swahili version of Wikipedia, which currently has approximately 25,000 articles. Once on Wikipedia, the content will then be marketed to NGOs, community health workers and others. This will help African communities have more access to knowledge and information, in a language they understand, that could save lives.”


Check out the Indigo Trust Blog here:

Healthcare translators in Kenya

This is our group of trained healthcare translators in Kenya in February. (Our training program leader, Simon Andriesen, is so tall he’s jutting out of the photo!). This group of Translators without Borders translators are translating important health information for the betterment of so many Swahili speakers. 

The Importance of Translation

Illiteracy is a huge problem in development, but even where people are literate there’s no guarantee that they are literate in English. The 54 states of Africa are home to more than 2,000 languages split across six major language families. Despite this, development agencies, NGOs and governments frequently lack the resources or skills to be able to translate development material into languages other than English, French and maybe Arabic. At the same time, the internet has given rise to a huge expansion in the amount of information available to citizens, professionals and others. Consider Wikipedia with its millions of articles on everything from Benin to Big Brother and the Preemraff Lysekil oil refinery to Pseudo-Kufic (thanks to Wikipedia’s Random Page function). Indeed, with its global reach and its Zero agreements (which give free access to Wikipedia content to tens of millions across Africa and the Middle East), Wikipedia offers a fantastic platform to get locally-relevant content into the hands of people who need it most.

For all of the above, we’re delighted to have awarded Translators Without Borders (TWB) a grant of $14,500 towards the costs of their 80 x 100 Project. The aim of the project is to make the most popular Wikipedia medical articles (on issues like HIV and polio) available in as many languages as possible. First, existing English language medical content is proofed and improved by Wikipedia’s medical team. Then, after publication in a peer-review journal, the content is translated into simplified English. At the same time, this content will be translated into multiple languages mainly by TWB’s vast community of volunteer translators. Some languages, however, cannot sustain a volunteer community of translators. And that’s how Indigo became involved. TWB has recently opened a translator training centre in Nairobi and the job of translating this English content into Swahili will be done by the translators at the centre. 12 translators will work on the translations, while simultaneously gaining access to computing facilities, memory translation software and other resources and skills that will improve their employability. The finished translations are then proofed and uploaded onto the Swahili version of Wikipedia, which currently has approximately 25,000 articles. Once on Wikipedia, the content will then be marketed to NGOs, community health workers and others.

As a former translator, it’s always exciting to hear about a project of this kind. And hopefully, by combining the reach of Wikipedia with the expertise of Kenyan translators the project will put valuable content into the hands of those who need it most. I’ll look forward to monitoring the project over the coming months, but we’d all like to wish the translators in Nairobi the very best of luck. Of course, I really should have written this is Swahili…

Marek Gawrysiak and Lucjan Szreter cycled 440 km in 4 days to raise $2,000 for the Fund-a-Translator program

Translators without Borders (TWB) frequently announces donations received from various companies, but what about the huge amount of help that we get from dedicated individuals who do incredible things to raise money through their creativity and hard work? What can you do as an individual to raise money and support us, and what could that amount achieve? This part of the newsletter provides a space for our innovative fundraisers to showcase their fundraising projects, and highlights the ways in which other people can get involved in creative and fun ways to raise money to really make a difference.

One of the main ways that individuals can support us is by raising money for the Fund-a-Translator program, whereby $1,000 will provide a translator’s training, equipment and Internet connection for a period of one year. This single translator’s work may then help save hundreds of lives.

Supporters from Text Partner in Poland did just that. Marek Gawrysiak and Lucjan Szreter cycled 440 kilometers in four days, from their branch office in Katowice, Poland, to the ELIA conference in Budapest to raise money to fund the training of two Kenyan translators. The ways in which the public could help support the bike ride were either through sponsoring as many kilometers as possible, or by spreading the word about the charity.

Translators without Borders for NGOs in 2012: Over 7 million words delivered

A total of 92 humanitarian organizations requested our services during the last 12 months.

At the top of the list is the Wikipedia project, launched this year with the Wikimedia Foundation to translate 80 critical medical Wikipedia articles into as many languages as possible. The project is currently active into 35 languages and in a first step we aim for 80 languages.

Next in line come Acción contra el Hambre from Spain and Action contre la Faim, two branches of the same humanitarian NGO dedicated to fighting hunger. Then comes Médecins Sans Frontières from Switzerland. MSF was Translators without Borders first humanitarian client and in the last 12 months we also received translations requests from their offices based in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, the UK, United Arab Emirates, France, Canada, Japan and Norway.

The fast-track path into Translators without Borders

Volunteer translators form the very core of Translators without Borders. They donate their time, efforts and expertise to help doctors, nurses and other volunteers working in humanitarian organizations to make the world a better place.


Since translations related to humanitarian emergencies leave no time for reviews or mistakes, there is a strict procedure in place to ensure that all members of our team are experienced and solid translators, able to do it right the first time. Applications from potential volunteers are reviewed and, if approved, a sample translation is requested and then evaluated by at least two editors before a new translator is welcomed onto the team.

There is a second way, called the fast track, opened back in early 2011 when Translators without Borders was contacted by the organization GoodPlanet with the request of translating their new website into as many languages as possible. Since at that time the pool of volunteers was concentrated in the pairs of English to and from French, a decision was made to contact members of’s Certified PRO Network.

With over 3,400 members, the Certified PRO Network is an initiative of the community to provide qualified translators and translation companies with an opportunity to network and collaborate in an environment consisting entirely of screened professionals.

To enter the Certified PRO Network, members must complete an online application and submit it for review to prove they meet or exceed minimum professional standards based on the EN15038 standard for quality in translation and in three screening areas: translation ability, business reliability and online citizenship.

Since the screening of translation ability is essentially the same in both programs (and in both cases done on a platform powered by, a fast track was created whereby any translator who is part of the Certified PRO Network is automatically accepted as a Translator without Borders without the need of any further testing.

The fast track proved very powerful, and currently some 40% of the professionals approved by Translators without Borders were accepted because of their Certified PRO Network status.

The experience led to the decision to extend this approach to other industry certifications that involve active testing of translation abilities. In particular, the fast track benefits are also available to all ATA-certified translators—an opportunity that we would like to advertise better. We are working on identifying similar certification programs and announcing those fast track opportunities to potential volunteers.

There is good room for growth here. Feedback and advice will be very welcome.

Author: Enrique Cavalitto