Inttranews Special Report - Translators Without Borders
Become a member of TranslationDirectory.com at just
$8 per month (paid per year)
As international aid gains strength and speed
for the victims of the tsunami that hit southern
Asia at the end of 2004, the strategic importance
of translators has often been highlighted by the
press, but there have been few coordinated responses
by the profession.
One of the translators’ organisations that
has reacted fastest is Translators
Without Borders, set up in 1993 by Paris-based
as a non-profit association to provide free translations
to humanitarian organizations.
Today the pro-bono group assists organizations such
as Doctors Without
Borders, winners of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize,
and Amnesty International,
which are then able to use the funds they saved
to extend their humanitarian work.
Inttranews decided to find out more about what Translators
Without Borders have done, are doing and intend
Inttranews: How did the idea
for Translators Without Borders come about?
Translators Without Borders began when we (Eurotexte)
were offered paid translation work by the organisation
that became our namesake, Doctors Without Bordersor
Medecins sans frontières as they’re
known in France. Our first response to their request
was: "If we don’t charge you anything, will
you put the money to good use?" They immediately
reassured us that the money would go into other
important Doctors Without Borders activities, and
Translators Without Borders was born. Since that
day, Translators Without Borders has provided thousands
of pages of pro bono translations to document and
assist virtually every major humanitarian intervention
by Doctors Without Borders and other organization
such as Médecins du Monde, AIDES, UNICEF,
Handicap International etc
Inttranews: What are your objectives,
and how far have you succeeded in achieving them?
Our main goal is to help NGOs with their operations
in the field and to assist them in communicating
their efforts internationally.
Inttranews: How many members
do you have, and is there any cost involved (other
We have approximately 150 translators who have been
accepted and entered in our database, of whom around
30 volunteer their time to TSF (Traducteurs sans
frontières as we usually call ourselves)
Over 95% of the work undertaken is done free of
charge. If an NGO does have a budget for a particular
project, of course the money is used to pay the
Inttranews: Do you only accept
interpreters and translators with certain skills
or levels of qualification?
All of the translators who work for TSF are experienced
When a translator volunteers to join TSF, we send
her or him a test. This is then corrected and graded
by a professional translator and, according to the
grade, the application is accepted or refused.
Inttranews: How do members actively
Members actively contribute by translating a whole
range of documents press releases, web sites, annual
reports, mission reports, medical guides, guidelines,
Inttranews: How do you organise
As soon as we receive a translation request from
an NGO, we contact by e-mail all the volunteer translators
who meet the criteria of the translation (language
pairs, specialization, etc.).
Inttranews: Do you have more
demand for aid than you can provide?
We are proud to say that, up until now, we have
been able to handle all the NGO requests we receive.
Inttranews: What are the most
frequent requests for translation help?
Inttranews: Do you have requests
for interpreting services as well, and if so, can
you answer them?
Yes we do, but not very often. AIDES recently requested
a Russian and Romanian interpreters as visitors
from those countries were going to be taken on a
tour of the French AIDES offices.
Inttranews: Do you restrict free
translation services to humanitarian organisations?
Yes, because we feel very strongly that, given the
fact that our volunteers are giving up their personal
time for pro bono translations, they need to translate
for a cause they support.
Inttranews: Do you receive any
financial assistance for your work?
Inttranews: What aid have you
provided in support for the tidal wave victims in
This week TSF has translated Handicap International’s
guidelines for aid workers in the field on what
to do in the event of further earthquakes, press
releases on the medical and logistical aid being
provided by Médecins du Monde and an interview
of MSF’s Managing Director regarding the donations
Inttranews: In one of our recent
articles, we suggested the international translation
community might set up a fund so that certified
medical interpreters could be sent on humanitarian
missions. Do you think this is feasible?
This is an excellent idea and highly feasible. As
the missions, by definition, may involve interpreting
from a widely-spoken language like English or French
to a local dialect, then this initiative would necessarily
involve local interpreters, which can provide the
additional benefit of bringing money into the community.
Inttranews: Do you think the international
translation community can do more to help people
overcome language and cultural barriers, and if
so, do you have any suggestions?
Creating a fund to pay for the deployment of medical
interpreters as part of disaster relief in the developing
world could truly make a difference. This could
also be extended to hospitals in poorer areas of
countries which do not already provide interpretation
Submit your article!
Read more articles - free!
Read sense of life articles!
this article to your colleague!
more translation jobs? Click here!
agencies are welcome to register here - Free!
translators are welcome to register here - Free!
Please see some ads as well as other content from TranslationDirectory.com: