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How translation volunteers are saving lives

Translators Without Borders has 10 million reasons to celebrate this week. That’s the number of words they’ve translated through a project connecting professional linguists with humanitarian organisations.

In the last two years, their dedicated volunteers have helped break down language barriers for refugees in Syria, doctors in Haiti, mothers in Indonesia, and care workers in India. They’re helping ensure that people around the globe have access to basic services and life-saving medical care.

Translators Without Borders (TWB), a volunteer-run non-profit organisation, set up their Workspace, powered by, in 2011. This has enabled translators to donate the equivalent of $2 million worth of their time. They’ve translated across 99 language combinations for organisations including Action Against Hunger, Oxfam US, Handicap International and Medecins San Frontieres.

Carine Toucand translated the 10 millionth word, part of a document on maternal mortality. She was presented with a $1000 prize (thanks to Acrolinx and Content Rules) to celebrate the milestone. A professional translator and long-term volunteer, she’s already contributed 53,000 words to the project.

Their work shows the vital role translation can play in lifting people out of poverty, ensuring better health and nutrition, and building local economies. Aid workers in crisis situations face huge challenges in getting information to people in a language they can understand.

Lori Thicke and Ros Smith-Thomas set up Traducteurs sans Frontières (TSF) in 1993 to link the world’s translators to vetted non-governmental organisations that focus on health, nutrition and education. TWB is its American-based sister organisation.

Ms. Thicke said: “After many years of working hard to get the right people and systems in place, we’ve delivered 10 million translated words to help people around the world access the knowledge they need to improve their lives.

“I’d like to thank all of our awesome translators and all the TWB team – today we should all feel proud of ourselves. Next stop – 20 million!”

We’d like to say congratulations to everyone who’s worked on the project, and good luck with the next 10 million words!  Do find out more about the project and how you can get involved, whether by translating or supporting in other ways.

Looking for a professional translator? Get in touch with the Lingo24 team, or find out more about our services.

Hazel Mollison

Hazel Mollison edits and writes for the Lingo24 blog. After studying Italian and German at Cambridge University, she worked as a journalist for five years with regional and national newspapers. She enjoys writing about languages, translation, online marketing, and helping small businesses explore new opportunities.

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