What Good Does 17 Million Words Do?

When you volunteer to help people, sometimes you don’t get to see the impact. It’s not like the smile you see when you help someone carry a heavy bag.

The volunteers behind Translators without Borders have carried a lot of bags over the last three years. 17,844,718 words’ worth, to be exact. That’s a huge donation — almost 7000 days, or 19 full years, of work devoted to charity! On the street, those 17 million words are worth over $3 million.

But I wanted to show something even more tangible than knowing your work is supporting some of the best charities in the world. So I asked those very charities to tell us some of their stories. And this is what they told me.

ADD helped the disabled through stories of change translated by Translators without Borders


“ADD is extremely grateful for the support of Translators Without Borders…

“The translations your volunteers provide us are stories of change, i.e. stories told by disabled people about how interventions helped them to access services, build their confidence, learn new things – often little changes that still have a positive effect (or impact) on their lives.” –Karen Andrae

Hope Housing helped a homeless Czech man when Translators without Borders translated for him

homeless man, translators without Borders, Hope Housing

“Hope Housing run a project for destitute Central and Eastern European migrants. The charity covers all of the costs for the men living in this property for a short period of time and helps them to get back on their feet. Before living in this property the migrants they support have been sleeping rough on the streets of Bradford.

Recently a Czech gentleman was homeless because he had lost work and no longer had his ID, so couldn’t register for state support or register at job agencies. Hope Housing agreed to support him but needed to explain the rules of living in the property and the details of the licence agreement. These details were all in English and through the help of Translators without Borders the documents were translated into Czech and the gentleman was able to read and sign the correct paperwork. He was then able to move in and receive support to break free from homelessness.” –Adam Clark

Zafèn raised $500,000 for Haitian families when Translators without Borders translated their website into Spanish and French

Zafen before


Zafen after


“Translators Without Borders has helped Zafèn successfully promote 26 individual projects in Spanish and French with funds exceeding $500,000 in just 7 months.

“Zafèn is eternally grateful to you.” –Griselda Garibay

Kiva loaned money to 99 farmers in Suriname because Translators without Borders also speaks Dutch


“TWB has definitely been a big help for us, and is an incredible resource for free, high-quality translations. The clearest example that comes to mind for me is the time when we received an application from a potential partner organization in Suriname and all of the application materials were in Dutch! At the time, there were six people on our Latin America team, and we were all really excited to enter Suriname, a new country for Kiva. Between us we spoke English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, but none of us spoke a word of Dutch and hadn’t the least idea what a “gezinsuittreksel” was.

“So, we reached out to TWB for help. Enrique from TWB was extremely responsive, found translators, our requested deadlines were met, we received translated documents and were able to evaluate the potential partner organization, Seva MFI. Today Seva is a Kiva partner, thanks in no small part to TWB’s help, and to date they’ve funded loans to 99 borrowers through Kiva.

“Seva MFI is using Kiva funding to expand its outreach to rice farmers in the Nickerie district. Suriname’s microfinance sector is not well developed, and rural borrowers are deemed too risky by traditional financial institutions to access financial resources. Seva MFI has entered this underserved niche with loans which enable farmers to purchase pesticides and fertilizer as well as tools and equipment. Seva MFI’s goal is to graduate these vulnerable farmers into sustainable and successful entrepreneurs who would then be included in the traditional financial system.” –Cynthia McMurry

Humanity Road saved lives in the Philippines when Translators without Borders provided Tagalog translations of disaster information

“November 15-17 2013 – Philippines.

“We deeply appreciate the support Translators without Borders provided Humanity Road for our response to the Philippines from November 15 through November 17, 2013. During this period, we needed to identify areas of urgent need that had not yet received ground support. To fulfill this project we were in need of situational information that was not available through traditional means and needed the support of volunteers to translate Tagalog. The translation support provided by Lois Goldman and Noemi Katuin was highly valuable and enhanced our capabilities for effective response.

“In one instance, the translation provided by Noemi for a YouTube video provided much needed information that directly facilitated the delivery of aid. Noemi also provided ‘safe now’ message relay for a family who had been isolated from their relatives in Manila and who were later reunited.

“During this particular activation, we needed the volunteers to maintain privacy of the details of the support provided. But I wanted to let you know that the work done by this team helped save many lives. It is why we are all here and we wanted to be sure you knew that Translators Without Borders is a valuable partner and that their support indeed helped save lives.” –Christine Thompson

Action Against Hunger rehabilitated a hospital in Guinea Conakry when Translators without Borders helped reach a donor in Spain

“First of all, thanks for the great job that your translators are volunteering!

“I’ve recently been in Guinea-Conakry. ACF is supporting several health centers there, with the malnutrition treatment of infants with acute malnutrition, and by building/reconstructing the water and sanitation infrastructures in the health centers, in order to avoid diarrhoeas that can become deadly for a child with an ill body. Thanks to the support of TwB in translating the project proposal that we submitted to two different donors in Spain, we are now able to do this work, as we managed to get the funds.” –Natalia Anguera

Bridge2aid trained clinical workers in Rwanda with manuals translated by Translators without Borders

Nurses and Manual lighter

“Here are some nursing students in Rwanda using a dental manual Translators without Borders volunteers translated into French for a dental charity called Bridge2aid. This helped train clinical workers for the Rwandan government.” –Sharon Rankin

Acción contra el Hambre ran the Race Against Hunger with Translators without Borders

action against hunger

“Your translations were used last year to develop the materials for The Race Against Hunger, a sports and charity project that is taking place this year in 106 schools in Spain and Andorra.

“Our team is going to each school to talk to the students about the problem of hunger and how it can be solved. After the raising-awareness sessions, the school organizes a big Run where the students are fundraising money for our projects through their parents and friends. Their effort is transformed in help for other children in need.” –Lucila Pérez

Medical Aid Films provided health films in Swahili, subtitled by Translators without Borders


“We conduct outreaches to remote areas providing healthcare to communities that live far away from health facilities. During these outreaches, we provide all primary health care services from under a tree, in a local church, or in a school hall. While patients are waiting to be seen, we provide them with health education. We have been using the Swahili videos on nutrition, breastfeeding, and planning pregnancies.” –Josie Gallo

OpenGriot distributed tablets to orphanages in Africa with stories translated by Translators without Borders

OpenGriot library

“By a stroke of luck we found out about Translators Without Borders; we approached them with our translation request and they agreed to do our translations without cost.

“Translators without Borders have since then contributed more than thirty jobs for our OpenGriot project in French, Portuguese, Arabic, Yoruba and Swahili. These stories are freely available on our website for reading and download. In addition to the original intention to give free reading material to indigent children, they have assisted many schools to give their students multilingual education. Recently we acquired cheap Android tablets which we loaded with an app which we had created and which enables the display our OpenGriot translated stories for reading on mobile devices. These Android devices were distributed to orphanages with the aim of assisting to bring education the needy as well as the disabled who find it difficult to attend regular schools.” –Rotimi Ogunjobi

Truelift helped more people out of poverty with microfinance materials in Spanish and French


“Truelift engages with microfinance practitioners who work with clients living in poverty. One of the materials translated by TWB, the Truelift Indicators Self-assessment Tool, allows an institution to identify its strengths and weaknesses in serving clients living in conditions of poverty. The Tool helps institutions improve their ability to reach, serve, and create positive results for these poor clients.

“Having the Tool and Spanish and French has allowed us to cast a wider net to further help microfinance institutions create these positive outcomes.” –Bridget Dougherty

—Thanks to the generous volunteers of Translators without Borders. Stay tuned for the next installment of Stories from the Field!

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