It is not apocalyptic hyperbole to say that COVID-19 IS ravaging the planet. And this reality calls for an all-hands-on-deck response, from the mega corporations, international humanitarian groups to much more modest enterprises and organizations. To this end, the non-profit organizations Translators Without Borders (TWB) has stepped forward to help with the emergency in some of the world’s poorest regions. TWB is an organization that offers language and translation support for humanitarian emergencies. With the global pandemic further highlighting the language barrier that exists for some of the world’s poorest regions, making health advice accessible for as many languages as possible is an ongoing battle. 

Communications has been identified as a vital weapon in the battle to spread the word amongst populations in all regions of the world. For those of us who have access to multiple channels of communications, whether it be main-stream media or social media, there is a constant language-friendly flow of advice and reminders of how we as individuals can aid the battle against the pandemic. Furthermore, we are fortunate that we live in societies that have governments with the financial power to create strong powerful messaging. Though even then there are people who ignore the vital messages. However, one problem we do not have to any great degree as the poorer regions of the world is a challenging language barrier. Where one exists, we have the money and ability to overcome the obstacle. 

This is where organizations such as TWB become important. It makes no sense for advanced countries to pour billions into cleansing their own regions of the COVID-19 plague only to leave the poorer regions unsupported. Diseases do not recognise borders. If you cleanse 98% of the planet of COVID-19 that remaining 2% means the war has not been won. That miniscule 2% could set off another raging pandemic.  

Humanities’ only choice must be the complete elimination of COVID-19 in every corner of the world. It is this imperative that has highlighted the language barrier that exists in many of the world’s poorest locations. Many regions don’t have the government infrastructure or technical knowledge to create and disseminate these crucial health education messages. These key messages are needed to drive home the essential information on how populations can protect themselves from the virus. This is a reality that TWB has taken onboard, as it formulates ways of overcoming these communication road blocks. TWB has undertaken a campaign to make anti-COVID-19 health advice accessible in as many languages to as many people as possible. 

To achieve that objective TWB has undertaken the creation of a series of solutions: 

  • Chatbots – to enable users to obtain real-time information about COVID-19 in their own language. 
  • A campaign to translate into minority languages public-facing content, sometimes using simple symbols and icons.  
  • They are developing a multilingual glossary of key COVID-19 terms. 
  • The development of a detailed data map which shows language types and literacy levels in countries, highlighting those in need of support. 

Sharda Sekaran, Head of Fundraising and Communications, Translators without Borders said: 

COVID-19 requires a global response that speaks to people in their own languages and gives them credible information that they can understand”.  

In December, KantanMT donated €1,000 to TWB’s Christmas holiday Fundraising Campaign “ Language for a Just World”. The Christmas holiday campaign aimed to raise funds to fight the pandemic. The fundraising goal was exceeded and raised $118,000 in total. The campaign to raise vitals funds continues. To support Translators Without Borders global response to the crisis, head to: 

Aidan Collins is Marketing Manager at KantanMT