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Bridging the language barrier in Africa

in Language Connect


According to UNICEF estimates, more people die from lack of knowledge than from diseases. Aid can only be effective in reaching the most vulnerable communities if the people within them understand how to use it. For communities lacking in the most basic of healthcare information, a simple leaflet about the symptoms of life-threatening diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis can make all the difference to help parents save their children.

In Africa, a continent where more than 2,000 languages are spoken, a lack of translated information is often the key missing element between aid and the people it’s intended to help. Translators Without Borders, an organisation that provides pro-bono translations for humanitarian purposes, is working to bridge the gap by establishing training centres for linguists to develop translation skills. The first centre has opened in Nairobi, Kenya and aims to train 125 women this year to translate information used in healthcare. After they’ve completed the course, the graduates will be required to translate healthcare information into their native languages as payment in-kind for the training course. As well as giving back to their communities, they’ll be able to put their translation skills to use on paid work from aid organisations and translation providers that operate in the region.

At Language Connect, we believe  it’s our duty to contribute to the community that we work within. Through our CSR programme, Community Connect, we run careers workshops and offer work experience to educate, train and develop budding linguists in our local community. We have also been reaching out to the developing world with micro-loans to help entrepreneurs through Kiva.

The rich language diversity of Africa and high multilingualism of Africans represents a tremendous opportunity for translation to enable the continent’s socioeconomic development. Last month we supported a  fundraising webinar for the Nairobi centre and, this month, I’m proud to announce that we’ve pledged 10% of Language Connect’s profits to go towards the training centre. With the support of 4 big sponsors, we hope that Language Connect’s donation helps Translators Without Borders fill the remainder to reach their financing for 3 courses this year.

You can read more here about the translator training programme,

For more about the need for translation in Africa, you can read this report:

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