I could write a letter of thanks, but I seldom find true thankfulness in those. This is the most affable community I have ever experienced, so I will just write my heart out:
I did not see this recognition coming, neither did I dedicate my time and energy for one. Those who are familiar with Forrest Gump would understand this — some apparition was constantly telling me “Translate Sifat, translate!” — so, I just listened to the voice and…translated.
I joined TWB out of my love for literature and words (I haven’t read tons of books, so don’t ask, please). I learned about the platform in early 2019, I just lacked the interest to give it a try. But I remember putting a sticky note glued to the top of my reading table (I regret removing that right after joining TWB, could be hell of a memorabile!) that read “The Rosetta Foundation” and “Translators without Borders,” as a part of my “to do” list. When I signed up, I was thinking, perhaps I would get to learn about the prospective initiatives of many organizations before those are implemented and have a look at the writing and reporting styles of various projects. (NO, as demanded by the TWB Code of Conduct for Translators, I do not discuss the tasks with anyone, my right hand to God . Don’t kick me out!)
Anyway, I try to find out as much information as possible before starting something. I was curious why the website was called “Trommons,” then I found that it derived from “Translation Commons.” I was also curious about the name Kató, why we are called Kató Translators; I learned about the great Kató Lomb, she was perhaps the greatest linguist in history. Each of us embodies a little of her knowledge, a lot of her passion — this way Kató Lomb lives through “us” — the Kató Translators.
As a person, I have always been an introvert. I did not share anything on social media. I never realized the significance of this recognition until I started getting calls from friends, family members and well-wishers. I didn’t even tell my parents about it. Yesterday my father called me with a “heavy-happy” heart after watching my photo on television and asked me why I didn’t tell him (in fact, I didn’t tell anyone). Then my mother heard and wanted to see the article. Her reaction was great, she said, “Why are your lips tight? Why do you look like this?!”
Many people asked what I did. This question was like The One in my nightmares, “Tell about yourself.” Honestly, I couldn’t clearly explain to anyone what I did. (Perhaps I was being humble like those Western movie heroes — taking my hat off, putting left thumb on the edge of the jean’s pocket, and in style I was saying, “I just did what I thought would be the right thing to do, Ma’am.”)
At first, I didn’t think that I did anything significant. My brother and mother are doctors. After the pandemic started hitting harder, with a little safety my brother performed duties for 48 to 72 hours straight and got back home to tend to his pregnant wife (I’m going to be an uncle soon!). My mother operated on pregnant women when they couldn’t find a surgeon. In the last few months, the situation got really awful around here. Hospitals were refusing to admit regular patients, doctors stopped practicing as well as going to hospitals because the patients were hiding their symptoms, everyone was terrified. Many doctors died of COVID-19. There are millions like them (not only doctors) who truly risked their lives and their families’.
At first I underestimated this recognition, I thought TWB was just commending the volunteers. But my realization has changed:
I am not trivializing my (OUR) hard work anymore. Because if I do so, it’d be an act of refusing the altruism of my fellow Kató Translators. Now I believe that what WE do is noble, even though not visible. We too are saving lives by staring at the screens, brainstorming for the most suitable words and typing for hours. While translating thousands of words to the best of our knowledge, we get headaches, eye-strains, and sometimes suffer from loss of health, only to deliver the correct information so others can keep themselves safe.
But what I am most happy about is that everyone is asking about Translators without Borders! Now millions of people in Bangladesh, my friends and well-wishers abroad know about TWB, they know that “Language Matters,” that an organization like TWB exists, that a community of passionate volunteers are changing and saving lives of billions through breaking the barriers of language. I am proud of us — the TWB volunteers and staff. I am truly happy to see that people are realizing OUR contributions to humanity. Like me, most of us probably won’t even recognize that “this leaflet” was translated by them, because of the amount of tasks we complete every day. The entire TWB community has inspired me, you taught me to be more respectful toward everyone, even to the harshest tone. You all have made me realize the gravity of OUR “donations.” I shall always deem this recognition a collective achievement.
Finally, thanks to the non-profits for choosing Translators without Borders and trusting its volunteers.