I always put myself in the shoes of the person(s) for whom I am translating.
Translators improve lives by translating potentially lifesaving information into ‘marginalized’ languages spoken by vulnerable individuals. In Bangladesh, almost a million people are currently living in the largest makeshift refugee camp in the world. There, nonprofit organizations need to provide critical information quickly, that needs to be translated into a language accessible for Rohingya refugees, and in many cases, into the language of local volunteers and field workers. Enter Mahay Alam Khan, or Mak, one of our most skilled and committed Bangla translators, who brings twelve years of translation experience to TWB. In the past year, he has worked on over fifty tasks and translated over 40,000 words.
Mak has been known to go the extra mile to support TWB in our mission. He has spent nights working on urgent translations, journeyed to internet cafes, borrowed computers when necessary, and even worked on translating documents while changing houses in downtown Dhaka.
Mak explains that translating with TWB has changed his perspective. The experience has opened a window through which he can look into the horrific conditions experienced by refugees and especially children.
I knew a bit about the suffering and agony they endure in this world, but I never knew language barriers could be a reason why people become vulnerable
Working with TWB has influenced Mak’s whole approach – it has made him more expressive and more cognizant of the importance of his translation work. Before starting a translation, Mak says it’s important to visualize the people for whom he is ultimately translating. He closes his eyes and imagines he is standing in a queue waiting for food or medicine. The language barrier between support workers and refugees makes it hard to distribute food, or even to ensure understanding of instructions for taking life-saving medicines.
Read the full blog post here!