Humanitarian translation

Today, 19th August is the world day of Humanitarian Assistance. 

To celebrate this day and get a little more understanding of what it means to be a humanitarian translator, we have asked Luccia Haughton, one of our translators, who also works with non-profit organisations, to answer some questions about this work.

What was your motivation for dedicating yourself to humanitarian translation and / or interpretation?

I started my career as a translator when I was 20 years old and before I had much experience in this field. I decided that volunteering would be the fastest way to gain valuable experience and learn something new at the same time. After doing some research, I found an amazing organisation offering free translation services to those in need and they were delighted to accept me on their team.

What type of training or knowledge is necessary?

For the type of translations I worked on, it didn’t take a lot of training. MondoAgit, the organisation I collaborate with, only expects you to deliver the best possible translation. Of course, they also collaborate with interpreters, who need a certain people skills to work with those affected by catastrophic events. A solid foundation of empathy and love is all you need to start helping!

The humanitarian translator and / or interpreter acts as a translator and / or interpreter, mediator and sometimes even psychological support. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start in this sector?

As I mentioned before, it is vital to be able to empathise. When you work in the voluntary sector, you are likely to meet people from all over the world, with very different life stories. Some of these stories are difficult to understand when you have been “protected” your whole life by European walls. It’s important to keep an open mind, listen well, and offer support when needed.

Would you recommend this translation / interpreting activity to your professional colleagues?

I would recommend this volunteer work to any translator, but above all I would recommend the volunteer work to anyone in general. Not only is it an opportunity for great experience, volunteering also helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection with another person. You can improve your own well-being while still helping someone in need.

What compromising situation or situations have you encountered, culturally speaking?

My work for these NGOs consists mainly of translating texts for other NGOs for free. I have worked on articles, web pages, advertisements, etc. Unfortunately, I have not yet had the opportunity to be actively involved in these kinds of situations personally.

Do you consider that it is difficult to enter the world of work when you are a humanitarian translator and / or interpreter or, on the contrary, do you need more profiles like this?

From personal experience, I don’t think it is difficult to get started in this field. However, it is difficult to find NGOs and other organisations that you can relate to. It is very important that you do enough research on an organisation to make sure that the goals they have are really something they are turning into reality. It is a sad truth that there are scam websites that want a free service, your money or just your data. So be careful! However, there are never enough humanitarian translators. Every day we see horrible events on the news, and every day we need translators and interpreters on the front lines of these events to help people in need. As long as there are human beings on this planet, we will need humanitarian translators.

Have you ever worked in another branch of translation? Is it just as rewarding?

I am a person who loves to help and see people achieve their dreams. When I am not doing volunteer work, I translate books. I enjoy helping authors fulfill their dreams and help their books reach new heights. Self publishing is a difficult area and I am here to help these new authors navigate this treacherous terrain. What I like most about this job is knowing that I have contributed to making someone’s dream come true and that is as rewarding as my volunteer work.

From BigTranslation we want to thank Luccia for her extraordinary work and her great empathy. We love having such people among our translators. It is always a pleasure to have her and we thank her for having collaborated with us for so long.

Here’s to many more years!

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