75% of the world’s population have inadequate access to critical information, because it’s in a language they can’t understand. We are here to help them. These are the stories of people whose lives have been transformed by translation.
ORAM: Nowhere To Turn
Refugees are an already severely marginalised group worldwide, but those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) are especially vulnerable. Only a few are able to seek asylum in the relatively liberal West, whilst most must turn to countries with homophobic attitudes similar to those they fled. Here, they are faced with new forms of intolerance, left to navigate asylum procedures that assume heterosexuality and traditional gender presentation, and struggle to explain how their home country is not safe for LGBTI individuals when it is safe for others.
The Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration (ORAM) is an internationally recognised expert organisation dedicated to helping this specific population and alleviating these challenges. It does so by delivering cutting-edge research, tools and empirically-based training to refugee professionals and institutions worldwide. ORAM has trained 1931 refugee professionals working in governments, UNHCR offices and NGOs in 22 countries.
To illustrate the impact of ORAM’s work we can take the case of Jean-Pierre* from Central Africa, whose mother, upon discovering he was gay, tried to kill him by poisoning him as he lay ill in bed. He escaped and sought help from his father and uncle, who instead forced him to participate in a ‘curative’ ritual intended to purge him of his homosexuality. He soon found that he had nowhere to turn in his home country – no way to live a safe and good life – so he fled to South Africa, where he heard it was safer to be gay. However, Jean-Pierre in fact suffered much homophobic and xenophobic violence in South Africa, and was prevented from finding work due to widespread discrimination against both gay people and foreigners. This prejudice and violence forced him into precarious living situations – including time living on the streets and in shelters –thereby leaving him again vulnerable to violent attacks.
It thus became clear that Jean-Pierre’s only hope for his own security was resettlement in a safe third country, which is where ORAM stepped into the picture. ORAM is now working hard to help Jean-Pierre successfully navigate the international refugee system so he can be resettled in a safer country, partnering with law firms to provide direct legal assistance to Jean-Pierre and others who, like him, are fleeing horrendous levels of persecution.
The Rosetta Foundation has aided ORAM’s work by translating its research, training and refugee information materials from English and French into various languages. In this way, hundreds of refugee agencies and governments around the world have been supported in formulating respectful assessment forms, codes of conduct and much more fair and inclusive interviews for LGBTI refugees. These translations have also helped ORAM to establish branches around the world by helping to prepare the necessary documentation. To date, The Rosetta Foundation has completed 12 projects for ORAM, translating over 115,000 words in total.
* Not his real name.
Amigos de los Mayores: Combating Loneliness
Amigos de los Mayores is a volunteer-based, non-profit organisation, based in Spain, which aims to improve the quality of life of older people who are isolated or lonely, especially those with limited resources. Loneliness is known to be one of the greatest issues faced by older people in the modern world, but the solution is quite simple – to provide those affected with companionship. Amigos de los Mayores facilitates this companionship by coordinating volunteer visits to older people in their own home or at care homes, organising group activities and raising awareness at a broader societal level about this issue.
As Amigos de los Mayores is associated with similar Friends of the Elderly groups around the world, the first having been founded in 1946 in France, there is much to be gained from sharing knowledge between these organisations. The Rosetta Foundation was able to offer crucial assistance in this regard, translating a best-practice reference guide on “Finding, Welcoming and Integrating Volunteers” from French. Naturally its volunteers, numbering 519 in 2015, are the most important resource Amigos de los Mayores has. It is for this reason that identifying the right people for the job and implementing strategies to keep these volunteers engaged in the long-term is crucial to the organisation’s success in its mission. Without the free-of-cost translation provided by The Rosetta Foundation, Amigos de los Mayores would not have been able to draw on this wealth of existing experience and research. With the aid of this translated best-practice guide, then, Amigos de los Mayores held 11 training courses and workshops for its volunteers in 2015, along with its annual meetings, thereby encouraging greater participation in the organisation.
The positive impact Amigos de los Mayores and its volunteers have is clear from the testimony of its clients. One 84-year-old participant spoke about her loneliness before joining Amigos de los Mayores: “Sometimes I sit here watching television that I’m not even enjoying, I pick myself up, I get dressed and I go out, even if it’s just for a walk around the block, and then I go back home, sad, because I’ve not spoken to anyone. I come home and when I open the door I already feel the sadness because it’s as if I’ve walked into a prison, the walls close in on me.” She explained that the companionship offered by the volunteers “takes [away] this sorrow that’s in me here, in my chest, a sorrow which makes me want to cry. When I go there, I’m so happy. When I come home, I arrive happy; I say ‘what a great day I’ve had. For me, when they are affectionate to me, I feel like the happiest woman in the world.” For the older people who receive home visits, especially, a long-lasting, affectionate relationship is created, facilitating contact with the outside world and broadening the older person’s social network.
Of course, the volunteers find that they gain just as much from the experience as do the older people. One volunteer highlighted that “for me, visiting Maria Teresa isn’t volunteering; it’s more like visiting a friend. We’ve established a really good relationship and it really isn’t an effort to go and see her each week… on the contrary I enjoy it and I learn something every minute that we’re together”. Another volunteer noted that she isn’t so much younger than the people she befriends through Amigos de los Mayores herself, and that through the time she spends with them “I am learning a lot about how I would like to face my old age.”
The impact of the organisation is also clear from the numbers: in 2015, 276 older people received weekly home visits from volunteers, while 126 older people benefited from companionship through Amigos de los Mayores’ collaboration with 20 residential care homes. Fifty-two older people were accompanied by volunteers in a supportive capacity regarding administrative or health care affairs, while 33 benefited from a new programme designed to recover relationships between neighbours and reinvent neighbourhoods as shared spaces, with the explicit aim of preventing loneliness. Another 52 participated in a holiday with the volunteers to get out of the city and enjoy extended companionship and activities, which compliments the various trips, activities and parties organised by Amigos de los Mayores throughout the year to improve participants’ social relationships and leisure opportunities.
PAL: How Luci Changed the World
Rural poverty is a great issue in the north-east of Brazil, with poverty rates exceeding 60% in many municipalities, and some even reaching 90%. Partnership America Latina (PAL) is a small Irish charity that works with The Little Sisters of the Assumption to alleviate poverty, and the inequality and injustice associated with it, in this region and throughout Latin America.
PAL became a partner of The Rosetta Foundation back in 2012 as the charity could not afford to pay for the document translations necessary to apply for Irish funding for its projects. Since then, The Rosetta Foundation has helped PAL to realize numerous projects that would have been impossible without this access to funding, facilitated by the translation of over 380 documents provided free of charge by our volunteers. Furthermore, these translations have aided in making educational resources available across language barriers, and those benefiting have been able to contribute to educating others, multiplying the effect. One specific story is especially illustrative of the concrete impact such projects have for those facing poverty and injustice in this region.
Lucineide was 15 years old, living in a rural village without running water or electricity in Bahia – a north-eastern Brazilian state – when she became pregnant and was forced to leave school to marry a man she did not love, with whom she went on to have two children. She had no income and nowhere to go, but always dreamt of a better future, particularly for her community which lacked even the basics for a life of human dignity.
It was at this point that a missionary from The Little Sisters of the Assumption, a member of the Association of Lay Missionaries in the neighbouring municipality of Umburanas, came to the village. This association was funded by an Irish organization for its educational project for young children, made possible by The Rosetta Foundation’s translation of their project application. Luci became very interested in the community work promoted by the missionary and became part of a small group to organize the basic Christian community that was emerging in the village. Faith meant a lot to Luci and she was attracted by the missionary approach to development, which links faith to life and to the reality of peoples’ living conditions. For two successive years, she took part in a four-year part-time formation course for lay missionaries, but her husband became jealous of her activities outside the home and she was forced to discontinue. Nevertheless, this course allowed Luci to develop various skills in community organization, social analysis and social justice work, and she found the experience eye-opening and energizing.
Eventually, Luci managed to build up enough courage to leave her unhappy situation, and went to live 12 km away in Umburanas with her two children. She arrived in the town with no money and nowhere to live, but was able to start a new life with help from friends made through the Association of Lay Missionaries – one woman took her and her children into her home, while another carried her twice weekly by motorbike to do computer training in another town 40 km away. This training opened the door to a part-time job as a computer teacher in another local NGO that was developing alongside the Association of Lay Missionaries at the time, called the Citizens’ Forum of Umburanas.
Soon, she was able to secure a loan to buy a modest home, and went back to school to complete her second level education by night. Gradually, Luci began to build a life for herself and her children with the support of both the association and the Citizens’ Forum. These organizations played a fundamental role in her development, and in turn Luci contributed greatly to their emerging ventures: struggling against public water privatization, exercising the citizen’s right to annually check public accounts at Town Hall, participating in the elaboration of the annual Municipal Budget, etc. The Rosetta Foundation was instrumental in helping to access funding from various sources in Ireland for all of these development initiatives through its free translation service.
In time, Luci was elected General Secretary of the Citizens’ Forum and worked voluntarily in this position for the next six years. She studied Citizens’ Rights online, and developed basic courses to disseminate this information to over 200 members of the forum in rural villages. She showed exceptional ability in this work and became the forum’s key resource person, training a group of volunteers who then went out to the rural villages on weekends to deliver these courses on Social Justice and Citizens’ Rights. In this way, Luci’s efforts multiplied.
Luci’s next courageous step in pursuing her dream was to apply for a place to study law at the University of Feira Santana, 300 km away. She was successful, and the Association of Lay Missionaries created a Student Fund so that Irish people could help finance her studies, having witnessed her great capacity to learn and help others. While the five years of study were hard and lonely, being far from her children and community, Luci persevered and graduated on the 19th of March, 2016.
Luci is today extremely grateful to those who believed in her – as a poor, young Brazilian mother of colour – to complete her studies. She has continued to make great contributions to the Citizens’ Forum, now enhanced through her newly acquired knowledge, and looks forward to helping those who are victims of injustice however she can. Without the help of The Rosetta Foundation, many doors that were opened to her and to these local community organizations would have remained closed. Having the support of the Rosetta Foundation to translate from Portuguese into English has been of inestimable value in opening these doors wide.
Crosscare: The Story of V.
Migration is not easy at the best of times, but it is especially tough when you’re already in a vulnerable position. Crosscare Migrant Project offers a variety of supports to both those emigrating from Ireland and returning or immigrating here. While their services are open to everyone, Crosscare Migrant Project particularly focuses on helping those who are marginalised or in an otherwise vulnerable situation. They do this by offering drop-in, phone and email information and advocacy services.
One major aspect of the difficulties faced in finding one’s feet in a new country can be the language barrier. Understanding which forms to complete, ensuring you don’t violate any rules and avoiding scams are all so much more demanding when working with an unfamiliar language. In this respect, The Rosetta Foundation can complement the support offered by Crosscare Migrant Project.
One specific example of Crosscare Migrant Project’s joint work with The Rosetta Foundation is their mutual support of V., a non-EU citizen who was assaulted while visiting Ireland as a tourist. As a consequence of the assault, V. ended up in hospital and required follow-up surgery. To make matters worse, their tourist visa expired during the aftermath of the assault. Crosscare Migrant Project stepped in to assist V. in submitting an application to the Department of Justice in order to obtain legal immigration permission, allowing V. to legally remain in Ireland in order to undergo the necessary surgery. In order to submit this application, all the supporting documentation needed to be in English. The Rosetta Foundation was able to translate all the required documentation in an extremely efficient and timely manner, free of charge. This service was of great importance to V. as they had no income and was in a vulnerable situation.
Proyecto Yannick: A Boy from Peru
Our son, Yannick, was born in July 2007 in a small town in the northern Andes in Peru. Due to the lack of awareness and appropriate medical training in this part of the country, it was two months later before he was diagnosed with Down syndrome. This involved an expensive and difficult trip to the capital city, Lima – 20 hours by bus each way. We were lucky in that we had internet access and relevant contacts in the Netherlands, where I’m from, to learn about Down syndrome and evidence-based methods for helping Yannick thrive.
We realised that accessing such basic information is out of the reach of many parents in Peru, and that we could make a real difference to people with Down syndrome, and their families, by sharing this information as widely as possible.
Peru lacks a great majority of the resources necessary to adequately respond to the needs of those with Down syndrome and their families. When Yannick was born, there was no official organisation focused on supporting people with this condition in Peru, and most support is still concentrated around Lima alone. Information on the condition is so sparse that there are not even official estimates of the number of people affected, although WHO statistics would suggest that 500 babies are born with Down syndrome every year in Peru . This means that ordinary people tend to know very little about Down syndrome, and what they do believe about the condition is often erroneous, leading to negative attitudes and treatment of the people affected.
We know that people with Down syndrome, with the right support, can lead full, active lives, thriving in education, the workplace and their community. For new parents of kids with this condition, however, this is not obvious without the right information. Without guidelines on what these young people can achieve, and the help they need to get there, this potential often goes unrealised, with children and young people kept out of school and not appropriately stimulated. This situation is further compounded by poverty, where caregivers must focus on the family’s survival, leaving little time and resources for medical investigation and therapy.
Proyecto Yannick addresses this problem by providing information and free or low-cost training to the families of those with Down syndrome. We also aim to educate society at large, to foster greater awareness of the condition and the potential of those it affects.
One major aspect of this work is teaching the Basic Motor Skills (BMS) method, developed by Dr. Peter Lauteslager in the Netherlands, which offers extremely practical and playful ways to coach the motor development of children with Down syndrome. The focus is on ensuring the therapy is enjoyable and easy to integrate into daily routines, so that families will stick with it and see results. The treatment can therefore be tailored to the specific situation of each family.
We run workshops and offer individual coaching on this method once or twice a year in various parts of Peru, and the number of sessions we can offer and regions we can serve is expanding as we train new instructors. We want to share this knowledge even more widely, so no families are left unsupported because they can’t afford to travel. There are books available to guide caregivers through implementing the BMS method, but none in Spanish . As a non-profit organization, we did not have the funds to pay for translation, but The Rosetta Foundation was able to step in without the need for payment. We were then able to use this translation in preparing and delivering a course for physiotherapists and parents in Lima, and a forthcoming one in Cajamarca . So far 74 people have been certified through this training, and another 50 are expected to be certified by the end of the year. In 2017, the course will reach Mexico, where they will also use the Spanish materials translated by The Rosetta Foundation. Another training programme for physiotherapists , providing the skills necessary for them to offer the same workshops to caregivers themselves, has also been developed based on this work. Two physiotherapists are almost finished this training, and more are expected to soon join their ranks.
Once the translation is finalised, the book will be made available online for anyone to download for free. In this way The Rosetta Foundation has helped take our project from the local level to that of a national network, and with the online availability of the translation this work will again expand beyond Peru’s borders to families all across South America!
The assistance of The Rosetta Foundation, both in terms of the volunteers who completed the translation and the wider Rosetta team, has been incredible. They were always very friendly and helpful in every possible way, and the translation simply wouldn’t have been possible without them.
We are now the resource that we so desperately needed when Yannick was born. With the help of The Rosetta Foundation, we can reach so many more parents, let them see that they are not alone, and help them ensure their kids reach their greatest potential.
Special Olympics: Aaron’s First Steps
Aaron, a nine-year-old boy with an intellectual disability, was found tied by a rope to a tree outside his family’s home by a Special Olympics volunteer in Mangulu, Malawi. In a region with poor understanding of and support for those with intellectual disabilities, he had been tethered by his parents for seven years as a means of managing the demands of a child with special needs while also raising four other children.
While most children’s first steps are met with cheer, Aaron’s first steps were met with limitation, both figurative and literal. However, as a result of this community leader’s discovery of Aaron, he is today visited three times a week by a Special Olympics coach who works with him to develop basic kinesthetics and sports skills, thereby gaining acceptance in his community and family, and receiving critical health support to further his development.
Special Olympics is a global movement serving people with intellectual disabilities through sports, health, education and community programming, thereby tackling inactivity, intolerance, isolation and injustice. Special Olympics’ core activity is sports training and competition with an emphasis on each athlete achieving their personal best. This sports activity is complemented by programmes that enable people with intellectual disabilities—and their families—to optimize their health and well-being, participate in inclusive education, and create more cohesive and accepting civil societies through advocacy and community involvement.
Aaron is now one of over four million children and adults with intellectual disabilities in more than 170 countries around the world who are realizing their potential and challenging preconceptions of their abilities through sports training facilitated by Special Olympics, supported by one million volunteers and millions more family members, supporters and fans.
To ensure Special Olympics’ great work reaches and benefits as many people as possible, it is vital that language not be a barrier. As a non-profit organization, explains Denis Doolan of Special Olympics International, “the problem is that we do not have the funds to meet our linguistic needs through normal commercial channels.” The work of the Rosetta Foundation is therefore vital to their success.
As Maureen Rabbitt, Director of Communication & Branding at Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia, makes clear, many documents were previously inaccessible to a large majority of their national programmes because they were only available in English. “Working with the Rosetta Foundation has empowered our national programmes, as never before, to transform more lives in their communities through the joy of sport. […] Until our partnership, we had faced great challenges in supporting the development of programmes in 58 countries across 40 different languages.”
Special Olympics started working with The Rosetta Foundation in 2010, becoming the Rosetta Foundation’s first partner organization, and the relationship has gone from strength to strength since. Projects have grown in size every year, from the translation of a disability terminology guide to translating into seven different languages the Official Special Olympics General Rules, which runs to over 100 pages. The General Rules set out how Special Olympics should be operated at every level, and they are critical to ensuring maximum impact on and benefit to the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. More projects are being added to Trommons by Special Olympics all the time – including strategy and policy documents, healthcare guidelines, sports rules and coaching guides – the ultimate marker of a partnership that is delivering positive and lasting results.
“When our leaders around the world, the majority of whom are volunteers, are able to read important documents like the General Rules in their own language,” Doolan notes, “it empowers them to improve what they do. That can mean important changes for people with intellectual disabilities, such as getting fitter, being able to get a proper health check for the first time in their lives, or reducing the bullying and stigma they face in schools every day. In short, it allows us to do things that are truly life-changing, and we are very grateful to the volunteers who make these translations possible.”
LifeSTEPS: Making Services Accessible to Seniors
Many older adults prefer to retain their independence and existing social support networks by remaining living in affordable communities, yet aging-in-place can present a number of challenges. LifeSTEPS is an organization in California whose mission is to provide effective educational and supportive services to maximize the strengths of individuals and the resilience of communities. With regard to seniors, it aids in the overcoming of obstacles to aging-in-place by providing supportive social services on-site, particularly in terms of health and well-being. As the largest non-profit provider of such services, LifeSTEPS provides service access to 80,000 people living in 263 affordable housing communities in California.
One feature of these affordable communities is their mixed population demographics, most notably with respect to language. A challenge LifeSTEPS faced, therefore, was the fact that many of those in need of its services did not have English as a first language, and so often did not know about the services available to them.
Once they identified this barrier, LifeSTEPS turned to The Rosetta Foundation, who began the process of translating all of the organization’s notices, flyers and educational materials into Armenian, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. As a non-profit, LifeSTEPS would not have been able to afford such extensive translation without the crowdsourced solution The Rosetta Foundation provides.
One specific example of how The Rosetta Foundation’s translations have had a concrete impact on the lives of LifeSTEPS’s service users was the on-site flu shots and other inoculations provided to the residents of Avenida Espana Gardens in San Jose. Peggy Hufstutler, regional director of social services for the South Bay, highlighted that “it’s one thing to bring the flu shots here, but it’s all for nothing if the residents don’t know they can access the service. The translated material is vital to our success. More importantly, it’s vital to the health of the residents at communities like Avenida.”
In congregating to receive their flu shots, residents also enjoyed the social benefits of gathering together as a community. Without events like these – and the translated material that communicated the logistics – residents often become isolated, which can lead to more serious health consequences.
“We’re fortunate to have a service like The Rosetta Foundation,” says Hufstutler, “a lot of people could be at risk were it not for their service.”
In total, over 110 hours of educational sessions on the flu were provided to 384 clients at 48 apartment communities. The LifeSTEPS social workers confirmed that they were able to share this very important health information with people who do not speak English well thanks to The Rosetta Foundation translations. Some of these non-English speaking residents had never received a flu shot before and didn’t know how to get one before meeting with LifeSTEPS and reviewing the information translated by The Rosetta Foundation volunteers. Both older adults and families with children were able to get their flu shots as a result.
More generally, over 12,427 hours of educational instruction on multi-family sites, and 10,785 hours on senior sites, was provided to a total of 19,756 individual residents by LifeSTEPS in 2015 alone. All educational documents for these classes were translated by The Rosetta Foundation, giving a sense of the scale of this collaboration’s impact.
“The translation assistance received through The Rosetta Foundation has helped us offer valuable life skills to our multi-family residents, while older adults receive the knowledge and support they need to safely age in their communities. The Rosetta Foundation also assists with the translation of marketing flyers so that non-English speaking residents are more likely to attend classes,” explains Katie Holtzen, a program operation assistant with LifeSTEPS.
“This has allowed affordable housing residents to access information in their preferred language, to review the information at home for reference and to share the information with their families and friends. Given the diverse mix of residents we serve, the services provided by The Rosetta Foundation are profound in helping us accomplish our mission.”