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When a disaster strikes, people need timely and accurate emergency information. They need their anxiety calmed; they need to know what to do and how to protect themselves. It’s for this reason that Words of Relief has created and trained a Spider Network of rapid response translators. The translators are drawn from 11 key geographical areas in Kenya that are prone to disasters. These volunteer translators, who were trained by TWB Kenya in September, represent 11 languages that are commonly spoken in the selected regions.

The month of November was an exciting one for the Words of Relief team as we conducted a simulation exercise, sending out crisis messages to our volunteers. Yes, we sent out 4 crisis text messages to each of the 11 volunteer translators. The translators did not have much warning that the messages would come. The aim of the exercise was to ensure that we have a team ready that can accurately translate disaster /crisis messages quickly in order to save lives during a disaster or crisis.

Our Spider Network did a good job, in translating the messages as soon as they received them. We are working with them to improve their effectiveness in rapid translation, as we also address challenges in connectivity. The quality of their translations which were reviewed by our experts in their languages was great. We are confident that in case of a crisis/disaster in the 11 selected Kenyan regions, we will be of great help to NGOs and the government working there. Our team will make aid delivery effective, since the aid workers will not need to worry about language barriers. They will efficiently reach the affected community, with accurate messages in the language they understand most and at the speed needed.

As the month progressed it got more thrilling, as we received additional funding to extend WoR for the Ebola crisis in West Africa.  We were getting requests from partners to translate Ebola information into some West African languages.  The Ebola crisis is a crisis of education and communications and fits perfectly with our WoR goals.  So we approached HIF to extend our WoR pilot to include Ebola communications for 3 months focusing on key languages in the most affected countries: Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.  In addition to the small HIF grant, we received funding from Indigo Trust to compliment our efforts for Ebola, ensuring that information is available and accessible in local languages.

We conducted 2-hour Skype training for West African language volunteers for Ebola. The training was a direct modification of the Spider Network training that was developed under the pilot in Kenya. This has been an exciting helpful exercise to provide key Ebola information in various West African languages such as Themne, Krio, Mende, Malinke and Fula.

In the fight against Ebola, we helped Chocolate Moose, Media’s Firdaus Kharas translate his Ebola prevention video-A poem for the living into Western Africa languages.


In addition, we are disseminating our translated information on numerous websites such as Ebola Communications Network, the CDAC-Network, Humanitarian Response Info in Kenya and West Africa. Content we posted include Ebola posters from International SOS, Center for Disease and Control and WHO/UNICEF Social Mobilization key messages on Ebola.



We are also glad that, word on Words of Relief is really getting out. It was our pleasure to get a request from; Anthony England of @Ebolaphone Maps to assist in translating his maps to various languages for geographically challenged people. We have done a number of languages which include, Amharic, Russian, Bengali, Korean, Chinese among others.

Anthony England’s @EbolaPhone Map for the Geographically Challenged in Chinese

In conclusion, we are glad that our Words of Relief team is being trained by a Wikiresident to edit Swahili Wiki pages. Our goal is to continuously add content and expand information available in Swahili. So far, we have updated the Swahili Wikipedia with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s, Facts for floods preparedness, Tsunami, Landslides and Mudslides information.https://sw.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafuriko#Vifaa_vya_Dharura_Utakavyohitaji.

We are also expanding the Swahili Wikitionary with Crisis words from Humanity Road.

Next month, we will launch our new online training module for volunteer rapid response translators for the Ebola crisis and beyond. Stay tuned!

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