The last few weeks have been fairly quiet in my world, with a limited amount of substance inspiring me to put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking).
That was the case until Tekom in Wiesbaden last week.
On the evening of Thursday the 8th of November 2013 a typhoon by the name of Haiyan hit land in the Philippines with sustained winds in excess of 300km/h and gusts recorded of just short of 400km/h. Coupled with up to 400mm of rainfall Haiyan has been logged as one of the worst storms ever recorded and had it happened in a different longitude and latitude it would have been classified way beyond the maximum of a Cat 5 storm. Finally, when viewed from above, the size of the storm covered the whole of the Philippines and is currently bearing down on Vietnam where an evacuation of tens of thousands is in progress.
So where is the connection to our industry?
What brought this home to me was how deeply the non-profit organization TWB (Translators Without Borders) were involved with the accurate flow of information coming out of the Philippines. The team worked all through the night from Thursday to Friday coordinating, sourcing and allocating the “linguistic world” so that the messages being sent out via word of mouth, text messages (where the signals would allow it) telephone and email etc… could be efficiently and professionally translated. The result of this involvement highlighted how important our industry actually is! Without it not only would our world’s media not be in a position to portray the devastation accurately but more importantly the coordination of the relief effort would be much less efficient without them.
It is through the Translators without Borders platform that important aid groups are easily placed in connection with professional translators, breaking down the barriers of language and building up the transfer of information to those who need it. In times of crisis it is an incredibly important operation.
My feelings of sympathy go out to everyone in the Philippines but my total admiration and thanks goes out to all those involved with TWB who, for me, are some of the hidden, unsung heroes; saving lives by their unselfish involvement in this fantastic charity.
As for the rest of Tekom; a more in-depth report will follow over the coming weeks.