The Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer, or BDÜ for short, is a relatively large professional association for translators and interpreters in Germany and currently has well over 7,000 members. Over the last few months, a number of these members, including the staff who run the body at a regional and national level, have been asking themselves and one another how the BDÜ can help refugees who are now coming to Germany or have already been registered by the authorities and are now living in temporary homes, awaiting a decision on their official status.
In the latest e-mail newsletter sent out to members, one of the points mentioned is what the BDÜ has actually started doing for these needy people now, many of whom are from Syria and other war-torn countries like Eritrea and are applying for long-term residence permits without being able to speak a word of German: it has set up a special page on its national website listing numerous links to language resources of potential use to refugees and their helpers in Germany. Some of these resources are also intended for government authorities to help them interact with refugees and obtain the information they require to deal with applications, for example. So in short, the BDÜ sees its main role as acting as a linguistic and cultural consultant for these three groups of people.
The list of links has been arranged in appropriate categories such as 'General information about life in Germany', 'Learning German', 'Teaching German as a second language' and 'Help for refugees'. The last category includes areas such as interpreters' training on asylum issues and news for refugees in their own languages, as you can see below:
Some of the material listed is available in other languages than German, fortunately. Klett Verlag has produced a refugee guide on living in Germany, which is in English, Arabic and French as well as German, which is a good start in my opinion.
Apart from publishing this list of useful information for the various groups concerned, the BDÜ is also calling on its members to contribute to the Refugee Phrasebook, which is an ongoing project in which a practical phrasebook to help users with basic phrases and terms in German is being compiled with translations in various languages. Words associated with seeing a doctor or being in hospital in Germany are listed here with equivalents in 28 languages, apparently. A juridical phrasebook has just been started on this website as well, which lawyers are contributing to on a voluntary basis.
I wonder what supportive action is being taken by translators' and interpreters' associations in other EU countries affected by the current wave of immigration. What is happening in Greece, Italy and Sweden, for example? What does the umbrella organisation known as FIT have in mind, if anything? If you know of any similar projects outside Germany, please let me know about them.
- Volunteering with the British Red Cross to work as an interpreter to help refugees
- An article from August on ways of helping in the German capital: '10 ways you can help refugees in Berlin'
- Volunteering to translate for a good cause, e.g. with Translators Without Borders
Images: logo © BDÜ, screen shot taken from the BDÜ's resources page, 'Hilfe für Flüchtlinge'.