Communication has been a persistent problem between the aid workers and those who fled Syria as well as other countries in the refugee camps in Europe. To mitigate that challenge, Tarjmly, a smartphone-based translation service, has been adopted from last year. Initially, Facebook’s Messenger bot was being used to provide translation services, but Saudi Gazette (online version, dated June 29th), an English newspaper in Saudi Arabia, reported that the service will be migrated from Messenger to its own app soon.
There can be over 30 nationalities in a refugee camp with more than a dozen languages being spoken. There is always a shortage of interpreters and cases of death among children have been reported due to the insufficient communication between the doctor and parents. Once learning the situation at these camps, Mr. Abdulaziz Alghunaim, a student of Saudi origin studying in the US, launched Tarjmly with his friend—a translation platform that offered remote translation services for free by bilingual volunteers. They resigned from their office jobs this year to focus only on building Tarjmly, and recently, their company was accepted by Y Combinator, an accelerator for startups, which has a track record of supporting companies like Airbnb and Dropbox.
Currently there are 3000 registered translators of Tarjmly, and in total, it supports 18 languages, starting with Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Pashtun and other European languages. Most volunteers reside in the Middle East, followed by residents of UK, US and other countries. The average connection time is 90 seconds, and up until now, the service has played a role in connecting services providers such as doctors with refugees in over 2000 different cases. The users are not only limited to European countries, but its use has been reported in Bangladesh as well as in Myanmar, which are known for the Rohingya crisis. Tarjmly has a built-in service that protects the anonymity of the translators and users too. Let us hope that the technological advancement will bring the much-needed assistance to as many refugees.