New Facebook Messenger Bot Lets Struggling Refugees Chat With Translators

Writer and chief finder of gifs at The Vocal

CamJNicholls

Approx 2 minute reading time

As politicians around the world continue to build walls, turn back boats and close their borders (and cold, dead hearts) to refugees, a group of passionate entrepreneurs are stepping up to help solve a problem many refugees and immigrants face – the language barrier.

Tarjimly is a Facebook Messenger bot which connects volunteer translators with refugees and immigrants who are struggling to communicate in a foreign country, allowing them to speak with aid workers, doctors and lawyers.

To get in contact, the refugee requiring translation assistance just needs to message Tarjimly on Facebook messenger, select their language and they will be connected to an appropriate translator.

The five friends behind the app were inspired to help after hearing stories from friends who had volunteered at refugee camps where most of their valuable time was used translating. One of the founders Atif Javed told aplus he was shocked to hear that a two-month-old baby died after the parents misunderstood the advice of their doctor in the refugee camp.

Now with Trump’s immigration ban sending ripples of fear around the world, shutting out people from seven Muslim majority countries, the app’s launch comes at a critical time. For the five creators of the app, all of whom are Muslim Americans, it’s personal – they have friends and family affected by the ban.

For now, the bot is still in the demo stages as more translators sign up for the service. The demo is acting as a test for the translators and the final app will only be initially available to the best 50 or 100 translators. Currently, Arabic is the only available language, but Farsi, Urdu and Pashto will be added soon. When it gets eventually rolled out, those refugees using the service will be able to terminate a conversation at any time with a translator, score them with a one to five star rating and request another translator at any time to ensure those in need remain in control. The creators think that the app may also be used by volunteers in the refugee camps who are more likely to have easily accessible smartphones. 

So far the app has attracted far more attention than they expected. The team hoped for 50 translators in their first week. Within three days, they had surpassed 1000.

So if you are a translator or know one, head to their website and sign up – it’s one of the easiest and most powerful ways to help those in need, even if they’re on the other side of the world to you.

Take some action

Check out Tajimly or sign up as a translator

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