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Refugees Are Paired with With Volunteer Translators Instantly With This New App

Flickr/G. Kraftschik under CC-BY

If smartphone technology makes it easier to moderate your personal life — from water consumption, to physical activity, to daily screen time — it also has the capacity to help you become a more engaged Global Citizen. 

Global Citizen is highlighting apps that give them the tools to engage with the global community with nothing more than a smartphone. 


Moving to a new country — whether or not that move is forced — presents many, many challenges. Finding a job, signing up for health insurance, enrolling in schools, filing taxes, things that are difficult enough to figure out in your native tongue, are exponentially harder in a foreign language. 

Recognizing that need, Tarjimly is an app that connects refugees to locals who speak the language and can help with everything from clearing bureaucratic hurdles to performing everyday tasks by providing real-time translation services. 

Released this past month, the app is powered through Facebook Messenger. When you sign up for Tarjimly through their website, you specify the languages you can write and speak “at least at a colloquial level.” Their list currently includes Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Pashto, English, French, Urdu, and German. 

Once connected, the app matches you anonymously (using just your first name) with people in need of translation assistance. 

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If you sign up now, you will be taken through a quick demo process — which is only in Arabic at the moment — of how the app works. Translation requests come through as Facebook messages, and as such are accessible from almost anywhere with the just the click of a button. 

App developers, according to their site, are still signing up translators to establish a database before opening the service up to refugees. They hope to start connecting people in the “next few weeks.”

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As of 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, almost 1,000 translators have signed up for the app.  

In a Facebook post from January 31, Atif Javed — a product manager at Al Jazeera Plus — outlined the need for translation services, now more than ever.  

“We've helplessly watched the refugee crisis unfold and felt like we've done so little,” Javed wrote. “Now our immigrant friends and families here are under attack.” 

Tarjimly can be a tool to fight this #MuslimBan and refugee crisis, giving average people a way to help those most vulnerable.” 

Though the app has a specific demographic of users — those who possess foreign language skills and want to help with translation work — it shows how easy it can be to make a tangible difference in someone’s life.