CBK: Translating for Charity

Last week I undertook a new task, something I’ve never done before.

I translated an emotive piece of text, written by a young girl called Almira growing up in Bosnia, for Charity: Bosnian Kids.

A Note on the Work

Although I am bilingual, my Bosnian would be ill-described as fluent. My reading and listening is much stronger than my speaking and writing, but even so I don’t quite understand specialist, business, slang or diplomatic language. As a result I would definitely be unable to translate into Bosnian – but turning text into English is far more accessible for me, so I gave it a shot. The draft just needed a final check over by my mama, and I got the green light with only four corrections. Hurrah!

Edit on 27/02/2022: I realised that, in my excitement, I never mentioned some of the key things I took away from this translating experience! Mainly, I found it tricky to balance the two languages. For starters, the text is written by a young girl, with some slightly repetitive language and elongated sentences that, when turned word-for-word into English, do not read very well, nor would they have been grammatically correct. I wanted to ensure I kept the essence of the original author in the feeling of the text without compromising a natural flow in English. I find Bosnian to be a far more emotional and lyrical language than English. Passionate language is English is often associated with a plethora of negative connotations. I feel this is because ‘proper’ English can be quite constricting due to correct sentence structure, which often impacts the amount of emotion that can be tastefully delivered. For example, we have lots of small words that either do not exist or are obsolete in Bosnian, such as ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’, which chop up the sentence. This in turn dilutes emotion, meaning extra emotional words might be required to adequately get a feeling across. There are tricks to getting around this, but when I attempted this with the translation I felt I was deviating too much from the original text. In Bosnian you can also often deliver a singular meaning through a number of sentences using the same core words. The words are simply jumbled up and adjusted (conjugated) to fit their position within the sentence, which allows for more flexibility in general.

About Charity: Bosnian Kids

Charity: Bosnian Kids (CBK) was founded by Bosnian diaspora living in the Netherlands with the goal of tackling poverty and its effects on children in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For those that do not know, poverty is a serious issue in BiH. There are high levels of unemployment and limited social mobility in the country, serious political corruption and substantial trauma-induced psychological damage. These issues are largely direct consequences of the disastrous 92-95 Bosnian War.

Primarily the work is achieved through providing vulnerable children with a free daily lunch at their school. The children of families who cannot afford to pay for their lunch will not have access to food at school otherwise, and for many this could be their only nutritious meal of the day. CBK faced novel challenges due to the pandemic, but they adapted by delivering food parcels to families in need across the country whilst schools were shut. More recently they launched a third initiative, to help provide school books to the children. On their website you can choose to donate towards any of the three initiatives. If you like, you can read more about their missions here.

Since their inception, CBK has seen excellent growth. In their first year (2018), the charity covered the cost of a daily lunch for 81 students for an entire year. By 2021 they were doing so for 444, and in 2022 they are aiming for 500 children. Furthermore, CBK are totally transparent with their finances. One hundred percent of donated money is guaranteed to go directly to the cause, with founders fronting all operational costs. They publish a yearly financial statement (here is the latest), and their website can be read in English, Dutch and Bosnian.

Stay Updated

Don’t forget to follow them on Instagram for regular updates – @charitybosniankids!

Or, sign up for a quarterly newsletter straight to your email if socials aren’t your style.

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