Turkey's Changemakers: Lifesaving interpreters
Sabancı Foundation’s Turkey’s Changemakers Program continues to share the unique stories of extraordinary people who contribute to social development. This week’s Changemaker is the Disaster Relief Interpreters (ARC in Turkish), which is a voluntary organization established to provide interpreting services to foreign search and rescue teams coming to Turkey.
The 1999 earthquakes in Turkey (Aug. 17 and Nov. 12) indicated the need for an organization to facilitate communication between foreign teams, local authorities, volunteers and earthquake victims. For this purpose, the founders of the Association of Translation in Turkey established Disaster Relief Interpreters (ARC) in order to assist foreign rescue teams.
ARC offers interpreting services to foreign search-and-rescue teams and other relief organizations that come to Turkey to support disaster relief. ARC and the Istanbul Governor’s Office signed a protocol which authorizes ARC members to work as volunteers within the official disaster management structure. The volunteers meet rescue teams at the airport and assist them in the crisis management center.
In addition to being fluent in a foreign language, mainly English, French and German, volunteers are expected to have a certain level of knowledge about disaster management. Thus, they receive 30 hours of civil defense training where they learn the basics of search-and-rescue operations. During the training they also practice interpretation, learn new terminology and first-aid to work more effectively in post-disaster relief operations.