The Project

The Refugee Translation Project provides free, professional translation services for refugees seeking asylum in the New York metro area, as well as for refugees living in camps and other precarious situations in Turkey. We offer English translations of asylum statements and supporting documents originally written in Turkish and Arabic. As the project picks up momentum, we will add more languages to our services.

We serve refugees who have fled their countries under threat of imprisonment, torture, and even death. Those who make it to the New York area and wish to stay here must apply for asylum, which involves convincing the court that they are being persecuted in their home country and cannot be sent back for fear of further persecution or death.

One of the most important factors for asylum seekers is that they can fully convey their stories to their lawyers and to the courts. These stories, written as statements, and the material evidence to back them up, are crucial to the refugees’ success. Both the statements and the evidence, which could be anything from identification papers, medical reports, and court documents, to threatening letters, tax penalty notices, bank statements, and newspaper articles, need to be translated.

Unfortunately, many of these people have lost almost everything they own and cannot afford to pay for the speedy translation of these important documents. To ease the burden, the Refugee Translation Project offers these professional translation services for free so that refugees can focus their limited resources on making a new home here.

We work with IRAP (International Refugee Assistance Project) to connect with and assist refugees still living in refugee camps and other precarious situations. IRAP uses the reports we translate to determine refugees’ eligibility for various resettlement pathways. So far, IRAP has identified at least 12 cases of exceptional medical vulnerability, four of which IRAP is currently providing with legal representation in the resettlement process. However, it too early to tell whether UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, or a government, has acted on any of these cases.

Since we began in May, we have helped over 138 families and individuals from Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran.

So far one family we supported has been granted asylum in the United States. The asylum process is a long, arduous process that can take up to a year or more. As the Refugee Translation Project has been around for just over a year now, we hope to hear more wonderful news like this.

We raised $14,450 in our first three fundraising campaigns. Our current campaign, which ends on December 6, has an ambitious goal of raising another $5,000.

Where does the money go?

About 92% of the total funds we raise goes towards paying our professional translators, who work on a contractor basis. 5% goes towards ioby’s fiscal sponsorship fee, 3% goes towards ioby’s donation processing fee, and $15 per campaign goes to ioby’s platform fee. We also pay $4 a month for this website. All fundraising and administrative work is done on a volunteer basis. Our translators are paid a standard rate of $.10 per word for Turkish and $.11 per word for Arabic.