A Global Mosaic: ProZ.com’s pro bono project

Turn on the news and you’re soon assailed by woeful tidings of every kind: forests burning, racist police actions, violence against women, endangered species disappearing, gun crime, modern-day slavery, refugees fleeing oppressive regimes, war, famine, and drought.

Some people opt to simply switch off their TV or radio. It can all be too much. Feeling helpless is an understandable reaction.

Yet perhaps the answer lies not in doing nothing, but in making a tiny contribution to improving things. Making a decision to make the world just a little better through our actions, however infinitesimal.

Think of it as adding one more piece to a mosaic, even if the mosaic is never quite complete. Take the following five cases as examples of people whose lives have been positively affected by the charitable actions of others.

Having just arrived in New Jersey from Eritrea in 2022, Freweini finds herself in a position where she cannot afford health insurance, amongst all the other challenges facing her with the language and trying to settle her family. Luckily, her friends told her about BVMI, a nonprofit operating in Bergen County that believes healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Staffed by volunteer doctors, they set out to treat patients with dignity, respect, and compassion. They were able to support Freweini through the Women’s Health Initiative when she experienced health problems. One less thing to worry about, and a vital source of support, as it has been for so many others excluded from the insurance system.


There’s something different in the air this morning in the village of Khongoni, Malawi, where several villagers have begun receiving 12 cash installments amounting to $1,000 from Give Directly. Fesita bought food for her children and invested in some farmland. Gideon used to go to sleep on an empty stomach and was less productive on the farm. Now he’s built a new house. Selina sent her daughter to school and bought her a bike. Malekano bought two pigs for his farm and schoolbooks for his children. Life is suddenly looking up! 


After fleeing Venezuela and settling in Barcelona, Yoselin decided she wanted to launch a bakery of her own. Luckily, her first network in the city pointed her to Singa, an NGO that helps migrant and refugee people to lay the foundations of their projects, regain the social capital lost through migration, and strive to create a more inclusive society. Through mentoring and various courses, they put her in touch with other persons with similar projects, and together they all became entrepreneurs, something that they would never imagine doing when arriving in Spain. The situation in her homeland is never far from her mind, but here she has managed to regain confidence in her skills and her potential and to not only be seen as a labor force but as a leader who can contribute to the local economy from a different position, an equal one.

Stamping her feet against the cold, Ivanka heads to the local market. After leaving her homeland of Ukraine, it took her quite a while to get used to listening to and speaking German. In the beginning, her first efforts at communication were greatly helped by a bilingual picture dictionary produced by a group of artist volunteers called Zeichner Bauen Brücken (Artists Building Bridges). Using the dictionary, Ivanka was able to point to pictures of fruit and vegetables, as well as help her children learn their new language. The dictionary proved to be an invaluable tool in their learning journey.


The 14-year-old Lucy is a schoolgirl in England who, as part of a school environmental project, has completed one of the many challenges set by Ma Petite Planète, a French nonprofit that designs gamified challenges for schools and families alike. In the last week alone, Lucy has picked litter from the beach, helped plant a tree in her local park, and cycled to school rather than asking her father to drop her off. Along the way, she’s taken pictures to confirm her progress.


Whether in health, refugee welfare, environmental campaigns, language assistance, or financial support, all five cases involve organizations stepping up and making a difference. And what unites all five organizations, above and beyond their vital contribution, whether local or international, is the fact they are being supported by translators from ProZ.com’s global pro bono program. The initiative sees volunteer translators offering their valuable time and skills to translate a variety of documentation, from press articles to consent forms, and from apps to dictionary entries. And all are entirely cashless — no money is received from any of the clients.

We’re proud to be playing a part in this worldwide network of unsung activity.

Check out the website for more details of the project’s work, clients, and vision.

Editor’s Note: All the names in the following case studies have been changed.

Andrew Morris
After a 20-year career in language teaching and teacher training in 11 countries, Welshman Andrew Morris turned to translation in 2009, on moving to France. He still translates, revises and writes copy daily, and now lives in Spain. He is also an experienced community manager on social media. Since 2019 he has been part of the team at ProZ.com, where he now coordinates the pro bono project.


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