Haitian Linguists Working in Dire Conditions Need Your Help

When people picture a fully remote freelance job, images of relaxed working conditions in stylish environments often come to mind. But far from this ideal scenario, language contractors working in beleaguered Haiti regularly face dangerous situations and unreliable infrastructure — conditions in which most people cannot imagine working.

Safe working conditions in Haiti for interpreters and translators have deteriorated substantially in recent months. Extensive utility outages are expected, and violence and crime are constant threats. 

Additionally, typical job opportunities have dried up. “The security crisis has caused foreigners to stay out of the country,” says a Haitian interpreter whose usual assignments with missionaries and aid workers have dropped to almost zero.

As CEO of Creole Solutions, a US-based Haitian Creole language service provider, I have received many distressing updates from in-country linguists, mostly involving utility outages, personal security issues, and the availability of assignments.

Utility outages 

High-quality translation involves a lot of research, which is typically conducted online. But extended power outages and lack of access to internet servers have made it difficult for Haitian linguists to stay connected. Many of our team members are unable to predict when they will have data access and power for their equipment, which directly affects their ability to deliver translations on time. Some Haitian contractors have even taken the costly step of signing up for multiple internet service providers to remain reliable. 

Personal security issues

The deteriorating political situation in the country has led to random violence amid gang warfare. The constant security threats have resulted in spiking anxiety and depression amidst constant worries. Fearful of leaving their homes, people shelter in place to avoid getting caught up in violent incidents. “The precaution we take in Haiti these days is to stay home and go out only if necessary,” says a colleague. 

Availability of assignments

The out-of-control security situation in Haiti has forced international aid organizations, business representatives, and diplomats — core constituencies for language services — to leave the country. The absence of customary work opportunities for contractors has added an economic challenge to the already difficult environment and is forcing team members to seek additional income opportunities to survive.

Call for advocacy

Thousands of people work as contract linguists around the world, and their job situation can change on a moment’s notice when local conditions deteriorate. For people in developed countries, world events can sometimes seem like a few scenes of noise and flame shown on TV. But these very real challenges affect hard-working people in tangible, life-altering ways.

At Creole Solutions, we’re firmly committed to our team members in Haiti, many of whom are our long-time collaborators. We have established extensive contingency plans, including building extra time into our delivery calendar to make sure we can continue to serve our clients. 

Creole Solutions calls on all clients who regularly order Haitian Creole language services to be advocates for the country and to keep the stress of the escalating security situation in mind when communicating with their target audiences. Our company will continue to deliver translation and interpreting services in the customary quality, but we ask that you acknowledge the extraordinary effort our team members are making to guarantee our level of service. In the deadline-driven language industry, we must make every effort to accommodate the difficult working conditions of our linguists.

Marleen Julien
With over 20 years of experience as a Haitian language and culture consultant, Marleen Julien is the founder and CEO of Creole Solutions, a translation company that serves organizations working with Haitian communities.


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