The pandemic period has never been a joking experience for me, but it has surely been a time of personal growth.
I was running Rundi Language Hub, a language business where we do translation and interpreting. As may other businesses in the early stages, this global health issue has hit us hard.
Seeing how the growth was taking place and how we were getting new partners, so many plans were on the table and my partners and I were witnessing an incredible growth, just a few months before the global lockdown.
The nature of our business didn’t allow much to be done during this hard time. Most of the translation and interpreting work that we do involves clients and partners from western countries, especially the Americas and Europe. It was crystal clear to us that partnerships had to be shaken and strategies to change in one way or another. We had to adapt our sails to the wind.
The interpreting side of our job had to cease since no one was traveling from the west to our country and we had to redefine our translation department. This didn’t work as we thought, however, considering that our readiness to work online wasn’t that of our clients whose countries and initiatives were more at stake than ours. Of course, we had to touch where our hand could reach.
In spite of all the wind that smashed our faces, we are proud that we’ve been able to use the skills and talents we had, not just growing our organization’s net worth, but serving the community. Personally, and surely collectively since two of my other partners were also voluntarily involved, we translated some stuff related to COVID-19 absolutely for no penny.
We were all conscious that even though our company could gain some money, lives were called into a game no one knew they could win. Having for example fliers and all kinds of documents calling for awareness, protection, and fight against the new coronavirus in English and French_ as it was_ could not help Burundians a lot. We translated them into our local language, Kirundi.
We’ve got to work and do all that we can to help fight this global pandemic in our own way. Did we save lives? Yes. Did we earn money out of that particular campaign? No, but we knew it was worth it. We have understood the ancient words of wisdom that read
“In the end, what we own is worth less, but what good we do for our community with what we can is worth everything.”
It was “planting a tree under whose shade we were not going to sit” … but actually and fortunately, we will sit under that shade when we will all overcome this threat.
On the other side of professional life, as a writer and fact-checker, it didn’t hit me much. These skills were proven to be very much needed during the pandemic. We need stories to read when we are not crossing the next road, we need movies to watch when sitting on our sofa, we need verified information to roll our eyes on when we feel bored or just hungry for updates in our community or even from afar.
In this, I probably did well as I got a position as a fact-checker and copy editor for PesaCheck (Nairobi), the first East African fact-checking organization where we are doing a lot of work debunking misinformation spreading here and there.
The freedom that social media platforms offer us is oftentimes abused or misused since some people sit down and plan how to spread fake news for getting attention, gaining views, or hundreds of more reasons. I massively wrote investigative stories on diverse debunks and conspiracies related to COVID-19 and other domains of life affected by the pandemic. One of my stories was ranked 2nd in Poynter’s global monthly selection of the top 5 stories worldwide. I was humbled to see where our ink can reach.
I was also internationally published in June and July in I AM Magazine and The War Against Fake News Anthology respectively for my writing pieces. Was it easy? I don’t think it was, but adapting to the weather makes man enjoy the climate threat, no matter what.
Let’s learn from one another, let’s support one another, let’s check on one another, let’s help our communities get through this threat, let’s be kind like never before. We shall all overcome and come back to our former normal… or maybe do better.
To finish, I cannot lack to share a lesson I learned from this (probably one of the most conducive environments to learning and growing). Hard times are not always there to kill us, we learn from them, we grow, we thrive, and most importantly get out of them stronger and wiser.
“Adversity makes you meet your real self.”
Co-founder, Senior Linguist & COO, Rundi Language Hub.
Writer, copy editor, fact-checker.