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Wycliffe man reading the Bhele posters 1 header 2 .jpg
Wycliffe man reading the Bhele posters 1 header 2.jpg
World News

Bible translators swap to translating health messages about Covid-19

by Cara Bentley

People who translate the Bible into languages spoken in small marginalised commmunities have turned their attention to translating health warnings around Covid-19. 

Wycliffe Bible Translators, who work across the world providing the Bible in people's first language, have created new posters, dubbed videos and written social media posts to ensure people fully understand what they need to do to stop the spread of the virus, trying to limit the outbreak in some of the poorest regions of the world. 

It's estimated that around one in three people globally do not have the correct health information because of language barriers. Information that some have is inaccurate, such as myths about being out in the sun preventing coronavirus, or drinking alcohol. 

In South Sudan the Bible translation team and experienced translators of local languages worked together to translate a government-approved Covid-19 prevention poster into 26 local languages that had no appropriate materials. These have now been distributed widely via mobile phones and social media by various non-governmental organisations.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), two of the translation team created posters in the Bhele language to help the Bhele people understand the precautions they should be taking.

Man in the DRC reads poster in Bhele language 


In the Philippines, Covid-19 prevention materials have been translated into over 40 local languages which are being shared through social media, to reach communities across the islands.

In Togo, the Wycliffe team has dubbed a public health information video issued by the government in French in 16 local languages which have been shared on YouTube and some broadcast on Togo's national television channel. As a result, Wycliffe reckons this translation work now serves around 7 million people inside Togo and many more beyond the Togo borders. 


James Poole, executive director of Wycliffe, told Premier: "We're not putting this ahead of Bible translation, rather it's the case that when you look at the great commands that Jesus gave us in the New Testament - one of which was to love your neighbour as yourself and another of which was to go and make disciples of all nations - as we go and make disciples of all nations, we find ourselves with a whole set of new neighbours! And whilst we live amongst them we are to love them as we love ourselves."

He continued: "We help with those needs that we can and we point them to a saviour who is able to help them with so much more."

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