GUEST POST: A glimpse behind the scenes – by a Compassion translator

Today I am very excited to introduce a guest post that gives us a glimpse behind the scenes into Compassion International. Today we are having a peek at the work our fabulous Compassion translators do. They are a vital link between us and our sponsored children… and I know this topic has always fascinated me, so I am eager to read it, too… enjoy!  :)



Do you like receiving letters from your sponsored kids? Really? So you are like me! I’m one of the many volunteer translators of Compassion Suisse (Switzerland) and I do my best so that sponsors receive a translated and understandable letter as soon as possible. I also enjoy this hobby because I learn many interesting things about the countries where my kids live.

In fact, Compassion Suisse has a very easy system which is a translation platform. When I want to, I enter my username and password to access the scanned letters, sorted by languages (English, French, German, Spanish or Portuguese). For my part, I translate kids’ letters from Spanish or English, to French, which is my mother tongue.

The letter is displayed in a window and I write the translation in another window, both being visible simultaneously. There is also a field box for adding commentary, to report if there is a problem. When I have finished verifying that no error remains, I just click the “send button”. Then this translation is printed at the Compassion office and sent to the sponsor, with the letter from their child.

Sometimes, I’m sad reading when a child writes: “Why do you never write a letter to me?”

Fortunately, it is rare and I pray each time for that child and for their sponsor too, so that this one will change their mind and finally write to them. Sometimes I also pray for a critical situation exposed in a letter.

To be a translator also changed my own writing a little. Before, I used to handwrite because I found it more personal. Now I prefer to use typewriting, as it is much more readable! I think about the other translators who may need to guess what could be written! It’s the main difficulty I meet. I avoid abbreviations or slang or local words which wouldn’t be understood in other countries, too.

I hope you will enjoy a blessed correspondence with your kids!

A Compassion translator


Compassion letter translation process

Compassion letter translation process




Thank you! I really loved reading this fascinating glimpse behind the scenes and it’s given me things to think about in my own letter writing. A very big thank you to you, and to all our other wonderful Compassion translators scattered over the world who do such a fabulous job, listening in on our intimate conversations that we have with our precious children. Thank you especially for your care and concern for all of our children.

One further question I have is this: Do you have a set amount of letters to translate that is in a virtual pile, or are all the letters in a sort of central queue, so that whichever translator next logs in, attends to the next letter in the queue?

Answer: The references for the 10 first letters are displayed in a window and we have to take them in order (one after the other). The total number of letters waiting is indicated too. And the reference includes the abbreviation of the country providing the letter: EC for Ecuador for instance.

Thank you. And now, dear reader, it’s YOUR turn. I hope that you have enjoyed this peek behind the scenes. Please leave a comment for our guest translator. And now is also a great time to ask any of those pesky questions that you may have always wanted to ask a Compassion translator…. I will see that they get passed on and will bring the answers back to this page for you.

world globe with the word translate in various languages




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22 thoughts on “GUEST POST: A glimpse behind the scenes – by a Compassion translator

    • Yes, it certainly would. I find all the behind the scenes things interesting, especially all the little details like this. I like learning more about our Compassion children and their projects and countries. Thanks so much for stopping to comment Recachu. Blessings. :)


  1. This is so neat! I’ve wondered about the handwritten versus typed question and try to be especially neat when I handwrite my notes–I hope I’ve not given translators many problems! Thanks for sharing a peek behind the scenes with us, and thank you to the translator for the work you are doing :)


  2. Oh wow! That was sooooo interesting! I would be curious to know if there was ever anything “questionable” within a letter that caused a check in the translator’s spirit. If so, what was the age of the child/youth/older teen? Is there a process in place for handling such an occurrence or are letters well supervised within the Centers?


    • That’s a great question, Susan. My guess is that it would go in the ‘field box for adding commentary, to report if there is a problem’ or maybe the translator may ring Compassion if there is something urgent, however I will pass your question on, to make sure. Thanks so much for stopping by to chat. :)


    • Hi Susan, here is the response from the translator:

      Thank you Susan for your question. I have never met anything questionable to translate from English to French. I’m quite sure that the CDI supervise the letters. Once a child, I don’t remember his age, asked for his sponsor’s address. I just added a comment to the sponsor that it should not be given to his child and why. As I’m able to understand Spanish, I have noticed a very few times that some letters were censored by the translator from Spanish to English, when a child asked for a gift or money, but that happens very rarely. If I did meet anything questionable, I would notify it to my Compassion Office.


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  5. I am a “typer” too! Letters to and from our sponsored children are a treasured keepsake and it is important that the message being communicated is expressed in the way it was intended. This must be a challenge for translators and I am stopping by to say Thank you, Gracias, and Merci for your faithfulness in using your gifts and talents for Jesus….and us! :)


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  15. Hello!
    Thank you so much for this post, it is so fun to catch a glimpse of the beautiful compassion letter-writing process. I speak English and Spanish and I was wondering how to become a compassion translator?


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