A translator’s story

Ever wondered who it is who translated your letters to your sponsored child? Meet Josiane Yanogo, one of our translators at Compassion Burkina Faso.

Today, I watched a soccer match with a Canadian sponsor, learned about the work of a veterinarian in Australia and ate sushi on a Korean dinner table. I travelled all of these places through the letters I translate for Compassion Burkina Faso. Translating letters is a unique experience that allows me to journey into different cultures. But the process of becoming a translator wasn’t easy.

My country of Burkina Faso is one of nine French-speaking countries in West Africa. Throughout the country, you’ll hear over 60 dialects and languages, but most people speak Moore, the local language. Languages such as Spanish, Arabic, and German are offered in secondary schools as optional subjects. English, however, is not.

With more international organizations establishing branches in Burkina Faso, the need for fluent English speakers has increased considerably. A fellow alumni student from the University of Ouagadougou started a private company to teach others English. I took the course and received my certificate of English proficiency.

My desire was to translate correspondence letters for Compassion Burkina Faso. I knew there was no specific department for translation and no advertisements for translators there, but I applied anyway. They recorded my application and called me when they needed a new translator.

First, I submitted a cover letter and my resume to the Compassion Burkina Faso’s Program Communications Department. They wanted to see a minimum of two years of university English studies or a stay in an English-speaking country, as well as minimum experience in translation and interpretation.

I passed through the first round of the selection process and prepared to step in to a face-to-face interview. I sat in front of four sponsor and donor services associates. After we talked for about 40 minutes, they handed me a written test. This was my opportunity to demonstrate my translation capacities through a sample of children and sponsor letters.

I prayed as I began my written test. I know that Compassion prefers Christian applicants. The letters require a strong Christian knowledgebase and I want to properly convey the messages of Jesus’ love in the letters.

A few days later, I received a call from the Sponsor Donor Services Supervisor and she offered me a job as a translator for Compassion Burkina Faso! I joined a group of over 30 letter translators to bring the relationship between child and sponsor to life. Not only do these letters encourage both sponsors and children, but they keep my love for the children of my own country alive.


Written by Serge Ismael Ouedraogo and Katy Causey

Letters are a wonderful source of encouragement for your sponsored child.

Take a few minutes to bring some light into their  day by writing today!

Write your child

Written by: Compassion Canada