Star Contributor of the Month – Community

For the months of October and November, we’re showcasing the Community, who’ve supplied us a robust new infrastructure for translating Mifos and an active community of translators to maintain and extend the languages Mifos is available in.

Each month we honor one of our top volunteer contributors from around the world.  This time around we’re doing a group recognition for several key members of the community. Transitioning the Mifos user interface to FreeMarker pages meant we needed to re-translate our entire software.  This could have been a nightmare but it’s been a blessing. Making the switch from Pootle to, we’ve benefited from a stable and actively maintained translation infrastructure that smoothly syncs with our Git repository.  Coupled with an enthusiastic community of translators, we’ve been able to maintain our existing Spanish, French, Chinese, and Portuguese translations with the new UI framework and are beginning to translate Mifos into languages like Bengali, Tagalog, Telugu, Tamil, and more.

Read on for a bit more about some of the key players in the TWN ecosystem who are accelerating the speed of translation and in turn the reach of our software. From around the world the TWN community is deeply impacting the poor. Niklas Laxström, the TWN founder, keeps our infrastructure up to date and performing well. Gerard Meijssen, the active blogger, spreads the word to rally translators to support Mifos. Béria Lima, a law student turned engineer, represents one of the many volunteer translators who offer up their time and talent. Special thanks to Philippe Verdy for his contributions to the French translation.

The Conductor: Niklas Laxström – Helsinki, Finland

NiklasBrief Bio (in the words of Niklas): To-be M.A. in Language Technology, founder of, long-time volunteer MediaWiki developer and president of Wikimedia Finland

Relevant Skills: Programming, linguistics, and language technology, server administration

Niklas’ Impact:

Discovering Mifos: I follow the conversations on the TWN IRC channel and learn about the projects that we support so that we can promote their cause in our community. There I discovered Mifos.

Contributions Made to Date: Together with you we have considerably improved the internationalization of Mifos by pointing out problems that prevent the creation of proper translations and by making Mifos localization available to large groups of enthusiastic volunteer translators.

Current Projects: For Mifos I’m planning of automating the integration of translations into the software. More generally, I’m writing my masters’ thesis.

Impact on the Poor: I hope the improved localizations make Mifos more accessible to the people who need it, thus helping the poor.

What’s Rewarding about Working on Mifos:

“It is team work. We identify issues and give hints how to fix them. I feel useful when I see that the issues are fixed, since I know these small things can make a big difference for translators and end users of the Mifos software.”

Advice for Others in Mifos Community:

“This is for translators: if you face an issue that prevents making a proper translation, for example because not enough context is given, let us know about it! You are not alone, and we can fix it so that all the translators after you, can do their work without unnecessary hurdles.”

Fun Facts about Niklas:

Favorite Food: When I was kid I used to eat smoked perch, and the “cheek pieces” were my must-haves.

Favorite Open Source Project: MediaWiki, obviously, without it there would not be

If Niklas Could Travel to One Place in the World: My first (and to date only) trip to Japan made a lasting impact on me. On the other hand from my OpenStreetMap hobby I have learned that you don’t need to travel far to find fascinating places.

Interesting fact about Niklas:  I had a small rabbit when I was a kid. I loved it so much I wrote stories about it. My nick Nikerabbit comes from it, and it has nothing to do with shoes.

The best place to know what’s going on with Niklas and is the Project News page.

The Connector: Gerard Meijssen – Almere, the Netherlands

Gerard MeijssenBrief Bio (in the words of Gerard): Professionally I am into computer operations and security. In the Wiki and the Free / Open content world, I am involved in the language support needed to enable them technically on the Internet and on mobile phones.

Relevant Skills: My involvement is mainly in the outreach to people and organizations. An important instrument is my blog and the people I know who are able to make a difference.

Gerard’s Impact:

Discovering Mifos: I follow the conversations on the TWN IRC channel and learn about the projects that we support so that we can promote their cause in our community. There I discovered Mifos.

Contributions Made to Date:  As a “bureaucrat” I enable people to translate the software we support. I blog regularly and called to action a number of translators to help Mifos be available in more languages.

Current Projects: For Wikipedia, I am currently involved in making multicultural heritage available on Wikimedia Commons. Many objects are in museums and archives in the first world and are particularly relevant in other countries.  For Mifos, I’m continuing to rally more translators through my blog and spread the word about the amazing work organizations are doing with Mifos.

Impact on the Poor: By promoting Wikipedias in the many other languages and the localisation of MediaWiki, we have grown our community and thereby the user experience has improved substantially. Not everybody knows English and it is awesome to learn how relevant many of our smaller Wikipedias are. Gerard extends this same lesson to Mifos community, by making Mifos available in more languages, users in faraway regions can adopt Mifos.

What’s Rewarding about Working on Mifos:

“Mifos and consequently micro finance bring resources to people, to communities.”

Advice for Others in Mifos Community:

“When you do not understand the message that is to be translated, ASK. It helps us understand how to improve the questions in English and answers may end up as a help message for translators for other languages.”

Fun Facts about Gerard:

Favorite Food: Spinach Lasagne

Favorite Open Source Project:

If Gerard Could Travel to One Place in the World: Jakarta

Interesting fact about Gerard:  I am always on the lookout for relevant stories for my blog, Words and What Not.

To keep up to date on all of Gerard’s thoughts and observations on the world read his blog that is actively updated.  He actively posts about Mifos so make sure to read those too.

The Translator: Béria Lima – Porto, Portugal

Béria LimaBrief Bio (in the words of Béria): I was born in Brazil, and had already studied Theology and Law before I discovered that what I really liked was engineering. So I left all to come to Portugal to study my favorite kind of engineering, environmental  engineering. In the internet side of my life – if I call it that way – I’ve edited Wikipedia since 2007 (that is my main affiliation in open source projects, and I’m a founding member of Wikimedia Portugal.

Relevant Skills: Well, I have no training in computer programing, everything I know (which is not that much) about python and Java I learned with the Python Wikipediabot Framework.

Béria’s Impact:

Contributions Made to Date: Translating the last 1500 messages for Portuguese translation of Mifos for Leila E Release.

Current Projects: Currently i’m involved in some GLAM projects for Wikimedia Portugal, and planning the 10th birthday party for Wikipedia in Portugal.

Impact on the Poor: As Sam Birney says “My hope is the work we are all doing with Mifos will result in high-quality, free software that enables MFIs around the world to more effectively realize the dream of empowering millions to overcome poverty.”

What’s Rewarding about Working on Mifos:

“Is good to know that everyone in Brazil and Portugal [and Mozambique] can use Mifos in his/her own language. That is a very good thought to live with :-)”

Advice for Others in Mifos Community:

“Try to understand that not everything that is there are the usual terms for others’ translations. Mifos is a special program and needs special treatment.”

Fun Facts about Béria:

Favorite Food: I know it’s not really a “food” but I love ice cream

Favorite Open Source Project: Pywikipedia and MediaWiki

If Béria Could Travel to One Place in the World: Not really “one” place, but I really want to see the Castles in South of Germany (all of them if possible)

Interesting fact about Béria:  I can play musical keyboard, so I’m always with my hands in some keyboard 😛 and really love to read – so much that I do that even when I’m walking – and that already makes me fall sometimes.

Béria is active in social media. You can find her on LinkedIn (EN) and LinkedIn (PT), browse her Wikipedia user page, read her one of her two blogs or follow @berialima on Twitter and

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