The Do-Gooder
Her World Singapore|December 2020
Even before she started work officially, this young doctor had helped to save lives with her quick thinking. Her medical translation site TranslateFor.sg was used by countless healthcare workers to communicate with migrant workers at the height of the outbreak.

DETERMINED TO BREAK DOWN LANGUAGE BARRIERS

At one point, it got over 50,000 hits in a month. So it’s hardly a hyperbole when we say that her website helped to save lives, although Dr Roy Chowdhury’s humility would beg to differ. What she didn’t tell journalists previously was that before trying to build the website herself, she had reached out to two guys who work in tech, in hopes of getting their help to bring her idea to life.

The first guy told her that he’d need two weeks. The second told her that it was too ambitious and basically impossible. He said she wouldn’t be able to do it.

Out of sheer defiance, and a sense of urgency as a medical worker, Dr Roy Chowdhury got down to work.

“We can’t afford to wait around for two weeks during a pandemic,” she says. Over the subsequent weeks, she worked on improving the website’s functionality and interface, optimising it for mobile. Later, software engineer Aniruddha Adhikary helped her turn it into the current TranslateFor.sg.

“It wasn’t perfect,” she says of her first attempt, stressing that her main focus was functionality. “But I’m glad I didn’t wait.”

Building a website in eight hours

The young doctor was waiting to start her housemanship when Covid-19 struck. Like most medical workers, she had been keeping up with the daily numbers and getting increasingly anxious as the count increased.

On the night of April 14, she had stayed up for the daily update. Her phone chimed at 11:58pm – migrant workers had become a significant majority of new infections, making up 280 out of the total of 386 cases, most of which were in the dormitories.

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