Dokotoro Project Workshops in Bamako, August 29 to 31

We are delighted to announce that we will be holding 3 days of workshops in Mali later this month.

L'obélisque des idéogrammes, a monument in Hamdallaye, Bamako. Locals call it "bougieba" or the big candle.

L’obélisque des idéogrammes, a monument in Hamdallaye, Bamako. Each side of the tower is inscribed with writing and symbols from Mali’s different ethnic groups, including N’Ko and Tifinagh, as a symbol of national unity. Locals call it the “bougieba” or the big candle.

At long last, we have completed manuscripts of the book Where There Is No Doctor in both French and Bambara. These editions have been completely updated and adapted for West Africa. We’ve informally shared drafts with Malian experts over the years, but now it is time to get more detailed feedback from health workers and health volunteers to be sure the book is responsive to their needs.

The workshops will be held in Bamako from August 29 to 31. We have planned one day for experts from government and NGOs. The two following days we will hold focus groups with health workers and others who are the “target audience” of the book. If you know someone in Mali who could help us by attending either workshop, please be in touch.

We’re also learning how expensive it is to hold this kind of meeting in Bamako. Please consider making a donation to support this effort.

Family Planning Chapter Posted

We’ve (finally) posted the Family Planning chapter for the new French and Bambara editions of Where There Is No Doctor. Check it out on our Downloads page!

The translation is officially finished. We’ll post the Green Pages (which has all the information about medicines) as soon as we have time to format it properly. Sex40ae

We’ve suffered some setbacks in the layout department, but we are still hoping to print the first editions this fall. If you know how to use Adobe InDesign or are interested in learning, please get in touch!

New French-language chapters posted

Bonjour! Today, we posted several new draft chapters of the forthcoming French-language edition of Where There Is No Doctor on our Downloads page

Recently, we decided to put more effort into producing the book in French as well as in Bambara. It has always been difficult to find a French-language version of the book, adn the old copies some of you may have lying about are woefully out of date.

We still have two long chapters that need work (First Aid and the Green Pages, which contains instructions and precautions for all the medicines listed in the book). If you or someone you know can help edit or translate, please be in touch!


New Chapters posted

We’ve just posted a couple of new documents on our downloads page in the last few days. This includes two really important chapters:

  • Chapter 14, Serious illnesses that need special medical attention.
  • Chapter 24, HIV and AIDS

Chapter 14 contains vital information on dangerous illnesses like tuberculosis, rabies, tentanus, meningitis, cholera, etc. It feels like a major accomplishment to finally publish this chapter. The source text was only 14 pages long, but it took a lot of work to create the draft layout due to the many figures and captions.

We are now working on finalizing the Green Pages, with all the information about medicines, and the chapter on Family Planning. The latter requires some new material to be translated, since Hesperian Health Guides recently did a major overhaul of this material in the new 2015 edition of Where There Is No Doctor.

The materials are available in both French and Bambara, in keeping with our new commitment to make all the materials available in both languages. Here’s an interactive version of the side-by-side bilingual layout for you to browse:

March 2016 Update

Greetings to all of our readers, volunteers, and donors! We are getting tantalizingly close to the official publication of new editions of Where There Is No Doctor in French and Bambara.

Translation of the Bambara edition is finished, mostly.* A huge congratulations and thank you to our translation team in Bamako: Salifou Bengaly, Fatoumata Bouaré, Diatrou Dembelé, and Yagare Magassa. Thanks also to Djibril Coulibaly who has helped with editing and proofreading.

We are now working on layout and design. One of our volunteer designers was unable to continue due to some health challenges, so we are not likely to finish this spring as we hoped. If you or anyone you know knows Adobe InDesign and could help, please get in touch.

04_2aWe are also finishing the French-language edition, Là Où Il n’y a Pas de Docteur. This will be a totally new updated edition that should be useful throughout the francophone, particularly in Africa. We are actively additional seeking French speakers to help translate and edit. Please be in touch if you can help!

In the last couple of months, we’ve expanded the number of draft chapters available on our Downloads page. We’ve posted more of the French-language chapters in response to a request from a missionary in Mali who is working with bilingual villagers who say they prefer reading the text in French, since that is what they learned in school and they are more comfortable reading it.

Stay tuned for volunteer work parties in this spring and summer. We’re beginning to think about the html and ebook versions of the book, and we are sure to need lots of help creating these.

*Why the asterisk? Since we started translating Where There Is No Doctor in 2012, the book’s publisher, Hesperian Health Guides, has published two revised editions. Their editors are constantly working to keep abreast of developments in medicine, such as treatment recommendations from the WHO, which medicines are no longer manufactured, etc. For the 2015 revision, there were some important changes, so we will go back and revise. It’s a little frustrating, because it feels like we’re chasing a moving target. But it’s worth the inconvenience (and expense) to make sure we are publishing accurate information, especially when it comes to medicines and dosages.

11_31aFinally, we are making our 2015 Annual Report available to those interested. We promised this to our fiscal sponsor, African Sky, in our agreement with them, so we have been creating one every year since 2013. Since we’re a small, all-volunteer organization, it’s not too fancy. But we have to carefully balance our books every year to prepare our tax filing anyway (IRS Form 990). So this is just another way to for donors to see how their funds are being used.

Health Guides for Africa

World Reader is a non-profit organization that encourages literacy and reading by distributing e-readers and e-books in developing countries. Here is an excerpt from a recent blog post explaining how they are helping to distribute Where There is No Doctor and other health books in Africa:

Hesperian is a nonprofit that has been putting easy-to-understand health manuals into the hands of people worldwide. In 2013 we joined forces with Hesperian to send their most widely-used health care manual, Where There is No Doctor to our schools and libraries in sub-Saharan Africa. It was a success.


In an effort to empower more people in Africa with health information, we’ve added two more Hesperian manuals, Sanitation and Cleanliness for Healthy Environment and Pesticides are Poison to Worldreader Mobile, our mobile reading application being used by more than 13 million readers in 47 countries.


December 2015 Update

First off, I’d like to say that everyone involved with the Dokotoro Project is deeply saddened by the recent terror attacks in Bamako. We send our condolences to those who died and we are praying for peace in Mali.

Things have been moving behind the scenes here. Admittedly, things move slowly since everyone involved has a day job, and this project takes up a lot of our nights and weekends.

11_31aOur team of translators in Bamako is currently finishing up the very last chapter of the Bambara version of Where There Is No Doctor. The final piece is the Green Pages, a long chapter at the end of the book with a list of all the medicines, along with detailed information about usage, dosing, precautions, and side effects.

It is extremely important we get this done right, so we are being extra-careful and triple-checking every line. In addition to the Bambara edition, so far we have about 90% of the text translated into French as well. Many hundreds volunteer hours have gone into this. We will be pushing to finish this in the coming months.This represents a totally updated and corrected version compared to any existing French-language version in print, all of which are old and out-of-date.

The French version will be useful as the “majority language” source text, and should also be useful throughout francophone Africa.

The next step is to prepare all of the translated material for publication. Our lead design volunteer has recruited and will be mentoring 3 university students who are doing the layout as their “capstone project.” They’ll be starting in early January and need to finish by May in order to graduate!

We are always looking for volunteers willing to help out. Right now, there is a lot of work involving MS Word, getting the documents prepared for the layout team, who will be using Adobe InDesign.

New Chapter Posted: Prevention!

I’m happy to announce that we’ve posted another chapter. Check out the new version of Chapter 12: Prevention: how to avoid many sicknesses. Or in Bambara, Kɛnɛya sabati fɛɛrɛw.

On our downloads page, you’ll find the new Bambara translation, as well as a bilingual version with French and Bambara on facing pages. Here is an online version hosted on Issuu. Bon lecture! Ka kalan diya!

Friday Party: Tubabu by Tondjon

It’s been a while since we updated the blog. Lots of work has been going on behind the scenes! Our dedicated team of translators in Bamako are busy translating the Family Planning chapter of Where There Is No Doctor into Bambara. The translation is 90% finished! Volunteers are busy working on layout, but we could still use more volunteers! Drop us a line if you could spend a few hours on the project.

In the meantime, here’s some Malian rap from 2008 for your Friday!

Where There Is No…

A lot of people I’ve talked to are not aware that, besides the famous book Where There is No Doctor, Hesperian Health Guides publishes dozens of other titles. Some of them have titles following a familiar pattern, like Where There is No Dentist, or Where Women Have No Doctor. Other titles include A Community Guide to Environmental Health or the brand-new Workers’ Guide to Health and Safety.

Hesperian publishes most of its titles in both English and Spanish. For other languages, they rely on partner organizations to translate their books, while adapting them for their own region. As a relatively small nonprofit, they just don’t have the resources to cover the globe, so that’s where organizations like The Dokotoro Project come in. Hesperian’s languages page includes links to read or buy copies in 80 different languages.

I recently learned about a couple of books (not from Hesperian) with familiar-looking titles that would probably be extremely useful in West Africa. Have any of our readers ever read or owned a copy of one of these books?

Where There is No VetWhere There is No Animal Doctor