The Dokotoro Project was featured on KPFA Radio’s “Africa Today” this week. Host Water Turner interviewed volunteers Anh Ly and Matthew Heberger about why we’re working to translate Where There is No Doctor into Bambara, and how it can help improve health across West Africa. Listen to the archives on the KPFA website (beginning around the 32:00 mark).
We received a very exciting bit of news this week when an anonymous donor agreed to give a matching grant of up to $5,000. All donations made before the end of the November will be matched one-to-one.
Thanks to all those who gave generously at our November 9 fundraiser we’ve already raised $3,065. That means we have nearly $2,000 to go to reach our goal by the end of this month. So if you’ve considered a donation to help us improve health in West Africa, now is the perfect time to do it!
As of November 8, we had raised $9,320 online via First Giving. As long as the total on the page is under $11,255, your gift will be doubled!
We’re delighted that Karamo Susso will join us to play music at our celebration and fundraiser in San Francisco tomorrow (although unfortunately we recently learned that Ousseynou Kouyaté is no longer available, and will not be joining us).
Karamo is a griot, and a gifted kora player, who has studied under played with some of the best musicians in the world, including Toumani Diabaté and Ballaké Sissoko. Here he is in a backstage jam with blues legend Taj Majal.
If you enjoyed that, check out Karamo as a 12-year old in Bamako starring in the short film Niam: Jali of the Kora, available to watch instantly on Amazon.com.
Tune in to Africa Mix tonight around 10:00 pm to hear an interview with Dokotoro Project co-founder Matthew Heberger. This a great weekly program starts at 9:00 pm and plays great music from all across Africa and the African diaspora.
Host Emmanuel Nado and I will be discussing the state of health care in West Africa, and what we’re doing to help ordinary people take power over their own health. In the Bay Area, tune in to 91.7 FM, or listen online at kalw.org.
We are delighted to welcome Issiaka Ballo to what is now a 5-member translation team based in Bamako. Issiaka has assumed the role of “medical editor,” working closely with Malian health professionals to verify, adapt, and update the source text to fit the West African context. Below are his bio and some of his thoughts on why this is an important project. Please join us in welcoming Issiaka to the Dokotoro team!
Issiaka Ballo has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Bamako (2006), and a Master’s degree in linguistics (2012) from the Université Gaston Berger de Saint Louis, Sénégal. During college in 2005, he met Mamadu Dukure, a famous activist working on national language promotion, sparking his life-long interest in promoting Mali’s languages. Issiaka helped him to create the first mono-lingual electronic dictionary of Bambara (2005–2007). He also began teaching classes in Bambara transcription to university students as a volunteer. Today, he continues to teach Bambara courses as an adjunct faculty member.
Come celebrate the exciting next stage of The Dokotoro Project and see the work we’ve accomplished this past year with your support. Enjoy beer, wine, and cocktails, live music, and delicious West African food. Last year’s party was a blast, and we raised enough money to keep our team of professional translators, editors, and proofreaders busy for several months.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
3 – 6 pm
At a private home near Buena Vista Park, San Francisco
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for location details. Space is limited. Please RSVP by October 31.
A request for donations will be made. If you cannot attend but would like to support this effort, please consider making an online donation or explore our website to learn about volunteer opportunities.
It’s been a couple of months since we posted our last project update. One reason is that committee members Matt and Michelle (who are married, to one another no less) became new parents on August. We are happy to welcome the youngest Dokotoro supporter, Gabriel Zi-Leong Heberger.
Despite the lack of news, things have been happening behind the scenes, and our Bamako-based translation team has been hard at work. They are currently working on two chapters:
Chapitre 2: Maladies qui sont souvent confondues (2,949 words)
Chapitre 8: Comment mesurer et donner les médicaments (1,256 words)
We have added an additional member to our translation team: Issiaka Ballo is a linguist based in Bamako, and holds a Masters Degree from the University Gaston Berger in Saint Louis, Senegal. He is an experienced interpreter and translator, and was highly recommended by our contact at Medicine for Mali. So far, he has done a very good job reviewing the source text, consulting with doctors, and providing detailed feedback on changes needed to adapt it for Mali. So we agreed to hire him as the “medical editor.” After some discussion and negotiation with him and Salifou Bengaly, the head of our current 4-member translation team, we agreed to add him to the team.
We’re delighted to officially launch the French-language version of our website today. To visit, simply visit dokotoro.org/fr, or click the little « tricolore » flag at right.
Note that we’ve translated the main webpages only, and we’re not planning to translate the blog posts. But you can read machine-translated versions in dozens of languages by using a site like Google Translate.
Please share this with your French-speaking friends and colleagues, and urge them to consider making a donation or get involved. We rely on our donors, and every dollar we raise goes to pay our team of professional translators and editors in Mali.
Merci et à bientôt !
I recently enjoyed reading the book Found in Translation, about the importance of translation and interpretation in the modern world, including health care. In the first chapter, the authors describe an infamous case of the $71-million word. While this story is set in the United States, it’s easy to think of equivalent situations in Africa or anywhere in the world.
In Florida in 1980, 17-year old Willie Ramirez came to the emergency room with a severe headache. Describing his symptoms to the hospital staff, his family described his condition as “intoxicado.” The staff incorrectly thought he was intoxicated, while his family meant that he was nauseous or dizzy. The result? An incorrect course of treatment, which made Ramirez a quadriplegic. The authors go on to explain the importance of translation in hospitals.
Costs to the entire health care system are higher when interpreters are not used. When language barriers are present, medical errors are more common. There are countless reported incidents of doctors ordering unnecessary—and expensive—diagnostic tests instead of simply paying for interpreting services. When patients cannot understand their instructions, they can easily overdose by accident or take medications incorrectly. It’s a risky and high-cost business to forego language services.
Patients may say they understand some English, leading the doctor to believe it’s fine to write a prescription in a language the patient may not speak fluently. However, a Spanish speaker who reads the words “take once per day,” could easily think they are supposed to take the pill eleven times per day. After all, once means “eleven” in Spanish—like intoxicado, it’s just one of many false friends that cause horrific consequences.