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updated and corrected version compared to any existing French-language version in print, all of which are old and out-of-date.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

We need your help on Sunday, March 22

The Dokotoro Project needs your help! We are holding a hackathon in Oakland to put together the final pieces of Where There Is No Doctor in Bambara/French. Use your skills to help format Bambara chapters for web publication and field testing, organize files/materials for the design team and contribute English-to-French translation. All skill levels and experience welcome, even if it’s your first hackathon!

Join us for an afternoon of work, fun, and good company. As always, there’s the possibility of drinks and/or dinner afterward for those who are interested.

Sunday, March 22, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Dokotoro Project Hackathon
Matt’s Office in Downtown Oakland, a few blocks from 12th Street BART


Give the Gift of Health

A donor asked us if we could help create a Dokotoro gift card. We loved this idea and were happy to oblige. For $50, you can dedicate a page of the forthcoming Bambara-language edition of Where There Is No Doctor.

Gift certificate

Just go to our online giving page at First Giving, make a donation of any amount, and you’ll get the link to download a file that you can print out or email. If you’d like to customize it, we may be able to help. Contact

We are getting closer to our goal of raising $15,000, which will give us enough to finish the book project. Please join us in making this become a reality!

Holiday Happy Hour and African Marketplace next Saturday!

Please join the Friends of the Dokotoro Project for a holiday Happy Hour in Oakland next Saturday. We are helping organize this event to support our friend Bintou Diarra, who has seen a big drop in business at her Oakland hair-braiding and gift shop.

Bintou has been a longtime supporter of the Dokotoro Project, cooking huge pots of delicious Malian food for our annual fundraisers. Bintou is interviewed in this broadcast on KQED on how Americans’ irrational fear over Ebola has impacted African-owned businesses.
Bintou Diarra
This special event will take place:

Saturday, December 13
4:00 – 6:00 pm
African Hair Braids
1944 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612

Enjoy live music, drinks, snacks, and holiday cheer, and do some holiday shopping. With a wide selection of African jewelry, art, home goods, and musical instruments, you’re sure to find that perfect handmade gift.

Hope to see you there! And if you can’t make it, please do consider stopping by Bintou’s store this month to support her business.

Stage Saturday!

peacecorps_logo-ogIt’s Stage Saturday! The Dokotoro Project has enjoyed the support of members of many different Peace Corps Mali stages throughout our project. These volunteers have helped to format documents, translate English to French and vice versa, organize information, and raise funds, all in the service of completing Where There Is No Doctor in Bambara.

In honor of these volunteers and the stages they represent, we are compiling a list of stages from Peace Corps Mali and the dates of their service in country. Help us complete the first ever comprehensive list of Peace Corps Mali stages!

To further honor these stages and their work, please donate to the Dokotoro Project today – we have almost finished the book!

We will update the list as we receive your comments.

  • Vanity (1993)
  • Waikwong (1994)
  • Frenchy (1995)
  • Attitude (1996)
  • Love (1997)
  • Massage (1998)
  • Mommy (1998)
  • Me (1998)
  • Lust (199)
  • 12-Step (2000)
  • Baby (2001)
  • Sorority (2002)
  • YMCA (2002)
  • Butterknife (2004)
  • KISS (2004)
  • Denny’s (2004)
  • Ginsu (2005)
  • Belushi (2006)
  • Breakfast Club (2007)
  • HOBOs / Honey Bunches of Oats (2008)
  • Risky Business (2009)
  • Team America (2010)
  • The Kennedys (2011)
  • Goodfellas (2011)
  • Mad Hatters (2012)

Comment below to add your stage information to the list!