Reception in Rochester, NY on July 24

Please share with any friends or colleagues in Rochester!

You are invited to a presentation and discussion with two of the founders of the Dokotoro Project about health and development in Mali, West Africa. We are working to have the book “Where There is No Doctor” translated into Bambara, the main language spoken in the country.

Dokotoro Project Reception
Thursday, July 24, 5:30 – 7:00 pm
Rochester Central Library Auditorium
15 South Avenue
Rochester, NY 14604

We will have plenty of time for socializing, and we will serve West African food and beverages. Short program begins at 6:00 pm.

This event is free and open to the public. Donations to benefit the translation project are welcome. Please join us! RSVP (optional) to

Hackathon in Oakland on Sunday, August 3

We’ll be holding another of our Hackathon-style work parties in the DTO on the first weekend in August. Please join us if you’re in the area. All skill levels welcome!

Oakland Bay BridgeDokotoro Project Hackathon
Sunday, August 3, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Downtown Oakland, near 12th Street BART

RSVP to for the exact location and directions.

We still have some work to do preparing the last few chapters to send to our translators, formatting documents, and some other administrative tasks. As always, bring a laptop if you have one. We’ll have plenty of snacks and drinks, and the option to hang out afterwards at a local bar or restaurant.

Mali-style BBQ on June 29 in Berkeley

Please join us for a Mali-style barbecue on Sunday June 29th in Berkeley. This will be an informal gathering to thank and greet our volunteers, supporters, and friends — past, present, and future. Our big fundraiser is coming up in the fall, but for now please come help us celebrate our progress, as we’ve recently finished translating about 70 percent of Where There is No Doctor into Bambara.

Street food in Sikasso

Buying street food in Sikasso, Mali. Photo by flickr user ‘delayed gratification.’

Sunday, June 29, 1:00-4:00 pm
Charlie Dorr Mini Park
2208 Acton Street
Berkeley, CA 94702

RSVP here

The Charles Dorr mini-park is nestled in a quiet Berkeley neighborhood between Allston and Bancroft Ways, about a 20-minute walk from the Downtown Berkeley BART. It’s easy to get to by bike, and there is nearby on-street parking.

We’ll have Mali-style brochetti sandwiches, and some snacks and cold beverages. Bring something to share if you like.

The park has a great playground, so kids are very welcome. And please pass on this invitation to friends and family to help us grow the Dokotoro family. Please click here to RSVP.

June Dokotoro Project Update

Dɔɔnin dɔɔnin kɔnɔnin bɛ ɲaga da.

—Bambara proverb: “The little bird builds his nest bit by bit.”

If we had a motto here at The Dokotoro Project, this would probably be it. We’re getting closer to our goal of publishing the book Where There is No Doctor in the Bambara language, but I think it’s safe to say that this project has turned out to be longer and more complicated than any of us ever imagined. We have a couple of exciting things to announce:

We just published Chapter 16: The Eyes, on the website. Go to our Downloads page to check it out.

We recently completed the final edits to Chapter 10: First Aid. Whew, this was a long one! Volunteers are working on formatting it for the web now. Our translators worked entirely from English-language source text (based on the all-new 21st-century edition of Where There is No Doctor from Hesperian Health Guides), so there is no bilingual edition available. Please contact us if you can help with English-to-French translation, even just a few paragraphs at a time!

Illustration of how to attach bandages from the First Aid chapter

We’re planning a little barbecue in Berkeley on Sunday, June 29. This will be an informal get-together to thank our volunteers and supporters, or just hang out and chat about Mali. Make sure you subscribe to our email updates to get an invitation!

We’re considering holding a larger celebration in the fall to commemorate le 22 septembre, or Malian Independence Day. Please be in touch if you would like to join the planning committee or have any ideas!

Thanks to Our Hackers!

Thanks to everyone who came out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to help edit, format, translate, and illustrate material for the forthcoming Bambara-language edition of Where There is No Doctor. And a big thanks to Mighty Minnow Web Studio + School for the use of their awesome collaboration space in downtown Oakland. We got a lot of good work done and of course swapped some good stories.


If you are good at MS Word and/or have an intermediate/advanced level of French, and can dedicate a few hours, we could use your help! Get in touch and we’ll get you to work! Or sign up for our email list (top right) to find out about upcoming opportunities to volunteer.

Hackathon in Oakland on Sunday, May 4

If you’re in the Bay Area, please consider joining us on Sunday for our fourth (?) Dokotoro Hackathon. The good people at MightyMinnow web studio and school, have graciously allowed us to use their offices. It’s right around the corner from the new Bissap Baobab!oak


Dokotoro Hackathon
Sunday, May 4, 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
1440 Broadway #711
Oakland, CA

We have jobs for everyone, no matter your skill at languages or computers. We’ll be formatting completed chapters, and reviewing source text to send to our translation team in Bamako, etc.

RSVP to, or on Facebook.

April 2014 Project Update

It’s been a while since we posted an update on the Dokotoro Project. But that doesn’t mean that things aren’t happening behind the scenes! Here’s a run-down of what happened in the last couple of months, plus some exciting news about upcoming events.

Upcoming May Fundraiser! We’re planning a Peanut Sauce Cook-Off in May, in partnership with the Northern California Peace Corps Association. So dust off your recipe for sauce arachide or tigadɛgɛna. It will likely take place on one of the first two weekends in May, in Berkeley. This will be open to the general public, and recipes from all over the world are welcome! Details coming soon!

Our translators just finished their first draft of the First Aid chapter. This is a long, complicated chapter, with information on dozens of medicines. Because of this, it’s undergoing an additional round of proofreading to make sure everything is accurate.

There is exciting some news regarding new French-language publications from our parent organization, Hesperian Health Guides. A new French-language edition of A Book for Midwives is forthcoming. This was partially funded by the African Birth Collective in Eugene, Oregon, and translated by the nonprofit ENDA in Senegal. In addition to the print edition to be distributed in West Africa, Hesperian is planning to make this freely available as a PDF document and as web pages on their “health wiki,” and also for purchase via “print-on-demand.” The layout is being finalized, but they still need money to pay for printing, so there is a fundraising campaign online at Global Giving.

Please join me in saying a big thank you to Anh Ly, who is be stepping down from the Steering Committee after more than a year of dedicated service. I’m extremely grateful for all of Anh’s time, energy, ideas, and very generous donations to the project.

Next, please join me in welcoming Lyle Hansen to the Steering Committee, who will be taking over soon as treasurer. Lyle’s been a steadfast volunteer at our hackathons, and he’s also a talented photographer who conducted a successful Kickstarter campaign to travel to Mali and document development projects and every day life.

We’ve recently received news about a sizable donation… I’ll say more when the check is in the bank! We still need about $15,000 to finish having Where There is No Doctor translated into Bambara. Please consider making a gift online via First Giving, or tell a friend about us!

Lastly, our taxes are done! (Are yours?) We don’t owe anything to Uncle Sam, because we don’t make a profit (all the income is earmarked to be spent on translation) but we do have to submit paperwork to the IRS. A huge thank you to tax preparer Bruce A. Sahs of in Rochester, New York who volunteered to do our taxes free of charge.

Friday Film! The Masons of Djenné

From the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit on the architecture of Mali, meet five master masons of Mali in this series of short videos. Click through to watch a set of interviews (in Bambara, with English subtitles). I learned a lot about this ancient craft, and was struck by the incredible amount of pride these men take in their work. Plus, I learned a new proverb:

Kɔgɔ t’a fɔ a yɛrɛ ka di. -Salt shouldn’t brag that it’s tasty.

Weekend Bambara Lesson

In honor of this past week’s Mardi Gras festivities, how do you say “Laissez les bons temps rouler,” or “Let the good times roll” in Bambara?

A y’a to kodumanw k’u tile kɛ u fɛrɛ ma!


A ye waati dumanw to u ka tɛmɛn u fɛrɛ ma!

Note: In Bambara you would add fɛrɛ ma meaning “librement” or “freely.”

Thanks for this translation go to Djibril Coulibaly, our fantastic editor. Djibril was one of my Bambara teachers when I was a Peace Corps trainee 15 years ago, and now teaches French in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

How about you? Would you like to see more Bambara lessons on the blog?