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updated and corrected version compared to any existing French-language version in print, all of which are old and out-of-date.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

Help Us to Raise $15K and Finish the Book!

Today we are launching our (hopefully final!) fundraising campaign. We are trying to raise $15,000, enough for us to pay our translators to finish translating every word of Where There Is No Doctor into Bambara. We started this project over two years ago, and the end is finally in sight. Please consider making a donation to help make this dream a reality, and put life-saving information into the hands of ordinary Malians. As of today, we’ve already raised $7,743, so we are just over halfway towards our goal. A huge thank you to everyone who has already donated!

The theme of our fundraising campaign is Walenyumandon, the Bambara word for gratitude.


What are you grateful for in your life? Many of us have been touched by our time in Mali, with incredible host families, unforgettable life lessons, and cherished friends. We are also grateful for the health resources we have here in the United States, often lacking in West Africa. Many of our supporters do so out of a desire to “give back” in some small way for all that we’ve received.

We encourage you to share with the world what YOU are grateful for this Fall, whether it be a host family that cared for you while ill, great friends you made abroad, or simply having access to a hospital in the United States.

Today we are kicking off our 2014 online fundraiser campaign by asking our friends and supporters to share what they are grateful for. If you appreciate the work we do, please give now to help us meet our fundraising goal.

Fall Fundraiser a Big Success!

Thank you to everyone who attended our third annual Fall Fundraiser on October 25. We would also like to thank everyone who contributed their time, effort, and talent to make the evening such a huge success.

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And thanks to our donors, we raised $6,543 to help finish translating Where There Is No Doctor into Bambara. When you add that to several recent online donations, and a few friends who have promised us that “the check is in the mail,” we are over halfway towards our goal of $15,000 that we need to finish the book!

If you could not attend, now would be a great time to give. Please donate now to help us meet our goal and put this life-saving information into the hands of ordinary Malians.

Win Free Tickets to See Vieux Farka Touré

The good folks at CIIS have offered us two tickets to the Touré-Raichel Collective show on November 8 in San Francisco. We’d like to give them away to one of our supporters. Make an online donation before November 5 for your chance to win. We’ll draw one lucky winner at random. Make sure to send us your name, email address, and phone number after you donate so we can contact you and pass your information on to the show organizers. Email

I saw them in concert a couple years ago, and it was an amazing show! From CIIS:

If you’re unfamiliar, Touré Raichel Collective are a cultural triumph featuring the guitar virtuoso, Vieux Farka Touré from Mali, and the Israeli pop star, Idan Raichel. Their music reflects the natural spontaneity, free-form creativity allowing audiences to experience firsthand the invention of sublime and transcendent music that crosses boundaries of country, culture and tradition.

Toure-Raichel Collective Show in SF Poster