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!

March Volunteer Hackathon!

Hello all Dokotoro friends,

Next weekend, on Sunday March 9th, we will be having our next Dokotoro Project Hackathon, or volunteer party. And we need YOUR help! No special language or technical skills necessary (although if you speak French or Bambara, that’s a plus).

Please let us know if you can join us, either in person in downtown Oakland, California or virtually (for example, one of our volunteers will be working from her own computer that afternoon).

If you are joining in person, please bring a laptop if you have one. Afterwards, we’ll have food and drinks and plenty of time to hang out and socialize.

Dokotoro Project Hackathon
Sunday, March 9, 2014, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
RSVP to Matt for details

June project update

Illustration from "Là Où Il n’y a Pas de Docteur"

Illustration from “Là Où Il n’y a Pas de Docteur”

The Dokotoro project met for their June steering committee a few weeks ago and we are steadily plugging away!

One key discussion item related to the forthcoming “fully revamped” edition of Where There Is No Doctor, which Hesperian will release around 2020. Until then, Hesperian is periodically posting a few new chapters at a time on its website. Some of the information (such as the material in “Belly Pain, Diarrhea and Worms”) can be found in the current 2013 version, but it is re-organized and re-presented. Other material is completely new (such as a lengthy chapter on Water and Sanitation). We have to decide how to incorporate the changes and whether to translate the new material. Every new chapter we decide to incorporate will naturally require additional effort and cost.

We also had a report-back from a meeting that a few Steering Committee members held with Hesperian regarding its agreement with the Senegalese NGO Enda. Enda has exclusive rights to distribute the French West Africa edition of the book in the region. We use Enda’s edition as one of our base texts, as it includes culturally-appropriate illustrations and some region-specific information. However, we also use WTIND 2013 for its medically-updated information. A key question is whether we will be allowed to incorporate our French “back-translation” (a French translation of our Bambara text, which produce in order to make it easier to update the book in the future)  into a bilingual French-Bambara edition.

Finally, the committee discussed the exciting prospect of field testing a few of our draft chapters. Steering Committee member and African Sky Executive Director Scott Lacy will be leading these efforts. Scott is a Professor of Anthropology at Fairfield University and visits Mali frequently. Also, several colleague organizations have offered to share draft chapters with health care educators and providers. More on this soon!

Another successful, fun Hackathon!

hackathon2Thanks so much to the volunteers who turned out this past weekend for our 2nd Dokotoro Hackathon! And special thanks to the group of social work students and teachers from Bordeaux, France who were visiting San Francisco for the week and gave up some of their precious time to be with us.

With the help of a dozen people, we made some great progress with proofreading, formatting, “cross-walking” (our term for comparing different versions of Where There is No Doctor, such as the outdated French West Africa version and the new 2013 English edition) and other tasks that are central to the project. As a result of this productive afternoon, we can expect to see new chapters posted online soon!

After a good four hours of work, we all retired to a nearby park for a Malian-style barbeque featuring brochetti, plantains and beer. Although we didn’t have bottles of Castel on hand (and even though the meat was threaded on bamboo skewers, not bicycle spokes — the only authentic way to do it, really), the mood was definitely Malian in spirit. All in all, the afternoon was a nice tribute to a country we love.

We look forward to our next one!

May Project Update

Illustration from page 67 of “Là Où Il N’y a Pas de Docteur”

Illustration from page 67 of “Là Où Il N’y a Pas de Docteur”

The Steering Committee gathered again in May. We are continuing to make steady progress toward creating the first Bambara-language edition of Where There Is No Doctor, for use in Mali and across West Africa. Below are a few highlights of the meeting. As always, if you have any ideas or suggestions, or would like to contribute by volunteering for a few hours, contact

Translation and layout

Matt reported on the current status of the translation: we currently have about 1/3 of the book translated! The latest section to be finished and proofread is the glossary, and the translation team has also submitted Chapter 4 for proofreading.

The group also discussed new chapters that Hesperian is producing for its “21st century” WTIND. Some of the new chapters, such as Caring for Children, contain entirely new information which we will translate in addition to the latest 2013 edition of WTIND.

Finally, the Steering Committee agreed that it would be great to have another hackathon to make some real progress on layout. Jenna will contact volunteers for another session, to be followed by a barbeque. The hackathon is tentatively scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday, June 22 — if you live in the San Francisco Bay area, you are cordially invited to attend! Please contact volunteer coordinator Jenna Lohmann at

Other updates

Matt will also connect with Scott of African Sky this month to begin discussing in-country field testing of our translated chapters.

Zach has translated our static webpages into French, and Marlow will put them on our website. We hope this will allow us to start spreading the word about the Dokotoro project to the francophone world.

Michelle reported that she will be getting a few of foundation proposals out the door in the next two months, in hopes of raising more funds to keep our translation team going.

Thank you for having a heart for Mali!

inheartMany many thanks to all of our supporters and volunteers for your generosity during our six-week Have a Heart for Mali fundraising campaign. When everything is tallied up (including checks), we think we will have raised about $4,500, bringing our total to over $13,000. While this is short of the ambitious goal we set on Valentine’s Day, we have been truly humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support. And of course, even though our six-week fundraising push is officially over, we still encourage people to give.

Even as the Have a Heart for Mali campaign was underway, our translators have been working away. Please check out our new translations, including our draft introduction, and our experiment with a side-by-side French-Bambara version.

Thanks again to our incredible and growing community for Having a Heart!

Have a Heart for Mali!

logo3_hThis Valentine’s Day, the Dokotoro Project is launching a six-week fundraising campaign to inspire people around the world to “Have a Heart for Mali” and contribute to the long-term health of Malians. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, and it is currently in the midst of an acute humanitarian crisis. Because of the disruption of basic services – including health care – the needs of ordinary Malians are greater than ever.

This short 3-minute video (edited by volunteer Scott Saraceno) explains why our project, to adapt and translate the book Where There is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Manual into Bambara, is so critical, and why we need your help.

Here’s the deal: It will cost about $30,000 to translate, proofread, and edit this 600-page health guide. Why so expensive? We pay our Mali-based translation team 10 cents per word for translation, and an additional 10 cents for a double-round of proofreading. We then pay a separate editor for a final quality check.

We also have a team of volunteers who provide thousands of dollars worth of in-kind contributions through French-English translations, professional design and layout, and medical review. But if we don’t have the basic funds to pay our translators, we can’t unlock the additional value of all these volunteers.

Our goal for the “Have A Heart for Mali” campaign is to raise a total of $20,000 for the project (we have already raised over $8,500). This amounts to two-thirds of our total translation budget, so we need your help.

Every dollar we raise is fully tax deductible and will pay for our direct translation costs.

  • $250 can pay for printing and binding about 16 books
  • $150 will pay for translating, proofreading, editing, testing, and printing one page
  • $100 can help us pay for a one-day workshop in Mali for partners to review the book
  • $50 will allow us to translate and proofread 1 ½ pages

Please consider joining the Dokotoro community, and thanks for having a heart!

Hackathon a success!


Thanks to all the great volunteers who turned out this past weekend to dedicate their afternoon to the first-ever Dokotoro Hackathon. We had a dozen dedicated folks turn out to merge (French-English) several new chapters, do formatting, and make some serious inroads into thinking about how to best review the outdated medical information from the old French version. We all learned first hand how much preparation needs to be done before sending our text to our Mali-based translation team.

The atmosphere was one of industriousness and intense concentration. The scene was one of pizza boxes, snack wrappers, and laptops. In the middle of the table was one our our prized possessions: two volumes of the latest French-Bambara dictionary (by Father Bailleul), which had just arrived in the mail, slightly battered and smelling of soap.

It was a productive afternoon, and it was fun to meet up with friends who share a love for Mali. If you would like to volunteer, please email Jenna at; we will be having more hackathons in the future and would love for you to join. And you don’t have to live in the San Francisco bay area or speak French to get involved — we have volunteers from Minnesota to New York, from Bamako (Mali) to Bobojulaso (Burkina Faso) pitching in.  Please join our team!

Launch Party: what a great time!

Our launch party this past weekend was a great success — incredible people, amazing music, lots of food, and over $4,000 raised. It was a wonderful celebration of Malian culture and solidarity. Thanks to everyone who made it possible — and incredibly fun to boot!

We’d like to give a shout out especially to our Host Committee (Matt Heberger, Michelle Chan, Marlow Schindler, Zach Matheson, Anh Ly, Adrienne Fitch-Frankel, Jenny McNulty, Joanna Breslin, Jayma Brown, Mark Randazzo, and Sarah Litke) for gathering such a fun and lively group; there were almost 100 people there. And we offer our deep gratitude to the Mathesons for sharing their beautiful home. I know a lot of us relished hanging out on the terrace and enjoying sweeping bay views on that gorgeous afternoon.

Big thanks to JORM – Josh Austin, Oliver Mok, Rita Largman, Mat Lounibos for playing live jazz during the first half of the party. These folks are a relatively new band, but you’d never guess it. They sounded great! During the second half of the party, Roots of Manding — Karamo Susso, Gordon Helleger, Moussa Camara, and Ben Isaacs — transfixed and mesmerized people. And got some of us dancing.

The libations were plenty good as well. Heartfelt appreciation to Joanna Breslin, for donating more than a case of very good wine; and to Fernando and Martha Amar, for providing delicious beer (their award-winning White House Honey Ale won third place in the SF Homebrewers Guild contest!), tending the bar most of the afternoon, and generally making everyone feel welcome.

Thanks also to Bintou Diarra, proprietor of African Hair Braiding in downtown Oakland for decorations, and for giving a rousing testimonial about the obstacles to health in villages in Mali (despite Matt’s admittedly mediocre translation — sorry!). We encourage Bay Area folks to check out her store at 1936 Broadway for your holiday shopping.

We also had some delish food in the house, thanks to the kind folks at Madecasse Chocolate, which donated delicious samples of their world-class chocolate, manufactured in Madagascar (four times the income impact of Fair Trade). Johnathan Bethony provided outstanding artisan loaves; see how beautiful they are, and check out his super project for a solar-powered bakery in Senegal. We can’t thank enough people, especially Host Committee members, for shopping, chopping, prepping, and cooking.

Also, thanks to Africa and Friends and World Music Meetup Groups, and Northern California Peace Corps Association, for their participation. Special thanks to Will Spargur for taking excellent photos, which can be viewed on flckr.

Finally, i ni cɛ and i ni baaraji to African Sky, our fiscal sponsor, and its director Scott Lacy. Thanks to them, all donations to our project are tax-deductible. They are providing this service completely free of charge, and matching all donations to the Dokotoro Project by 20%. If you missed the fun, but still want to support the project, it’s not too late to make a donation!