Dokotoro Project September Update

Gabriel Aug 2It’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. 😛

Translation Progress

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.

Field Testing

The next critical and exciting phase of the project is about to begin: in-country field testing. “Workshopping” of select chapters will begin this fall, when Scott makes his Mali trip, date TBD. He and Michelle have talked about our goals for the sessions, what kinds of questions we want answered, etc. The African Sky board has graciously agreed to fund the first session.


After the current contract is finished, which includes 2 short chapters, we will have translated 15 of 30 chapters (including the glossary and introduction as chapters), and 81,718 words (in the source text), or 44% of the total words. The estimated budget to complete the translation (at 125 CFA/word) plus $300 per chapter for proofreading by Djibril Coulibaly is $20,000, but could be 15% higher or lower depending on currency exchange rates. Additional funds will be needed for field testing and workshops, as African Sky has only committed to funding workshop #1. Therefore, our revised estimate for the total cost to complete the translation be up to $35,000.

Our cost estimates have gone up so much from our initial guess for two reasons — quality and quantity. First, to ensure a higher-quality product, we have added an additional proofreader and an additional editor, so our “per-word” labor costs are up. Second, the word count has gone up because we have decided to translate more:

  1. Our initial word count, based on the French-language edition, was too low. On closer inspection, we realized that the French source text it is a condensed version, and a lot of important material had been cut. We are interested in translating the full book, so we are using Hesperian’s updated 2013 edition as our base text, which is somewhat longer.
  2. In addition, we are giving preference to new material released by Hesperian. Some new chapters are somewhat longer (Nutrition, First Aid), while other chapters are totally new (Caring for Children, Newborns and Breastfeeding). This material is so good that we think it is worth adding, despite the extra expense.


After we pay the current contract with our translators, we will only have about $200 left in our bank account.

We decided to throw another party and fundraiser. Everyone agreed that last year’s party was a lot of fun, and we raised about $6,000. This year’s party will be held on the same weekend, and at the same location, a private home of a Dokotoro Project supporter near Buena Vista Park in San Francisco. It will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013, from 3–7 pm. Like last year, we will have West African food, beer and wine, and live music. We are currently soliciting donations for the party from friends, colleagues, and local businesses.