Dokotoro Project Update, August 2014

Our Steering Committee held its monthly meeting on August 3, and there are a lot of things happening right now. Here is a quick project update.

Layout – We had a lot of discussions about software. We had a strong interest in using free and open source software for layout, since we are thinking about our partners in Mali who will one day take over responsibility for the book, keeping it up to date, and publishing new editions. They may even like to translate it into other African languages. The program Scribus looked promising, but one commenter said that it is not good at handling large numbers of images. Since Where There is No Doctor has over 1,000 images, that pretty much rules it out.

We’ve decided to go with the conventional, industry-leading software, Adobe InDesign. There is a new plugin available called Wordsflow that a lot of designers are excited about. It lets you maintain a “live link” to MS Word documents. We hope that this will help solve the “chicken and egg” dilemma with design: You don’t want to do the design until your content is finalized. But we need to show the book to health workers in Mali to collect feedback before we publish the final edition. And how can we show it to them if it hasn’t been layed out properly?

Steering Committee members Ruth and Heather will be leading the design effort. If you have design experience, or want to learn, and can volunteer, please be in touch!

Translation – Our team in Bamako is busy translating Chapter 14, Some serious illnesses that require immediate attention, and Chapter 17, Teeth, Mouth, and Gums. They are also making inquiries about whether we can expect any problems with publishing the chapter on Injections. In Senegal, the translators of the French-language edition chose not to include instructions for how to give injections, because of the official policy in Senegal that injections should only be given by doctors or nurses in a clinic. While we agree that this is the ideal situation, we also think there is some benefit to making the information available. The information on precautions, and on cleanliness is especially important.

Finances and Fundraising – We’ll have about $3,600 left when we finish the current contract with our translators. That’s enough for about 1/4 of the remaining translation work. We need about $15,000 more to finish the book. A few things are on the horizon for fundraising:

  • We are actively pursuing two charitable foundations. We haven’t had much luck in this area so far, but we still think it’s promising.
  • Planning a “teranga” night at Bissap Baobab in September. They will give us 20% of the revenue for the evening! Please join us. It is a really easy and delicious way to support the project!
  • We are considering having a “speakers bureau” where we go and give presentations to churches, Rotary groups, etc. We have a nice slideshow already prepared.
  • Fall house party: so far, our November house parties have been our most successful fundraisers. They’re a lot of work, but they’re a lot of fun and great community builders. We’re looking at October or November for the next (last?) one.
  • Online campaign – We also raised a few thousand from online donations through the “Have a Heart for Mali” campaign last February. We think there are still many more people who haven’t heard about the project and who would be interested in supporting it, especially returned Mali Peace Corps volunteers and their friends and family.

Field Testing – Peace Corps volunteers are returning to Mali! In September, there will be 15 new Peace Corps Response volunteers coming to serve in southern Mali (Koulikoro and Sikasso Regions). We’re working with “le bureau” to get them copies of our materials for use in the field. We’re also developing a simple set of questions and a form to fill out to help gather feedback.

Volunteers – There are still lots of jobs for volunteers. Help formatting documents, translating text from English to French and vice-versa, checking out medical information that is specific to West Africa, etc. Our good friend Sean Cochrane has joined the Steering Committee as volunteer coordinator. Please get in touch with him if you can help out. Also, we’ll have another “hackathon” work party in September or October.