Leap Into St. Paul Hamline Volunteers

Leap Into St. Paul Hamline Volunteers

Thanks to Professor Kate Bjork and Hamline University students for volunteering with us on Tuesday! The medical supplies they organized and packed will be included in our next shipment to Bolivia, where they are distributed to people & organizations in need throughout the country (here is more information about Mano a Mano’s surplus program).

Loading 5 Containers with Supplies for Bolivia – August 2017

Loading 5 Containers with Supplies for Bolivia – August 2017

Five containers at the Mano a Mano warehouse - August 2017

Five containers at the Mano a Mano warehouse – August 2017

Over the past few days, Mano a Mano volunteers loaded 5 40-ft. containers with donated medical and school supplies at our St. Paul, Minnesota warehouse. This week, these supplies will start their journey to Bolivia, where they will be distributed to people and organizations in need throughout the country.

Volunteers working on loading 2 of the 5 containers at Mano a Mano - August 2017.

Volunteers working on loading 2 of the 5 containers at Mano a Mano – August 2017.

Check out footage and interviews in the video below from a recent large-scale distribution of supplies in October 2016 at the Mano a Mano warehouse in Cochabamba, Bolivia, when more than 90,000 pounds of supplies were given away. The supplies en route this week will be distributed in a similar manner.

1 of the 4 wheelchairs donated on a recent Saturday at Mano a Mano in Bolivia - one of the many ways supplies sent from Minnesota are distributed in Bolivia.

1 of the 4 wheelchairs donated on Saturday in June at Mano a Mano in Bolivia – one of the many ways supplies sent from Minnesota are distributed in Bolivia.

Containers on Their Way

Last of 5 containers leaving Mano a Mano, August 2017.

Last of 5 containers leaving Mano a Mano, August 2017.

From Minnesota to Bolivia: Distributing Donated Medical Supplies

Pictures from Container Loading – August 2017

This Shipment Made Possible by Support from Festival Bolivia in July

These supplies make a big difference for thousands of people in Bolivia who don’t have the resources or access. But it takes money to get these needed supplies from Minnesota to Bolivia; this shipment was made possible by the tremendous support we received at our Annual Fundraising Festival on July 23rd, 2017.

Thank You!

The surplus program was the program that started Mano a Mano more than 20 years ago, and it continues to be an integral part of our work. We started as an all-volunteer organization, and although we have grown, we depend on hundreds and hundreds of people to make these shipments happen.

Whether you help sort or pick up donated medical supplies at the St. Paul office, help organize supplies for distribution in Bolivia, or make a donation – we couldn’t do this without you!

Maldonado Water Project – Early August 2017 Update

Maldonado Water Project – Early August 2017 Update

From our staff at our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo:

All work in the nucleus of the levee has been completed.  All compacting in the area where top soil was removed has also been completed.  We are pleased that the levee has reached a half-meter high throughout the length of the levee, and it will continue to grow. Progress will be faster as we grow higher.

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Maldonado Water Project Description

Mano a Mano staff started work on the new water project in Maldonado, Bolivia in February 2017. As with many of our projects, the working conditions are difficult: it is about 14,000 feet above sea level, and it is cold, wet, and windy.

When completed, this project will make it possible for 96 subsistence farm families (about 600 people) to irrigate 250 acres of cropland and to water their livestock, as well as having water for household use. With the severe drought currently affecting Bolivia, water projects like this one are especially important to help rural communities manage their resources.

Because of the need, water projects are a high priority for Mano a Mano and the communities that we partner with. In addition to building large-scale water reservoirs, we also build surface wells and small water ponds in communities where the smaller projects are a better fit.

Mano a Mano's first water reservoir project, built more than a decade ago in Ucuchi, Bolivia.

Mano a Mano’s first water reservoir project, built more than a decade ago in Ucuchi, Bolivia.

Through eight major water projects, 20+ wells, and 275 water ponds, more than 50,000 people have consistent, reliable access to water.

Mano a Mano Receives 4th Consecutive 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

Mano a Mano Receives 4th Consecutive 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

We are happy to report that Mano a Mano received a 4-Star (out of 4 stars) Rating from Charity Navigator for the 4th consecutive year! Only 12% of charities reviewed have received at least 4 consecutive 4-star evaluations.

You can learn more on Mano a Mano’s page on Charity Navigator.

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Charity Navigator Letter to Mano a Mano – August 1, 2017

From Michael Thatcher, President and CEO of Charity Navigator (you can read the full letter from Charity Navigator to Mano a Mano here):

Based on the most recent information available, we have issued a new rating for your organization. We are proud to announce Mano a Mano International has earned our fourth consecutive 4-star rating. This is our highest possible rating and indicates that your organization adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a financially efficient way. Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Mano a Mano International exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in your area of work. Only 12% of the charities we evaluate have received at least 4 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Mano a Mano International outperforms most other charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Mano a Mano International apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.

About Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator is the largest charity evaluator in America and its website attracts more visitors than all other charity rating groups combined. The organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency of more than 8,000 charities. Charity Navigator accepts no advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates, ensuring unbiased evaluations, nor does it charge the public for this trusted data. As a result, Charity Navigator, a 501 (c) (3) public charity itself, depends on support from individuals, corporations and foundations that believe it provides a much-needed service to America’s charitable givers. Charity Navigator, can be reached directly by telephone at (201) 818-1288, or by mail at 139 Harristown Road, Suite 101, Glen Rock, N.J., 07452.

Ucuchi Water Reservoir – Part of the San Isidro Ecotourism Park

Ucuchi Water Reservoir – Part of the San Isidro Ecotourism Park

Mano a Mano completed its first water reservoir project in 2005 in Ucuchi, a community just outside of Cochabamba. 3,600 people directly benefit from the project. In its first year after completion, 640 hectares of land were being irrigated, as opposed to 250 hectares previously, and personal incomes went from $150/year to $300/year. In 2013, Mano a Mano completed an expansion of the channels to improve the collection channels that direct water to the reservoir, in order to increase the volume of water.

Mano a Mano's water reservoir in Ucuchi, Bolivia.

Mano a Mano’s water reservoir in Ucuchi, Bolivia.

Mano a Mano has completed more than 300 projects, with a number of new projects underway at any given time. Every new project is a direct request from each community, and they are an active participant throughout the process. There are hundreds of communities on our waiting list for projects, and we are trying to meet the high demand as our resources allow us to.

But the most important aspect of these projects for Mano a Mano is the sustainability of projects that have been built; we want to ensure that anything that we build is used efficiently, is used for its intended purpose, and is in use for a long time.

One of Mano a Mano’s basic philosophies in our community-based development model is to provide the most basic needs for communities – clinics, schools, roads, water projects, aviation runways, agricultural tools and training – that can serve as a springboard for other projects. (For an example of this, watch this video about our road project in El Palmar, Bolivia.)

Recently, the Cochabamba newspaper Los Tiempos ran an article about the San Isidro Ecotourism Park, and Mano a Mano’s Ucuchi water reservoir is an integral part of the park. We are happy to see the impact that this project continues to have, more than a decade since its dedication in March 2006.

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Dedication Brochure from our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo, March 2006

Los Tiempos Article – San Isidro, Land of Adventure

The article is translated into English and is below, in its entirety; here is the link to the original Los Tiempos article in Spanish, with additional pictures.

San Isidro, Land of Adventure

In the high altitude of Sacaba, 35 kilometers from the city of Cochabamba, is the San Isidro Ecotourism Park. The park receives more than 14,000 visitors each year for camping, boating, rappelling, and fishing.

San Isidro had 14,568 visitors in 2016, 98% of whom were Bolivian, said park ranger Gregorio Choque Checa.

The wide variety of recreational activities are made possible by the topography of the park.

It has an artificial lake of 2 kilometers. On its shores there is a replica of the Morgan Galleon, 15 meters long and 10 meters tall. The Morgan Galleon is historically known as one of the most famous pirate ships of the 17th Century, roaming the Atlantic Ocean.

In the lagoon, there is fishing, boating, and kayaking. The area is known as Kocha Canto and can reach up to 12 meters of water depth, but this year reached 6 meters due to the lack of rain.

San Isidro_Los TiemposChildren taking a boat for a ride on the Ucuchi Water Reservoir, part of the San Isidro Ecotourism Park. Photo Credit: Jose Rocha and Los Tiempos

The canyon of Puca Puca is a geological formation caused by wind and water erosion, opening an area of 15 meters long by 25 meters deep. The canyon is used by tourism agencies for rappelling.

There is also a native forest in the Canada Wayku creek with Pine, Eucalyptus, and Kewina trees.

In 2016, national and international musicians recorded 38 music videos there. “Many different folklore groups came here from around the country, but Yarita Lizeth from Peru and Sasha from Argentina were also here,” said Choque.

There is a children’s playground and a soccer field. Admission is free; the Mayor’s Office budgets 250,000 Bolivianos (about $36,000 in US dollars) for its operation.

Gregorio Choque is the only park ranger and is in charge of registering visitors, lending out boats, helping visitors and providing security.

The municipality is planning to host a mountain biking circuit in July, in addition to acquiring 10 kayaks and more equipment. They will also increase staffing.

At that time, they plan to start charging 2 Bolivianos (.29 cents in US dollars) for entrance for tourists. These funds will go to maintenance and improvement.

The park opened in 2008 as an alternative for visitors to Cochabamba. Currently they are working on improving the park to attract more visitors.

The park ranger explained that it was difficult at first, since the local community had to learn about community-based tourism.

“At first, they didn’t know anything about community-based tourism and they were a little wary, but they have adapted to it since then. On the weekends, they sell fish, caretake the area, and help me with security, ” he indicated.

The community of San Isidro has a population of 200 that primarily grows wheat, barley, and flowers.

San Isidro is the second most-visited tourist attraction in the municipality of Sacaba, with the first being the Cretaceous Park which receives 5,000 visitors a week. Third is the Metropolitan Park.

Due to the success of the Cretaceous Park, the Mayor’s Office decided to expand it with new spaces for the “Ice Age” and the “Quaternary Era” over 4 hectares of land in front of the current park.