Volunteer Opportunities in March
In March, we currently have 8 volunteer opportunities scheduled; you are welcome to stop by Mano a Mano (925 Pierce Butler Route, St. Paul, MN 55104) to volunteer if you’re interested (no RSVP needed).
- Soup and Sort, Tuesdays, 5-8pm. At 5pm gather to enjoy a bowl of soup that is provided and then sort supplies from 6-8pm, or whatever hours you can provide. Email Karen (email@example.com) if you have any questions. Soup and Sort is scheduled for the following dates in March:
- March 3
- March 10
- March 17
- March 24
- NO Soup and Sort on March 31
- Friday Open Sorting, 3-5pm. Stop by Mano a Mano to sort supplies; you can stay as long or as short as you’d like.
- March 6
- March 13
- March 20
- March 27
Save the Date – Festival Bolivia 2015 on Saturday, May 9
Mano a Mano’s 6th annual celebration event will be on May 9, 2015 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center. For more information about this year’s event, click the link: Festival Bolivia 2015. Invitations will be sent out in March; mark your calendars!
Center for Ecological Agriculture
This year’s event will be focused on Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture:
This 2.5 acre crop demonstration farm and training center teaches high Andes farmers to manage their scarce water resources and to practice ecologically sound agriculture while resisting the marketing of pesticides and chemical fertilizers by foreign corporations. Complete with greenhouses, small animal pens, alfalfa pasture, prototype farm ponds and cisterns, a biodigester, mulching and composting areas, and overnight stay rooms with ecological sanitation facilities, this facility provides hands-on experiences to ensure farmers are able to maintain the projects Mano a Mano has completed in partnership with them.
Last Year’s Event – Mano a Mano’s 20th Anniversary Celebration
Last year was Mano a Mano’s 20th Anniversary Celebration, and thanks to donations made at the event we were able to build a school in Esmeralda, Bolivia.
Results from the First 4 Years
Laguna Sulty Water Reservoir Site Visit
Last week staff from our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo visited our water reservoir projects in Laguna Sulty and Jusku Molle (projects that are within minutes of each other, just outside of Cochabamba).
Ivo Velasquez, Project Manager for Nuevo Mundo, sent the following note about the visit:
Today we visited the Laguna Sulty project to take some photos and inspect the site. There is no contamination from macrophytes (aquatic plants) in the reservoir, although we did find a small amount in one corner where water doesn’t circulate. As you can see in the photos, the reservoir currently has good water levels, but it still is 60 centimeters below the max fill/overflow level. The reservoir overall looks very good. There are some fish and ducks, and many of the small islands have filled with reeds where birds now nest. Of course things could be even better with improved management by the community.
About 200 meters before you get to the reservoir, this truck was loading corn to transport to La Paz. These crops are grown with water from the reservoir. We also noticed that a chicken farm is being built nearby, which will either take water from the reservoir directly or build their own well; because of the increased humidity from the reservoir a well would be able to find water.
Jusku Molle Water Reservoir
We also stopped by Jusku Molle:
Mano a Mano 2014 Annual Report
In many ways 2014 was a milestone year for Mano a Mano – we celebrated our 20th anniversary, completed our 50th school project and are closing in on our 150th clinic project, dedicated one of the most challenging projects to date (a 37-mile road in El Palmar, Bolivia), and shipped the most supplies from Minnesota to Bolivia (114,220 pounds) since 2007, to name just a few.
As we look back at what we did this year, we are very grateful to everyone that makes our success possible. Whether you are a donor or volunteer in the US or elsewhere; a Mano a Mano staff member or board member in the US or Bolivia; a Bolivian community member that volunteers and works alongside our staff; part of the local, Municipal, Departmental, or National Bolivian government that provides funding or other support; a member of a church, Rotary group, or other organization that partners with Mano a Mano; a Foundation that supports us; or you just check out our website occassionally; you are instrumental to our success!
Limited Resources, Huge Impact
Our partnership model depends on many different people, coming together to work ‘hand in hand’ to acheive results that none of us could do on our own. With this approach, a few dozen Mano a Mano staff and a couple of hundred core volunteers, with pretty limited resources, can impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of Bolivians.
Annual Reports from Previous Years
Before we get to our 2014 results below, we wanted to look at what we did in previous years; click the link to check out our Annual Reports from the past 3 years:
2014 Activities & Milestones
Here are a few of Mano a Mano’s activities and milestones in 2014:
Celebrated our 20th Year in Operation
On April 12, 2014, Mano a Mano celebrated 20 years in operation at the DS Event Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
More than 320 Mano a Mano supporters attended, along with 5 staff from our counterpart organizations in Bolivia.
Wrote a Book
Over our nearly 20 years in existence, we have been approached by many people asking for advice on how they could start similar programs in other countries throughout the world. While we would never argue that everything we have done in Bolivia is replicable in any other country or situation, we feel that many of our core principles and philosophies illustrated in the book will be beneficial information for aspiring philanthropists; staff in government, nonprofit, and development organizations; people who donate or volunteer internationally; and people interested in global issues.
Also, this book is a chance for Mano a Mano to explain its partnership model that emphasizes participation and direct management from the communities themselves, which we feel is not as prevalent for many nonprofits or development organizations as it should be.Gaining Ground is a chance to share our model with more people and also to (hopefully) raise funds for our projects – all proceeds from the book go directly to Mano a Mano.
Where to Buy the Book
Gaining Ground is $24.95 and can be purchased at the following locations:
Shipped the Most Supplies from Minnesota to Bolivia Since 2007
In 2014, Mano a Mano volunteers in Minnesota picked up, sorted, and helped ship 114,220 pounds of supplies from our St. Paul, Minnesota warehouse to Bolivia, where they are distributed to Mano a Mano’s network of schools, clinics, and other infrastructure projects; they are also distributed to other organizations in Bolivia that work with those in need, free-of-charge. This is the most we have shipped since 2007, when we were able to ship supplies for free.
Built 3 New Schools
Our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia completed new school projects, which included community bathrooms, teacher housing, and classrooms, in 3 communities:
- Challa Lacuyo
- Pena Colorada
- Esmeralda (Esmeralda and Pena Colorada are neighboring communities and were dedicated on the same day – December 22, 2014)
Completed 4 New Health Clinics
Our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia completed new health clinics in the following communities (with a number of other clinics currently underway):
Finished a 37+ Mile Road Project in El Palmar
Mano a Mano’s 60-kilometer El Palmar road project was recently dedicated in November 2014. Prior to having a road, residents of El Palmar’s rugged mountains filled with dense semi-tropical vegetation were extremely isolated. Bringing materials into the area was extraordinarily difficult and expensive, and farmers could only get their crops to market “in the bellies of their hogs”.
The new road has already shown impressive results. It has been officially labeled a ‘carretera’ (‘highway’, since vehicles can travel 40-50 km/h), which means that the Governor’s Office for the department will assume control of the road and will be in charge of maintenance. Through conversations with local residents, since the road has been completed, food and building materials now cost about half what they did before. Farmers are planning to plant more crops, because they know that in the future they can get them to market rather than watching them rot in their fields.
There have been a number of large community events held in El Palmar, which would have been impossible before the road. There was a farm fest, where 80 trucks brought hundreds of buyers and sellers wanting to learn more of the types of products this region can produce; an Olympic tryout, where 9 larges buses of children came to compete; and a teacher’s conference, with more than 300 teachers traveling to El Palmar.
The road has also spurred a number of government infrastructure projects in the area. A 12-classroom school is being built, along with individual housing units, through the Bolivian President’s ‘Evo Cumple’ (‘Evo Achieves’) infrastructure-building program. At least 51 houses are being built in Cañon Verde, with a few others being built in other neighboring communities. The Governor’s Office is in the process of building 2 bridges over the local river that will complement the new road and provide more complete access to El Palmar.
The road is critical to the economic well-being of the more than 18,000 residents of this potentially productive but isolated area of Bolivia. It also connects this entire region to its bordering departments (states) of Cochabamba and Tarija and to major markets in these cities and in Santa Cruz.
For more photos from the project CLICK HERE.
Piloted Rural Agricultural Projects at the Center for Ecological Agriculture
Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA) came into full operation in 2014, and in addition to completing the buildings and demonstration projects at the CEA itself, the CEA has piloted a number of small-scale agricultural improvement projects in rural communities. These projects include community greenhouses and bio sand water filters in Jironkota.
The biosand water filter project is a cheap low-cost, low-tech solution for communities that have access to water, making potable water available for the first time.
We also built community greenhouses, which in the first year have resulted in 3 crops grown per year, which could not have been grown otherwise.
Provided Emergency Flood Relief in the Beni
In the first 2-3 months of 2014, there was very heavy flooding in the Beni region of Bolivia, where the majority of our aviation program takes place: Bolivia’s Amazonian region experienced the most disastrous flooding of the past 100 years. In the Beni department, 7 of 8 provinces and 16 of 19 municipalities were under water, with 75,000 people (more than one-quarter of the population) affected. Crops were devastated, and more than 900,000 livestock died, which had and will continue to have a huge economic impact for families in the Beni. At least 59 people died.
Mano a Mano responded by doing whatever we could – distributing food and supplies by plane, collecting donations of supplies, and providing emergency health clinics. Mano a Mano provided 36 flights totaling 88.7 hours to distribute 37,620 pounds of food and supplies to 18 different communities in the Beni region.
Made Progress on a Water Reservoir in Wirkini
Mano a Mano’s water project in Wirkini, Bolivia is currently about halfway complete. The working conditions are very challenging – it is about 13,000 feet above sea level and very cold and windy – but when complete will provide consistent access to water for more than 2,000 people.
Volunteers Contributed Tens of Thousands of Hours
In Bolivia, Minnesota, and elsewhere, volunteers contributed tens of thousands of hours of their time. As a small staff, we depend on volunteers to support everything we do, from office work, to sorting and shipping supplies, to research and fundraising, to organizing and leading trips to Bolivia for other volunteers. Thanks to everyone that helps out!
Nearing 1 Million Patient Visits Per Year in Our Clinics
Our network of health clinics is nearing 1 million patient visits annually. There were 904,423 total patient visits in 2013, and through three quarters in 2014 – the most recent information we have available – there were 731,847 patient visits.
In 2013, Mano a Mano surpassed 5 million patient vists since the program began; we are now eclipsing 6 million patient visits.
Provided 482 People With Emergency Flights in Bolivia
Our aviation program flew 482 people for emergency flights in 2014. The majority of these flights are for people in the department of Beni in the Bolivian Amazon; without a flight, which takes hours to get to a hospital, it could take days to reach emergency care.
Supporting Previous Projects (Sustainability)
These projects listed are only a few of our activities from 2014. In addition to new projects, we continue to provide support to our 300+ existing infrastructure projects – through continuing health education workshops for clinic medical professionals, distribution of supplies, help with maintenance or administrative issues, and site visits and consultations. One of the most important components to what we do is building and maintaining relationships with communities – before, during, and after a specific project.
Looking Forward to What We Can Do in 2015…
We’re looking forward to another great year in 2015, and we hope you’re a part of it! Please share this report with anyone you know that may be interested in learning more about Mano a Mano, and feel free to contact us with any questions or if you’d like more information about anything.
Below is a quick video of the Mano a Mano plane landing in Oromomo, a small community in the Bolivian Amazon, in the department of Beni, Bolivia where a large portion of our emergency flights and weekend health clinics take place.
Mano a Mano Plane Landing in Oromomo
- emergency air rescues
- flights for volunteer medical professionals for weekend health clinics
- flying Mano a Mano staff, equipment, and supplies to communities that can be reached in one to two hours by air but would require a two to three day trip by land
- responding to natural disasters such as the severe floods that plagued Bolivia’s tropics earlier this year
You can learn more about our aviation program HERE. To date we have provided more than 2,400 emergency flights in Bolivia.