El Palmar Road Project Update

El Palmar Road Completed by Mano a Mano in October 2014

El Palmar road.

El Palmar road.

In late October 2014, Mano a Mano dedicated one of our most challenging projects to date – a 37+ mile road project in El Palmar, Bolivia, a small community in the department of Chuquisaca, province of Sud Cinti, municipality of Culpina (there were 7 dedication celebrations, in 7 communities along the new road!). As with all Mano a Mano projects, this road was a huge collaborative effort, with financial support from:

  • Mano a Mano International Partners
  • our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo
  • the Gobierno Autonomo Municipal de Culpina
  • the communities themselves
  • Caterpillar Foundation
  • Lored Foundation
  • Open Road Alliance

El Palmar Road Project Update – New Schools, Bridges, Housing, Electricity

Mano a Mano staff were recently back in the El Palmar area in April 2015, and there is a lot of activity going on, in large part thanks to the road. (Even before the road was finished, there were many events going on that were only possible because of the improved transportation.) Now that buses and trucks can travel to these communities on a daily basis and connect with larger markets (mostly in Tarija), there are a number of large projects underway:
  • new school and teacher housing project in El Palmar
  • 3 new bridges
  • electricity installation project
  • new housing for families along the road
Traveling on the new road in El Palmar.

Traveling on the new road in El Palmar.

Building a Road Has a Huge Impact

The core goals of building this road, for Mano a Mano, were to improve access for residents to larger markets and improve families’ incomes, while also drastically reducing travel times (before the direct route the new road provides, travelers would have to drive hundreds of kilometers out of their way to travel around this impassable region; driving from St. Paul, MN to Omaha, NE to reach Fargo, ND would be an approximate U.S. equivalent). But we are very impressed by the many other projects underway that the road made possible.

Aerial view of a section of the El Palmar road.

All of these new projects – the schools, bridges, housing, and electricity – are showing the wide-reaching impact that a road can have. The new projects are being funded and built by the Bolivian government, municipal governments, and others; Mano a Mano has no direct involvement. Once the basic infrastucture of a road was put in place, it can open up many new possibilities.

Here is a quick look at the new projects taking place in El Palmar:

El Palmar School

The new school will provide access to education for 500 students in the El Palmar area and surrounding communities. It is funded and being built by the National and Municipal governments.

New El Palmar school currently under construction by the Municipal and National government. All materials were transported on the new Mano a Mano road.

New El Palmar school currently under construction by the Municipal and National government. All materials were transported on the new Mano a Mano road.

3 New Bridges

3 new bridges are being built in the area, which are especially needed during the rainy season when the rivers dangerously overflow and sometimes flood. The new bridges will provide a much more consistent and safe means of transportation. The bridges will cross the Pilaya (near Canon Verde), Ipirenda, and Pilcomayo rivers.

The Pilaya river, and location where one of the bridges is being built. Driving through the river is the only way currently to cross.

The Pilaya river, and location where one of the bridges is being built. Driving through the river is the only way currently to cross.

Location of the 3 bridge projects.

Location of the 3 bridge projects in the El Palmar area.

New Housing

With the ability to transport materials, the government is building new housing for some area residents.

One of the new houses built.

One of the new houses built.

Focusing on Basic Needs to Improve Rural Bolivian Communities

At its core, Mano a Mano is a community development organization; we partner with Bolivian communities and work with them to build projects that they request  - whether it is a road, water project, school, clinic, community bathrooms, or small-scale agricultural project – to improve their quality of life. But once the project is completed, it becomes their project. The community is in charge of maintaining and administering the project. While we definitely stay involved, it is up to the community and their municipal governments to take advantage of the projects – we are focused on helping them to help themselves.

Dedication ceremony for the El Palmar road project, November 2014.

Dedication ceremony for the El Palmar road project, November 2014. More pictures from the dedication are available HERE

This road was by far one of the largest and most challenging projects we have ever done. While we typically do not do projects of this scale, as they can really stretch our capacity as an organization, it is extremely gratifying to see the positive impact that this project is having for the roughly 18,000 residents in the area, and to see the response from the communities and local & national governments as they take advantage of opportunities that the road provides. This is really what we hope for with our projects – to build a base that can be built upon by the communities themselves.

Thanks to everyone that worked to make this road possible!

Why You Should Attend Festival Bolivia 2015 Next Saturday

Why You Should Attend Festival Bolivia 2015 Next Saturday

April 29th is the deadline to RSVP;  if you plan on attending please respond ASAP! (We will accept RSVPs later than that if needed, but the sooner you can respond the better.)

You can BUY TICKETS HERE.

Join us for Mano a Mano’s 6th annual event on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota! This year’s event will be highlighting our new Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA), a project that supports rural Bolivian farmers with training and low-cost tools to improve food security & nutrition in their communities using an ecologically sound approach. The event will include a cocktail reception, wine pull, silent auction (with some great items!), Mano a Mano staff from Bolivia traveling to Minnesota to attend, interactive displays featuring Mano a Mano’s projects, a 3-course meal, and a program showcasing the impact the CEA is having in rural Bolivia.

Silent Auction Items

There are some great items available this year! Here’s what is up for auction on Saturday, May 9th:

Handmade Kayak

At 17 feet long and 20 inches wide, this beautifully crafted kayak is a replica of a boat collected in 1834 at Avagait, Greenland, now residing in the Danish National Museum.

The kayak can be custom fitted to match the winning bidder’s leg length and knee height. The kayak will weigh just under 35 pounds, making it a sensible choice for wanting to easily transport it to the water’s edge. Images can be found here.

Bolivian Dinner with Mano a Mano Co-Founders Joan and Segundo Velasquez

Joan and Segundo Velasquez are an integral part of Mano a Mano. They shaped Mano a Mano’s past and continue to work toward Mano a Mano’s future in the most inspiring ways.  Enjoy a Bolivian dinner for four guests with Joan and Segundo.  Hear their stories first hand and get to know our two newest board members Anneli Borst and Dennis Anderson.

To honor Joan and Segundo’s hard work, Anneli and Dennis will be hosting the meal at Anneli’s Minnetonka home.  The menu will include Aji de Pollo with rice. Dates are flexible.

Classical Piano Performance by Joseph Caswell

Joseph Caswell, age 11, will appear at your private party, corporate event, or fundraiser and play a 30-minute program of classical piano masterworks by some of the greatest composers of all time, such as Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, and Liszt. (Joseph will also be performing at the event on Saturday, May 9th.)

Joseph Caswell

Joseph Caswell

The program can be slightly longer or shorter to meet your needs. A grand piano is preferred, but not required, for ideal sound. Please book at least sixty days in advance.  Must be used within one year.

Joseph’s Bio:

At the young age of 11, Joseph Caswell has already been a featured performer at corporate and fund-raising events, including: Park Dental, JDRF, U of MN Diabetes Research, Minnesota Music Teacher’s Forum, and the Minnesota Boychoir.  Joseph has performed in the Young Artist World Piano Festival (YAWPF) Junior Honors Recitals and St Cloud State University Convocations starting at the age of 6.  Joseph has appeared in demonstration lectures with Dr. Paul Wirth and Tom Rosenberg, and played with multiple chamber groups in the Salon se Leve concert series.  He was awarded 2nd place and Honorable Mention in recent years in the Mozart Concerto Competition sponsored by the Minneapolis Music Teachers Forum, competing with students up to 18 years old.  This past summer, he won the YAWPF 12-and-under concerto competition and played a Mozart Concerto with the YAWPF Festival Orchestra, conducted by Marlene Pauley (conductor of the Wayzata Symphony Orchestra).  In the fall, he was awarded Honorable Mention in the MTNA Junior Piano Performance Competition for the state of Minnesota.  Joseph is in 5th grade at The Lighthouse School in Spring Lake Park.  In addition to piano he enjoys algebra, reading, attending theater productions, and singing in the Minnesota Boychoir with his 3 older brothers.  He is a chamber music student of Tom Rosenberg, a composition student of Sarah Miller, and a piano student of Dr. Paul Wirth.

Flight in a Cessna 185

Take a step up from everyday life and view your world from a new perspective, the air!   The Minneapolis and St. Paul skylines from the ground are nice, but seeing them from the air is breathtaking!    Enjoy a one-hour flight for three passengers around the Twin Cities in a Cessna 185.  Don’t forget to look for your home from the air!

The flight will depart from Flemming Field, 1725 Henry Ave, South St Paul, MN 55075.

Dinner & Wine Package

Wine and dine with this fabulous combination of delicious cuisine and libations. Indulge at two of Minneapolis’ iconic restaurants: Barbette and Red Stag Supper Club, with a $40 gift card for each venue, and enjoy two bottles of wine from Surdyks Wine and Cheese Shop to top off the experience.

Assortment of Hair Product and Fashion Tote

Enjoy an assortment of hair and beauty products from top brands, including RedKen, Matrix and Kenra. Give your hair a special treat with this superb collection, and travel in style with this silky fashion tote.

“City Lights” Painting

Admire the beauty that Minneapolis has to offer with this limited edition preproduction of the Lou Roman watercolor. The painting comes with the frame and a certificate of authenticity, and measures 28” x 38.” Offset lithograph, number 461 of 908. Image can be found here.

6 Gallon Portable Air Compressor

This air compressor is a perfect addition to any tool arsenal. Its six gallon tank and 150 psi output makes it ideal for projects around the home or on the job site.

Wine Pull and Gaining Ground For Sale

Wine Pull

Purchase a cork for $20, and take home a mystery bottle of wine! Everyone Wins!

Donors: Surdyk’s Liquor & Cheese Shop and Team Liquor, Wine & Spirits

Gaining Ground Book Signing

Gaining Ground: A Blueprint for Community-Based International Development

Authored by our very own Joan Velásquez, Gaining Ground is the inspiring case study of how this volunteer-based, grassroots organization is making history in Bolivia. It also offers an autobiographical look at the “how to” and “lessons learned” of our international development work. The book, published in 2014, is currently a finalist for the Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) 25th Annual Midwest Book Awards (in the “Inspiration/Gift Books” category)! Joan will be available to sign your book as well.

Staff from Bolivia Traveling to Minnesota to Attend Festival Bolivia 2015

We will have 3 of our staff from Bolivia in Minnesota to attend Festival Bolivia 2015:

  • Ben Martinez, staff member of Mano a Mano Internacional and heavily involved in daily operations at the Center for Ecological Agriculture – the featured project for Festival Bolivia 2015
  • Dr. Victor Hugo Ortuno, MD, Board Member of Mano a Mano Aviation
  • Ivo Velasquez, Project Director of Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo
Victor Hugo (with the mic) at a distribution ceremony at the Mano a Mano hangar to distribute donated supplies in 2013.

Victor Hugo (with the mic) at a distribution ceremony at the Mano a Mano hangar to distribute donated supplies in 2013.

Photo Booth, Mother’s Day Cards Available

We will also have a photo booth at the event, and you can purchase Mother’s Day cards with beautiful Bolivian photos for the next day.

Enjoy a Fun Night and Make a Difference in Bolivia

This is Mano a Mano’s 6th annual event.  By attending these events, through the first 5 years together we have been able to support the following projects:

By attending our event on May 9th, you can help make a difference for more people in Bolivia, and have a good time in the process!

One of the greenhouses (yellow-topped building) built through the CEA program.

One of the greenhouses (yellow-topped building) built through the CEA program in Jironkota, Bolivia.

RSVP Here

You can BUY TICKETS HERE.

If you are unable to attend but would like to make a donation, you can DONATE HERE.

Volunteer Opportunities in May 2015

Volunteer Opportunities in May 2015

In May, we currently have 4 volunteer opportunities scheduled on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings; 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:

  • Sup and Sort, Tuesdays, 5-8pm. (The Tuesday Soup and Sort name is being changed to Sup and Sort because the weather is changing and food other than soup may be served). At 5pm gather to eat a meal that is provided and then sort supplies from 6-8pm, or whatever hours you can provide. Email Karen (karen@manoamano.org) if you have any questions. Sup and Sort is scheduled for the following dates in May:
    • May 5
    • May 19
  • Saturday Sorting, 9a-noon. Stop by Mano a Mano to sort supplies; you can stay as long or as short as you’d like.
    • May 2
    • May 30 

All of these activities, along with any other Mano a Mano events, are posted on our Events Calendar.

Why Sort Supplies?

Mano a Mano was founded 21 years ago with the goal of saving surplus medical supplies from the landfill in Minnesota and shipping them to Bolivia, where we knew these supplies were desperately needed and could be used immediately. We have grown to now building infrastructure projects in partnership with rural Bolivian communities (more than 300 projects to date), but the surplus distribution program remains a critical component of our programs in Bolivia, while also reducing waste in Minnesota.

Last year we shipped more than 100,000 pounds of supplies from Minnesota to Bolivia, with the help of many volunteers!

Many supplies we send are distributed to Mano a Mano's network of 151 health clinics throughout Bolivia.

Many supplies we send are distributed to Mano a Mano’s network of 151 health clinics throughout Bolivia. CLICK HERE for more pictures from our distribution program.

New School in Challacota

New School in Challacota

With funds raised at Mano a Mano’s 20th Anniversary Celebration in April 2014, Mano a Mano recently completed a school project in Challacota, Bolivia!

The new Challacota school is a smaller project – it has 1 fully-equipped classroom, 2 new showers, renovated bathrooms, and 1 teacher housing module (which has housing for 2 teachers and their families). It was dedicated on February 24, 2015. This school was Mano a Mano’s 53rd education project in Bolivia.

The Challacota school is Mano a Mano's 53rd education project in Bolivia.

The Challacota school is Mano a Mano’s 53rd education project in Bolivia.

2 Schools Built with Support from 20th Anniversary Celebration

The Challacota school was the second school project that was supported by funds raised at our 20th Anniversary Celebration, joining the much larger 10-classroom school project in Esmeralda that was completed in December.

Esmeralda School project, also built with support from our 20th Anniversary celebration.

Esmeralda School project, also built with support from our 20th Anniversary celebration.

Challacota

Challacota is a community of about 1,000 people in the municipality of Salinas de Garci Mendoza, department of Oruro, Bolivia – about a 7-hour drive from the city of Cochabamba.

The new school will be a much more comfortable learning environment for the 25 students in Challacota and the surrounding areas, and a more comfortable working & living environment for the teachers.

The school joins the health clinic that Mano a Mano built in Challacota in 2008.

Challacota Clinic, the 90th Mano a Mano health clinic completed in 2008.

Challacota Clinic, the 90th Mano a Mano health clinic completed in 2008.

Working Together to Make These Projects Possible

Every project that Mano a Mano does, including this school in Challacota, depends on many people working together (read more about our partnership model here). The Challacota School project was a collaboration with:

  • Gobierno Autonomo Municipal de Salinas de Garci Mendoza
  • our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia
  • Funding from our 20th Anniversary Celebration in St. Paul, Minnesota
  • the communities of Challacota

A signficant portion of the funding comes from Bolivian sources; in this case the Gobierno Autonomo Municipal de Salinas de Garci Mendoza provided 54% of funding and the community of Challacota contributed 3.5%. Mano a Mano provided funding raised through the 20th Anniversary Celebration, and our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia organized everything and built the project from start to finish.

Plaque from our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia thanking the 20th Anniversary donors that supported this project.

Plaque from our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia thanking the 20th Anniversary donors that supported this project.

This amount of local funding support is not unusual – with most of our projects, anywhere from 30% and up to 60%+ of the project costs are paid by Bolivian sources. The funding Mano a Mano provides (your donations) is the kickstarter, and our counterpart organizations in Bolivia provide the technical know-how and project oversight from start to finish. But the communities and municipalities are heavily involved.

Challacota School Construction Photos

Thanks!

Thanks to everyone that was involved in making this project possible!

Happy Earth Day 2015!

Happy Earth Day 2015!

Mano a Mano’s surplus program – our first program and what got us started in 1994 – has collected and shipped 3.5 million pounds of supplies from Minnesota to Bolivia! The vast majority of these supplies would have ended up in Minnesota landfills; instead they have made a big difference in improving lives in Bolivia.

All clinics in Mano a Mano's network - now numbering 151 - receive donated equipment and supplies.

All clinics in Mano a Mano’s network – now numbering 151 – receive donated equipment and supplies.

Thanks to everyone that has been a part of this – collecting supplies, making pickups, sorting and packing, loading containers, sorting and distributing in Bolivia, and supporting container shipments!

Surplus Program Pictures Over the Years

CLICK HERE to check out a few pictures of the surplus program over the years on our Facebook page.

Entrega de donaciones de Mano a Mano, mayo 2013

Distributing a shipment of supplies from Minnesota at the Mano a Mano hangar at the Cochabamba, Bolivia airport, April 2013.