Join Us July 23rd, 2017 for Mano a Mano’s 8th Annual Event

Join Us July 23rd, 2017 for Mano a Mano’s 8th Annual Event

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Join us for our 8th annual event – held for the first time at Mano a Mano’s office/warehouse in St. Paul! There will be beer and wine, pizza, a food truck, live music, silent auction, and tours & displays. We will have a big top tent with plenty of space, rain or shine.

If you would like to help out with this event (volunteering, silent auction, sponsorship, etc.), please contact us.

We hope to see you there!

Last Year’s Event, and the Six Previous Events…

At Mano a Mano’s event in late April 2016, I talked a little bit about my journey with Mano a Mano – about how I started here more than 10 years ago, and why I’m still here. I wanted to post it here for people that weren’t able to attend the event and might be interested (and thanks again to everyone that was there!).

- Nate Knatterud-Hubinger, Executive Director, Mano a Mano International

Introduction & Welcome

Thanks for coming to our 7th annual celebration event! Each of these events has included a focus project that is supported through the funds raised; let’s take a minute to remember what your support at these events has made possible over the years:

    • Year 1 (2010) – Santa Rosa Clinic – 3200 people that benefit.
    • Year 2 (2011) – Pasorapa Water Reservoir – 540 people have access to water (which has now been expanded by the community).
    • Year 3 (2012) – Providing emergency air rescues – more than 500 people receive emergency flights each year.
    • Year 4 (2013) – Shipping supplies – Mano a Mano distributes over 100,000 pounds of supplies each year.
    • Year 5 (2014) – Building schools in Esmeralda and Challacota – 350 students have access to education (plus teacher housing and community bathrooms).
    • Year 6 (2015) – Building greenhouses in Jironkota – 104 greenhouses have been built.
    • This year – Shipping supplies – our warehouse is full!

How I Started at Mano a Mano…

I have been with Mano a Mano over 10 years – this was my first job after college, and actually my first interview. I started as a part-time administrative assistant; and for the first 7 years the surplus program was one of my main responsibilities.

Me among the boxes in Mano a Mano Bolivia's warehouse in Cochabamba in 2006 - I had taped each of these boxes in Minnesota, so it was gratifying to see them in Bolivia!

Me among the boxes in Mano a Mano Bolivia’s warehouse in Cochabamba in 2006 – I had taped each of these boxes in Minnesota, so it was gratifying to see them in Bolivia!

It’s been amazing to be a part of the growth of Mano a Mano over the past decade. When I started, we had essentially 3 programs – shipping supplies (which was our first program), building clinics, and building schools & community projects.

At the time, in 2005 – we had completed 59 clinics and 16 schools, and we had shipped 1.6 million pounds of surplus supplies; we had 1 counterpart organization (Mano a Mano Bolivia) and another just getting off the ground (Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo). Our clinics had 237,986 patient visits in 2005.

Now in 2016 – we have 5 counterpart organizations. As listed in the insert in the blue books at your table: We now have 155 clinics and 54 schools. We have built 7 major water reservoirs and 170 small water ponds, and nearly 1,000 miles of roads. Our aviation program – with 4 small planes – has provided emergency air rescues to over 3,000 people. We have shipped over 3.5 million pounds of supplies, and our clinics have over 1 million patient visits each year. And those numbers grow every day. Our programs have grown in response to the communities and what they are asking for.

Those numbers really are impressive. One number that has stayed pretty constant in that time is 2 – the number of full-time staff in the US.

The reality is that this job is extremely hard. Every single project – whether it’s building a clinic or shipping supplies – takes months, if not years, to plan and execute. There are always tremendous challenges in every project. At any given time we have between 5 and 20 bigger projects underway, and dozens of trips, workshops, and other programs. There are hundreds of Bolivian communities on our waiting list for projects. Nothing is easy. So why am I still here?

Because even with all those challenges, at the end of the day we get all of these projects done, and we are able to do a lot. Even though each project is tremendously difficult, there is no doubt that it will get done, that it will be used for its intended purpose, and that it will make an impact. In our 20+ years, no project we’ve started has not been completed (and they’re all still in operation today).

Map of Mano a Mano projects, taken from our website.

Map of Mano a Mano projects, taken from our website.

All of this is possible thanks to the amazing staff & supporters – in both the US & Bolivia – that make it work. I just want to highlight some of the people that are here tonight:

  • Mano a Mano’s co-founders Joan & Segundo Velasquez
  • Our Board – Nancy and Terry, Chris, Deb, Anneli, Dennis, Dwight & Peggy (not on the board but still traveled from Colorado to be here tonight!)
  • Our Staff – our accountant Linda who’s been with Mano a Mano for 8 years; Walt and Carmen – our newest staff additions over the past year
  • Volunteers & Donors – you are our base (Dennis has mentioned you already, but we cannot thank you enough)
  • Not here but need to be mentioned – staff & volunteers in Bolivia, the communities & municipalities in Bolivia that partner with us and work so hard on THEIR projects

Partnerships – the Mano a Mano Model

This group of people in 2 countries comes together to create partnerships with many, many more people; our partnership model is our greatest strength. It’s what allows us to work in so many different areas, and it’s why we can get so much done with limited resources.

Mano a Mano – hand in hand – is about many different groups working together to achieve things that none of us could do on our own.

Partnerships are not just about pooling resources, it goes beyond money – there are many people & groups that have much more money than we do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean results.

Mano a Mano Projects

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A Mano a Mano clinic. There are many clinic projects throughout the developing world that sit unused or incomplete.

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Mano a Mano’s water reservoir in Sancayani. Large-scale water projects are very challenging, with many issues that can’t always be solved with more resources.

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Arrival of Mano a Mano containers to our Cochabamba warehouse in March 2016. The process of shipping & distributing supplies to people in need is a long & complex process.

Partnerships in Action

You can see our many different partnerships in action when you look at this single wheelchair, which was distributed in Bolivia last November.

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Wheelchair waiting to be distributed at Mano a Mano’s hangar in Bolivia.

  • It was donated by a hospital in the Twin Cities, that cared enough to call us.
  • It was picked up by a Mano a Mano volunteer, that took the time to go get it.
  • The wheelchair was packed, loaded into containers, and shipped by Mano a Mano staff and volunteers in the US, with the support of many donors in the US that pay for the shipping.
  • Mano a Mano staff in the US & Bolivia spend months going back and forth dealing with the logistics of getting the shipment through Bolivian customs.
  • Mano a Mano staff & volunteers in Bolivia spend more months organizing supplies and arranging distributions to people & organizations in need throughout the country.
  • This single wheelchair was one of 190 wheelchairs in the last shipment, alongside tens of thousands of pounds of other supplies.
  • Most of the supplies we send are distributed to Mano a Mano’s network of projects throughout Bolivia, which helps support an infrastructure of projects that impacts more than 1.5 million people every year.

Mano a Mano really is a bridge, connecting two cities, two groups of people, nearly 5,000 miles apart. I am not Bolivian. I am most definitely a gringo, I’m from St. Paul, and have lived here my whole life. Almost none of us here tonight are Bolivian either. Before Mano a Mano, very few of us had traveled to Bolivia, including me.

But we all want to make a difference, we all want to be a part of something bigger. Like shipping that single wheelchair, every project we do takes a lot of people working together, in many different ways. None of us can do everything, but we can all do our part. And when we work together, we can accomplish big things. Thanks to each of you, who in your own way is an integral part of Mano a Mano.

Mano a Mano Surplus Program Video (Debuted at Festival Bolivia 2016)

“With Water, We Can Improve Life For Our Families”

“With Water, We Can Improve Life For Our Families”

Mano a Mano worked with the community of Sancayani, a rural Bolivian community high in the Andes mountains 14,000 feet above sea level, to build a water reservoir that can improve family nutrition and income for 9,600 Bolivians.

In 2012 Mano a Mano dedicated a large water reservoir project in Sancayani, Bolivia. Sancayani is a rural community in the department of Cochabamba high in the Bolivian Andes – about 14,000 feet above sea level.

In 2012 Mano a Mano dedicated a large water reservoir project in Sancayani, Bolivia. Sancayani is a rural community in the department of Cochabamba high in the Bolivian Andes – about 14,000 feet above sea level.

This water project consists of two large water reservoirs, Sallamani Chico and Sallamani Grande. Rainwater and snow melt are collected via a channel into the Sallamani Chico reservoir first, which can hold about 250,000 cubic meters of water. Once the Sallamani Chico reservoir is filled, excess water flows into the Sallamani Grande reservoir, which can hold about 350,000 cubic meters of water.

The Sancayani reservoir was completed in 2012; you can learn more about the project here.

Sallamani Chico reservoir

Sallamani Chico reservoir, part of the Sancayani water project.

Watch the Video:

Special thanks to Mano a Mano volunteers Charles Skrief and Andrea Bond for making this video! #ThrowbackThursday #TBT

Teacher Trip to Bolivia – June 2017

Teacher Trip to Bolivia – June 2017

Mano a Mano invites you to join a 9 day group trip for teachers to Cochabamba, Bolivia from June 17-25, 2017.

We will visit rural Bolivian schools to view teaching methods, develop curriculum with their teachers, learn how they keep parents involved, and have an opportunity to interact with them in informal as well as classroom settings. We approach this trip with a deep appreciation for the dedication of teachers in both countries, for the similarities and differences in our life experiences, and for the gifts that teachers from each country can bring to the other.

2017 Trip Information Packet

Click below for a trip information packet (more information about previous trips is also below). Contact us with any questions or for more information.

Mano a Mano Teacher Trip Informational Packet_2017

Minnesota Teacher Trip to Bolivia – June 2016

Below are a few pictures from our teacher trip to Bolivia in June 2016. This was Mano a Mano’s 4th year of hosting teacher trips to Bolivia. Minnesota teachers travel to Bolivia with Mano a Mano to participate in workshops with Bolivian teachers.

Minnesota Teacher Trip to Bolivia - June 2016

Minnesota Teacher Trip to Bolivia – June 2016

Daniel has a way with the kids. They love doing cat's cradle with him! From the Minnesota Teacher Trip to Bolivia - June 2016

Daniel has a way with the kids. They love doing cat’s cradle with him! From the Minnesota Teacher Trip to Bolivia – June 2016

This year focused on a week-long teacher training project in Santivanez, a new community for this project. Our Minnesota teachers presented workshops for 80 Bolivian teachers in a community that has 15 schools. They had opportunities to observe and participate in classroom teaching and then teach workshops on language arts, math, and communication among parents, teachers, and students. Minnesota teachers spend months preparing the workshop lessons and pay all of their own expenses.

Minnesota Teacher Trip to Bolivia - June 2016

Minnesota Teacher Trip to Bolivia – June 2016

Minnesota Teacher Trip to Bolivia - June 2016

Minnesota Teacher Trip to Bolivia – June 2016

Thanks to everyone that participated in this project!

17 More Pictures from the Teacher Trip on Facebook

Interview with Mano a Mano Co-Founder Joan Velasquez

Mano a Mano co-founder Joan Velasquez was interviewed by the Minnesota chapter of The American Association of Teachers of Spanish & Portuguese (MN-AATSP) for their May 2016 Noticiero newsletter. The interview focused on Mano a Mano’s June 2016 teacher trip to Bolivia.

Arani, Bolivia - community where Mano a Mano's teacher trips have been based.

Arani, Bolivia – community where Mano a Mano’s teacher trips have been based in previous years.

From the MN-AATSP website:

“The American Association of Teachers of Spanish & Portuguese (AATSP) is a national professional organization for educators which promotes the study and teaching of the Spanish and Portuguese languages and their corresponding Hispanic, Luso-Brazilian, and other related literatures and cultures at all levels of education.

AATSP-MN is a state chapter whose mission is promoting the Spanish & Portuguese languages and cultures, supporting educators, and recognizing student excellence through various events in the state of Minnesota.”

Read the Full MN-AATSP Interview with Joan Here

The PDF version of the interview is available here:

MN-AATSP Interview with Joan Velasquez

Page 1 of Joan's interview with AATSP. Read the full interview at the link above.

Page 1 of Joan’s interview with AATSP. Read the full interview at the link above.

Previous Teacher Trips

Check out more information about the first 3 trips below (each headline is clickable).

2013 Teacher Trip – 9 Travelers

Minnesota and Bolivia teachers during a workshop, 2013.

Minnesota and Bolivia teachers during a workshop, 2013.

2014 Teacher Trip – 7 Travelers

2015 Teacher Trip – 11 Travelers

Four Containers With Almost 85,000 Pounds of Supplies En Route From Minnesota to Bolivia

Four Containers With Almost 85,000 Pounds of Supplies En Route From Minnesota to Bolivia

This morning, all four containers – that Mano a Mano volunteers have spent the last few days loading – have been picked up from the Mano a Mano warehouse in St. Paul, Minnesota and are starting their journey to Bolivia. Nearly 85,000 pounds of wheelchairs, crutches & walkers, boxes of medical supplies, larger equipment like gurneys, and many other items will be distributed by Mano a Mano in Bolivia to people & organizations in need.

One of the four containers leaving the Mano a Mano warehouse this morning. All four have been picked up today.

One of the four containers leaving the Mano a Mano warehouse this morning. All four have been picked up today.

Mano a Mano co-founder Segundo Velasquez tagging 'manoamano.org' on the containers. As part of each shipment, Mano a Mano purchases the containers, so that they can be used in Mano a Mano projects in Bolivia or sold, and to avoid rental charges that add up quickly when there are delays.

Mano a Mano co-founder Segundo Velasquez tagging ‘manoamano.org’ on the containers. As part of each shipment, Mano a Mano purchases the containers, so that they can be used in Mano a Mano projects in Bolivia or sold, and to avoid rental charges that add up quickly when there are delays.

Thanks Volunteers!

Thanks to everyone that has helped make this shipment possible! Sending these supplies this week is the culmination of months of hard work: volunteers picking up supplies from around the Twin Cities; volunteers sorting, organizing, and packing supplies at the Mano a Mano warehouse; donors that helped fund the shipping costs (which includes everyone that supported our Festival Bolivia 2016 event); and staff and volunteers in Bolivia that organize supplies for distribution.

A child receiving a donated wheelchair at one of Mano a Mano's distribution events in Cochabamba, Bolivia, October 2016. More than 90,000 pounds of supplies were distributed to people & organizations throughout Bolivia in October.

A child receiving a donated wheelchair at one of Mano a Mano’s distribution events in Cochabamba, Bolivia, October 2016. More than 90,000 pounds of supplies were distributed to people & organizations throughout Bolivia in October.

Each part is critical to the process, and we could not do this without the support of hundreds of staff, volunteers, and donors.

Video: From Minnesota to Bolivia: Distributing Donated Medical Supplies

Mano a Mano collects donated supplies in Minnesota and ships them to Bolivia, where they are distributed to people and organizations in need throughout the country. The four containers en route will be distributed similarly to our last shipment of supplies, as shown in the video below.

Check out footage and interviews from our most 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:

Video Credit: William Wroblewski
The surplus program is the program that started Mano a Mano more than 22 years ago; with the dedicated support of hundreds of volunteers in both the US & Bolivia, we have collected and shipped millions of pounds of supplies since 1994.

Pictures From Container Loading – Day One (Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017)

Pictures from Container Loading – Days Two & Three (Friday-Saturday, February 10-11, 2017)

October 2016 – Distributing More than 90,000 Pounds of Supplies

In October 2016, Mano a Mano held two distribution events at our warehouse in Cochabamba, Bolivia to distribute the 99,000 pounds of supplies that had been shipped from Minnesota earlier this year. For each of those 2 events (on October 8 and October 22), dozens of organizations from around the country traveled to Mano a Mano to receive donated supplies; some had traveled 2 and a half days to attend. Many individuals came to receive wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and braces.

Here are a few of their stories (watch this video to hear from more recipients of supplies in Bolivia):

  • Brian is a young boy whose legs don’t work and is unable to walk. He came with his mother on October 22nd to receive a donated wheelchair. As his mother tried to speak to the crowd at the distribution event, she broke out in tears, overwhelmed with gratitude.
  • A level 3 hospital from the department of Beni received an X-Ray machine, in addition to a large quantity of medical supplies. The director of the hospital was extremely grateful, and said that in their area they receive many referrals for broken limbs since they are the only hospital capable of dealing with these issues. He said that the new X-Ray machine will allow them to address many, many more of these emergencies.

Container Loading – Day One (Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017)

Container Loading – Day One (Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017)

All 4 containers arrived at Mano a Mano yesterday, and today volunteers helped load 2 of the 4 containers. We’ll finish loading the other 2 containers tomorrow and Saturday morning. Thanks to everyone that helped out!

For more information about this shipment and the surplus program, CLICK HERE.