One Family’s Greenhouse in Huayco Arriba, Bolivia
Justinano’s wife said that before they built the greenhouse, Don Justiniano would say “I am not an animal to eat greens; why would I waste my time on building a greenhouse?”
Now that we have a greenhouse that I am tending to (along with my son’s help with watering), what we produce helps us and I am going to the market less often. My husband now says that it seems that I am cooking better! – December, 2015
Center for Ecological Agriculture
Justinanio’s family greenhouse – one of many built in the community – is an example of why we built the Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA), which provides low-tech, low-cost tools and training that improve food security and nutrition for rural Bolivian farmers.
In 2015, the Center for Ecological Agriculture had more than 1,100 visitors, hosted 12 agricultural education workshops for rural farmers, and built 102 greenhouses in Bolivia.
Recent Photos from the CEA
Here are some recent photos from the CEA:
- Volunteers from Oxford Development Abroad working with Mano a Mano on CEA projects
- 10 photos from training workshops, site visits, and building projects
Video Overview of the Center for Ecological Agriculture
Why Did We Build the Center for Ecological Agriculture?
At its base, Mano a Mano is a community development organization:
- We partner with Bolivian communities on projects that they identify, focusing on the most basic needs that are currently going unmet.
- We bring many different people together to complete projects that none of us could do on our own.
- We focus on projects that are sustainable - we maintain strong relationships with communities but we try to help people help themselves and have them take control and ownership of projects. Ongoing maintenance and administration are handled by the communities.
- We want our projects to be integrated and serve as springboards for other projects – sometimes through more projects with Mano a Mano, and sometimes through the Bolivian government or other organizations who build upon the base provided through our first project. For example:
- With Mano a Mano’s 37-mile El Palmar road project that was completed in late 2014, the Bolivian government is taking advantage of the improved transportation and is currently building 3 new bridges, a school, new housing, and installing electricity along the road.
- Often, when Mano a Mano builds a clinic, it is the first project in the community, with the understanding that if the community and local government meet their obligations and do well Mano a Mano will continue working with the community on other projects like schools and community bathrooms.
- The first implementation project with the CEA – building greenhouses in Jironkota – builds on the clinic that Mano a Mano completed there in 2013.
The CEA was a natural addition and complements many of our existing initiatives, while filling a need that was not being met with our previous projects. To give just one example, the clinic we have in Jironkota provides healthcare access for the area, but does not address some of the basic issues that cause rural Bolivian farmers to get sick in the first place – primarily nutrition and food security.
What Does the CEA Do?
The CEA achieves 4 distinct goals for Mano a Mano:
- implements low-cost, low-tech tools for Bolivian communities
- provides training and demonstration of sustainable farming techniques at the center (the ‘open book’ to show farmers what is possible)
- provides a place for Mano a Mano to test and pilot different projects before implementing in the field (the ’Mano a Mano lab’)
- integrates Mano a Mano as an organization (3 out of our 4 counterpart organizations are building their offices or warehouses on the same land) – it serves as the ‘Mano a Mano hub’ in Cochabamba
Oxford Development Abroad Volunteers in Tapacari, Bolivia – 2015
These are a few pictures from the group of volunteers from Oxford Development Abroad (ODA) that worked with Mano a Mano in August/September 2015 (learn more about ODA on their website). Last year’s project was focused on building greenhouses for rural farm families to improve food security and nutrition.
This project with ODA was part of Mano a Mano programs through our Center for Ecological Agriculture; in 2015 the Center had more than 1,100 visitors, hosted 12 agricultural education workshops for rural farmers, and built 102 greenhouses in Bolivia.
Oxford Development Abroad is “a student-run charity that works to harness the energy, enthusiasm and resources of the University of Oxford student body to assist with small scale, community initiated development projects” and has partnered with Mano a Mano for a number of years. We are looking forward to working with them again this year!
More Pictures on Facebook
Check out more pictures of the Oxford group on our Facebook page HERE.
More Information about the Center for Ecological Agriculture
More information about the Center for Ecological Agriculture, including a detailed video, is available HERE.
La Familia: An International Love Story
A book about Mano a Mano’s co-founders Joan and Segundo Velasquez is now complete! The official book release will take place at Mano a Mano’s Back to our Roots event on April 23rd, 2016 (more information about the April event here).
From the Back Cover:
“One day in the fall of 1967, Segundo Velásquez watched a tiny, fair-skinned young woman struggle to carry a tin bucket, full of water, down a dirt road on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Like any other well-mannered young man, he caught up with the petite Minnesotan and, though she was a stranger, took her heavy bucket.
Segundo’s brief encounter with Joan Swanson White was the start of a deep and lasting connection, a chance meeting that grew into a complex, shared struggle to bring U.S. resources to bear on the profound needs of rural Bolivia.
In La Familia: An International Love Story, Mary Martin (above taking notes in Bolivia) provides a moving account of childhood challenges, intercultural pitfalls, and the ultimate creation of grassroots international partnership—Mano a Mano—at its best.
All proceeds from the sale of this book go directly to Mano a Mano.”
Save the Date – Mano a Mano’s ‘Back to Our Roots’ Event on April 23rd, 2016
Come celebrate & support our surplus distribution program, a small seed of an idea that has grown into a flourishing community development organization.
- WHEN - Saturday, April 23rd, 2016
- WHERE – Earle Brown Heritage Center, 6155 Earle Brown Dr, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430
- WHAT - Mano a Mano’s 7th Annual Mano a Mano celebration event
Silent Auction Items Welcomed
There will be a silent auction as part of the event and we are looking for items large and small. Do you have something you would like to contribute? Please contact our office.
If you are interested in sponsoring the event, click the link below to check out our sponsorship packet materials. Feel free to contact us directly for more information as well.
Information about the Event
We always have a lot of fun at these events, and this year will be no different. There will be guests coming from Bolivia to attend, a silent auction, good food & drinks, live music, a book release for a recently published book about Mano a Mano (La Familia: An International Love Story), and lots of Mano a Mano friends to spend the evening with!
Information about Mano a Mano’s Surplus Distribution Program
The April 23rd event will be in support of the program that started Mano a Mano more than 20 years ago – our surplus distribution program, which focuses on collecting supplies in the Twin Cities area and distributing them in Bolivia.
You can learn more about the surplus distribution program at any of the following links:
- Our Story – Why We Started Mano a Mano in 1994
- Overview of the Program in 2014 – 124,220 pounds of surplus supplies were shipped from Minnesota to Bolivia
- Distribution Event in November 2015 – Distributing more than 40,000 pounds of supplies to dozens of organizations at the Mano a Mano hangar in Cochabamba, Bolivia
- Distribution of 200 Wheelchairs to Bolivians in Need in December 2013 - Mano a Mano hosted the distribution of nearly 200 wheelchairs to Bolivians with disabilities, each of which was custom-fitted to every recipient.
- 10,000+ Distributions Over 20 Years - Mano a Mano has made well over 10,000 individual distributions of supplies since the program began in 1994
- Gaining Ground: A Blueprint for Community-Based International Development - Mano a Mano published a book in 2014; the book won first place in the Inspirational Book category at the Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) Midwest Book Awards in May 2015.
Photos from the Surplus Distribution Program over its 20+ Years
30 Of Our Favorite Photos From 2015
With the year winding down, we wanted to share a few of our favorite pictures from the year. Thanks to everyone that is a part of Mano a Mano; we couldn’t do it without you!
Check out the full album with descriptions and links with more info on Facebook HERE.