One Family’s Greenhouse in Huayco Arriba, Bolivia

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

Picture of Justiniano Alanes Ventura's family greenhouse - (his son in the picture)

Picture of Justiniano’s family greenhouse – (his son in the picture)

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.

Mano a Mano's Center for Ecological Agriculture

Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture

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:

The greenhouses (yellow-topped buildings) now dot the landscape in Tapacari.

The greenhouses (yellow-topped buildings) now dot the landscape in Tapacari.

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.
Mano a Mano's clinic in Jironkota.

Mano a Mano’s clinic in Jironkota.

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?

Some of the tools available through the CEA.

Some of the tools available through the CEA.

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

Oxford Development Abroad Volunteers in Tapacari, Bolivia – 2015

Oxford Development Abroad volunteer group, in Tapacari, Bolivia, 2015.

Oxford Development Abroad volunteer group, 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.

As with any Mano a Mano project, the community is actively involved from start to finish.

As with any Mano a Mano project, the community is actively involved from start to finish.

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.

Inside a Mano a Mano greenhouse.

Inside a Mano a Mano greenhouse.

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.

The greenhouses (yellow-topped buildings) now dot the landscape in Tapacari.

The greenhouses (yellow-topped buildings) now dot the landscape in Tapacari.

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

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).

La Familia: An International Love Story

La Familia: An International Love Story

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.”

La Familia, back cover.

La Familia, back cover.

Save the Date – Mano a Mano’s ‘Back to Our Roots’ Event on April 23rd, 2016

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
  • WHEREEarle Brown Heritage Center, 6155 Earle Brown Dr, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430
  • WHAT - Mano a Mano’s 7th Annual Mano a Mano celebration event

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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.

Sponsorship Information

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!

Distribution event in November 2015 at the Mano a Mano hangar in Cochabamba, Bolivia of supplies sent from Minnesota.

Distribution event in November 2015 at the Mano a Mano hangar in Cochabamba, Bolivia of supplies sent from Minnesota. (CLICK HERE for photos from the event.)

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:

Photos from the Surplus Distribution Program over its 20+ Years

 

30 Of Our Favorite Photos From 2015

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.

A Few Of Our Favorites: