Yesterday three containers’ worth of donated surplus supplies from the US – medical supplies/equipment, school supplies, construction supplies, and more – arrived at the Mano a Mano Aviation hangar in Cochabamba to be distributed to Mano a Mano’s counterpart organizations and to other organizations (free of charge) that also work with those in need.
These supplies were collected, prepared, and packed for shipment last year by Mano a Mano volunteers in the US. The surplus distribution program was Mano a Mano’s first project in 1994, and it continues to be extremely important to support the infrastructure projects we build in Bolivia and ensure that they are equipped and maintained for the long-term.
The Challenges of Shipping
Representatives from the Bolivian Ministry of Health and Sports were also present; they were very helpful in assisting Mano a Mano get these supplies through Customs. Shipping to Bolivia is never as easy as just paying a shipping company and filling out a few pieces of paperwork. These shipments are a LOT OF WORK, both in the US and Bolivia, and we simply could not make these shipments work without the legal resources, staff time, and government support we have available in Bolivia. As an obvious example of the challenges, a successful shipment such as this recent one still takes over 6 months from shipping in the US until it is received in Bolivia.
The Value of a Single Wheelchair
A majority of the donated supplies are distributed to Mano a Mano’s network of health clinics throughout the country. But Mano a Mano also distributes many of these supplies to other organizations that work with those in need, and many of the orthopedic items (walkers, wheelchairs, crutches) are donated or loaned to individuals who make requests – our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia made 481 donations to individuals in 2012.
With this recent shipment, we were donating a wheelchair before we even got the supplies off the truck! As these supplies were being transported from the Bolivian Customs warehouse in La Paz to our warehouse in Cochabamba, the truck driver saw all of the wheelchairs and thought of his truck driver friend who became paraplegic after a vehicle accident.
The driver hired to transport our cargo from customs asked, pleaded for a wheelchair for his friend, who was unable to work since the accident and has seven children; their family makes do on the minimal income his wife earns from selling candies in the open market.
That night, the driver went about and obtained the needed information we require to make a donation – ID, photo, drivers license, name, age, and a bit of history on his medical condition.
Early the following morning, 6:30 am, as Mano a Mano started unloading the remaining wheelchairs, and after verifying documents, we issued him the “best” wheelchair. The driver, happy, called his friend and informed him of the donation. “Thank you” was the response of the lucky receiver. Now he no longer had to pay to rent the barely-operating old chair he was using. Now, he had his very own chair…
A single used chair! This is why we do it.
Another Shipment Coming Up Soon…
Thanks to everyone in the US and Bolivia that made this happen! After last month’s successful fundraiser, Mano a Mano is preparing to make another shipment in early summer; check back on our EVENTS CALENDAR once we have a time scheduled if you’re interested in helping out.
Check out more pictures of the arrival and distribution of the supplies on our Facebook Page.
In the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of UMN Connect Magazine from the College of Education and Human Development, there was a nice feature article on Medical Family Therapist and Family Social Science Assistant Professor Tai Mendenhall detailing his work at the University of Minnesota and in the community.
From the article:
Tai Mendenhall has worked as a mental health provider in some of the most difficult situations anyone can imagine—at the heart of the 9/11 attacks, on the ground where hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck, the 2004 East Asian tsunami, the I-35W Bridge collapse, and the 2011 Midwest tornadoes.
He has also worked in places that do not make the news, attending to mental health care needs of victims’ families as well as health care providers in the wake of murders, suicides, and emergency room deaths.
Volunteering with Mano a Mano
Tai has also been volunteering his time with Mano a Mano, including a trip to Bolivia in 2011, taking part in 2 seminars with Family Social Science (the first one in 2012 and the most recent one last month), and co-writing an article on Mano a Mano in the journal Families, Systems & Health.
Mano a Mano is very lucky to have so many amazing volunteers like Tai!
UMN Connect Full Article
In 2012 Mano a Mano began construction on a demonstration and training center on the outskirts of Cochabamba. The goal of the project is to provide Bolivian farmers training on best use of their water to ensure maximum benefits from the water projects that Mano a Mano has built with them.
- Overview of the project - why this project is important
- Update from early February 2013 - planting seeds
- Update from mid-February 2013 – building the water ponds
- Update from mid-March 2013 – working with local student volunteer groups
- Update from late-March 2013 – students learning about the importance of water, eating their lunch from the garden
Current Update – Completing the Bathroom, Working on the Training Center Building, and Testing Students’ Entrepreneurial Spirit
Thanks to the St. Kate’s Medical Interest Group for volunteering on Saturday! St. Kate’s students have volunteered close to 100 hours this semester with Mano a Mano.
Interested in Volunteering?
Are you interested in volunteering, either individually or with a group? Mano a Mano has a ton of volunteer opportunities; please contact Office Manager Dana Dallavalle (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re interested in learning more.
We also have an Events Calendar that shows upcoming volunteer activities; our next open volunteer time is this Friday, May 17 from 3-6p. Feel free to contact us with any questions, and we hope to see you at our office sometime soon!
Thanks everyone that supported our Festival Bolivia last month! This was our 4th year doing this event, and each year we have reached our goal for a project – so far a health clinic in Santa Rosa, a water project in Pasorapa, and emergency flights throughout rural Bolivia:
This year’s event was no different; we met our goal to be able to do a shipment of donated supplies and equipment from the US to Bolivia, where they will be distributed to support our programs throughout the country.
Festival Bolivia 2013 Pictures
Photo credit for all Festival Bolivia photos: Jose Martinez
We really appreciate everyone’s support! Check out more photos from Festival Bolivia 2013 on our Facebook page.