A Look Back At What We Did in 2015 – Mano a Mano 2015 Annual Report

A Look Back At What We Did in 2015 – Mano a Mano 2015 Annual Report

Mano a Mano’s biggest strength is our community-based partnership model – bringing many people together to accomplish things that none of us could do on our own. Every activity, every project new or old, every event, depends on the dedication & effort of a lot of people. Before we look at what we were able to do in 2015, we want to thank you:

  • the communities & municipal governments in Bolivia;
  • the individuals, schools, churches, community organizations, and foundations in the US;
  • the people from many other countries that support Mano a Mano;
  • and, of course, the core Mano a Mano staff & volunteers in Bolivia and the US.

Without your support – every person coming together and doing their part – none of this would be possible. Thank you!

Annual Reports from Previous Years: 2012-2014

Before we get to our 2015 annual report below, check out our previous Annual Reports from the past 3 years (all financial statement, 990s, and previous years’ annual reports are available HERE):

2015 Annual Report

Photo Album – 2015 in Pictures

Shipped 96,975 Pounds of Supplies From Minnesota to Bolivia

We started in 1994 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. Collecting & shipping supplies continues to be an extremely important part of Mano a Mano’s programs.

Mano a Mano's surplus program has shipped more than 3.5 million pounds from Minnesota to Bolivia since 1994.

Mano a Mano’s surplus program has shipped more than 3.5 million pounds from Minnesota to Bolivia since 1994.

In 2015, Mano a Mano shipped nearly 100,000 pounds of medical, school, orthopedic, and other supplies in September (which arrived in Bolivia in March 2016). The majority of the supplies we send are distributed to Mano a Mano’s network of clinics throughout rural Bolivia; many supplies are distributed during one-day events where organizations and people gather in Cochabamba to receive supplies, like this one in November 2015:

Hosted 44+ Travel Groups in Bolivia

Mano a Mano’s counterpart organization Mano a Mano Internacional hosted more than 100 travelers in 2015. Our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia also hosted many travelers, including multiple health education conferences in collaboration with Medical Educators for Latin America. For us, it is important – and eye-opening – for our supporters to have the chance to travel to Bolivia and experience Mano a Mano projects and the communities that we work with first-hand.

These trips can range from a few days for a site visit to multiple months as a long-term volunteer. Below is a photo slideshow from a teacher exchange workshop:

Constructed 80 Greenhouses & 24 Household Water Collection Systems

Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA) provides training and tools to improve food security & nutrition for Bolivian farm families. The tools available include cisterns and other small water projects, greenhouses, livestock pens, and biodigesters. When farmers come to the CEA, they get a tour to learn about these tools, as well as participating in workshops about improving agricultural practices in their communities; farmers then choose what tools they would like to implement in their communities based on need and available funding.

Greenhouses have proven to be the highest priority project chosen by farmers so far.

Provided Agricultural Training to 1,694 People

Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA) provides training and tools to improve food security & nutrition for Bolivian farm families. The training includes everything from workshops for farmers, to tours for local students to learn more about the environment. In 2015 the CEA provided training for:

  • 219 farmers
  • 1,397 schoolchildren
  • 54 school teachers
  • 24 government officials
Farmer from Jironkota going through a training exercise, mapping his community, at the CEA.

Farmer from Jironkota going through a training exercise, mapping his community, at the CEA.

Constructed 5 New Clinics

In collaboration with our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia, we continue to respond to the communities throughout Bolivia that approach Mano a Mano requesting a clinic (there are currently more than 60 communities on our waiting list for a clinic project). In 2015 we constructed 5 new clinics, expanding our network to 154 clinics at the end of the year. Mano a Mano’s clinics focus on providing access to basic health care and skilled health care professionals; there were more than 1 million patient visits in 2014 (which is the last year we have complete data).

In addition to building the clinic, these projects are always fully equipped, including living quarters for the doctor and nurse, and receive ongoing supplies and continuing health education to ensure they function at a high level. Learn more about our partnership model – and all of the pieces involved – here.

Inauguration brochures for the 5 new clinics built in 2015.

Inauguration brochures for the 5 new clinics built in 2015.

Mano a Mano’s 5 new clinics in 2015 were built in the following communities (click the links to learn more about each project):

Constructed Schools & Teacher Housing in 2 Communities

In collaboration with our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia, we continue to respond to the communities throughout Bolivia that approach Mano a Mano requesting a clinic (there are currently more than 70 communities on our waiting list for a school project). In 2015 we constructed 2 new school projects, expanding our network to 54 school projects at the end of the year.

Improved Roads in San Lorenzo & Cotagaita

In late 2014, in collaboration with our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo, we completed a 37-mile road project in El Palmar, which was one of the largest and most challenging road projects we have ever undertaken. These projects have a huge impact on all of the communities in the regions, which we go into more detail here.

All of these new projects in El Palmar – the schools, bridges, housing, and electricity that started to take shape in 2015 – show 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 infrastructure of a road was put in place, it can open up many new possibilities.

In 2015, Mano a Mano completed smaller road improvement projects in 2 communities. Road improvement projects typically include smoothing, resurfacing, widening, and adding culverts. Both of these projects were done with no funding from the US.

  • Cotagaita – 11 mile road improvement project
  • San Lorenzo – 9 mile road improvement project

We have worked in Cotagaita before, completing a much larger road project there in 2008. The Cotagaita road project goes from 8,500 feet above sea level to 16,500 feet above sea level. Prior to the completion of the Cayti-to-Sagrario connecting road, farmers traveled an astonishing 200 kilometers on a circuitous road through the mountains to reach the miner’s market, a grueling 15-hour drive by truck. Many farmers walked across the mountains with their donkeys for three days to complete this journey. Now this important market lies within 15-25 kilometers of Cotagaita-area farmers, reducing their travel time to an hour.

Continued Work on Large-Scale Water Reservoir in Wirkini for 2,000 People

Wirkini is a small community located in the Province of Tiraque, Department of Cochabamba, and is about 12,700 feet above sea level in the Bolivian Altiplano.

The reservoir is 99% complete, and will provide irrigation water to at least 341 Bolivian farm families in the area and irrigate 269 hectares of land (average family size is 6, for a total number of beneficiaries of 2,046). Water is typically only available in the Bolivian Highlands for the 2-3 month rainy season, and the rest of the year is a struggle for farmers to have water access for their crops and livestock. These water reservoir projects retain water and provide water access year-round, which allows for farmers to grow more and better crops, which in turn increases family nutrition and household incomes. Check out some of Mano a Mano’s other water projects here.

Provided Emergency Flights for 538 People & 40 Weekend Health Clinics

Last year, Mano a Mano’s aviation program provided emergency flights to 538 people, in addition to flying volunteer medical professionals for 40 weekend health clinics. Learn more about the aviation program here.

Emergency flight on the Mano a Mano plane, at the Cochabamba airport.

Emergency flight on the Mano a Mano plane, at the Cochabamba airport.

Sustainability – More than 300 Projects Benefiting More than 1.5 Million Bolivians

These new projects in 2015 join the hundreds of Mano a Mano clinics, schools, roads, water projects, airstrips that have already been completed over the past decade. These new projects become part of the Mano a Mano system that includes maintenance, training, education, and other support programs.

Many of our infrastructure projects are 5, 10, or even 15 years old; every project we have built to date is still in operation, and still being used for its intended purpose. The sustainability of our projects depends on the partnerships that are a part of every project: every project is turned over to the community – it is their project – and they are responsible for the administration and maintenance of their project. Every staff salary of the 500+ medical professionals working in Mano a Mano clinics is paid for by sources within Bolivia (the Bolivian Health Ministry pays 83% of these salaries). Without these partnerships it would not be possible to continue adding new projects.

Map of Mano a Mano projects, taken from our Project Map page.

Map of Mano a Mano projects, taken from our Project Map page.

4-Star Rating on Charity Navigator

In 2015 Mano a Mano received our second consecutive 4-star rating, which only 20% of nonprofits receive (we received a 3rd consecutive 4-star rating in June 2016 as well).

In the letter from Charity Navigator to Mano a Mano sharing the 2015 4-star rating, they wrote:

“We are proud to announce Mano a Mano International has earned our second consecutive 4-star rating. Receiving four out of a possible four stars indicates that your organization adheres to good governance and other best practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities and consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way.Only 20% of the charities we rate have received at least 2 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Mano a Mano International outperforms most other charities in America. This “exceptional” designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Mano a Mano International from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.”

Mano a Mano received a second consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator in 2015.

Mano a Mano received a second consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator in 2015.

Volunteers in the US & Bolivia Contributed Tens of Thousands of Hours

Mano a Mano is a small organization. We only have 2 full-time staff in the US and a few dozen core staff in Bolivia. Without the commitment of our volunteers we would not be able to do a fraction of what we can.

This report provides a glimpse of what we did in 2015, but it does not show the commitment of Mano a Mano staff, who often work in very difficult conditions and always work with limited resources. It does now showcase the communities, who put in thousands of hours of volunteer work on every Mano a Mano project, and are the drivers for making these projects happen (every Mano a Mano project always begins with a request from the community, and a requirement that they be actively involved throughout). It does not highlight our volunteers, who support Mano a Mano in many different ways every day.

A huge THANK-YOU to everyone that supports Mano a Mano!

Volunteers from St. Kate's PA program at Mano a Mano in July.

Volunteers from St. Kate’s PA program at the Mano a Mano warehouse in St. Paul, Minnesota in July 2015

We were able to accomplish a lot in 2015, but there is still a lot more to do. There are hundreds of Bolivian communities on our waiting lists for projects. There are thousands of pounds of supplies available in Minnesota – and a much bigger demand in Bolivia than we are able to meet – that we are unable to accept due to limited funding to be able to ship them. And there are many maintenance, education, training, and support programs that are becoming more important as our network of projects grows.

A trauma workshop hosted by volunteer medical professionals from the Twin Cities-based organization Medical Educators for Latin America (MELA). MELA travels to Bolivia once or twice a year to do workshops with Mano a Mano Bolivia.

A trauma workshop hosted by volunteer medical professionals from the Twin Cities-based organization Medical Educators for Latin America (MELA). MELA travels to Bolivia once or twice a year to do workshops with Mano a Mano Bolivia.

How You Can Help

If you are interested in learning more about us, and how you can help, please feel free to contact us.

Stop by to volunteer.

Buy a book (all proceeds benefit Mano a Mano).

Make a donation.

Together, we can make a real change – in Bolivia, and coming together as supporters in the US.

Joan and Segundo at the Midwest Book Awards in May 2015, where Mano a Mano's book Gaining Ground won first place in the inspirational book category.

Mano a Mano co-founders Joan and Segundo Velasquez at the Midwest Book Awards in May 2015, where Mano a Mano’s book Gaining Ground won first place in the Inspirational Book category.

Thanks Starkey Hearing Volunteers!

Thanks Starkey Hearing Volunteers!

Thank you to the group from Starkey Hearing that volunteered with us this morning (and to our regular group that volunteered last night)! All of the medical & orthopedic supplies they sorted today will be included in our next shipment to Bolivia, where they are distributed throughout the country to people in need.

Video – Distributing Supplies in Bolivia to People in Need

Watch a video from our last distribution of more than 40,000 pounds of supplies in Cochabamba:

Visiting the Wirkini Water Project

Visiting the Wirkini Water Project

Mano a Mano co-founder Segundo Velasquez was recently in Bolivia. During his trip he had the opportunity to visit the water project in Wirkini, Bolivia that is almost done and already being used.

Segundo sent the note below about Wirkini:

“During my trip I visited the Wirkini water reservoir project where we have completed all heavy machine work. Community residents are building the overflow channel to make sure the levee will never be compromised in the event too much water flows into the reservoir basin.  Final steps of clearing the area, repairing equipment, and relocating machines to our next two projects keeps our people busy as the reservoir continues to fill with water from small springs in the area. Water is collecting. Farmers have begun using it to irrigate their fields.”

Wirkini water reservoir.

Wirkini water reservoir.

More Information About the Wirkini Water Project

Wirkini is a small community located in the Province of Tiraque, Department of Cochabamba, and is about 12,700 feet above sea level in the Bolivian Altiplano.

The reservoir will provide irrigation water to at least 341 Bolivian farm families in the area and irrigate 269 hectares of land (average family size is 6, for a total number of beneficiaries of 2,046). Water is typically only available in the Bolivian Highlands for the 2-3 month rainy season, and the rest of the year is a struggle for farmers to have water access for their crops and livestock. These water reservoir projects retain water and provide water access year-round, which allows for farmers to grow more and better crops, which in turn increases family nutrition and household incomes. Check out some of Mano a Mano’s other water projects here.

Wirkini, Bolivia.

Wirkini, Bolivia.

Wirkini is too small to be listed on the official map.

Wirkini is too small to be listed on the official map.

Wirkini water reservoir.

Wirkini water reservoir.

Mano a Mano staff and community volunteers working side by side on the Wirkini water reservoir (October 2015).

Mano a Mano staff and community volunteers working side by side on the Wirkini water reservoir (October 2015).

Mano a Mano Water Projects

Go to our PROJECT MAP to see other Mano a Mano water projects, and check out the Slideshare below:

Thanks Urban Immersion Volunteers

Thanks Urban Immersion Volunteers

List of Medical Supplies We Need

List of Medical Supplies We Need

Collecting surplus medical supplies in Minnesota and sending them to Bolivia is the program that started Mano a Mano more than 20 years, and a program that is still vitally important now. Below is a PDF of the most needed items currently:

List of Medical Supplies We Need

Reducing Waste in Minnesota, Improving Lives in Bolivia