A Look Back at What We Did in 2011
This has been a good year for Mano a Mano! Although this is a difficult time for the economy in general and small nonprofits in particular, we have been able to accomplish a lot on a very limited budget. In Bolivia, we have continued to build a number of new infrastructure projects that improve the health and economic well-being of rural Bolivian communities – from clinics, schools, and sanitation projects to road and water projects. Although our focus has always been on doing as much as we can in Bolivia, in this post we wanted to share a few of the things we have done from our US office.
Organized Trips for More Than 50 US Volunteers
We feel that traveling to Bolivia and seeing our projects, Bolivian staff and volunteers, and the communities we partner with first-hand is a very unique and eye-opening experience. We really encourage anyone who wants to understand Bolivia and Mano a Mano on a deeper level to consider traveling with us.
Opened a Second US Office
We now have a second office located in Wheaton, Illinois (in the Chicago area) in addition to our main office in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. This office is part of a shared office space for nonprofits that is made available by Richard and Florence Nogaj, and because costs are shared it is very affordable. Having a second office provides an opportunity for Mano a Mano to reach a new audience and has been very beneficial; our Executive Director Dan Narr spends 1 week/month at the Wheaton office (Dan would love to meet you if you’re in the area – contact us).
Built a New Website
Thanks to our great volunteers, we were able to build this new website you are currently reading for free!
Deepened our Partnership with the University of Minnesota
This year we have collaborated with the Univeristy of Minnesota on a number of projects:
- Along with University of Minnesota faculty Catherine Solheim, Ph.D. and Dr. Tai Mendenhall (both traveled to Bolivia this year as well), Mano a Mano co-wrote our first peer-reviewed journal article about our community development model. It’s titled “Mano a Mano; Improving Health in Impoverished Bolivian Communities through Community-based Participatory Research,” and should be published in early 2012.
- This summer 3 students in the Master of Development Practice program at the Humphrey School traveled to Bolivia for 2 months to pilot a research project so that we can better evaluate outcomes on our water projects
Purchased 2 Twin-Engine Planes for our Aviation Program in Bolivia
This year we have been able to vastly improve our aviation program by acquiring 2 twin-engine airplanes. The first was flown to Bolivia from the US last month, and the second plane is currently en route from San Diego. Two of our pilots flew from Bolivia to California on Christmas day to pick up the airplane and fly it down.
Successfully Shipped 75,000 Pounds of Donated Medical Supplies & Equipment to Bolivia
Mano a Mano started out by collecting medical supplies that were destined for the landfill in the US and shipping them to Bolivia. The past few years have been more difficult to send supplies, due to rising shipping costs and the difficulty of getting them through Customs, but we were able to successfully ship more than 75,000 pounds of donated medical supplies that will be distributed to our network of clinics in Bolivia.
Hosted a Fundraiser in Minnesota to Build a Water Reservoir in Pasorapa, Bolivia
In April, we hosted our second annual Spring Gala at the St. Paul Hotel, with the goal of raising enough funds to build a water reservoir in Pasorapa, Bolivia. The gala was a success, and the reservoir should be built by our next Spring Gala on April 20, 2012.
Wrote a Book about Mano a Mano’s History
Our co-founder Joan Velasquez has been hard at work this past year writing a history of Mano a Mano, along with volunteer Kitty Gogins and staff-member Nate Knatterud-Hubinger. We are writing the book in large part to share our story with students in related fields and as a starting point for people interested in starting their own nonprofit (short answer to those interested in starting your own nonprofit – there is a LOT that goes into it!).
Supported our Programs in Bolivia
Our focus has always been to continue to build more infrastructure projects in Bolivia so that we can improve the health and economic well-being of more Bolivians. To that end we continue to focus on raising funds in the US to support the projects that Bolivian communities ask for. Every project that we do originates with a request from a community and is implemented by our counterpart organizations in Bolivia.
Thanks to everyone who has supported Mano a Mano this year – whether by contributing your time or your money, know that without your support we would not be able to improve so many lives in Bolivia!