Belarus to Bolivia and Back

Post From Mano a Mano Volunteer Ray

Mano a Mano super-volunteer Ray recently shared this story about a donation of supplies we had received but couldn’t really use ourselves.

Belarus to Bolivia and Back

We occasionally get donations at Mano a Mano that don’t quite meet our needs. In this case we had received two Special Needs Joggers at the warehouse that are not very valuable on the rough streets and roadways that are in Bolivia. You might be wondering at this point “what the heck is a Special Needs Jogger?” I am sure you have seen these joggers…they are a three wheeled stroller for a child. It is called a jogger because it is designed so that you can run with it while giving your child and yourself some fresh air and exercise. A “special needs jogger” is one designed to carry a larger child with special needs.

Thinking I might be able to find a home for the joggers and raise a bit of money for Mano a Mano I listed them on Craig’s List. Within a few days I got an interesting e-mail from a woman in Colorado. She was very interested in the joggers but not for her. She wanted to buy the joggers and they would then be shipped off to Belarus. At this point I had to dig out my atlas. Where exactly was Belarus? It is, I learned quickly, just east of Poland, and it is a former member of the Soviet Union.

We exchanged several e-mails over the coming weeks about the possible sale. Upon closer examination of the joggers I realized one contained a broken bracket. I decided I wouldn’t sell that one because parts were no longer available. The joggers are also very large so I wondered how the heck I could safely ship one, keep the shipping cost sensible and not have the jogger get broken in transit. I also admit I moved ahead with some skepticism about the transaction itself. How many e-mails had I gotten from Eastern Europe and Africa over the years wanting to share huge sums of money if I only sent them a bit of cash?

So we worked slowly….each of us gaining confidence over time that this could happen. She sent a Belarusian Youtube video of how to break down a jogger into a relatively small package. She wanted me to ship the jogger to an address in New Jersey where it would be picked up and hand carried to Belarus. She directed me to a Belarusian Facebook page called “teamwingsangels.” Although the page was not in English I could see by the pictures that it appeared to be the public face of a group of Belarusian parents and friends who used the joggers to get their special needs kids and themselves out for exercise and fun.

Well to make this long story a bit shorter….I shipped the joggers. I am an excellent boxer. Not only was I able to box the jogger but I was able to get the second jogger into the same box and still be able to ship within the constraints of the UPS system. Shipping two was actually the same price as shipping one! Above the shipping cost we made $200.00 for Mano a Mano. Within days I received confirmation that the box had been received in New Jersey. The transaction had been completed successfully.

But here is the kicker….or should I say jogger? A few days ago I was sent a Facebook link by my Colorado buyer. You will notice a green and a purple jogger in the pictures. These are the joggers I sent from Mano a Mano. They are now doing good, making things brighter for parents and kids in Belarus. Then I thought of the $200 that had since helped ship 200 lbs of medical supplies to Bolivia. How many lives would this exchange touch? Being open to possibility can bring amazing results.

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Joggers sent from Mano a Mano to Belarus. Photo Credit: teamwingsangels Facebook page.

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Joggers sent from Mano a Mano to Belarus. Photo Credit: teamwingsangels Facebook page.

Thank you Mano a Mano and teamwingsangels for teaching me this once again.

- Ray

Support Mano a Mano’s Surplus Distribution Program

If you are interested in helping to reduce waste in Minnesota and change lives in Bolivia (and Belarus!), you can make a donation here.

Mano a Mano Surplus Distribution Program Video

Watch the video below to learn more about our surplus distribution program – the program that started Mano a Mano more than 20 years ago:



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