June 2018 Teacher’s Trip to Bolivia

June 2018 Teacher’s Trip to Bolivia

Over the past few days, teachers from Minnesota and teachers from the tropical regions of Bolivia (department of Beni) have been meeting together at Mano a Mano’s offices in Cochabamba to discuss teaching methods, develop curriculum, learn how they keep parents involved, and have an opportunity to interact in informal as well as classroom settings.

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We approach these trips with a deep appreciation for the dedication of teachers in both countries, for the similarities and differences in our life experiences, and for the gifts that teachers from each country can bring to the other. This is Mano a Mano’s 6th year of hosting these teacher trips, with more than 40 Minnesota travelers taking part to date.

Previous Minnesota Teacher Trips

Click here for information and pictures from teacher trips in previous years.

Building Water Wells in Bolivia

Building Water Wells in Bolivia

Building a well in Omereque, Bolivia in 2017.

Building a well in Omereque, Bolivia in 2017.

Rural community leaders approach us regularly with requests to help them access water. Extensive discussions lay the groundwork for developing formal agreements among the elected community leaders, municipal officials and Mano a Mano, and define, prior to initiating the project, the contributions and responsibilities of each participating entity.

Mano a Mano provides required machinery and raises partial funding for construction and skilled labor.  Community residents contribute the unskilled labor, any locally available building materials such as sand, gravel, or stone, and a portion of the funds. Local governments may also provide a portion of the funds, as well as engineering expertise.

Building Water Wells – Step by Step

Surface wells are designed to access water that flows underground near river banks. These wells provide the water access method of choice for communities that are close to a river. Mano a Mano constructs these wells by implementing the following steps:

  1. Transport the excavator and other required equipment to the site.
  2. Dig a wide hole for the well that will be 7 meters deep, using the excavator.
  3. Place a stack of cement rings (each ring is about 1 meter high) into the hole up to ground level. The lower layer rings are designed to allow water into the stack. Mano a Mano manufactures these rings on site to reduce costs.
  4. Fill the hole around the perimeter of the ring stack with river rock to about 1 meter wide on all sides and up to ground level.  Water will seep through the rock, through the cement rings and be retained in the interior of the stack.  When water is taken from the well, water that is held in the rock will re-fill the well. The wells will draw from below-surface water down to 24 feet below the river bed.
  5. Farmers extract water from the well through a 2” diameter flexible hose.
  6. Community residents, through their Association of Irrigators (Sindicato de Regantes), set fees and norms for use of water.

52 Water Wells Built to Date

To date, Mano a Mano has completed 52 water wells that provide Bolivian farm families with access to water for irrigation, livestock and household use.

Mano a Mano Speaker Series: Thomas Kenote on June 12th

Mano a Mano Speaker Series: Thomas Kenote on June 12th

Join Mano a Mano in our ongoing series of free talks and discussion on “indigenous peoples and their environments.” We at Mano a Mano want to engage with researchers and practitioners working with indigenous peoples on development and environmental issues. Our goal is to share and learn from each other and to support the indigenous peoples we serve.

Our speaker on June 12th is Tom Kenote. Tom is working towards his MS in Natural Resources Science & Management from UMN – Department of Forest Resources and is from the Omaeqnomenewok (Menominee Nation), and the Lac Courte Oreilles band of Anishinaabe in Wisconsin. Tom’s talk will be on “Indigenous Phenology.”

Thomas Kenote. Photo Credit: UMN Department of Forest Resources

Thomas Kenote. Photo Credit: UMN Department of Forest Resources

RSVP

Please email Carmen (carmen@manoamano.org or 651-457-3141) to RSVP, or with any questions. We hope to see you there!

  • WHAT – Mano a Mano Speaker Series with Thomas Kenote
  • WHEN – Tuesday, June 12th, 6:30-8:00pm
  • WHERE – Mano a Mano, 925 Pierce Butler Route, St. Paul, MN

March 2018 Trip to Bolivia

March 2018 Trip to Bolivia

In March, a group of travelers from Florida and Minnesota went to Bolivia with Mano a Mano to get a firsthand look at our organization, our projects, and the communities that we partner with.

March 2018 trip to Bolivia.

March 2018 trip to Bolivia.

While there, they attended a distribution of medical supplies shipped from Minnesota, visited Mano a Mano’s water reservoir under construction in Maldonado, and visited a number of communities and Mano a Mano projects.

Our next trip to Bolivia is coming up in mid-June, with teachers from Minnesota traveling to visit rural Bolivian schools and view teaching methods, develop curriculum with their teachers, learn how they keep parents involved, and have an opportunity to interact with them in informal as well as classroom settings.

Volunteer Spotlight: Peg Thomas

Volunteer Spotlight: Peg Thomas

Peg Thomas at the Mano a Mano warehouse.

Peg Thomas at the Mano a Mano warehouse.

How Did You Get Started Volunteering for Mano a Mano?

I knew [Mano a Mano Co-Founder] Segundo because he was a board member on the Sundance Foundation, where I’m the Executive Director. We’ve provided some small grants to Mano a Mano over the years. Recently I made a commitment to go on a trip to Bolivia and see what Mano a Mano does there.

I just got back. While I was there I saw the other side of the operation. My first day there we were distributing all the material that I’ve seen in the warehouse up here. It’s absolutely stunning to see the distribution of this material on the other end. There were people there who had spent two and a half days traveling just so they could go home with some of the equipment and supplies we’re packaging up here.

What Do You Do for Mano a Mano?

I’ve become a runner while we’ve been loading containers. Somebody says crutches, and I hand somebody some crutches. I’m very new to this, but it’s actually very easy to be useful.

When I was in Bolivia they had their first ever physical therapist conference. They had 70 physical therapists come in from all over Bolivia and they showed them how to fit patients with wheelchairs and braces, how to demonstrate useful exercises — basic kinds of things. They gave them stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs. This was amazing because physical therapists are not seen as professionals and yet they are. Mano a Mano staff members were so respectful with them.

Physical Therapy Workshop attendees using the PT cage during a practical section.

Physical Therapy Workshop attendees using the PT cage during a practical section.

There was a young woman there that they were upgrading, but they were upgrading her to this geriatric chair with handles on the back. She was crestfallen to be put in this chair. She was obviously very independent. I talked with her and discovered that she plays wheelchair basketball, so I committed to her to try to find a basketball wheelchair. As it turns out, I found one at the Courage Center. Now that wheelchair is on one of these pallets and it’s headed toward that young woman.

So this may be the beginning of a bigger thing. Maybe the sports wheelchair programs in Minnesota could have a counterpart in Bolivia.

Why is This Work Important to You?

I think the reason to volunteer and to help other people maybe comes out of the fact that I’ve been blessed with enough, and blessed with the desire and skills to help. So I feel compelled to be of service.

More Mano a Mano Volunteer Spotlights

Below are a few more interviews with Mano a Mano volunteers that are so crucial to everything that we do. Are you interested in getting involved? Please contact us!