10 Years at Mano a Mano

Today marks exactly 10 years for me working at Mano a Mano – time really flies! I wrote a little about this personal milestone a few months ago (Almost a Decade at Mano a Mano (and Why I’m Still Here)) but even in that short time span, quite a bit has changed.

Me, with boxes of supplies in Bolivia about 9 years ago...

Me, with boxes of supplies in Bolivia about 9 years ago…

Just to mention a few project updates:

  • at the time we had 151 health centers; we have completed 3 more since then and now have 154 (this clinic in Quiroga was completed in July).
  • we have made a lot of progress on our large-scale agricultural water reservoir in Wirkini (here are a few recent pictures) and are working on getting the funding in place for another water reservoir that would provide irrigation water access for 7,000 people, hopefully to begin in 2016.
  • our Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA) continues to develop; so far this year the CEA has had 1,100+ visitors, hosted 12 agricultural education workshops for rurual farmers, and built 102 greenhouses (here are 10 pictures from the CEA).
  • we shipped almost 100,000 pounds of surplus supplies from our Minnesota warehouse to Bolivia in September; we are also hosting a distribution event at our hangar on November 23rd to distribute 50,000+ pounds of supplies from a previous shipment.
Wirkini water reservoir.

Wirkini water reservoir.

Mano a Mano Has a LOT of Projects…

One of the most impressive things to me about Mano a Mano is just how much we have going on. All of our 5 counterpart organizations always have multiple new projects underway, multiple new projects under consideration in other communities, and many many more activities taking place on a daily basis.

These new activities don’t even mention the projects that are already completed and serve hundreds of thousands of people. Last year Mano a Mano’s network of clinics had 1,197,078 million patient visits; that means that on any given day our clinics had 3,280 visits. Our roads and water projects benefit tens of thousands of rural Bolivians every day. Volunteers in Minnesota are contributing an average of 49 hours every day. We are providing an average of 1.3 people with emergency air rescues every day. Almost every weekend there is at least one education workshop (agricultural or health-related) or jornada (weekend health clinic) or both. And there are many more that aren’t even mentioned there. This isn’t meant to brag; we just have a lot going on!

Where are We Going?

Going forward, we are hoping to continue to build on our base: responding to communities in Bolivia and the needs that they have identified for themselves; maintaining the projects that we already have built, to make sure that they can continue to provide high-quality services for the long-term; and continuing to collect surplus supplies in the Twin Cities that equip our projects in Bolivia and reduce waste in Minnesota.

I am now Executive Director of Mano a Mano in the US (another change from my last post!), and I am very excited for the future of Mano a Mano and building the next generation of our organization, both here and in Bolivia. Mano a Mano’s co-founders Joan and Segundo Velasquez have done so much – they have been doing this basically full-time+ for more than 20 years, as volunteers – and we are working hard to build Mano a Mano as an organization so that they can have more manageable roles going forward, and so that we can continue to make a meaningful impact for many more years to come.

There are always a lot of things going on, and also many ways to help; I want to make sure to share more about what’s going on and  let you know what we’re up to and how you can get involved. (Here is an upcoming volunteer opportunity at our St. Paul warehouse on November 19th, and on December 1st from 5.30-7.30p we are having an open house at our St. Paul warehouse. Please contact [email protected] for more information if you are interested in attending (RSVP required for that event).)

Mano a Mano has been around for more than 20 years, and we have built a base that is truly impressive. We owe a lot of our success to you – our volunteers & donors – and the many people that are involved in every single project we do, including our staff & volunteers in both the US and Bolivia, the municipal and national governments in Bolivia, and the rural communities in Bolivia that are the drivers of their projects; we truly couldn’t do it without all of you! Working together, we have been able to accomplish hundreds of projects that none of us could do on our own. Every dollar you donate, every hour you volunteer, is multiplied many times over by every one else that partners with us. Whenever we say the word ‘we’, that in reality means a lot of people, because that is the only way ‘we’ can get big things done.

Support Mano a Mano on Give to the Max Day – Thursday, November 12th

Also, just a friendly reminder that tomorrow, Thursday, November 12th is Give to the Max Day – a day of giving for Minnesota-based schools and nonprofits. Any donations made November 11th or November 12th are eligible for a number of prizes to increase the impact of your gift.

If you are interested in supporting Mano a Mano, CLICK HERE to go to our Give to the Max Day page.


Thanks to everyone that I have gotten to know over the past 10 years, and I’m looking forward to the future!

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  Nate Knatterud-Hubinger, Director – U.S.
  email: [email protected]