In 2020, Mano a Mano shipped 7 containers with 175,777 pounds – 87+ tons! – of medical supplies, mobility equipment, and other items to Bolivia for distribution to people and organizations in need throughout the country. We also helped provide supplies locally in the Twin Cities and to organizations working in other countries, including Honduras, El Salvador, and Cameroon. Thanks to the many people in Minnesota and Bolivia that work so hard to make these shipments possible!

Distributing Supplies for 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. Over the past 26 years, we have distributed more than 4 million pounds of supplies throughout Bolivia, and that has continued to this day. 2020 has been our most challenging year, as we and the rest of the world have struggled with a pandemic, but the challenges of this year have also made our work more in-demand than ever. We have done our best to respond to the need.

Distributing Supplies for Bolivia – Photos

Below is more information about some of our distributions made throughout 2020:

Distributing Supplies for Other Organizations

The vast majority of the donated supplies and equipment we receive is shipped to Bolivia; we shipped 203,747 pounds of supplies from Minnesota to Bolivia in 2019, and another 175,777 pounds in 2020. But we are happy to partner with other organizations when we have excess supplies, items that we cannot send to Bolivia, or items that are not the highest priority for our own programs. Ultimately, we want to keep these supplies out of the landfill in Minnesota, and get them to people in need.

Twin Cities

On Saturday, February 1, 2020 Mano a Mano donated 162 pieces of mobility equipment and medical supplies to people in need in the Twin Cities. The items ranged from glucometers and blood pressure cuffs to canes, shower chairs, and commodes. The estimated total value of these supplies is $16,000. This project was a collaboration with Twin Cities-area physical therapists to help distribute mobility equipment to some of their clients that have difficulty acquiring needed items. We hosted a similar second distribution day at our St. Paul warehouse on October 24th.

Mano a Mano Volunteer Warehouse Manager Ray (in the background) as a happy recipient tries out his new stroller. On February 1, 2020, Mano a Mano donated 162 pieces of mobility equipment and medical supplies to people in need in the Twin Cities. This project was a collaboration with Twin Cities-area physical therapists to help distribute mobility equipment to some of their clients that have difficulty acquiring needed items.


Mano a Mano rents some of our warehouse space to David O’Brien and Interfaith Service in Latin America (ISLA). ISLA’s mission is to “help improve the quality of life for the communities in which we serve.” Mano a Mano has helped provide supplies for 2 different shipments this year. In January 2020,  Mano a Mano loaded 30 gaylords of mobility equipment at our St. Paul warehouse to take to MSP airport, where they began their journey to Honduras. In June, the Minnesota National Guard loaded medical supplies & equipment destined for Honduras at the MSP airport. These supplies started at Mano a Mano’s warehouse in St. Paul in May.

Minnesota National Guard Loads Supplies For Honduras. Video from KSTP.


Last week (December 18th, 2020), Mano a Mano helped provide supplies for the Celeste Association for Destitute Children and Adults (CENADECA) in Cameroon. This included: 18 Wheelchairs, 70 Walkers w/out Seats, 24 Walkers w/ Seats, 100 Pairs of Crutches, 40 Canes, 14 Bath/Shower Chairs, 4 Commodes, 1 Baby Scale, 1 Child/Adult Scale, 1 Box Hospital Linens, 2 Large Boxes (gaylords) of Orthopedic/Rehab Supplies, and a large Blue Barrel Containing Medical Supplies.

Large blue barrel, ready to be filled with medical supplies.

From our Volunteer Warehouse Manager Ray on last week’s donation:

“One last unplanned shipment….

Last Spring as I was selling some sit/stand work desks at Mano a Mano, we had a local woman originally from Cameroon come in to purchase one. Because she was curious about what Mano a Mano was about, I gave her a tour of the warehouse. She was quite amazed that such a place existed that collected unused medical supplies and equipment. It seemed she had been looking for quite some time for such a place, and a way to help back in Cameroon. We were an answer to a prayer in her words…Well, one thing led to another and within a few weeks I was helping to fill a 55 gallon blue plastic drum with medical supplies. I had gotten a wish list from a small medical clinic in Cameroon that Brunhilda wanted to help. Well, that blue barrel was filled, picked up by Brunhilda, and then it waited to be shipped. Things sometimes have their own time to happen, unlike my need often to see things happen quickly.

About a week ago I got a call from Brunhilda’s partner Kilian that he had ordered a 40-ft container to ship some things to Cameroon, including the blue barrel. He reminded me that I had shared the possibility that Mano a Mano might be able offer more if he and Brunhilda had a way to ship it. Last Friday we were able to share 10 additional pallets of mobility equipment, orthopedic equipment, bath aids, and a couple other things that wouldn’t ever fit in a blue 55 gallon barrel. Thanks to the faith of one caring woman – wanting to give back – the CENATDECA organization in Cameroon will receive over 3,500 pounds of excess medical supplies and equipment in the coming months.

It is good to know in this holiday season that sometimes we can be the answer to a prayer…”

Supplies for Cameroon at the Mano a Mano warehouse, December 2020.

El Salvador

On November 5th, Mano a Mano volunteers loaded one 40-foot container with thousands of pounds of mobility equipment, orthopedic supplies, and other items. These supplies will be shipped to El Salvador and distributed by Comité Salvadoreño El Piche to people in need.

Mano a Mano volunteers loading medical supplies for El Salvador on November 5th, 2020. Video credit: Joey Temali (and thanks for helping load the container too!)

Hard Work

Picking up supplies in the Twin Cities, Fargo, Wisconsin, and beyond; sorting and organizing supplies at our St. Paul warehouse; loading 40-ft containers with over 20,000 pounds of supplies in each one, and making sure to fill in every available inch of space; managing the paperwork to make sure supplies arrive smoothly to our Cochabamba warehouse; unloading containers and reorganizing them in preparation for distribution; hosting people & organizations at the Mano a Mano warehouse in Cochabamba, and traveling by car and by air throughout Bolivia to donate supplies; and ensuring that we have the funds to pay for this entire process: this program is only possible thanks to the efforts of many, many people.

Not to mention the additional challenges of 2020: quarantines, stay-at-home orders, and having to limit the number of volunteers, among many others.

We are extremely grateful for everyone that is involved!