5 Containers of Supplies Have Arrived in Bolivia for Distribution

On August 24-26 2017, Mano a Mano volunteers loaded 5 containers with 120,882 pounds of donated medical, school, and other supplies, with a conservative value of $1.8 million. These containers then started their journey to Bolivia, which takes a few weeks to arrive in-country, and many more months to clear customs.

Pictures: Containers Arriving in Bolivia

In late December 2017/early January 2018, all 5 containers arrived at our warehouse in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where Mano a Mano staff and volunteers have been busy organizing supplies in preparation for distribution.

Packed Tight: New Shipping Containers Unloaded at the CEA

All 5 containers arriving at Mano a Mano's warehouse in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

All 5 containers arriving at Mano a Mano’s warehouse in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

“This is packed tighter than a game of Tetris,” I found myself uttering, as Juan pried open a container of medical donations. As manager of the medical donations warehouse, Juan oversaw the unpacking of one of the newly-delivered shipping containers this week. Sun ricocheted off wheelchairs and crutches alike, as the door swung open. It was clear: no space had been left unpacked. Crutches filled empty spaces between the floor and palettes. Canes sprouted out from behind wheelchairs and miniscule spaces between boxes. As we surveyed the contents of the container, it was like standing at the base of a mountain, debating which trail to take to the top. Then, Juan swirled an arm above his head, saying, “Let’s get in there!” So, we did.

Everyone at Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture, a team of nearly fifteen volunteers and staff, converged on the container. New medical volunteer, Samuel, climbed up among the donations and began piling them into our arms. Slowly, we began carving out space in the container. As we worked, the container seemed to stretch and expand, revealing more and more tightly packed cargo. Within a few hours, the unloading area was brimming with donations, gleaming in the Cochabamba sun, a lucky reprieve from the rainy season. As supplies accumulated, Juan went around, handing out specific sorting and organization tasks.

We always make sure to use every inch of the containers we send.

We always make sure to use every inch of the containers we send.

I ended up stacking crutches onto a shipping palette and then another palette, when the crutches towered so high I couldn’t reach the top to add more. Two Brazilian volunteers, Inara and Carolina, slipped canes into an enormous box. It was like a magic trick, watching them disappear hundreds of canes. Walkers of all kinds crowded the doors of the CEA, while more volunteers ferried wheelchairs to another container for storage. Meanwhile, Juan and Samuel navigated the manual forklift back and forth, unveiling boxes, packed to the brim with school supplies. Donations passed quickly from hand to hand, as we moved further and further into the dark tunnel.

By lunchtime, the container’s elusive fourth wall finally came into view. Everything was unloaded, and the CEA was absolutely bursting with donations. With the supplies safely stored, everyone retired to the picnic area to share lunch, under the trees. Once lunch was over, we returned to the medical donations warehouse. Though the container stood empty, there was still plenty of work to be done, exploring each new box and looking towards the next step: sorting and packing those donations for delivery all over Bolivia.

 – Morgan Harden, Mano a Mano Volunteer, Cochabamba, Bolivia, February 2018

Tens of Thousands of Supplies Will be Distributed in March 2018

Everything is now ready to be given directly – Mano a Mano – hand to hand –  to those who need and will use them. Mano a Mano is hosting a large distribution event on Saturday, March 10th, 2018 (tomorrow); hospitals, nonprofits, and government organizations will be coming from all over Bolivia to receive supplies from Mano a Mano, completely free of charge.

This video is from a recent distribution event from a previous container shipment; we will post photos and video from the upcoming distribution event soon.

Video Credit: William Wroblewski