50 Weekend Health Clinics in 2017
In 2017, Mano a Mano’s aviation program provided 50 weekend health clinics to communities with limited access to medical care. The number of weekend clinics is up from 32 in 2010 – a 56% increase.
Mano a Mano’s Weekend Clinic Program
Mano a Mano began as a grass-roots, all-volunteer organization in both the U.S. and Bolivia, responding to a hospital’s request for medical supplies. Soon after, we initiated a rural community clinic program, again in response to needs identified in Bolivia. Through that program we developed a partnership model that requires community residents and their local government officials to participate in all aspects of their projects, from planning, to contributing all unskilled labor, to maintaining the project when complete. This partnership became the model for all subsequent Mano a Mano projects and is critical to their long-term viability. The weekend clinic concept builds on Mano a Mano’s dual experience: creating and co-administering a network of community health clinics and developing and managing a successful aviation program.
As with all Mano a Mano programs, the aviation program began in response to a request for help from rural Bolivia. A cattle farmer from the tropics approached Mano a Mano to express the urgent need of tribal groups that he befriended as he moved his cattle from one area to another. He described the desperation of men who were gradually depleted by parasites, of mothers who could not calm incessantly coughing children, and the debilitating pain experienced by those who attempted to extract their own abscessed teeth. He offered to help organize a visit from medical professionals in Cochabamba, hoping that Mano a Mano could send staff into the area.
In response, Mano a Mano initiated the weekend clinic program in 2004. Since then, dozens of Cochabamba-area physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists have responded to our invitation to contribute weekends to this cause. Mano a Mano packs essential instruments, supplies and medications and provides air transport to the region. Sisters of Charity, who work with this population, spread the word that everyone in the region is invited to bring their ill and injured family members for an examination and treatment. And on the weekend they appear by the hundreds.
Volunteers organize themselves according to specialty and then divide the waiting patients into groups. Dr. Sylvia Rocha, a volunteer dentist, says: “There are no dentists in the communities we travel into on the weekends. I clean, fill and at times pull teeth from early morning until sunset, and talk with all patients about how to care for their teeth. I love this work, seeing what a difference I can make in just a few hours.”
Mano a Mano’s Aviation Program
The Mano a Mano – Apoyo Aereo (Air Support) aviation program makes it possible for Mano a Mano to partner with and provide urgently needed services to isolated rural communities whose distance from the city would otherwise prohibit their inclusion in Mano a Mano’s projects. Mano a Mano uses aviation for four purposes:
To safely transport Mano a Mano staff and volunteers to remote communities in order to: determine whether a community’s request to partner with Mano a Mano will be accepted; meet with community leaders and local government officials to develop partnership agreements and project plans; select building sites; supervise construction; deliver medical supplies; provide health care, health education and supervision;
To airlift critically ill and injured patients to city hospitals for emergency care;
To make flight hours available to other non-profit organizations whose missions are consistent with that of Mano a Mano;
To generate revenue by making flight hours available at a commercial rate to businesses and the general public.