A Look Back At What We Did in 2018 – Mano a Mano 2018 Annual Report
Mano a Mano’s biggest strength is our community-based partnership model – bringing many people together to accomplish things that none of us could do on our own. Every activity, every project new or old, every event, depends on the dedication & effort of many people. As we look back at what we were able to do in 2018, we want to thank you:
- the communities & municipal governments in Bolivia;
- the people, schools, churches, community organizations, and foundations in the US;
- the people from many other countries that support Mano a Mano;
- the core Mano a Mano staff & volunteers at all 5 of our counterpart organizations in Bolivia and the US.
Without you – every person coming together and doing their part – none of this would be possible. Thank you!
Annual Reports from Previous Years: 2015-2017
Check out our previous Annual Reports from the past 3 years (all financial statements, 990s, and previous year’s annual reports are available HERE):
2018 in Pictures
Check out pictures of just a few of Mano a Mano’s projects from 2018:
What We Have Done Together – Snapshot
Since 1994, Mano a Mano has supported over 600 infrastructure projects, and we continue to complete new projects that improve the lives of Bolivian communities. With your help, we have (as of the end of 2018):
- Shipped more than 3.5 million pounds of medical supplies & equipment from Minnesota to Bolivia (363,269 pounds in 2017 & 2018 alone).
- Built 165 clinics (including new clinics in Jatun Mayu, Candelaria, and Villa Rosario in 2018) and 62 schools, improving infant & maternal survival rates and expanding literacy.
- Built or improved more than 870 miles of roads.
- Constructed or improved 320 farm ponds; 52 surface wells in communities near rivers; 5 deep wells; and 9 large water reservoirs, providing water to more than 50,000.
- Provided emergency flights to 3,000 Bolivians.
- Provided agricultural training & technologies to more than 5,000 rural farmers. In 2018 we began constructing large community greenhouses, and we have completed over 210 greenhouses for farm families.
Sustainable Projects for Long-Term Success
Below in this post is more specific information about what we were able to do in 2018. Before we look at specific projects from the past year, sustainability of our projects is critical; as we continue to work with more communities and do more projects, every new project is built with its long-term success in mind.
To give just one example: the picture above is Mano a Mano’s water reservoir in Ucuchi, Bolivia during a site visit with Rotary International members from St. Paul, Duluth, and Fargo in September 2018.
The reservoir was Mano a Mano’s first reservoir we built, more than a decade ago in 2005. It provides year-round access to water for local farmers (as you can see, the reservoir is full, and the rainy season doesn’t begin for months), but it has also become the anchor of the San Isidro Ecotourism Park which has sprung up around it. The park includes fishing, camping, boating (check out the swan boats in the picture!), and rappelling, and is “the second most-visited tourist attraction in the municipality of Sacaba,” with 14,000 visitors each year.
The Cochabamba newspaper Los Tiempos wrote an article about the park last year (full link to the article, translated into English, on the Mano a Mano website) and we are happy to see the impact that this project continues to have.
This type of sustainable impact is what we are hoping to see from all of our projects.
8 Containers Shipped from Minnesota to Bolivia in 2018
In 2018, Mano a Mano shipped 166,607 pounds of donated supplies. Once they arrive in Bolivia, they are organized and re-sorted by our Bolivian staff & volunteers. Mano a Mano’s Festival 2018 event in September helped support these shipments.
They are then distributed in different ways:
Large Distribution Events
Bringing Supplies to Communities Outside of Cochabamba
Donating a Few Items at a Time at our Cochabamba Warehouse
Purchased a New Plane to Increase the Capacity of our Aviation Program
After purchasing the new plane in Minnesota last summer and months of training and prep, it was flown from Fleming Field in the Twin Cities to Cochabamba, Bolivia in October 2018. Over the next 5 months, we obtained registration and certification, customs payment, and the approval to purchase jet fuel for the airplane. All has been completed and the airplane is now flying in early 2019 (5 months is actually an extremely fast turnaround).
Our pilots say that the airplane has surpassed any and all expectations they had. The Caravan is performing beautifully in Bolivia. It lands and takes off in a third of the length of runway in comparison to a Cessna 206. The airplane climbs like a dream, especially in the early, cool hours of the morning. If the weather is rough at 13,500 feet today, the pilots and aircraft easily can choose to climb to 15,500 ft – a difficult task with the 206.
The Caravan is able to carry a monstrous amount of cargo (in comparison to the Cessna 206). On a flight earlier this week, we were carrying around 2,500 lbs of cargo, as opposed to 770 lbs with the Cessna 206. And we are reaching our destination faster and sooner. With the Caravan we do not have to circle to gain altitude. By the time we reach the high pass, the airplane has gained the altitude necessary. Most importantly, we do not have to go around mountains: the airplane has the power to gain altitude and fly over safely. In this scenario, the Caravan reaches destination in 37 minutes as opposed to 60 minutes with the Cessna 206.
3 New Clinics Built (165 Total)
In 2018, our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia completed 3 new clinic projects:
- a new clinic in Jatun Mayu (our 163rd clinic project in Bolivia)
- a clinic expansion in Candelaria (our 164th clinic project)
- a new clinic in Villa Rosario (our 165th clinic project)
The projects in Candelaria and Villa Rosario were a collaboration with the local municipalities and communities, Mano a Mano, and Medical Educators for Latin America (MELA).
With the new clinics, medical professionals working in the community will have a much more comfortable working environment (which is very important for retaining staff in isolated rural communities), and community residents will have regular access to quality health care services provided through the Bolivian Health Ministry.
Our clinic program’s approach is that health outcomes can be dramatically improved with simple yet effective interventions, beginning with the basic ability to consistently access quality services in their own communities.
As Mano a Mano clinics, they will have Volunteer Health Promoter Training and Continuing Health Education workshops provided through our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia (pictured in the slideshow above); they will also receive equipment and supplies to ensure that it is fully-furnished, and is connected with Mano a Mano Bolivia medical staff via radio for help with any difficult cases or issues.
Volunteers Contributed 18,383 Hours in the United States
We depend on volunteers in every aspect of our work. In the US, volunteers help sort & pack supplies for shipment to Bolivia; help with administrative tasks in the office; work on research projects; serve on the Mano a Mano Board and on volunteer committees; sell Bolivian crafts; maintain our garden; and basically just make things go! Thank you to everyone that helps out in some way.
These are just a few examples of our volunteers in 2018:
- Volunteer Spotlight: Peg Thomas
- Thank You Samsung & St. Kate’s Volunteers
- A Story of Homecoming
- Thanks Northwestern Health Sciences University Volunteers
- Thanks Stradis Healthcare
- Thank You HERO Fargo for the Community Partner Award!
- Thanks to Our Container Loading Volunteers in December 2018
- Thanks Old National Bank Volunteers
- Thanks Hamline University Volunteers
- Thanks to the Urban Immersion volunteers from Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Communities & Volunteers Contributed Thousands of Hours in Bolivia
Just as we depend on volunteers in the US, Mano a Mano relies on volunteers and partnerships with communities in Bolivia. For any Mano a Mano project (clinic, school, water project, greenhouse, etc.), the community contributes hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of hours throughout the process. We also have many people that volunteer with our 4 counterpart organizations in Cochabamba; volunteers contributed 6,868 hours with Mano a Mano Internacional alone!
Drilled Deep Water Well Projects
After searching for two years, Mano a Mano located and purchased equipment that can successfully drill for water through hard rock to a depth of 340 meters. Deep wells are an exciting addition to Mano a Mano’s water projects, which includes surface wells, large water reservoirs, and atajados or farm ponds. Mano a Mano seeks the most feasible means for accessing water when communities ask us to partner with them.
Mano a Mano’s first deep well project was in the community of Laguna Carmen, Bolivia, just outside of Cochabamba. The new well provides drinking water to 1,800 people. After completing that well, we began work on a well in Kollpa Ciako.
Completed/Improved 168 Water Ponds & 1 Large Reservoir
Our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo completed a large-scale water reservoir in Maldonado, Bolivia (the project was officially dedicated in March 2019, but the reservoir was near completion and already filling with water at the end of 2018). Mano a Mano started work on this water project in February 2017. As with many of our projects, the working conditions have been difficult: it is about 14,000 feet above sea level, and it is cold, wet, and windy. This project makes it possible for 96 subsistence farm families (about 600 people) to irrigate 250 acres of cropland and to water their livestock, as well as having water for household use.
We also built or improved 168 water ponds (atajados), 83 in the area of Pojo, which provide access to water for 1-4 farm families.
With our heavy equipment, Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo completed other infrastructure projects, including 2 aviation runways, a 3-mile road improvement project in San Lorenzo, and a 6-mile road improvement project in San Pablo.
2,711 Visitors Traveled to the Center for Ecological Agriculture in 2018
In 2018, the Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA) provided agricultural/environmental training and education to 2,711 people. The CEA is a fully functional farm, and serves as a demonstration center for rural Bolivian farmers and urban students showing how different methods and tools can be used to maximize resources and improve food security & nutrition while respecting the environment.
Constructed Community Greenhouses in Sacabamba, Bolivia
In addition to training workshops and educational tours provided at Mano a Mano’s CEA, we also partner with communities to construct agricultural tools like greenhouses. In 2018, we completed larger community greenhouses in the community of Sacabamba; rather than providing a place to grow a more varied diet for a couple of Bolivian farm families, the community greenhouses serve an entire community.
Mano a Mano Speaker Series
In 2018, Mano a Mano started a monthly speaker series at our St. Paul, Minnesota office, to provide an opportunity for professors, grad students, and other people a chance to talk about topics that are relevant to the people and communities that we work with. Topics have included our co-founder Joan Velasquez discussing “Bi-Cultural Competence: Essential to Effective Cross-National Work” to Professor Carol Klee’s talk on “Languages in Bolivia: Quechua Language Maintenance, Structure & Use.”
46 People Traveled to Bolivia
There is no better way to demonstrate what Mano a Mano does by having people go to Bolivia and see for themselves. Every year, dozens of people travel to Bolivia with Mano a Mano; some are visiting the country for the first time and take the opportunity to learn more about community development in rural Bolivia, and some travel regularly to participate in volunteer work.
Hosted the 6th Teacher Workshop
In June 2018, Mano a Mano hosted our 6th year of teacher workshops. These trips are an opportunity for teachers from Minnesota and teachers from Bolivia (in 2018, teachers attended from the tropical region of Bolivia, in the department of Beni) to meet together and discuss teaching methods, develop curriculum, learn how they keep parents involved, and have an opportunity to interact in informal as well as classroom settings. 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.
The first trip took place in June 2013. In 6 years of hosting these trips, dozens of Minnesotans and hundreds of Bolivians have participated:
- 40 Minnesota teachers & professionals have traveled
- 449 Bolivian teachers have participated
- 46 Bolivian schools have been involved
Thanks to every person that is a part of Mano a Mano! Together, hand in hand or “mano a mano”, we can accomplish many great things.