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):

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.

Ucuchi Water Reservoir, September 2018

Ucuchi Water Reservoir, September 2018

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

Large distribution event in Cochabamba in June 2018.

Bringing Supplies to Communities Outside of Cochabamba

Distributing supplies to health centers in Punata, September 27, 2018.

Donating a Few Items at a Time at our Cochabamba Warehouse

Donating a wheelchair at Mano a Mano’s warehouse, December 2018

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).

Mano a Mano’s Caravan taking one of its first flights in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

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)

3 new health clinics were completed in 2018.

The Jatun Mayu clinic was a collaboration with the local municipality and community, Mano a Mano, and a number of Rotary Clubs in the Upper Midwest (you can see a full list of Rotary Clubs here).

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:

Mano a Mano volunteer Ray returning a Ceremonial Pipe to the Pipestone Indian Shrine Association. Mano a Mano had received the pipe as part of a donation; it shows the commitment of volunteers like Ray to ensure every single item we receive gets used as it should.

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!

In late September 2018, 8 community residents worked on building the walls for the community greenhouses being built with Mano a Mano. Communities are involved throughout the process of every Mano a Mano project.

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.

Water flowing at Mano a Mano’s deep well in Laguna Carmen, Bolivia.

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.

Mano a Mano drilling a deep well in Kollpa Ciako, Bolivia, November 2018.

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.

Maldonado Water Reservoir

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.

Mano a Mano’s heavy equipment starting the trip from Cochabamba to Pojo to dredge water ponds, late October 2018.

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.

Visitors take a tour of Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture.

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.

A community greenhouse in Sacabamba, Bolivia.

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.”

Mano a Mano’s December 2018 Speaker Series was a discussion and display of Bolivia art by Carmen Paredes Dockry.

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.

Travelers visiting the Maldonado water reservoir site with Mano a Mano in March 2018

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.


Teacher Trip at Mano a Mano’s warehouse in Cochabamba, June 2018.

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

Thank You!

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.