Mano a Mano constructed the Chullpa K’asa clinic in 2004, and it has been in operation for nearly seven years. The quote “now our wives and children won’t die” – that is on the main page of our website and has been used in other materials – was from a community leader in Chullpa K’asa after the clinic was completed. But this project, like all of our projects, was never as easy as simply building the project. In this case, this same community leader who praised the clinic at the end was not excited with the project at the beginning, seeing it as just another empty promise from an outside organization.
The project began with Nora, a midwife originally from Chullpa K’asa, who traveled the 90 miles from Cochabamba to her home community to deliver babies and bring medications. After several years of going back and forth, Nora approached Mano a Mano, asking us to talk with Chullpa K’asa villagers about building a clinic there. When Mano a Mano’s volunteer team first visited the village to discuss building a clinic, the town officials had already prepared agreements on what they would contribute. But a vocal, skeptical member scoffed, “You’re nothing but ch’amas!” (in Quechua – noisemakers who promise everything but do nothing). He had often heard politicians make promises to his community, never to be seen or heard from again.
When plans took shape, cynicism gave way to enthusiasm. The villagers chipped in and hired the only truck in town to drive to Cochabamba to pick up bricks.
They wanted real bricks, not adobe (mud bricks) which crumbles. The truck returned home over the twisty, rocky roads – only 90 miles, but a grueling 6 hour trek over a 16,000 foot pass. When the loaded truck could not reach the construction site, villagers grabbed their burden cloths, filled them with bricks and sand, and carried the heavy loads the last 200 yards on their backs.
When the Chullpa K’asa clinic opened, the skeptic spoke passionately of Mano a Mano’s staff and volunteers as the only group who keeps its promises. This leader continued by encouraging his compañeros to use clinic services, adding with conviction that “now our wives and children won’t die”.