Mano a Mano plans to construct several projects in the Cochabamba Valley’s Punata region over the next three years:
- another expansion of the flat-land based Laguna Sulti agricultural water reservoir;
- a new public school;
- a deep well for potable water;
- a three-mile road;
- infrastructure needed for moving our aviation program from the Cochabamba airport;
- and preparation for a rural Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA).
Area farmers have seen and experienced the benefits that the Laguna Sulti reservoir has brought to those who have had access to its water. They have requested partnership with Mano a Mano on additional projects, recognizing the opportunity to transform their communities. In response, our Bolivian staff have been meeting and planning these projects with municipal officials and community leaders during the past year, as possible, given restrictions related to the pandemic.
On May 12, following a productive harvest, the leaders of this community decided to celebrate their expanded partnership with Mano a Mano. Officials and leaders made speeches, bands played, Save and Rescue (SAR) volunteers parachuted from a rented aircraft onto a local field to demonstrate how they rescue injured persons from inaccessible spaces, and local chicheras served their corn brew throughout the day and evening.
Don Primo Speaking to His Community
Community leaders, without the knowledge of Mano a Mano, decided to name the Laguna Sulti reservoir in honor of Epifanio Velasquez, deceased father of the founders of Mano a Mano (the Velasquez family is originally from the area). Don Primo (Primitivo Montano) spoke to the celebrating crowd about why they made this choice. (The video of his Quechua speech includes an English translation below.)
“For many years I was president of the association of farmers who irrigate.
I remember when el Papa, Don Epifanio Velasquez, advocated on our behalf with Mano a Mano. He said, “How is it that you would not want to ask them to make this project a reality (the reservoir built in 2006). They are working in every place. Why would they not want to work in this place, the area of their birth?”
El Papa encouraged us. Don Mario Torrico and I were the leaders and he encouraged us. We worked. We walked. We talked to everybody and brought them along. Now, we can see it. It became a reality. We have it. It benefits us.
We are 12 communities. We irrigate with it. We water to produce a harvest. It was not that way in the past. These fields were salty pampas that produced nothing. Now you can see it. There are alfalfa fields, corn fields. We have everything we need, my friends.
We give thanks to Don Ivo Velasquez, his brother Segundo Velasquez in the U.S. They made these improvements possible. I am grateful and give thanks that this project was constructed in your name (referring to the people of the community) to benefit you.
Today they are encouraging us to continue to work, to move us forward.
We cannot forget this organization. I give my thanks on your behalf.”