Mano a Mano’s counterpart organizations Nuevo Mundo (started in 2005) and Internacional (2012) (we are 5 counterpart organizations in total) have lived rent-free in their Bolivian founders’ homes since they were created. Each organization began with a singular purpose and depended heavily on volunteers. From these humble beginnings, they have grown in size and scope, with highly skilled staff who take on complex projects. Soon, both organizations will have office space of their own in a shared building.

Construction began in early 2020 but was delayed by the pandemic; it has been moving forward over the past few months. Don Lorenzo, the lead builder, manages a team of twelve skilled workers, including electricians and plumbers. He says, “During COVID it’s been very hard to find work for teams of builders. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to construct this beautiful building and keep my people employed. We know that Mano a Mano does important work on behalf of all of Bolivia and that the job we’re doing matters, so we do our very best.”

Office Building Construction Photos

Each Mano a Mano counterpart organization will have distinct office spaces on the first and second floors for the director, secretary, accountant, engineers, agronomists, related staff, and several long-term volunteers. These two floors are nearly finished. Staff hope to move in by the beginning of September. The third floor will provide three simple apartments with small kitchens in which long-term volunteers and other visitors can live, plus a reception/meeting room with stage, and an area in which food can be prepared for large groups. If work can proceed as planned, this floor will be ready for use by the end of 2021.

Offices for Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo and Mano a Mano Internacional.

The external structure of the fourth (top) floor is nearly finished. The inside work will be taken on when funding becomes available. It will be designed for workshops, with one large room and smaller break-out rooms.

Organizational Sustainability

Having permanent office space for the Mano a Mano organizations in Bolivia moves the organization another step forward in the long-term sustainability of the organization as a whole.

The new office building (red arrow) is on Mano a Mano’s space in El Abra, Cochabamba, Bolivia alongside our Center for Ecological Agriculture and warehouse for distributing medical supplies sent from Minnesota.

3 of Mano a Mano’s 4 counterparts are based on the same plot of land in El Abra, Cochabamba: Mano a Mano Internacional’s warehouse for distributing supplies and equipment sent from Minnesota (top left); Mano a Mano Internacional’s Center for Ecological Agriculture (top right); Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo’s warehouse for heavy equipment (bottom left); Mano a Mano Bolivia’s warehouse for constructing furniture and equipment and storing its heavy equipment (bottom right; Mano a Mano Bolivia also has an office and training space at a different location about a mile away). Mano a Mano Aviation has their hangar at the Cochabama airport.

Housing for Machine Operators in Laguna Sulti

Nuevo Mundo machine operators and mechanics live on-site, often for months at a time, while working on major projects. The rural communities in which they work do not have homes or rooms for rent, let alone hotels, and family homes barely have space for their own members. The only option we have for housing is to create it ourselves. After years of making do with tents, we have begun to use shipping containers.

Because our next set of projects in Laguna Sulti will require more than a year to complete, Nuevo Mundo has upgraded its campamento, using two 40’ high cube ocean freight containers which arrived earlier this year at the Mano a Mano warehouse in Bolivia filled with medical supplies and equipment.

The containers include bedrooms and an office. The space above the containers, as well as the span across them, will be covered with corrugated tin to provide shade. It will be used for near-daily meetings of the workers and for parking vehicles. “Here we will live in safety and comfort,” said several of the mechanics. “We won’t feel like we’re freezing every night like we did when working above Sancayani” (with an altitude of 14,000 feet above sea level).

Nuevo Mundo’s campamento for temporary housing for staff on worksites, built with containers sent from Minnesota with medical supplies and equipment.

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