By The Numbers

In the first 6 months of 2022, Mano a Mano’s aviation program in Bolivia has:

  • provided emergency transport for 116 people (4,507 emergency flights since our aviation program began)
  • provided transport for volunteer medical professionals for 17 weekend health clinics (466 weekend health clinics since our aviation program began)
  • transported 262,900 pounds of cargo, primarily medical supplies and equipment (we flew 91,300 pounds of cargo in June 2022 alone)

Mano a Mano transported 91,300 pounds of cargo in June 2022.

Why Aviation is Important in Bolivia

Mano a Mano’s aviation program has 2 primary programs working with Bolivian communities that have minimal access to health care: emergency rescue of ill and injured individuals, transporting them to urban hospitals for life-saving treatment; and weekend clinics for which we transport volunteer health care professionals into remote areas to provide primary medical & dental care. In many of these remote communities, it may be a 10 or 20-hour trip to the nearest available health care; by plane it is a round trip of a couple of hours – which can be the difference between life and death.

A Weekend Health Clinic in San Ignacito – 1 of 17 So Far This Year

Mano a Mano’s aviation program has supported 17 weekend clinics (jornadas) so far this year, 5 during June alone. One of our pilots described the reaction of residents of San Ignacito, a small community in Bolivia’s tropical Beni department, when the Caravan aircraft unloaded its volunteer dentists and their equipment on its grass runway earlier this year.

From our pilot:

“We had flown our smaller 6-passenger aircraft into this community several times before, each time carrying 2-3 dentists along with their most essential dental equipment and supplies. This is what people expected when they waited for us to arrive for our recent jornada in our larger 14-passenger Cessna Caravan. The crowd that surrounded the runway this morning seemed to stand still like statues, in shock, speechless as we opened the aircraft door. Nine dentists disembarked, along with hundreds of pounds of supplies and equipment for use during the 2-day pop-up clinic: tents and sleeping bags, cables and curtains for creating room dividers, boxes of gloves and gauze and hand-held instruments, towels and cleaning supplies.”

With the smaller aircraft, our pilot would have had to balance the need for dentists with the need for equipment. In the past, one of the volunteer dentists would have to stay behind in Cochabamba so the others could make space for on the plane the most essential items with them. The larger aircraft makes it possible to carry all of the scheduled dentists, along with the items they need in order to attend to everyone who appears for the jornada.

Our pilot continued:

“After the initial moment of speechless surprise, many San Ignacito residents helped us set up the clinic. Others began to cook for the 100+ people who would be there. We transported food that the community would otherwise have to buy elsewhere – meat, vegetables, rice. The community brought fish they had caught in the morning.”

The volunteer dentists spent all day examining, treating, and teaching oral hygiene. After dinner, they pitched their tents and unrolled their sleeping bags, ready for a good night’s rest. The next day they examined and treated and taught again, before returning to Cochabamba with the satisfaction of having made a tangible difference in the lives of so many.

Aviation Photos in 2022

Transporting Cargo & Responding to the Need

With the larger space available on our Cessna Caravan, we are able to transport more cargo throughout Bolivia, including many flights with medical supplies and equipment sent from Minnesota. Over the past few years during COVID, there has been much higher demand for oxygen and related supplies for high-altitude COVID patients. Mano a Mano’s aviation program has worked to respond to this crisis as we are able. Our Caravan aircraft has made several oxygen transport flights: transporting filled tanks from suppliers who were desperate to fill orders quickly; providing oxygen concentrators shipped from our warehouse in St. Paul; and providing tons of boxes filled with hoses and cannulas, gloves, cleaning supplies and other essential patient care items. Some of the receiving hospitals credited Mano a Mano with helping save the lives of COVID patients with our support.

Oxygen concentrators and tanks at our St. Paul warehouse, packed and ready to be shipped to Bolivia.

Mano a Mano staff and volunteers pulling down an oxygen concentrator sent from Minnesota at our Cochabamba warehouse.

Mano a Mano Internacional inspecting and ensuring that an oxygen concentrator is fully operational at our warehouse in Cochabamba before distribution (watch the video below to learn more).

This demand has led us to expand our search for oxygen concentrators, devices that filter oxygen from surrounding air and deliver it through a hose to the patient. If properly maintained, a concentrator can last for 4-5 years and serve many different patients. Our staff in Bolivia includes a bio-technician who checks out and repairs this type of equipment:

Learn More About the Aviation Program