For nearly 15 years Mano a Mano’s aviation program has effectively delivered these services at no cost to Bolivian communities that have minimal access to health care:

  1. Emergency rescue of ill and injured individuals, transporting them to urban hospitals for life-saving treatment;
  2. Weekend clinics for which we transport volunteer health care professionals into remote areas to provide primary medical care, health and hygiene education, dental care, and referrals, if needed.

Prior to the pandemic, our aviation program had reached its goal of flying 50% of its flight hours for private individuals, businesses and other NGOs to help cover costs related to its service mission.

However, government-imposed flight restrictions which allowed us to fly only for COVID-related purposes throughout large stretches of the past twenty months eliminated the majority of our opportunities to raise funds through these means.

Aviation Program Results: January-October 2021

Our aviation program has been busy over the first 10 months of the year; to date we have:

  • Made 498 flights, with a total of 545 flight hours. The Cessna Caravan aircraft, which Mano a Mano purchased in 2018, flew 51% of these flights;
  • Airlifted 254 patients, primarily individuals suffering from severe COVID-19, to specialized care in urban hospitals.
  • Transported 215,600 pounds of cargo, including PPE and oxygen concentrators, along with oxygen masks, tubing, gloves, gowns, and related supplies to public and non-profit healthcare providers located throughout Bolivia; the Caravan transported the vast majority of this life-
    saving cargo:

    • 92,400 pounds of food and medical supplies on 62 cargo-only flights;
    • 39,600 pounds of medical supplies transported on 72 emergency rescue flights;
    • 23,100 pounds transported on 42 COVID-specific flights;
    • 27,500 pounds on 50 weekend clinic flights (fly into the community on Saturday and return to retrieve the volunteers on Sunday);
    • 33,000 pounds of food on 15 fishing expedition flights.

As noted above, aviation program staff made every effort to maximize each flight, by including cargo on flights made for other purposes.

Transporting Cargo by Plane

With special flight permission from the Bolivian government, we provided flight support for 25 weekend clinics, transporting volunteer health care professionals into remote communities to provide urgent care and referral to specialists.

Recent Emergency Flights

These numbers, while essential to understanding the scope of the program, cannot tell the full story. The stories behind these numbers are both heartbreaking and uplifting. Many COVID patients sadly did not survive, despite the extraordinary efforts of all who attempted to save them. Many did survive, and send their heartfelt thanks to all who helped them.

Flying a COVID Patient from Mapiri

A miner from the high altitude community of Mapiri was flown to Cochabamba for treatment of COVID. Thankfully, he survived and returned to his family.

Flying Santiago from Oromomo to Cochabamba

Picking up Santiago and his family in Oromomo, early October 2021.

On October 6th, we received an emergency call from Oromomo, a small community in the Amazon in the region of Beni, north of Cochabamba. A doctor from the area was calling on behalf of Santiago, a 4-year old boy with severe appendicitis and a high fever, vomiting, dizziness, and stomach pain. Mano a Mano Aviation responded as quickly as possible to fly to Oromomo to pick up Santiago along with his parents and brother. We arrived in Cochabamba and took Santiago to the Hospital Pediátrico.

The next day, we checked in with the family: Santiago had been taken directly into emergency surgery; his appendix had ruptured. Doctors at the hospital said that the emergency flight was just in time, and that Santiago would have probably died without his timely arrival for emergency care. Now, Santiago has returned home to Oromomo.

More Information About Our Aviation Program