Providing Access to Healthcare in Bolivia for Over 2 Decades: Mano a Mano Bolivia
Mano a Mano’s first counterpart organization established in Bolivia was Mano a Mano Bolivia, which has been working in Bolivia since 1996. To date, Mano a Mano Bolivia has constructed 178 health clinics throughout Bolivia, which had over 1 million patient visits in 2021.
Why Aviation is Important for Mano a Mano’s Programs Partnering With Rural Bolivian Communities
For 15 years Mano a Mano’s aviation program has focused on 2 programs for 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.
Celebrating the Expansion of Laguna Sulti Water Reservoir & Beginning of Punata Regional Complex
On June 11, 2022, community members invited Mano a Mano to celebrate the third expansion of their Laguna Sulty water reservoir. This reservoir expansion, carried out with the hard-working team and heavy equipment of Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo, means wider access to water for area families in need. The community plans to make this celebration an annual event. And there is plenty to celebrate, as Mano a Mano has a lot more in store for the area.
Mano a Mano started the “Punata Regional Complex” in 2021– a comprehensive project in the Cochabamba Valley’s Punata region over the next three years that includes a 3rd expansion of the Laguna Sulti agricultural water reservoir (complete, and celebrated on June 11, 2022); a new public school (complete, and dedicated on March 25, 2022); a deep well for potable water (complete, and dedicated in March 2022); 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). There is a LOT more work to be done, but we are excited for the impact that the Punata Regional Complex can have for the future.
Helping Provide Physical Therapy For Bolivian Children in Need
Mano a Mano initiated a more comprehensive program earlier this year to provide physical therapy for Bolivian children, which emerged as a program of need as part of our Recovered Resources program (sending donated medical supplies and equipment from Minnesota to Bolivia for distribution throughout the country). Continuing education and training are important components for every Mano a Mano program, serving as complements to the infrastructure projects (clinics, schools, roads, water projects, greenhouses, etc.) that we build in partnership with communities.
Dedicating New Schools & Clinics in Rural Bolivia
Below are a few of Mano a Mano’s new school and clinic projects that we have completed in 2022 (thanks to our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Bolivia for making these videos!):
Mom in Bolivia Receives Layette Set For Her Child
Martha, her husband, their six-year-old daughter Carlita, and their newborn – Rosalie – live in a one-room adobe house in Vinto, about ten miles from Cochabamba. Every morning, Carlita’s parents pick up the small mattress from the floor where she sleeps and move it outdoors, so the family has space to eat together. Most families in their neighborhood live in similar circumstances. Martha’s situation, however, is more complicated than most. Due to a rare disease, both of her feet have been amputated. Mano a Mano was able to arrange for her to receive prostheses and a wheelchair, which she uses to accompany her daughter on her 8-block walk to school every day. Martha devotes many hours weekly to improving the lives of other families in her community: she registers those in deepest need for a program which provides them with dried meats and other nutritious food; she helps sort medical supplies; and she has identified new moms who will receive layettes for their newborns. Through this video message of thanks, made shortly before she delivered, Martha tells us that she couldn’t afford to have an ultrasound and doesn’t know if her baby will be a boy or girl. Martha expresses deep gratitude on behalf of her family and the others who will receive the layettes she is holding. She thanks the volunteers who have done everything possible to help her and her baby, even though they don’t know her or the other mothers.
Providing Medical Supplies and Equipment for the Municipality of Alalay
Mano a Mano collects donated medical supplies and equipment, destined for the landfill in Minnesota, and ships them to Bolivia, where we distribute them to people and organizations in need throughout the country. We have sent 9 containers with 220,704 pounds to Bolivia in 2022.
Here is one distribution for the municipality of Alalay this year (English translation below):
Doctor Marco Saavedra Receving Equipment at Mano a Mano in Cochabamba on Behalf of Alalay
Interviewer: Good day, please tell me your name.
I am Doctor Marco Saavedra, director of the health center Alalay, and I am also the head of the municipality of Alalay.
Interviewer: Please tell me a little bit of why you made the visit to Cochabamba here today.
I have had the satisfaction of working with the consult of the municipality who did the corresponding actions and the sector of health that came to pick up a donation of materials from Mano a Mano that is always collaborating with the outlying municipalities, the municipalities that can’t always count on resources, and where we have a population who is in need of assistance.
Interviewer: What is Mano a Mano giving you here today?
Here they are giving us a lot of material: overall trauma equipment, crutches, wheelchairs for the hospital, walkers, dental supplies, diapers, wound care kits, stethoscopes, and blood-pressure monitors. That is a lot of collaboration for our municipalities who sometimes can’t count on this equipment.
Interviewer: What is the principal necessity the municipality of Alalay has?
The municipality of Alalay is a population a little bit elevated in the heights, we are at 3,000 meters (9,842 feet above sea level) and we have a lot of demand in medications, supplies, and instruments which will help us immensely with what Mano a Mano is collaborating.
Interviewer: Is there a message you would like to send to the people who support this outside of Bolivia?
Yes, my gratitude, and the gratitude of all of the community in the municipality of Alalay. To the people of Mano a Mano outside of Bolivia [in the US], we very grateful for your good work that is very well known not only by the municipality but also throughout Bolivia. It’s been many years that you have been working and attending to those populations in need. I also know there are Bolivian volunteers, to them as well the gratitude of all our population. Thank you so much to the donors and the volunteers of Mano a Mano.
Making Bokashi Fertilizer in Arampampa, Bolivia (May 2022)
In May 2022, lead CEA agronomist, Juan Carlos Cardenas, traveled to four of the Bolivian high Andes communities that are located in the municipality of Arampampa to provide onsite workshops. Farmers from this area had visited the CEA in February, reviewed its demonstrations of various recommended farming practices, and asked for follow-up training in their own communities. They asked specifically for help in improving their soil without the use of chemical fertilizers, and with protecting their crops without use of pesticides. Juan Carlos provided the requested training last week. Because the farmers would not yet have a supply of mature compost, he carried about 18 pounds with him. Once at each site, he taught farmers to create natural alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Turning Shipping Containers Sent From Minnesota Into Mobile Housing in Bolivia
For each shipment we make from Minnesota to Bolivia, we purchase the shipping containers (rather than renting); this saves us money by ensuring we don’t incur large additional fees if the shipment takes longer (it takes up to 6 months to go from our St. Paul warehouse, clear Bolivian Customs, and eventually arrive at our Cochabamba warehouse), but the containers themselves are also very useful for our programs in Bolivia. We can sell them, use them for storage at our warehouse, use them as makeshift fencing, and turn them into mobile housing for our staff when they are working for weeks or months at a time on projects in isolated rural areas.