Our co-founder Segundo Velasquez shared this note about the personal impact of COVID-19 as part of our webinar with Unity Church last night:
“The impact of COVID-19 in Bolivia has touched Mano a Mano staff and volunteers and my family very personally. I talk with personnel from each of our Mano a Mano counterpart organizations almost every day. Since the virus began spreading in Bolivia in March, I have heard fear in their voices, a level of fear that I have never heard during protests and unrest. The unspoken questions: Who will be next? Who will not survive?
Mano a Mano experiences many challenges in our work in Bolivia. We always cope with them and manage to get the work done. But the pandemic has tested us in unprecedented ways. Several of the Mano a Mano personnel in Bolivia contracted the disease as it began spreading through the city of Cochabamba during the shutdown.
After our aviation program received permission to fly again in May, our lead pilot contracted COVID in spite of taking extreme precautions when flying COVID patients from the tropics to urban hospitals. His wife and 4-year-old son also became ill. Thankfully, all have recovered. My older brother Ivo became more seriously ill but is on the mend.
Sadly, Dr. Hugo Castrillo, founding member and current board member of Mano a Mano Bolivia, died after weeks of struggling with COVID.
Our staff received special permission from the Bolivian government to distribute medical supplies and fly patients, while air and ground transport were prohibited. Several literally moved into and lived in the warehouse where supply-filled containers had been delivered from Minnesota one day before the shutdown so they could unpack PPE to be picked up by ambulances that came from throughout the country.
Others got up before dawn and walked several miles to their Mano a Mano office each day to maintain the Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA) and other essential work.
We stand in awe of their creativity in times of crisis and deeply appreciate their determination to move forward with the work that they know makes such a difference in the lives of so many.”
Mano a Mano Mid-Year Review: First Half of 2020
Below are a few updates from some of our other programs (Mano a Mano is made up of 5 counterpart organizations focusing on different community development projects) through the first half of this challenging year; as Segundo writes above: “we stand in awe of their creativity in times of crisis and deeply appreciate their determination to move forward with the work that they know makes such a difference in the lives of so many.”
- 2020 Mid-Year Organization Review from Nate Knatterud-Hubinger, Mano a Mano’s Executive Director
- Omereque Water Ponds (Atajados) – 10 Years Later
- Current Experiments at the Center for Ecological Agriculture
- Flying in Bolivia in the Time of COVID-19
- Donating Supplies in Cochabamba, and Throughout Bolivia, for COVID-19 Support
- Health Care in the Time of COVID-19 in Bolivia