In late February, Mano a Mano’s aviation program supported another very busy 2-day clinic in the deep tropical village of San Lorenzo. (Mano a Mano organizes weekend health clinics almost every weekend of the year, providing 48 in 2023.) Taking advantage of a visit from David O., a Mano a Mano volunteer and physical therapy expert from Minnesota, this clinic included a major physical therapy component, as well as the medical assessment and care included in all Mano a Mano weekend health clinics.

View from the Mano a Mano plane: San Lorenzo, Bolivia

Using the maximum capacity of our Cessna Caravan aircraft, 13 volunteer professionals took part in this intensive, 2-day experience: 4 physicians, 1 nurse, 6 physical therapists, David visiting from the U.S., and the trainer, as well as the pilot.

                  Mano a Mano Internacional Executive Director Ben Martinez introduces the Mano a Mano treatment teams to San Lorenzo residents

Medical Team

The medical team treated 73 patients: including 41 who are over age 65, 17 other adults, and 15 children.


The story of one patient became an urgent concern. We have named them “Umberto,” having permission to share their story, but not their name or photo.  

When the medical team examined Umberto, they showed signs of serious gallbladder complications. The team talked together with their family, then decided that they be flown to Cochabamba on Mano a Mano’s return flight so they could have in-hospital surgical assessment and treatment. 

Hospital Combase, one of Mano a Mano’s consistent partners, performed successful gallbladder surgery. However, their additional finding has raised new concerns for Umberto: a potentially malignant cyst. Mano a Mano will continue to follow Umberto’s treatment and will return them to San Lorenzo once they improve.

Physical Therapy Team

The physical therapy team examined and treated 41 patients throughout the 2 days.

Physical Therapy volunteers working with 3 young people in San Lorenzo

Several children were treated with special exercises at the clinic site. The medical and physical therapy teams visited others, like Mary, in their homes.  


Mary, in her home in San Lorenzo

Mary, a 50-year-old woman, sits in her wheelchair all day, depending on her sister for help with eating, bathing, toileting, and dressing. The teams learned that she had been suffering from pain related to her sitting in one position for entire days. The medical team treated her pain successfully over several hours. Identifying the cause of this problem will now help her sister to manage Mary’s care and prevent similar problems in the future. Mary sends her thanks to the team that treated her and to all who make this program possible.

Mano a Mano’s aviation program intends to develop a consistent schedule for 2-day San Lorenzo clinics, including dental services, to provide more consistent healthcare service and well-organized follow up.

Weekend Health Clinics – a Core Component of Mano a Mano’s Aviation Program

Mano a Mano’s aviation program has 3 primary programs working with Bolivian communities that have minimal access to health care and basic services:

  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 & dental care; and
  3. transporting medical supplies, mobility equipment, food, supplies, and other needed items to/from isolated communities.

In 2023, Mano a Mano’s aviation program in Bolivia:

  • provided emergency transport for 81 people (4,624 emergency flights since our aviation program began)
  • provided transport for volunteer medical professionals for 48 weekend health clinics (530 weekend health clinics since our aviation program began)
  • transported 647,170 pounds of cargo, mostly medical supplies and equipment

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A weekend health clinic in San Pablo de Moxos, February 2024.