Mano a Mano’s aviation program has been busy in 2021: providing flights for emergency care, COVID-related purposes, weekend health clinics, and transporting people and cargo throughout Bolivia. Through 110 days so far this year, we have flown 108 times.

Here are a few recent flights:

COVID Patient in Santa Ana de Yacuma – April 6, 2021

On April 5th we received an emergency call from Maria, whose husband Edwin was experiencing serious respiratory issues after testing positive for COVID. On April 6th Mano a Mano flew to Santa Ana de Yacuma, in the department of Beni, to transport Edwin to Cochabamba where a waiting ambulance could take him to a hospital that could provide the needed level of care. As of the most recent update, Edwin was still in the hospital after a few days, but Maria is hoping that he will be recovered and discharged soon to be able to return to their community.

Mano a Mano picking up Edwin in Santa Ana de Yacuma.

Arriving at the Cochabamba airport.

Cleaning the Mano a Mano plane after transport, a process we take seriously in the pandemic era.

COVID Flights – January 2021

Mano a Mano has been providing COVID-related transport since the pandemic began; for a long period of 2020 we were only allowed to fly for COVID-related purposes by the Bolivian government. Below are pictures from 8 flights in January transporting COVID patients to receive higher levels of care. These flights included transport from Alcantarí, Reyes, Trinidad, La Paz, Uyuni, and Oruro.

Burn Victim in San Ignacio de Moxos – March 11, 2021

On March 10th, Mano a Mano Aviation received an urgent call from Trinidad (in the department of Beni), asking if we could respond to transport Jorge, a patient that had suffered 3rd-degree burns over almost all of his body. Talking with the patient’s spouse Leidy, we learned about the accident: on February 19th, in his hometown of San Ignacio de Moxos, Jorge, his brother-in-law, and a friend were working in the countryside. Recently they had received bio-safety supplies, including drums of alcohol. Jorge’s brother-in-law flicked the ashes from his cigarettes near the alcohol drums, accidentally causing an explosion that killed him and left Jorge with major burns over most of his body.

Jorge and his friend (who suffered minor burns) were taken to the general hospital in the city of Trinidad. After 3 weeks of being in the hospital, Jorge developed a bacterial infection in his lungs, which left him struggling to breathe. Leidy contacted Mano a Mano Aviation with the hope that we could help transport Jorge to a hospital that could provide the specialized care he needed, knowing that they did not have the resources needed to do it on their own. On March 11th, Mano a Mano flew our Cessna Caravan to Trinidad to pick up Jorge, Leidy, and a doctor from the Trinidad hospital and bring him to Cochabamba. An ambulance picked Jorge and company up upon arrival at the Cochabamba airport to take him to Hospital Viedma, to receive the care he needed.

Transporting Jorge.

Sadly, when we called Leidy to check in and see how Jorge was doing, we found out that he had passed away; the infection was just too far advanced.

Providing Emergency Transport in Rural Bolivia

Many think of aviation as a luxury. But for rural communities in Bolivia, small aircraft often provide their only access to health care, literally the difference between life and death. Mano a Mano provides transport for people in need of emergency care; medical professionals to provide healthcare in rural communities during weekend health clinics; Mano a Mano staff, volunteers, and equipment as we partner with Bolivian communities on development projects; and the distribution of medical supplies and equipment. In spite of the unprecedented challenges of 2020 (all flights were grounded for multiple months, and our weekend health clinic program was halted for 8 months due to COVID-19 restrictions), our aviation program made 452 flights and transported about 95,000 pounds of medical supplies and equipment in 2020.