We Have Been Able to Accomplish a Lot Together in 2023

We are so grateful to you for helping Mano a Mano continue to partner with Bolivian communities – on projects they request & ultimately own – to improve their lives. Mano a Mano’s biggest strength is our community-based partnership model – bringing many people together to accomplish things that none of us could do on our own.

Every activity, every project new or old, every event, depends on the dedication & effort of many people. As we look back at another busy and successful year in 2023, we want to thank you:

Mano a Mano’s projects are always a partnership.

Our Story

The early years: storting donated supplies and equipment in Joan and Segundo’s backyard of their Mendota Heights home.

In 1994, Mano a Mano Co-Founders Segundo & Joan Velasquez came together with friends & family to address 2 problems: in Minnesota, hundreds of thousands of pounds of usable medical supplies and equipment are thrown away each year; in Bolivia, basic supplies were desperately needed and we knew we could put these supplies to good use. At the time, Bolivia had one of the highest rural poverty rates in the world, and despite making progress, it continues to be the poorest country in South America.

Where We Are Today

Over the years, we have grown into 5 counterpart organizations that have kept the same “mano a mano – hand in hand” approach – connecting resources in the US & Bolivia with strong community-based partnerships – to construct hundreds of sustainable community projects throughout Bolivia. We ensure that each project is well-equipped and maintained, and that training and education programs are also provided.

El Abra, Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2012 – what would become the site of many of our programs started as an empty lot…
…it now houses 3 of our 4 counterpart organizations (with additional locations in the Cochabamba area for Mano a Mano Bolivia and Mano a Mano Aviation)

Celebrating 30 Years in Operation in 2024

In October 2024, Mano a Mano will be celebrating 30 years in operation! This video was made at our 25th anniversary celebration in 2019:

Saving Supplies from Minnesota Landfills and Putting Them to Good Use in Bolivia (and the Twin Cities)

We have sent 9 containers with 228,954 pounds of medical supplies, mobility equipment, and other in-demand items from Minnesota to Bolivia in 2023, with 3 containers loaded in December and now on their way to Bolivia. Almost all of these supplies would have ended up in the landfill in Minnesota, and instead they are getting put to good use throughout Bolivia (we also provide supplies to organizations and individuals in the Twin Cities area). We shipped 9 containers with 220,704 pounds in 2022.

  • Mano a Mano shipped 9 containers with 228,954 pounds of medical supplies and equipment from Minnesota to Bolivia, where they are given to people in need throughout the country.
  • Most of what we send is mobility equipment (4,730 pieces of mobility equipment, including 667 wheelchairs) and medical supplies, but there are many other kinds of items that are in demand in Bolivia. 
  • 22,320 pounds were given to other organizations with programs in the US and around the world; we donated 200 pieces of equipment benefiting 140 individuals in the Twin Cities area through our Mobility Closet.
  • US volunteers spent 16,609 hours volunteering in 2023.
3 containers filled with 73,914 pounds of supplies left our St. Paul warehouse for Bolivia on December 19th, 2023.
Loading a truck with supplies during a distribution event at our Cochabamba warehouse, July 2023.

Providing Access to Health & Education for Rural Bolivian Communities

We completed 2 new health clinics and a new school, with 2 other clinics underway, and other school and clinic projects in process. Mano a Mano’s network of 184 clinics in Bolivia had 1,389,436 patient visits in 2023 (1,129,712 visits in 2022).

  • Mano a Mano completed 2 new clinics and a new school in 2023.
  • There are 2 signed agreements for school projects, 44 on waiting list; 2 clinics are under construction, 2 more signed agreements, 38 on waiting list
  • 546 medical professionals work in our 184 clinics, with 100% of salaries paid within Bolivia (80% by Health Ministry).
  • Mano a Mano Bolivia hosted 11 health education workshops for 520 attendees in 2023.
On Friday, July 28th, 2023 Mano a Mano dedicated a new health clinic in 20 de septiembre, Bolivia! On the same day, we also dedicated another clinic in nearby Santa Ana.
Mano a Mano Bolivia provides health education workshops throughout the year.

Building Community Infrastructure Projects

In addition to continuing work on the Punata Regional Complex (including the future airport/home of Mano a Mano’s aviation program), we have completed 4 new deep water wells in 2023, with 6 wells scheduled over the coming months.

  • Mano a Mano completed 4 deep water wells providing access to potable water in 2023 (with 6 scheduled/underway for 2024)
  • To date, Mano a Mano has constructed:
    • 10 agricultural water reservoirs
    • 453 water holding ponds
    • 52 surface wells
    • 25 deep wells
    • These projects serve over 120,000 people, doubling food production and improving nutrition for subsistence farmers. 
  • We are progressing on Mano a Mano’s large Punata Regional Complex that includes a reservoir, road, 6-story water tower, airport, school, and other projects over the next few years.
  • Maintenance and repairs at our Cochabamba warehouse are key – and never-ending!
Mano a Mano dedicated a new deep water well in Mamanaca in March 2023
The Mano a Mano water reservoir in Laguna Sulti, Bolivia

Providing Training, Physical Therapy, and Distributing Supplies Throughout Bolivia

We have hosted 450 Physical Therapy sessions through August 2023, and have hundreds of visitors each month to our Center for Ecological Agriculture for farmer-training workshops, agronomy internships, and tours.

Noemi is one person benefitting from Mano a Mano’s Physical Therapy Center in Cochabamba.
“Students, Sheep, and Supplies” at the CEA

Transporting People & Cargo in Isolated Rural 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
Volunteer medical professionals getting ready to fly to Puerto San Lorenzo for a recent weekend health clinic
A weekend health clinic, February 2024.

Mano a Mano Provides the Capacity to Connect Resources with Community Projects

To be able to partner with Bolivian communities on projects that they request from Mano a Mano and ultimately own themselves, Mano a Mano depends on our skilled staff and machinery (in addition to base funding from people like you!) as our contraparte alongside the community, so that we can complete projects like deep water wells – a high priority in Bolivia where it has not rained once in many communities this year. In 2019, Mano a Mano purchased a drilling rig which can drill to a depth of 350 feet. The drill has completed 24 deep well projects that provide water to 33,380 people. Drilling through hard rock takes a toll; repairing the machine presents challenges. Once hauled to our repair shop in Cochabamba, our mechanics could see that an entire overhaul would be needed. But the overhaul repair kit is not available for purchase in Bolivia. To get the kit ASAP, Mano a Mano mechanics Daniel and Jorge searched for a supplier near the Bolivian border and located one in the Puno, Peru area, near the high-altitude Lake Titicaca which Peru and Bolivia share. A purchase in Puno would require a 4-day round trip by pickup, one they felt was worth the time and effort.

After some unfortunate challenges on their trip through El Alto, they drove to the shore of Lake Titicaca, crossed the lake in a canoe, then rented a bicitaxi (a bicycle taxi) to take them to the supplier’s office. They purchased the kit they had ordered, returned to Lake Titicaca, and repeated the journey back to Cochabamba. After assembling and installing the kit, the drill is now back to drilling wells (the far-right picture above)  – a typical challenge Mano a Mano deals with on a daily basis across all of our work, and an example of the capacity that we bring to the table to connect your funding support alongside the local community’s active involvement, so that we can accomplish projects together that none of us can do on our own.

We Make a Difference Together

Thank you for partnering with Mano a Mano! Together, we can make a real difference in 2024 for Bolivian communities in need, as we have done together for close to 30 years.

Your donation provides the seed money that kickstarts every Mano a Mano project and program. We need your help to make new projects a reality for the communities that are on our waiting list, to be able to continue to save supplies from the landfill and put them to use throughout Bolivia.

We are ready to get to work in 2024 and beyond; the missing link is your support. You can donate on our website here, or donate through our GiveMN.org page which is also embedded below:

Learn More About Mano a Mano

2023 in Pictures – Facebook Album

2023 in Pictures