Public school teachers Elvis Alanoca, Basilio Mendoza, Elizabeth Cusi, and Grecia Rodríguez hitched a ride on the Mano a Mano aircraft in early September, avoiding what would otherwise have been a 6-7 day trip to arrive in the tropical communities in which they teach. Each of them is the only teacher in the multi-grade schools in these remote regions of Bolivia’s Beni department.  

The teachers contacted the aviation office in Cochabamba to check on whether there might be a scheduled flight into the tropics before they needed to arrive at their schools. Learning that, yes, we could transport them alongside our usual medical and school supply cargo, they quickly traveled by bus from La Paz to Cochabamba to take the flight. 

The aircraft landed on a small strip near the village of Asunta from which three could walk for several kilometers to reach their schools. The fourth traveled for another four hours via canoe to the yet more remote village of Ushve.

Teachers arriving on the Mano a Mano plane to Asunta, Bolivia.

Mano a Mano provides the only consistent air transport into this region. The alternative transport by vehicle and then water is long and arduous at best, and dangerous under the most unfortunate circumstances.

During a five-day set of clinic events in the Beni Department (state) communities of Naranjal, Jojori, and San Salvador in April 2023, 3 health care professionals served 200 medical patients. Mano a Mano also provided needed medical supplies; the Unidad de Salud en San Lorenzo de Moxos provided vaccinations. Getting to communities in the Beni often requires travel by canoe.

(Drownings occur with too much frequency while crossing the rivers. To share one sad recent example, after a teacher and three students drowned when their canoe broke apart as they crossed a 100-foot-wide river on their way to school, several communities asked Mano a Mano to help them acquire aluminum canoes and boats; we shipped 3 canoes and a jon boat in 2020.)

“We know that flying on the Mano a Mano aircraft is safe and it only takes us 35 minutes from Cochabamba to Asunta. We are so happy when a flight is going toward Asunta when we need to travel there”, they say. “They don’t charge us the cost of the flight. We contribute for their fuel what we would pay for bus tickets to Trinidad, which is 5-6 days by land and water from Asunta.  We’re so grateful to have this opportunity.”

Knowing that they would be dependant on local foods such as fish and yuca until their end-of-the-year break, each teacher carried a 4-month supply of potatoes, along with personal items. These teachers hail from Bolivia’s high-elevation Atliplano where potatoes form the essential component of the daily diet. “We cannot live without potatoes. We eat them 2-3 times every day.” They also carry other food supplies like macaroni and flour, knowing that are no stores in these communities.

Residents of Asunta met the aircraft to greet the teachers when they arrived. This community maintains the airstrip so the Mano a Mano plane can land safely there. They send their greetings and thanks to everyone who supports this program.

Residents of Asunta met the aircraft to greet the teachers when they arrived.

Learn More About Mano a Mano’s Aviation Program