Mano a Mano collects medical supplies, mobility equipment, and other in-demand items from Minnesota for shipment to Bolivia, where they are distributed to people and organizations in need throughout the country.

Almost all of these supplies would have ended up in the landfill in Minnesota, and instead they are put to good use throughout Bolivia (we also provide supplies to organizations and individuals in the Twin Cities area).

Preparing hospital beds at the Mano a Mano warehouse in December 2023 to share with a local Twin Cities organization that will send them to Africa.

We sent 9 containers with 228,954 pounds to Bolivia in 2023, with 3 containers loaded in December and now on their way to Bolivia.

Mano a Mano distributed supplies to 293 organizations across all 9 departments of Bolivia in 2022 – in 67 municipalities and 1,088 communities.

We shipped 9 containers with 220,704 pounds in 2022.

Using Plexiglass Donated in Minnesota to Repair Heavy Equipment in Bolivia

The vast majority of what we send are pretty basic medical supplies and mobility equipment; there are also some unique items, like sheets of plexiglass.

Plexiglass at Mano a Mano’s St. Paul warehouse – October 2022.
Loading plexiglass in our November 2022 shipment to Bolivia at our Minnesota warehouse.

In 2022, Ivo Velasquez (from our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo) was visiting us in Minnesota, and while walking through our warehouse he saw a stack of plexiglass, a post-COVID distancing donation from a local school, which led to questions about whether we could find more. “Yes. We picked up only what we thought could be used. The rest were being discarded,” was the reply. Then this from Ivo, “The glass in many of our heavy machine cabs has been broken by branches and debris. We currently shape metal sheets onto the cab sides to protect the operators, but metal obstructs their view. Plexiglass can be molded to any shape. It’s transparent and hard to break. We could make long-lasting windows from these sheets. And it’s nearly impossible to find it in Bolivia.” After a phone call to the donor, their rush to pull plexiglass sheets from the dumpster, and a quick trip back to the school, we retrieved enough sheets to repair every broken machine window and improve safety for our workers in Bolivia. This is only one of many examples of “thinking outside the box” that happens when staff who work in vastly different environments have an opportunity to focus their trained eyes on the same object.

This week, Ivo sent us a few photos of one example of this plexiglass being used to repair a broken window in one of Mano a Mano’s pieces of heavy equipment.

Broken window in Mano a Mano heavy equipment
Nuevo Mundo staff replacing the broken window with plexiglass donated and shipped from Minnesota
Repaired window, January 2024

Even the Containers We Ship Get Put to Use

Mano a Mano’s mission is: “Partnering together – Hand in Hand – to transform the health and well-being of Bolivian communities in need.” This means LOTS of meetings, like this recent one pictured here just outside of Cochabamba, held in our mobile office made out of containers sent from Minnesota.

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