Volunteer Spotlight: Libby Arnosti

Mano a Mano volunteer Libby Arnosti recently talked about what she does with Mano a Mano, why she respects the Mano a Mano model, and what makes the work she does for Mano a Mano meaningful for her.

Libby Arnosti

Libby Arnosti

What I Do For Mano a Mano

I recently started collecting stories from Segundo. I was appointed official story grabber when he comes back from Bolivia. After he returns, he spouts quotes and stories as he’s passing people  in the hall, or in a meeting. Nate and Carmen decided that somebody needs to be here to collect those stories so we can pass them on to donors and volunteers. That wasn’t happening. So now it’s my goal to extract those stories from him right after he returns from Bolivia.

This is fun for me, plus it mirrors what I was doing with Mano a Mano in Bolivia previously. My main role had been in in Cochabamba, where I also did story collection.

Libby on one of the Mano a Mano planes during a flight in 2012.

Libby on one of the Mano a Mano planes during a flight in 2012.

Most often I was  accompanying Ivo Jr. on medical mission flights, or on other trips to communities where Mano a Mano works. I would do brief interviews with community members, or with people in the airplane. We’d talk about their lives, what was going on, what issues they had in their community. That was valuable to me on a personal level, but it was also good for Mano to have stories to share with donors, volunteers, and other people in the United States.

I was also helping behind the scenes with Mano a Mano’s aviation program, facilitating and getting things together for visitors.

Why I Respect the Mano a Mano Model

I believe in Mano a Mano’s model of letting the community do the work themselves. The community people are the ones best suited to understand what needs to be done and to do it.

Before Mano gets involved, the community has already identified the project as necessary. As a result, the communities feel a lot more ownership. They know what they’re going to use the water for, or what they’re going to do with the school, or how they’re going to use this road. Mano a Mano’s involvement can cease once the project is completed because the community takes it on as their own, as part of their identity.

Mano a Mano helps communities achieve a greater quality of life. it’s as simple as that.

What Makes My Work For Mano a Mano Meaningful For Me

I’ve known Joan and Segundo most of my life. My parents took me along to load shipping containers as a kid. But it was great for me to experience what happens in Bolivia.

Working with Mano a Mano in Bolivia allowed me to see first hand what benefits people get and how far things stretch in Bolivia. I got the satisfaction of knowing where resources go, and to know that my stories might actually get the attention of donors who could give a significant amount of money.

Libby in Bolivia in 2012

Libby in Bolivia in 2012

As a person who is in a position of remarkable privilege, I want to give something back to my community and to the global community. So there’s definitely a component of being able to say, ‘Okay, I’m 25, and I don’t have my live together in many ways, and I’m benefiting from my position of privilege, but I’m tipping scales back a tiny bit by volunteering to improve the lives of others with less privilege or in a different situation.

It’s also just physically satisfying to go to the warehouse and move boxes around. There’s always work to be done. You show up and they’ll hand you something. You can feel like your time is well spent.

I suppose in part it’s one of those first-world things, where you feel a compulsion to contribute to the charity culture. There’s all of that at play for sure.

One of the hundreds of photos taken by Libby during her time with Mano a Mano in Bolivia in 2012.

One of the hundreds of photos taken by Libby during her time with Mano a Mano in Bolivia in 2012.

This interview and article were written by Mano a Mano volunteer Anthony Schmitz.

More Mano a Mano Volunteer Spotlights

Below are a few more interviews with Mano a Mano volunteers that are so crucial to everything that we do. Are you interested in getting involved? Please contact us!