Editor’s Note: The post below was written by Sam Klein, a volunteer from the US that will be working with Mano a Mano Internacional in Bolivia for the next few months. This is Sam’s fourth post (CLICK HERE to read the first one about their first few weeks with Oxford students at the CEA, CLICK HERE to read the second one about building greenhouses in Tapacari, and CLICK HERE to read about Bolivian farmers visiting the CEA for eco-education). We will be posting more from Sam over the next few months about activities at Mano a Mano.
Sam is an 18-year-old volunteer from Boston, Massachusetts on his breach year from high school, with plans to pursue a degree in journalism. Sam arrived in Bolivia on July 26, 2016 to volunteer with Mano a Mano in the Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA).
Volunteers Prepare Donated Medical Supplies For Distribution in Bolivia
A volunteer walks through rows of boxes, wheelchairs and walkers. She stops, makes a note on a clipboard, and moves a box from one pile to another. Soon, the contents of that box will be put to use at health care facilities throughout Bolivia.
At Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA), there is a warehouse that houses all of the unused medical supplies donated from the United States. Three times a week, volunteers gather to sort through the supplies and organize them for distribution to health care projects throughout Bolivia, including Mano a Mano’s network of clinics, other hospitals and organizations, and individual Bolivians.
“It’s for the benefit of everyone there, and they will use all of the supplies they receive from Mano a Mano’s donation,” said Janet Flores, one of the volunteers at the CEA. “At the hospital Beni, which doesn’t have a means of transportation, we can transport the supplies easily. They don’t have supplies available, and the distance, the transportation means we probably can’t bring patients to a closer city.”
Flores, along with five other volunteers and Mano a Mano Internacional President Maria Blanca Velasquez, worked from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. sorting through supplies on Saturday, Sept. 24. They also work on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
Right now, the volunteers’ main focus is on an Oct. 8 deadline, which is one of two days in October (along with Oct. 22) when large-scale donation events will occur. On those two days, representatives from a combined number of around 40 medical centers – a range of larger hospitals and smaller clinics, like Beni – will come to receive their donations.
Currently, the warehouse at the CEA is divided into about 40 different areas, each one being prepared for one of the medical centers. Each clinic will receive a list of inventory of everything included in the donation, and making sure that this inventory is accurate is one of the volunteers’ responsibilities.
In addition to the grouped donations for the medical centers, there are also separate items, such as walkers or wheelchairs, that will be given to specific individuals who need them.
Recently, Mano a Mano received a shipment of 99,000 pounds of medical supplies sent from Minnesota.
Flores explained how important all of the donations are for the medical centers that will receive them in October.
“I would like to thank all the volunteers for the work they’ve done in the United States, and thank as well as all those who support the work here. It is received very gratefully by people in communities far away and communities that are deprived.”
Center for Ecological Agriculture
Sept. 26, 2016
More Pictures of Volunteers Sorting Supplies in Bolivia – September 2016
Distributing Supplies in Bolivia – November 2015
HERE are pictures from our last distribution event in November 2015 where more than 40,000 pounds were distributed at the Mano a Mano hangar in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The two upcoming distributions on October 8th and 22nd are the first two distributions that will take place at our new distribution space in the Center for Ecological Agriculture.
The video below is taken from the November 2015 distribution:
More Information About Mano a Mano’s Distribution Program
Our surplus distribution program is the program that started Mano a Mano more than 20 years ago; the program focuses on collecting supplies in the Twin Cities area and distributing them in Bolivia. You can learn more about the surplus distribution program at any of the following links:
- Our Story – Why We Started Mano a Mano in 1994
- Unloading 99,000 Pounds of Supplies in Bolivia, March 2016.
- Overview of the Program in 2014 – 124,220 pounds of surplus supplies were shipped from Minnesota to Bolivia
- Distribution Event in November 2015 – Distributing more than 40,000 pounds of supplies to dozens of organizations at the Mano a Mano hangar in Cochabamba, Bolivia
- Distribution of 200 Wheelchairs to Bolivians in Need in December 2013 – Mano a Mano hosted the distribution of nearly 200 wheelchairs to Bolivians with disabilities, each of which was custom-fitted to every recipient.
- 10,000+ Distributions Over 20 Years – Mano a Mano has made well over 10,000 individual distributions of supplies since the program began in 1994
- Gaining Ground: A Blueprint for Community-Based International Development – Mano a Mano published a book in 2014; the book won first place in the Inspirational Book category at the Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) Midwest Book Awards in May 2015.
Support the Mano a Mano Distribution Program
If you are interested in supporting Mano a Mano’s distribution program (our Minnesota warehouse is filling up fast with donated supplies, and we are hoping to make one more shipment to Bolivia before the end of the year), you can MAKE A DONATION HERE.