Last weekend (May 3-4, 2024), Mano a Mano flew a group of volunteer healthcare professionals from the city of Cochabamba to the remote community of San Francisco de Moxos in the Bolivian tropics. Each volunteer came prepared to spend two long, busy days providing healthcare that is not available in the municipality’s small public clinic.

It takes about an hour to fly from Cochabamba to San Francisco de Moxos; by car it would take about 23 hours each way, and is not possible outside of the dry season due to many roads being flooded (Google can’t compute!). This is the basis for Mano a Mano Aviation’s program: in emergencies we can provide rapid transport to care in an hour or 2 rather than 10-20+ hours; for weekend health clinics medical professionals from the city can spend almost all of a weekend providing volunteer healthcare in rural communities with only an ~hour commute, rather than just driving back and forth the entire time.

Although their departure was delayed because one of the scheduled dentists was ill, a last-minute scramble to replace them paid off; another volunteer responded to our urgent call. The volunteer group of 5 physicians (including one gynecologist), 3 dentists, and 3 physical therapists reached their destination within half an hour of the expected time.

Shortly after arriving, the group learned that a community festival with music and sports competition was in progress. One of the physicians quickly organized the patients who had been waiting outside the clinic and began a health education class in its waiting area. Others ran to let the musicians and competitors know that the group had arrived. Soon they were overloaded with patients, some reaching the clinic after riding their horses for 3-4 hours.

219 People Received Care Over the 2-Day Weekend Health Clinic

By the end of the weekend, the 11 Mano a Mano volunteers had directly served 219 people. The general medicine volunteer physicians and gynecologist had served 118 patients. Physical therapists had treated and taught exercises to 48 individuals.

As patients continued to arrive on day two of the weekend clinic, everyone worked as quickly as possible, attempting to see everyone before the aircraft returned to pick them up. All general medicine and physical therapy patients were seen.

The volunteer dentists examined and treated 53 patients (77 procedures total including fillings, extractions, etc.). But time ran out as patients continued to appear; the aircraft had arrived to pick up the healthcare volunteers. Once community residents had helped unload the supplies the Mano a Mano aircraft had transported to donate to the local clinic, the group had to leave. (It must clear the runway before dark.)

Weekend Health Clinic in San Francisco de Moxos – May 2024

There is always more to be done, and we always hope to be able to return soon (we provided a weekend health clinic in San Francisco de Moxos a few months earlier in March 2024).

Previous Weekend Health Clinic in San Francisco de Moxos – March 2024

Thank You!

Thanks to our healthcare volunteers, the availability of our aircraft (we flew 2 planes to accomodate the number of travelers and cargo), and the tons of medical supplies we ship from Minnesota, we plan to deliver weekend clinic services to remote communities almost every weekend this year. (We provided 48 weekend health clinics in 2023.)

Future Weekend Health Clinics

Between now and August 10th, we have 12 weekend health clinics (jornadas) scheduled over 14 weeks (including this most recent jornada in San Francisco de Moxos). By the numbers:

  • The upcoming jornadas will be the first for 7 communities, with 5 communities having previous experience with Mano a Mano jornadas.
  • This is 22 complete days of clinic time.
  • 2 jornadas will be “jornadas grandes,” with up to 13 volunteers and the distribution of a larger amount of medical supplies and equipment (requiring 2 planes to transport it all, including this most recent jornada in San Francisco de Moxos).
  • This includes 102 volunteer medical professionals.
  • Each jornada is about a one hour flight each way from Cochabamba to the rural community.
Volunteer medical professionals getting ready to fly to Puerto San Lorenzo for a weekend health clinic in 2023 from Mano a Mano’s hangar at the Cochabamba airport.

Learn More About Mano a Mano’s Aviation Program in Bolivia

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

Mano a Mano Weekend Health Clinic in Beni, April 2023