Two general practitioners and a odontologist took off from the Cochabamba airport early Saturday morning for a weekend clinic in San Pablo, a community of about 65 families in the Beni region of Bolivia. Mano a Mano Aviation has been supporting weekend clinics in conjunction with Mano a Mano Bolivia for five years, and has hosted 153 to date. Weekend clinics provide essential care for communities that have extremely limited or no regular medical attention.

Mano a Mano staff and volunteer doctors pack medical supplies, tents, and sleeping bags for their weekend health clinic

Getting ready for takeoff

The volunteer doctors anticipated treating between 50 and 80 patients between their mid-morning Saturday arrival and their early departure on Sunday morning. “Sometimes we stay up until late treating patients,” said one of the doctors. If the doctors find a patient in need of urgent care, they report the case to Mano a Mano and the patient is flown to Cochabamba for further treatment. Besides their bags of medical supplies, the volunteers packed sleeping bags and tents into the Cessna 206 CP-2511; doctors sleep in tents during weekend clinics and treat patients in whatever space the community can make available to them. “Sometimes it’s a school, sometimes there is a clinic. We work wherever we can,” said one doctor. “It’s very satisfying work,” said a doctor before stepping onto the plane to San Pablo.

Mano a Mano staffmember Jose Luis packing cargo in the plane for San Pablo

Sunday morning the Cessna 206 was packed with 350 kg of food, construction, and medical supplies to bring to the community of San Pablo. It returned to Cochabamba late morning carrying the volunteer doctors from the weekend clinic in San Pablo.