Gaining Ground

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.

Gaining Ground Available inHard Copy

Mano a Mano’s book, Gaining Ground: A Blueprint for Community-Based International Development, is available via Itasca Books. Paperback copies are $24.95.

Why Did We Write a Book?

Over our nearly 20 years in existence, we have been approached by many people asking for advice on how they could start similar programs in other countries throughout the world. While we would never argue that everything we have done in Bolivia is replicable in any other country or situation, we feel that many of our core principles and philosophies illustrated in the book will be beneficial information for aspiring philanthropists; staff in government, nonprofit, and development organizations; people who donate or volunteer internationally; and people interested in global issues.

Also, this book is a chance for Mano a Mano to explain its partnership model that emphasizes participation and direct management from the communities themselves, which we feel is not as prevalent for many nonprofits or development organizations as it should be. Gaining Ground is a chance to share our model with more people and also to (hopefully) raise funds for our projects – all proceeds from the book go directly to Mano a Mano.

Gaining Ground: A Blueprint for Community-Based International Development

Launched at a kitchen table in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, Mano a Mano began collecting and shipping medical supplies to impoverished Bolivian communities in 1994. Twenty years later, an organization that once operated exclusively from the founder’s basement has now successfully implemented over 300 infrastructure projects, including medical clinics, schools, roads, and water reservoirs. As a result of their efforts, over 700,000 Bolivians, who face one of the highest rural poverty rates in the world, now have access to health care for the first time.

Gaining Ground is the inspiring case study of how this volunteer-based, grassroots organization is making history in Bolivia, and offers an autobiographical look at the “how to” and “lessons learned” of their international development work.

Inside Gaining Ground, discover:

  • A blueprint for developing your own international NGO
  • Why the grassroots community partnership model works
  • How to facilitate participatory development
  • Approaches to achieving sustainability and self-sufficiency
  • Alternatives to standard organizational structure
  • The critical nature of a bicultural perspective
  • A detailed history of this organization

About the Author

Joan Velásquez, Ph.D co-founded Mano a Mano with her husband, Segundo, and wrote Gaining Ground in response to numerous requests for guidance in navigating humanitarian initiatives. She hopes that this book will inspire others to reach out to marginalized communities in all corners of the world, and will remind readers that people of modest means and intense commitment can make a difference.