Welcome to Mano a Mano's Blog!

Welcome to our blog, where we will be sharing the latest updates and stories about Mano a Mano International Partners. To learn more about us, please visit our website.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Our Blog Has Moved

Our blog is now part of our main website, and we will no longer be posting blogs here. Follow this link to go to our new blog page.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Keeping the Community Involved

One of our major projects currently is a large-scale water reservoir being constructed in Sancayani, Bolivia, which when complete will provide water to nearly 4,000 Bolivian farm families. These infrastructure projects are hard work; for much of the tubing and channels we have to literally cut through mountains, and often just to transport our heavy machinery onsite we have to build roads first. Each day there are around a dozen community members volunteering to help on the project, doing tasks such as clearing the road of rocks and large debris for the heavy machinery:

Community residents contributed more than 32,000 hours on our last water reservoir project

In addition to the work that goes into the project itself, at the same time Mano a Mano emphasizes keeping the community engaged and informed throughout the process. For the Sancayani water reservoir project, Mano a Mano has held more than 25 meetings in the last 2 months alone. These meetings will include community members, local authorities, community associations, and residents from neighboring communities that may be affected by the project. We ensure that everyone's roles and responsibilities are clear, talk about how the construction is progressing, and address peoples' questions and concerns. Last week we held a meeting with the new leaders that were elected 8 days earlier, with more than 300 people in attendance.

We are very committed to ensuring the success of each of our projects, which starts with our collaborative model; there is a lot more that goes into these projects than the construction.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Community Maintenance Projects

To ensure that the road and water projects that we build continue to be maintained and in good condition, Mano a Mano has implemented 'jornadas de trabajo' (work days) for everyone involved in the project - Mano a Mano, local authorities, and the community itself - to spend a day or two, 3-4 times a year, on improving or maintaining their projects. This past weekend more than 400 residents of Laguna Sulti participated in this jornada, showing up with their own tools to help get their reservoir (built with Mano a Mano) ready in preparation for the upcoming rainy season.

Mano a Mano was there to work as well, arriving with our grader and a truck to help with the heavy lifting.

These community maintenance work days are very important to ensure the long-term sustainability of our projects, and we were very pleased with the hard work and participation of everyone.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Segundo Velasquez on "Why I Started my NGO"

Yesterday Mano a Mano co-founder Segundo Velasquez was part of a panel discussion at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs featuring local Minnesota organizations that work internationally. They discussed how and why they started their respective NGOs.

One part of the discussion focused on what makes a nonprofit successful; Velasquez responded that "It’s all about the human connection that brings it all together, working side by side to make a difference." You can read more about the panel here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New Road in El Palmar Halfway Complete

Last week staff from Mano a Mano did a site inspection of our road project in El Palmar, Bolivia. Twenty-two of the 56 total kilometers are now finished, and when complete the road will connect the communities of Canon Verde and El Palmar in the department of Chuquisaca, Bolivia and provide access to the larger markets of Tarija and Santa Cruz. We hope to complete the road later this year.
Aerial view of completed section of the road
Finished section of road

Constructing these roads is a very difficult process. The road is being built through mountainsides and dense jungle, and staff have to live on-site for weeks at a time without seeing their families. Many of the areas are so isolated that they are only accessible by horse or on foot.

Mano a Mano staff on-site

Meeting with local leaders. The generator providing lighting is the only one in the region.
During the inspection we met with local leaders about the project, who are very excited about the road and happy with the current progress; roads are crucial in improving the lives of isolated rural communities in Bolivia. The municipality and community are actively involved in the project and are paying for a substantial portion of the costs themselves. Earlier this year Caterpillar, Inc. made a video highlighting their collaborative partnership with Mano a Mano and explaining why road projects such as this one in El Palmar are so important in Bolivia:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Co-Founder Segundo Velasquez Recognized by Metro State

Mano a Mano co-founder Segundo Velasquez was recently recognized by Metropolitan State University as one of "40 Alumni Who've Made a Difference!

"Segundo Velasquez ('92) founded Mano a Mano International Partners in 1994 to improve health care in his native Bolivia and has led the organization on a pro bono basis since that time. From "kitchen table" beginnings, Mano a Mano has grown into an organization that makes health care available to more than 700,000 rural Bolivians, builds water reservoirs and roads to increase economic well-being, and provides emergency air transport to remote regions"

Congratulations Segundo!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mano a Mano's 123rd Health Clinic in Kumara, Bolivia

On September 10, 2011 we dedicated our 123rd health clinic in the community of Kumara, Bolivia. Our staff at Mano a Mano Bolivia put together a video of the entire process from start to finish:

You can learn more about our community health clinic model here.