Mano a Mano: Creating Partnerships to Improve Lives
In October of 1994, Segundo and Joan Velasquez sounded a call to action to a small
group of family and friends because they wanted to do something about a glaring
incongruity. Each year, health care providers and suppliers in Minnesota dispose of
hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of usable, but no longer needed, medical
inventory. At the same time, health care providers in Bolivia, where Segundo was
born and where Joan had served in the Peace Corps, are unable to provide essential
care to the poor because they lack the most basic supplies and equipment.
Thus was born Mano a Mano (“hand to hand”), a nonprofit organization founded on
the simple premise that committed volunteers can reach across national boundaries
to make a dramatic difference in the lives of others. Today, what began with Joan
and Segundo’s friends and family has grown to a large network of volunteers and
staff members in both the US and Bolivia, which works “hand to hand” in countless
ways to improve the health and economic well-being of some of the world’s most
impoverished communities. Mano a Mano’s remarkable journey affirms renowned
anthropologist Margaret Mead’s observation: “Never doubt that a small group of
thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that
In 2008, Joan was awarded the
Peace Corps’ highest honor:
The Sargent Shriver Award for
In 2012, Segundo received a
prestigious Opus Prize award
for innovation as a social
A CALL TO ACTION
Starting with nothing but commitment to a vision, Mano a Mano’s volunteers
began by collecting 500 pounds of surplus medical supplies. Within a few
years this had grown to 200,000 pounds yearly, all sorted and packed in our
founders’ home and stored in their backyard.
Picking up supplies. Storing Outside.
Moving pallets in the snow. Sorting in the driveway.
Bolivia staff and volunteers unpack and distribute these materials to Mano a Mano medical centers and others who serve the poor.
Distributing wheelchairs and other medical supplies. Sorting supplies in our Bolivian warehouse.
Using supplies during Air
Using medical supplies
Since its founding in 1994, St. Paul-based Mano a Mano International has grown enormously. As the need became more apparent in
Bolivia and as donations of medical supplies flooded in through Minnesota networks, the organization’s growth made it imperative to
support these volunteer efforts with paid staff. For many years, the organization was supported entirely by volunteers—led by Joan
and Segundo Velasquez. Until 2012, Mano a Mano International operated out of their home. Today the organization manages:
Almost all projects in Bolivia
begin with seed money
raised in the U.S.
RESEARCH AND REPORTING
Leading trips to Bolivia to
showcase projects to sup-
Hosting volunteer groups
and friends in Saint Paul to
sort, pack, categorize and
ship medical supplies.
Mano a Mano International has a strong volunteer program
at the St. Paul office which includes collaboration with service
groups and corporations. It organizes volunteer and donor trips to
Bolivia; manages research partnerships and student engagement
with universities; and sponsors opportunities for local teachers to
share with and learn from teachers in Bolivia.
Hosts volunteer groups in the warehouse to sort and
Facilitates training and travel opportunities.
Prepares medical items for
MANO A MANO BOLIVIA is independently incorporated as a nonprofit organization in Bolivia. Its work
focuses primarily in the areas of health and education. It is operated entirely by Bolivians who build each
clinic, co-administer the clinics, organize staff, distribute donated medical supplies to Mano a Mano clinics,
improve rural roads, and manage a stellar continuing education program.
We construct rural community
clinics, set up their programs and
co- administer them along with
We stock the clinics with medical
We construct rural public schools
and housing for teachers. We
send school supplies and books
to distribute to students.
Cantar Gallo residents clear site for a new medical center.
Training health professionals through
Leque residents celebrating their
medical center’s dedication.
Dr. José Velásquez
Mano a Mano Bolivia - Executive director
We build reservoirs to retain
rain water for crop irrigation
during the dry season. With
access to water, subsistence
farmers can raise enough
produce to feed their families
and have enough left over to
transport it to market for sale.
Because farmers have water to
irrigate their fields from our wa-
ter retention projects and roads
to transport goods—incomes
can double or triple.
MANO A MANO NUEVO MUNDO (NEW WORLD), an independently incorporated Bolivian nonprofit organi-
zation, focuses on rural economic development and food security. Its all-Bolivian staff builds water reser-
voirs, roads and other community infrastructure projects.
Carving roads out of mountains.
Community Residents working hand in
hand moving rock to work site.
Trucks making use of the newly
completed road, creating safe travel
to the community of El Palmar.
Ing. Boris Rodriguez Franco
Mano a Mano Nuevo Mundo
EMERGENCY AIR RESCUE
We air rescue ill and injured
persons and fly them to emer-
gency care in city hospitals.
The majority of emergency air
rescues occur in the region of
Beni in the Amazon basin.
SUPPORT WEEKEND CLINICS
Air travel can reduce a trip from
20 hours to 2 hours, making it
possible for us to serve more
isolated communities and speed
the delivery of needed supplies
or equipment parts.
MANO A MANO APOYO AEREO (AIR SUPPORT), incorporated as an independent nonprofit organization that
is directed and staffed by Bolivians, operates an aviation program that supports the work of our other coun-
terparts. The aviation program raises funds to support this work by offering charter and cargo transport
services to businesses and private individuals.
Rural communities are responsible for maintaining their own airstrips for
Providingemergencyrescueofaccidentvictims. Mano a Mano responding to
devastating floods in the remote
region of Beni.
Capitan Ivo Daniel Martínez
Mano a Mano Apoyo Aéreo
Travelers visit Mano a Mano
projects, work alongside
beneficiaries and witness the
impact of our programs. Many
see this experience as one
that transforms their lives.
SEEKS DONATIONS WITHIN
MANO A MANO INTERNACIONAL, our fourth independently incorporated Bolivian counterpart, seeks
funds from businesses and other organizations within Bolivia, hosts foreign visitors, and pilots new initia-
tives such as our recently opened Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA).
Community leaders from Jironkota attending an agricultural workshop.
Oxford University students
volunteer at the training
Ben Samuel Martinez velasquez
Mano a Mano Internacional
The Mano a Mano model is community driven and built on strong partnerships with clearly defined accountability. The US
organization provides resources and oversight, while our Bolivian counterparts determine what needs to be done and how
best to do it. Bolivian staff members and volunteers work closely with community residents and government officials to forge
working relationships. We implement projects through careful attention to these essential elements:
Communities request a project in which a formal agreement is defined.
The government contributes partial funding, pays for medical staff and teacher’s salaries and maintains the projects.
Community residents contribute labor.
Mano a Mano leads the partnership and contributes funds, equipment, skilled labor, expertise and project management.
Mano a Mano provides supplies and ongoing training to develop human resources to strengthen the long-term quality and
sustainability of the project.
This partnership model, sealed with a written agreement, ensures not only the successful completion of each project but
also its sustainability. Every project initiated by Mano a Mano has been completed and is still used for its intended purpose.
So children can find a future through education.
So families don’t leave difficult conditions in rural communities
only to be forced into urban poverty.
So families can feed themselves and their livestock.
So Bolivians obtain the training they need to be agents of change. So cross-cultural friendships can give hope for the future.
So mothers and babies survive childbirth.
Rural adults average 5 years of schooling compared to 10 in urban areas, one of the largest gaps in Latin America.
100 of every 1000 rural children die by the age of 5 compared to 57 in urban areas.
2 of every 3 rural Bolivians live below the poverty line compared to 2 of every 5 in urban areas.
Bolivia has the second highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the western hemisphere.
Babies born to the poorest 20% of mothers die at nearly three times the rate of babies born to the wealthiest 20%.
Adults in rural areas have the 2nd lowest life expectancy in Latin America.
Communities most affected by natural disasters are the least likely to receive support.
MANO A MANO IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
TOGETHER WE PROVIDE ...
Access to quality health care for hundreds of thousands of rural Bolivians where little was available before.
Water projects that improve nutrition and can increase incomes for Bolivian farm families.
Schools and teacher housing that attract teachers to work in rural areas and provide a comfortable environment
where students can learn.
Roads that connect communities to markets and significantly
reduce travel time.
Training and continuing education programs that empower
community residents and improve the effectiveness of projects.
Cross cultural exchanges that transform lives.
Sustainable infrastructure as all Mano a Mano projects continue
to function as intended.
... And there is so much more to do
Our office staff in the US and
Bolivia depend on your help
to stretch our resources as
far as possible.
We are the bridge that brings
many groups together, so that
we can achieve results that
nobody could do on their own.
COMMUNITIES IN BOLIVIA
Communities are our partners;
they request each project, contribute
3-10% of funding and volunteer time
to build their projects in partnership
with Mano a Mano.
BOLIVIAN MINISTRY OF HEALTH
Our medical program is part of the
national health care system and is eligible
for reimbursement for vaccinations,
maternal child care, and other areas of
primary care. All medical staff salaries are
paid by Bolivian sources.
Your contribution is the seed
money that allows projects to
become a reality.
They are significant supporters of
each project and typically contribute
from 20-50% of the project costs.
YOUR CHANCE TO JOIN THE MANO A MANO FAMILY AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE
MAKE A MONETARY
VOLUNTEER IN ST PAUL
Sorting, packing and
loading medical supplies,
selling crafts, assisting
with events ... Be creative.
- Distribute medical supplies.
- Train teachers.
HOLD A FUNDRAISER
- At your home with friends
or at your workplace. Invite
Mano a Mano staff to speak
and provide materials.
- Get together a group
to travel to Bolivia and
witness the impact of
ORGANIZE A YOUTH GROUP - Ask about our Niño a Niño program
and how to get classrooms involved in making global impact.
HELP US SPREAD THE WORD - Share this information and our story
YOUR CHANCE TO JOIN THE MANO A MANO FAMILY AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Mano a Mano International | 925 Pierce Butler Route St Paul MN, 55104 | 651.457.3141 | www.manoamano.org
Printed in Bolivia for