Mano a Mano has a management structure uses volunteer time in a manner that is productive and fun. The founders, staff and volunteers have an infectious attitude towards their mission and rightly so. It's an honor to be part of an organization that works with the Bolivian government to build 130-plus medical clinics, build miles of roads to help farmers bring crops to market, and other projects which go directly to making the lives of those living in rural Bolivia better.
I first came in contact with Mano a Mano while I was studying Spanish in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Because of what I saw and heard at the Mano a Mano headquarters in Bolivia, I volunteered every Saturday for the 6 months I was in Bolivia, unpacking medical equipment and medicines. I was incredibly touched by the dedication, compassion, and commitment of the Bolivians who worked with or volunteered for Mano a Mano. I was equally impressed by what they were doing to lower infant mortality as well as bring health care to people who had little to no access to medical help. When I returned to Minnesota I discovered a similar spirit among the staff and volunteers affiliated with Mano a Mano there. The spirit of the founders, Segundo and Joan Velasquez, is reflected and magnified by the staff and volunteers in St. Paul. Mano a Mano not only touches the lives of the poor of Bolivia, it energizes and elevates those who are fortunate enough to be affiliated with this incredible organization.
As a public health professional with experience in international health and development I can say firmly that Mano A Mano International Partners is extraordinary, perhaps even unique. The organization's strength comes from its truly bilateral collaborative framework. Funds are raised both inside and outside Bolivia, but virtually all of the organization's staff are themselves Bolivians. I believe this accounts for Mano a Mano's record of fierce dedication and staggering accomplishment over the past decade and a half. The organization's co-founder, Segundo Velasquez, has been nominated this year for a prestigious Opus Foundation prize and is one of three candidates for the grand prize of $1 million. While it would be well-deserved if Segundo won, he is one among the organization's many "unsung heroes" who have transformed rural health care, education and transportation in Bolivia.