Monday, March 31, 2014

Learning about Mano a Mano programs in Bolivia

Our Friday in Cochabamba provided us with the opportunity to visit the headquarters for two parts of Mano a Mano. First we went to Mano a Mano Bolivia.

This part of Mano a Mano works with communities to build health clinics and schools, helps to support students who are awarded university scholarships, and also facilitates continuing education for the health clinics staff.

After having sorted and packed many pounds of medical supplies, I was happy to see some on the other end. Actually, we saw little, for most is stored elsewhere, and the space we were in was being cleared for a big continuing education medical conference -- maybe 350 participants!

Here is the architect with her chart on the wall listing the 2014 activities. I was surprised to learn about support for projects from Europe as well as Canada for the work. For example, from Canada one supporting group is Students Offering Service (SOS).  Somehow, no one had ever mentioned that me before.

Another example, I looked out the window and saw this heavy equipment.

Then someone mentioned to me this equipment had been donated by the Swedish military.

In order to use every cent of funding wisely, Mano a Mano Bolivia builds the school desks being discussed above


the health clinic exam tables.

On the left is the metal worker who fabricates the metal legs and so forth for the school tables and the health clinic tables. Mano a Mano doesn't just build the exterior; they leave either a health clinic or school ready to go with equipment intact.

After visiting here, we went to the aircraft hanger maintained by Mano a Mano Apoyo Aereo. We learned airplanes are tools. In Bolivia airplanes are almost essential due to the challenging geographic terrain and lack of roads in many areas.

Just as our bus was arriving was arriving, someone said, "A plane is coming in."

We moved out of the way so the pilot could taxi to the hangar.

If I remember correctly, the pilot had just completed a food delivery trip to a mission located in the Beni Department which has been devastated by huge floods. On a similar run earlier in the week, the pilot had been greeted with two children with serious medical conditions that needed to be airlifted to hospitals in Cochabamba.

In addition to these two purposes, the planes are also used to ferry health professionals into areas yet lacking in health services where they conduct weekend clinics. A road trip might take 12 hours, a plane trip 1 hour. It is easy to see it is better to have health professionals doing 11 hours of health services than sitting in a van going slowly on a road.

Here is a bigger plane. You may have wondered how that small plane could handle a group of health professionals.

 This one was having its 10,000 hour check while we were there.

I saw two interesting murals painted on the walls of the hangar.

After completing this visit we returned to the hotel for a bit of a rest. Some wandered to the nearby grocery store and came back with some very interesting potato chips -- not like chips we have in the United States, but very good.

Our evening destination was a celebration dinner at La Estancia. While doing some research on Bolivian cuisine after returning to my home, I found Bolivian cuisine is influenced by Polish immigrants. That really made me scratch my head because I didn't see anything that I thought was Polish food. Then when working with my pictures I was reminded of what I chose to drink that night:

This made me think of beer from southern Poland. Perhaps this is the influence -- anyway, it was really good beer. I will remember this brand if I return to Bolivia.

I also had what the menu called kotlets, but the dish was certainly different than kotlets in Poland.

And it tasted very good.

As we were leaving the restaurant, fireworks were going off in the hills behind us. The next day I asked if the fireworks for a holiday or a special event, and was told, "No, the fireworks were there just because someone felt like shooting them off!"

Bed felt good that night! We had certainly had a busy week.

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