mano a mano

Cochabamba, Bolivia

Segundo Velasquez was born to a working class family in rural Bolivia. Later, he married Joan Swanson, a Peace Corps volunteer, and immigrated to the United States. In 1994, he gathered family and friends to collect medical equipment and supplies to outfit a small hospital in Bolivia, where his brother worked. A new nonprofit, Mano a Mano International, was incorporated later that year to replicate that effort in other rural Bolivian communities.

Now, Mano a Mano is one of the largest NGOs working in Bolivia, serving rural villages throughout the country. The organization has shipped more than 3.5 million pounds of medical supplies from the United States, and more than 2,648 patients have been airlifted for emergency treatment. They have built schools in 54 villages, and built 1,400 kilometers of roads and constructed large-scale dams and reservoirs in seven communities.

Working from Saint Paul, Minn., Segundo leads his organization through personal commitment to justice for the poor. Segundo has inspired his staff to not only share a faith commitment and vision, but use the gifts of each individual in the organization to implement programs that change lives and significantly impact future generations of Bolivians.