Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joan Velasquez Accepts Shriver Award

Joan Velasquez Accepts Shriver Award

"Last week Segundo attended the dedication of a new road that Mano a Mano constructed in the high Andes. Before that road was built, area farmers had to travel for three days to reach the nearest market, a trip that they simply could not afford to make. Now they will be on a truck route and will arrive in less than an hour. As we celebrate here this evening, these farmers are planting grapes and vegetables because they have a way to get them to market."

At an October 3 reception in San Francisco, Joan Velasquez (Bolivia 67-69) received the 2008 Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service.

Joan and her husband Segundo co-founded Mano a Mano, a non-profit organization that has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Bolivians. In her acceptance speech she spoke eloquently of how determined volunteers can reach across national boundaries to make a real difference in the lives of others.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bolivian News

Hi Jim! and others...

Here is a page on PC website announcing
PC withdrawal from Bolivia.
On Amigos website Jeff Fletcher has been posting Bolivia news articles.
The Amigos site also has links to Bolivian News sources.

Please share any information you hear of!
Peace, Don Beck

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bolivian Politics

I've been following in a limited way the current upheaval in Bolivia.  NPR had an interview with several people in Santa Cruz yesterday, re: ambassadors expelled/withdrawn, 8 killed, Evo's relationship with Venezuela's Chavez. 

How about a few comments from Jeff F, Tom F, Doug L,  Jeff S,  Dwight, and others regarding this situation.  ( I believed everything you guys ever said!).  Is Evo's goal the Nationalization via co-ops, etc. of Bolivia's mineral/agricultural production?  This verses a fierce push back from Santa Cruz and Bolivia's eastern regions who's growing prosperity and cultural differences are wanting separation?  Please correct me on this. 

How might this be resolved.
Thanks and regards.

Jim Kauppi     

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Any thoughts about a REUNION?

Next Summer? Mid-West? JUST Group 29?

What do people think?

Peace, Don Beck

Friday, August 29, 2008

My latest adventure!

My work in Iraq involves a USAID funded program designed to assist in the revitalization of agribusinesses in selected areas of Iraq. Many of these businesses were either damaged or looted during the war and have not been operational since. Some of these businesses had ceased to operate years before the war due to policies of the Saddam Hussein regime. Some of these businesses were formerly state owned.

Often the business owner has to travel to our compound because we cannot get to their location. At times we work through other local consulting firms to whom we provide guidance on what needs to be done. One way or another we work with the business owner to develop a business plan that lays out what needs to be done to get the business up and running and then determine where the investment and working capital can be obtained. The project has resources to finance some of the investment.

As part of the development of these businesses we are financing and importing improved seeds and plant material, much of which has genetically deteriorated. In the livestock sector we are working on improved animal nutrition by rehabilitating feed mills and developing rations designed for each type of animal.

Our work is being done in an environment of lax security that leads to much crime in the both the countryside and the cities. In addition, much of the basic infrastructure is in a state of disrepair. It is hard to believe that after more than five years of occupation, we have not been able to put the electric grid back together. We have grid power about three hours a day and that is here in Baghdad. Iraq is a very fertile region and has tremendous agricultural potential, but agriculture here requires irrigation. The extensive irrigation systems have been neglected for years. Water has to be pumped and the pumps are electric! Our estimate is that rehabilitation of the system would require about one billion dollars. Keep in mind that Iraq is exporting about 56 billion dollars of oil a year.

Isobel Rajcan

Spoke with Isobel yesterday. She lives near Yosemite in California, a very rural and beautiful area as she describes it. She has no computer. Does not even have a tv...

She says she is 85 now and has a few aches... but when she was describing all rhe various things she does daily and weekly -- mostly helping and caring for others -- I was worn out just listening!

So, she is as active and lively as ever. She says she loves to hear from people and appreciates calls!

Contact me if you want her phone number.

Peace Don Beck

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Congratulations, Joan!

Joan Velasquez, a volunteer who (trained in Bolivia 29-Mines Group) served in Cochabama from 1967-1969, has been selected as the winner of NPCA's 2008 Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service.
Joan is the co-founder, along with her husband, Segundo, of
Mano a Mano, a nonprofit organization that has provided medical supplies, health care support, and other humanitarian assistance to impoverished villagers in rural Bolivia for the past 15 years. The award will be presented to Joan at the October 4 NPCA Group Leaders Forum and Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
For more about Joan's prestigious award, click here.
For a more complete biography, click here.