(Training pics are full size; some more recent pictures -- with a bluish outline -- can be clicked to enlarge)


Joan Velasquez (White)
St. Paul, MN
1967 Training Biography

Joan Ellen White
With a B.A. in sociology, suma cum laude, from Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota, followed by a master's degree from Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Joan went on to do case work in a county welfare department in Minnesota. She had previously done similar work for Children's Services in Cleveland and St. Louis, Missouri. Joan likes sewing and music, she has raised beef steers and poultry in 4-H projects, and has held offices in 4-H, FHA, and YWCA organizations. With her husband, David, she has traveled to Mexico and Central America. From Hills, Minnesota, Joan is 26.

More Recent

click photo to enlarge

(1) Joan and Segundo Velsquez, 2007.
and Work
Cochabamba (July 1967 -- July 1969)
Opened and ran a day care center for 50 kids ages 2-5 whose moms worked as maids or sold in the open market.  Center funding was taken on by Bolivian government; the center still functions.  Taught four English classes weekly.  Worked with Amigos de la Alianza, helping select projects for them to fund in the Cochabamba area.

Worked as clinical social worker, then program developer for Spanish speaking clients, then researcher in mental health and social services, all for county government.  Completed Ph.D. in social science research and published a few articles in social science journals.

I have returned to Bolivia several times; last in 2005.  Cochabamba was nearly unrecognizable - tall buildings, paved streets up into the cerros..


In 1994, Segundo and I founded Mano a Mano Medical Resources to address critical health needs in Bolivia. We started by collecting medical surplus in Minnesota and shipping It to Bolivia for distribution. Mano a Mano has grown Incredibly, has built and runs a network of 76 community health clinics, plus various other projects . We continue to volunteer full time to run the organization in the U.S.

Building Mano A Mano has brought medical resources -- many millions of dollars -- into Bolivia for a number of years now. Mano A Mano accepts donations as well as selling gifts to raise monies.

Since its inception in October, 1994, Mano a Mano has:
• Collected over 1.4 million pounds of medical surplus. Last year its counterpart organization, Mano a Mano - Bolivia filled 487 requests for medical supplies and equipment from non-profit health care programs.
• Constructed and opened 59 community health clinics. Two of the original seven are owned and operated by a Bolivian non-profit organization and 29 are financially independent but managed by Mano a Mano.

In 2005, the 58 clinics that Mano a Mano operated at the end of the year
• Had nearly 238,000 patient visits
• Delivered 1285 babies
• Vaccinated almost 39,000 men, women and children
• Included more than 39,000 individuals in group and individual health education sessions

Mano a Mano has:
• Constructed public showers, bathrooms, laundry tubs and water access in 15 communities
• Repaired rural roads to improve access to clinics and communities
• Constructed new classrooms and teacher housing in 17 communities

Each Mano a Mano clinic provides these services:
• Community organization and outreach: inform community residents about clinic services and encourage their use
• Preventive services: child and adult vaccinations, health education, well child visits, family planning, prenatal and post natal care
• Attended deliveries
• Acute care for illness and accident cases
• Management of chronic illnesses
• Health training: train community residents as community health workers

PC In Your Life

Becoming fluent in Spanish and immersed in Latino culture focused my work life on the Latino community in St. Paul.  Having initiated Mano a Mano, I feel that we are continuing the kind of community-based work that exemplified the best of Peace Corps.

Best/Worst PC Experience

One of the best things: Having the opportunity to watch a two-year-old, who was too weak to walk when he came to our day care center, gain strength and one day just stand up on this own; then, hearing the other kids scream with excitement, "Senorita Juani,  Jimmy esta caminando."

One of the worst things: Riding in a railroad box car with several indigenous women (all probably much older) who insisted that I sit on the only available bale of hay while they sat on the floor. 

One of the special things: The dozens of monopoly games with Dwight and Peg Steen; sewing maternity clothes for Peg.

RPCV Groups

In the Future
Continue to work with Mano a Mano.
Favorites to Share
Movies: Under the Sun - a beautiful Swedish love story
Books: Zorro by Isabel Allende
Websites: Mano A Mano and The Democracy Center