|Underprivileged children at the new Mano Amiga school in Manila.|
October 28, 2008. Manila, Philippines. Lovely Villar, 4, lives in Western
Bicutan, in a district with more than 5,000 informal settlers
who live in shanties and live on a monthly salary
that is next to nothing by Western standards. When asked
what she wants to be when she grows up, Lovely
smiled brightly and said, “a doctor, or a doctor AND
For many of those living in the impoverished
area, this idea may seem far-fetched; but Lovely’s parents are
confident that her scholarship in Mano Amiga Academy has helped
make this dream within her reach.
Mano Amiga Academy finally
opened its doors last September 22 to two sections of
kindergarten students in Taguig City. The school plans to expand
by one grade level per year.
The 60 Filipino scholars were
chosen from poor communities surrounding the Habitat for Humanity Housing
at the FTI complex where the school is temporarily holding
classes. The project is being actively supported by the Taguig
City government who has provided the organization with a 5,000-square
meter lot where a permanent campus will be erected.
|Over 90% of Mano Amiga students complete high school and go on to university or technical school.|
Academy is run by Altius Foundation, an international NGO
founded by the Legionaries of Christ. Altius provides education, health,
and development services in over thirteen countries. The international curriculum
is always complemented by a formation program that targets the
whole family, school staff, and the surrounding community.
schools are known for producing alumni who are outstanding academic
achievers with national scores on par with the best schools
of their country. Over 90% of the students complete their
high school education and go on to university or technical
school. The students are also formed to become socially responsible
citizens, capable of seeing and responding to the needs of
Altius Foundation President Rene Lankenau attributed the success to Mano
Amiga´s approach, which demands that families not only contribute financially
towards their children´s education – usually P100-P200 for Filipinos –
but that parents also participate in personal and economic development
programs sponsored by the schools.
“The Mano Amiga model is
not just a school, but a system for radically transforming
|Helping Hand (Mano Amiga)|
the life of a family in poverty,” he said. Truly,
with the help of Mano Amiga Academy, Lovely’s dreams do
not seem impossible anymore.
Mano Amiga’s goal is to provide
education and development services tailored to the needs of the
Filipino community that will empower each family to transform their
lives and break the cycle of poverty. Mano Amiga Academy,
Taguig City is the latest addition to over 30 Mano
Amiga schools in 7 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El
Salvador, Mexico, and Venezuela), with more than 17,000 students and
parents receiving formation. To learn more about Mano Amiga schools
and what they do for poor children around the world,
Donors who are interested in helping with these
projects are invited to visit the Catholic World Mission
web site for more information.