Monday, March 30, 2009

Not your ordinary Saturday

Every other Saturday, Everest Academy Nurse Irene Frayco takes on a different role. She exchanges her white cap for a creative hat, and teaches the Mano Amiga Academy students fun art activities.

“I’ve always loved kids. But the main reason why I’ve been volunteering regularly for Mano Amiga is because I am inspired by the students’ eagerness to learn,” Irene shared.

Irene is one of the volunteers who visit Mano Amiga Academy two Saturdays a month to participate in the Student Enrichment Program which consists of activities that combine values formation, language, and arts.

Volunteers from different age groups lead the students in singing, storytelling, sports, and arts and crafts.

“The aim of the enrichment activities is to reinforce and complement the lessons that the students are learning during the week,” Institutional Development Manager Lynn Pinugu said. “We hope the Saturday sessions would help develop our students’ talents, social skills, and self-esteem.”

Held simultaneously with enrichment activities, is the Values Formation program for the siblings of Mano Amiga students as well as older kids from the nearby community.

According to School Prinicipal Ramon Austria, the idea for the program was born when older kids would gather outside the school, hoping they could participate in the activities for the Mano Amiga students.

“They were very enthusiastic about learning and we wanted to nourish that interest,” Ramon said. “Since we can’t accommodate them in Mano Amiga, we decided that concentrating on character formation would be a good way for us to help them.”

Values Formation programs attract 70-80 regular attendees. The kids are divided into groups of five-eight, with the Mano Amiga volunteers serving as their big brother or sister for the day.

“The most fulfilling part about volunteering is seeing how much the kids have improved in just a few months,” Irene said with a smile. “We really have big hopes for these children.”

Interested in being a volunteer? Please feel free to join us every other Saturday at Mano Amiga Academy, a school that provides high quality education to children coming from low-income families.

For more information about Mano Amiga Academy, please contact Lynn Pinugu at 882-5019 or at

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