Mina Herrera heads the Mano Amiga Community Development team, a group of volunteers who help in implementing different programs and establishing partnerships aimed at providing integral formation to the children, parents, and the whole community.
What was your first impression of Mano Amiga when you joined in 2008?
I saw a community of people who were committed to and passionate about providing quality education and spiritual formation for underprivileged children. I really wanted to be a part of this community and to do my share.
Why accept a job that, humanly-speaking, involves so many challenges and sacrifices?
I just thought it was the right thing to do. Given the sorry state of our educational system in the Philippines, I decided that volunteering for Mano Amiga would be a great way to take action and to be part of the solution.
What, in your experience, is the key in working in a Mano Amiga school?
Enthusiasm so that we can dream big. Teamwork and cooperation so that we can come up with great ideas and help each other find ways to transform our dreams into reality. Faith so that we never lose sight of our goals and so that we don't get discouraged when we encounter obstacles. Patience and perseverance so that we can see projects through and continue working toward our goals. Creativity, resourcefulness and flexibility so that we can make the best use of our available resources, figure out ways to successfully carry out our projects, and adjust to whatever surprises, challenges and opportunities for service come our way. A sense of humor and gratitude so that we can appreciate all the opportunities and blessings that come our way because of our volunteering with Mano Amiga.
Could you mention a concrete example of transformation that has happened in the time that you have been working in the school?
When we started holding enrichment activities for the Mano Amiga students on weekends, we saw that many of the other children from the community also wanted the chance to read books and to learn. When they asked if we could hold activities for them too, we decided to take on this new challenge even if it wasn't in our immediate plans. We now have a group of community kids (as we fondly call them) who regularly attend our activities for them.
How can people participate in this project of transformation?
For community development, we are looking for people who can volunteer for the activities with our Mano Amiga students and community kids. Currently held on two Saturdays each month, the sessions include games, arts and craft projects and story- based activities. We would also appreciate help with our programs for the parents of our Mano Amiga students. These programs include parenting and nutrition seminars, livelihood, financial management and entrepreneurship workshops and spiritual formation classes. And donations of books, educational materials and school supplies for the community library would be most welcome!