Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mano Amiga Academy's first day

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 22, 2008- 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 of P5, 000- P7-000. When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, Lovely smiled brightly and said, “a doctor, or a doctor AND a teacher.” 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 kindergarten students in Taguig City.

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.

Mano Amiga Academy is run by Altius Foundation, an international NGO founded by the Legionaries of Christ, that 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.

Mano Amiga 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 others.

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 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.