Build­ing the School of Hope

The Philippine Star - - FEATURES - By HE­LEN M. FLORES

F ilipino ed­u­ca­tor Eleanor “Lynn” Pin­ugu is slowly achiev­ing her dream of trans­form­ing the lives of mil­lions of poor Filipino chil­dren through qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion as she opens the first Mano Amiga Pilip­inas cam­pus in Metro Manila next year.

“Cur­rently, we can only ac­com­mo­date a max­i­mum of 100 scholars, and we need to turn down four out of five stu­dents ap­ply­ing for ev­ery slot,” says Lynn, who serves as the school’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

“Our big­gest chal­lenge is in­fra­struc­ture,” she says.

Through a P20- mil­lion do­na­tion in 2014, Mano Amiga Pilip­inas was able to ac­quire a 2,350-square me­ter prop­erty in Parañaque City which will be the site of the first Mano Amiga Philip­pines cam­pus. The cam­pus will be opened in 2016. “I think it’s a tes­ta­ment to how gen­er­ous peo­ple can be when they see that their help could ac­tu­ally make a tan­gi­ble dif­fer­ence in some­one’s life,” Lynn un­der­scores.

For the past seven years, Lynn has trans­formed the non- profit school for in­di­gent stu­dents into a self- sus­tain­ing in­sti­tu­tion.

“We re­al­ized that do­na­tion was not a sus­tain­able way to fund the oper­a­tions of the school, es­pe­cially if we’d like to achieve scale,” she says.

While run­ning the school, the 30-yearold Lynn es­tab­lished Bistro 3846, a high-end cafe­te­ria of­fer­ing healthy age-ap­pro­pri­ate school meals in dif­fer­ent pri­vate schools in Manila.

The en­ter­prise, she says, helps up­lift the lives of low-in­come fam­i­lies through two chan­nels -- pro­vides ac­cess to sus­tain­able em­ploy­ment to moth­ers of Mano Amiga pupils who do not have a steady in­come; and funds the schol­ar­ships of un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren en­rolled in the academy.

Im­pressed by the ed­u­ca­tion in Mexico’s Mano Amiga Academy, an in­ter­na­tional school for poor chil­dren, Lynn helped put up the Mano Amiga Academy in Taguig City in 2008, aimed at pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tion and holis­tic de­vel­op­ment to poor Filipino chil­dren and their fam­i­lies.

Ac­cord­ing to Lynn, the new cam­pus can ac­com­mo­date at least 800 to 1,200 stu­dents.

It will also serve as a liveli­hood and culi­nary train­ing cen­ter for the moth­ers of their scholars, she says.

“We hope to be able to pro­vide liveli­hood train­ing and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to at least 300 moth­ers by 2016,” Lynn says.

“I’d say that Mano Amiga con­tin­ues to be a work in progress but the small vic­to­ries we’ve earned along the way tells me we are on the right path,” she con­cludes.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit manoami­gapilip­

The em­pha­sis on group ac­tiv­i­ties de­vel­ops im­por­tant skills and val­ues like team­work, lead­er­ship, and com­pas­sion.

Mano Amiga founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Lynn Pin­ugu also teaches once a week in the school so she can un­der­stand her stu­dents’ learn­ing needs. She per­son­ally trains the teach­ers on how to im­ple­ment in­no­va­tive teach­ing strate­gies in­side the class­room.

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