Building the School of Hope
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 manoamigapilipinas.blogspot.fr/
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.