Aldea El Hato
Aldea El Hato is a small community nestled in the mountains seven kilometers north of Antigua. The village is home to around 1,000 people, most of which are under the age of eighteen. The public school in El Hato houses about 280 students, ranging from "prepas" (kindergarten) to sixth grade. Families must volunteer their time, as well as acquire about $30 dollars worth of school supplies per child to send their kids to school. While this seems minuscule to most Westerners, the costs of a public education actually prevents many El Hato children from attending classes. In lieu of school, parents often keep their children at home to assist in caring for their younger siblings while the adults go to Antigua to work. Other children help with the cooking and gather firewood. Fortunate children are sent to school long enough to learn to read, write, and perform basic mathematics to help them with future employment.
Earth Lodge is an eco-lodge located in Aldea El Hato, whose owners, Drew and Bri, work hand-in-hand with the community. In addition to hiring local people for the restaurant, the running of the farm and guest transportation, Earth Lodge's operators have taken a vested interest in the village's public school. For 6 years now, Earth Lodge has sponsored the school and its students. Each week, they supplement the government menu with fresh fruits, local veggies, and multi-vitamins. Patrons of the lodge often participate in raffles, impromptu bingo rounds, and straight-forward donations, which Earth Lodge then filters into field trips, school supplies, and student sponsorship. Since Earth Lodge's involvement, students of El Hato's school have gotten to go to the Guatemala zoo, the school has obtained a computer lab, and the surrounding community and international passers-by have taken a growing and keen interest in the school.
Finally, in 2009, Drew, Bri, and our own Bryant Hand negotiated Las Manos's 2010 arrival in El Hato. Earth Lodge provides housing and meals for Las Manos staff members, and is instrumental in interacting with school officials and teachers. Briana and Drew continue to raise support for fruits, vegetables, and school supplies while Las Manos has collaborated with the public school to bring supplemental educational programs that help to make the public school education richer and a more diverse. We at Las Manos couldn't be happier to be shacked up with such wonderful partners.
Oxford Bilingual Montessori company partners with Las Manos de Christine by sharing educational resources and hosting teacher training for the El Hato teachers. Each year, students from El Hato and Oxford come together to share in cultural activities. Bryant Hand, the co-owner of Oxford Language Center, founded Las Manos de Christine in 2006.
World Possible partners with Las Manos de Christine by providing the RACHEL (Remote Areas Community Hotspots forEducation and Learning) program and technology support in El Hato. RACHEL is a free educational resource available to schools and communities with no Internet access or very limited bandwidth.
Na'ajeb' Li Kok'al (Children's House)
Na'ajeb' Li Kok'al is a Montessori preschool in Tierra Linda, Peten. Las Manos de Christine has partnered with the Children’s House since it’s initiation in January 2011. Teachers from Tierra Linda and El Hato come together a few times per year for training and teacher development workshops. In addition, Las Manos assists the Children’s House with the logistics faced by being in such a remote location.