A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.
— Nelson Mandela

how does teaching english help?

Instruction in English might not seem the most useful thing you could give to a disadvantaged child. However, we believe that the best way to fight poverty in the long term is through education, and this is particularly true with a marketable skill such as English. Speaking English gives access to higher education, scholarships, business opportunities, and to stable and well-paying jobs in international companies, tourism, service industries, and education, especially in a city such as Antigua, the closest to El Hato, where the primary source of income and employment is the tourism industry.

When Las Manos children graduate and enter the job market they are better equipped to compete with their peers who have had access to a private bilingual education. This is exacerbated by circumstance: as the only school in El Hato, it is the children’s only option. However, its lack of resources has meant that it has never been able to provide English classes, let alone hire native English speakers. This represents a clear disadvantage for the children of El Hato compared with their contemporaries in Antigua, and any other city in the country, where there tend to be a range of schools, which attract better teachers due to their more advantageous locations, and which tend to be better funded.

By being competitive participants in a global economy our students can build careers without the limitations they might have had from growing up with the restrictions of poverty. By becoming bilingual they significantly increase their chances of breaking themselves and their families out of the cycle of poverty.

We administer quality educational support by providing good resources and professional teachers to institutions already engaged in education. By instilling a sound and localized curriculum for our students, providing all the materials needed for successful courses, and developing a culturally applicable basis for learning English, we work with the intention of eventually making ourselves obsolete.  That is, we hope to leave our host institutions with all the means and know-how to direct their own English and educational courses without reliance on outside sources, ultimately leaving behind sustainable programs in the school that can be administrated locally and taught by local teachers.

We take on our mission both respecting and recognizing that all cultures (including our own myriad of "Western" backgrounds) have value, worthwhile customs, and still room for conscience expansion.  Each student and community is treated as individual and beyond statistics and stereotypes, owners of different circumstances, expectations, and methodologies, so we cooperate with and value local teachers, parents, and the government to provide and develop the program, salting to their taste, so to speak.  Ultimately, we aim to help students to realize their ability to act as the difference they'd like to see in their community, country, and the world. Las Manos does not want to replace one culture or set of values with another, but give these children a tool to be able to celebrate and share their culture with the rest of the world.

Kofi Annan puts the advantage of literacy beautifully:

Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right...Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.

It is the 'full potential' of each child that Las Manos seeks to help realize.