It all started with a lady called christine...
Christine Hand taught throughout her life, and Las Manos was set up by her family with the intention of honoring her memory. The Hands are originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Bryant Hand works in Guatemala as a language school owner and educator. Bryant founded Las Manos de Christine – translating into English as ‘Christine’s Hands’ – as an organization with which to do good with the skills and knowledge he’d gained through years of ESL (English as a Second Language) education, as well as the network of connections that he’d made through running language schools in Guatemala.
Our first project was with anther NGO – Camino Seguro (Safe Passage) – in the Guatemala City landfill, where we provided assistance with English teaching. During our three years of work there, the children of the school improved their English to the extent that they performed competitively on the English section of the national exam; at the same time, Camino Seguro’s own English Program gained support and funding. As a result of these factors, we were able to phase out our own operation, which was concluded as a success!
Our second, and current, project is in Aldea El Hato, a small village in the mountains above Antigua. Here, we work in the publicly-run school, La Escuela Rural Oficial Mixta José Ignacio Ortiz Vides. Despite being nominally funded and run by the government, the school lacked many basic requirements when we started working there in April 2010, in partnership with the owners of an eco-lodge in El Hato, Earth Lodge. In the years since, we have initiated many successful projects, and our ongoing programs continue to yield results.
how does it work?
To broaden opportunities for children in impoverished areas by providing health and educational resources and supporting community-led development efforts.
You may ask how teaching children English helps children from families who can't put more than one meal on the table per day. If so, take a look at our explanation here!
our core values
- Respect for local culture, knowledge and autonomy - Our role is to help, not control.
- Education - We believe in the power of knowledge as a key means of advancement.
- Fun learning-environment - Learning is best accomplished when it is enjoyed.
- Responsibility to community - All of us – our organization and our students – strive to be responsible citizens of both the local and the world communities.
- Health - A healthy environment and nutritious diet are essential to the dignity and advancement of all people.
- Adaptability - We set goals, evaluate our progress, and make changes if needed.
- Accountability - We are accountable both to the community and to our donors.
- Sustainability - Our work must be sustainable, and ultimately our role must be entirely passed to the community.
We strive to have the children enjoy our classes by including games, activities, and art projects, as well as cracking the books. We hope to unearth the joy and excitement that can come from education via creating a fun learning environment. We invite internationals and locals alike to join in the great uplift that comes from working with these children.
In addition, Las Manos recognizes that not all willing souls can be present participants, so we seek to provide those members of our little organization with chances to help in other ways, to remain ingrained in the fabric we are weaving. We publish a quarterly newsletter, conduct annual fund and material raisers, post pictures of the goings-on (where your contributions reach their fruition), and have volunteers blog their experiences to allow vicarious living. We can't all be teachers, we can't all be travelers, but that doesn't mean we don't all care. We want you all to be active and working parts of our NGO, our community, and our family.
The brass tacks
Ultimately, we love all forms of help: volunteering, spreading the word, email encouragement, inspirational songs, contributions of unusual talents, simply reading the newsletter, telling a friend, and mostly just finding away to be part of our team. We want you to own your membership and place at the table, to feel like Las Manos is yours, too, and belongs in your heart just as much as ours. We don't want any guilt trips to influence you, nor do we wish you to ever doubt that we appreciate all Las Manos participants, no matter what their contribution is.
That said, unfortunately, it does cost money to do this, an ugly blemish on our sunshiny faces. In order to create really good courses, we have to buy really good materials, as well as find and keep really good teachers to utilize those materials in the best way possible. Rather than using our finances on administrative costs, we funnel everything into providing the resources and staff for the children to directly benefit from, proficient and positive people with professional products in hand. By paying the teachers small stipend of sustenance, we can ensure that the teachers don't starve and that the children develop long-term relationships and have stability in the classroom.
Las Manos de Christine is a registered NGO in the United States, complete with official government granted status. We are set up to receive donations via PayPal and the old fashion way (by mailing a check or money order). We've made it easy for you - just follow this link!
our El Hato Team
Librarian and extra-curricular coordinator
Alejandra Natividad Shoc Coroxón
English teacher and volunteer coordinator
Student support teacher
Administration and Management
Chairman of the board
Allison Hand, Audrey Hand Thomas, Austin Hand, Briana Havey, Jeremy Hand, Leslie Hand Stolz, Peter Harben - you can find their bios here!