Our Story


Timeline


2007

2007

Manos Unidas opens its doors for the first time in Mercedes’ living room with only two students and a $3000 budget.

2008

2008

Manos Unidas grows to 15 students and one additional teacher.

2009

2009

Camino Nuevo opens doors with 30 students.

2010

2010

Manos Unidas continues to grow and now has at $34,000 budget with 60% of tuition being funded by donations.

2011

2011

Manos Unidas receives its first major grant from the Children of Peru Foundation.

2012

2012
  • Growth at Manos Unidas explodes with over 50 student beneficiaries including the launch of the Inclusion Program at two public schools.
  • Teachers receive specialized training to better address student needs (autism, significant disabilities, inclusion preparation, and young adult life and vocational training).
  • The Alma Children’s Education Foundation begins supporting Manos Unidas.

2013

2013

With 55 student beneficiaries and 24 professionals, Manos Unidas budget grows to $185,000 with the majority still being funded by donations to help the children most in need.

2014

2014
  • Pawarispa, a Dr. Cynthia Project, is launched as a life and vocational training program for students graduating from Camino Nuevo.
  • Manos Unidas International is formed in the U.S. as a 501(c)3 non-profit to support Manos Unidas Peru.

2015

2015
  • Manos Unidas Inclusive Education Project gains recognition of the Ministry of Education of Peru.
  • Teacher Training Specialization Program (autism education, significant disabilities, inclusion preparation, young adult functional education)
  • Major funding sources: student tuition, private donors, Alma Children’s Education Foundation, Children of Peru Foundation and the Cynthia Caceres Baker memorial fund

2016

2016
  • Pawarispa partners with its first business, Hotel Los Ninos, for student vocational training.
  • With three programs (Camino Nuevo, Inclusion, and Pawarispa), Manos Unidas now has over 70 students and 30 professionals.
  • Bungee provides Manos Unidas’ largest grant to date to support Autism program.

Founders Story


Mercedes Delgado (Cusco, Peru) and Celeste Marion (Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.) founded Manos Unidas Peru in August of 2008. Celeste arrived to Cusco, Peru in 2004 as a volunteer at a rural school for special needs children after six years of specializing in autism related education within the United States. There she met Mercedes, a local school teacher of ten years at the state school for special education in Cusco.

“… they were deeply united in their desire to create improved educational opportunities for the most isolated population of children…”

By combining their experience, knowledge and what few resources they had at the time, Mercedes and Celeste began Manos Unidas in Mercedes’ living room with 2 students as an afterschool tutoring program. Over a short time, their reputation of delivering quality education grew and more families were knocking at the door.

The two professionals persevered through many obstacles in order to create a highly successful regional program with the mission of including individuals with intellectual disabilities into the education system and workplaces within Cusco. Seven years later, Manos Unidas attends to approximately 75 children between 3-25 years old and manages a staff of 30 local professionals and focuses on three major areas: Quality student education, teacher training and parent outreach.

“…attends to approximately 75 children between 3-25 years old and manages a staff of 30 local professionals…”

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