Founders Story:Manos Unidas Peru
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. Ten years later, Manos Unidas attends to approximately 75 children between 3-25 years old and manages a staff of 40 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 40 local professionals…”
Manos Unidas International
Manos Unidas Peru’s co-founder, Celeste Marion, founded Manos Unidas International in 2014 with the help of a her father, a CPA, and a few kind hearted volunteers. The intention was to deepen a fundraising support structure to allow Manos Unidas Peru to continue.
Celeste met Lawson Baker in 2014 in Cusco, Peru. He was a young finance/law guy who was in Peru to spread the ashes of his late wife at Macchu Picchu. On his journey, he wanted to meet some of the organizations he had raised funds for in her name. Manos Unidas Peru was one of those orgs.
“He was a young finance/law guy who was in Peru to spread the ashes of his late wife at Macchu Picchu.
Lawson and Celeste became great colleagues in Peru, launching the first young adult project “Phawarispa: a Dr. Cynthia project, named after his late wife.
Lawson was soon elected board chair of Manos Unidas International. He successfully built out a 10 person board and driven great impact for the organization.
Lawson has recently resigned (2018) as the Manos Unidas International board chair. He confidently led the growth and strength of the MUI board of directors driven by his personal committment to carry on the dream of his late wife Cynthia Caceres Baker. He will always be part of MUI’s history and success.
Manos Unidas International is now a solid non-profit with qualified professionals driving Manos Unidas Peru’s impact and the future of organizations to come.
“…Lawson and Celeste became great colleagues in Peru, launching the first young adult project “Phawarispa: a Dr. Cynthia project, named after his late wife…”