As many of you know, this past year has presented a unique set of challenges for Manos Unidas International. Our in-person programming was paused due to the pandemic, and volunteer trips to participate in our work in Peru were cancelled. However, as many things have gone online, it has given us the opportunity to adjust our programming and connect with new families. This June, we will be launching our Ayllu Online Learning Program pilot, which aims to improve learning outcomes for disabled children by providing their families with tools, resources, and training modules.
Allyu means community, and it is only fitting that this new project has a community of volunteers helping to launch it. At the beginning of May our volunteer team met (virtually) for the first time to get to know each other and the program. Their reasons for joining the Ayllu launch are really inspiring and we are so glad to have each of them on board.
Katie is a Master´s of Social Work student from Pennsylvania. She previously studied special education, and worked at our Camino Nuevo School in Peru for six months. It’s so great to have her working with us again.
Mallika has volunteered for years in the disability community, particularly with autistic children. She currently works for a company that supports autism programs in public schools around New England, but is excited to apply her knowledge in a new cultural context.
Shakira joins us from Toronto and has followed Manos Unidas for years. She was all set to come to Peru for two weeks to see our work firsthand when the Covid-19 pandemic caused borders to close, cancelling her trip. For the past six years she has run a company that connects disabled students and their families to resources to help them navigate high school and college. She is clearly an expert at connecting disabled students to the tools they need to succeed.
Elizabeth currently studies Global Politics with a focus on education policy in Chicago. Originally from Puerto Rico, she will be a huge asset thanks to her in-depth knowledge of Latinx culture and Spanish.
Beth is a returning volunteer. She first heard about Manos Unidas from a coworker while working in special education in Seattle. In 2020 she joined us at our Camino Nuevo School for what was supposed to be a three week volunteer trip. However, she suddenly found herself quarantined in Peru when borders shut down and the school closed due to Covid. Thankfully she was able to get on a humanitarian flight home after 11 days with the help of the US Embassy. She is now a graduate student based out of the Bay Area, and we’re excited she’s sharing her expertise with us for the Ayllu pilot.
We wouldn’t have this amazing team without the help of Joe Brazier, the Volunteer Coordinator on our Board of Directors. Joe worked in special education for many years, but first heard about Manos Unidas when Celeste presented at Microsoft, his current workplace. He has been supporting the organization ever since.
Manos Unidas has been working on this pilot behind the scenes for months, and we are so excited to finally see it launched. Make sure you stay tuned for more updates soon!