Manos Amigas is an organisation in the Chimaltenango region of Guatemala that works with women and children who have been victims of violence or abandoned. This is the project to which Luca, our Wanderlust 2012 Guide of the Year, donated part of his bursary.
The centre hosts many women and their children fleeing violence or abandonment, allowing them a safe space to build their lives while benefiting from some of the health and education projects run by the organisation.
Among the many projects which the organisation runs for the local women are:
- Professional training courses in craftwork, which aim to provide the residents with the skills necessary to play an active part in the local economy of the region and to increase their self esteem, gain independence and provide for their children.
- Social-sanitary projects with the aim of contributing to the well-being of the mother and child, reducing infant mortality and that of mothers, improving the health of malnourished infants.
- Promoting free dental treatment for indigenous people from deprived areas - over 1000 local people have taken advantage of this scheme.
- Free medical treatment for the prevension of cervical cancer organized in collaboration with the Medical Center ‘San Andres Itzapa’.
- Promotion of organic farming in the rural areas of the Chimaltenango region, with the aim of encouraging sustainable farming practices and to reduce environmental pollution. In this project, women have been targeted in particular in order to give them a professional training and encourage them to grow vegetables and medicinal herbs in a healthy and environmentally friendly way so that their families can become self-sufficient and any surplus can be sold for extra income.
The organistaion is currently raising funds for:
- The purchasing of more land on which to build 40 houses for single mothers and children who are able to leave the Manos Amigas Center and be integrated in society.
- The construction of wells to provide drinking water.
- The setting up of craft workshops, a carpenters shop, a mechanic, a bakery and a sewing workshop at the centre.
- Occupational training to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds for the acquisition of manual skills corresponding to local needs.
We visit the Manos Amigas centre on all our trips between Mexico City and Antigua (and vice versa). We stay there for the night in their guest dormitories, meet the residents and volunteers and learn all about the work they do, with all proceeds from our stay going directly towards their projects.