Manos Abiertas

Manos Abiertas, or Open Hands is an after school program for children and adolescents ages 3 and up in the community of Veintiocho de Agosto. Up until the spring of 2004, this community was the local dump site for all of Durán. Many children of this community live in overcrowded one room cane houses, and have no space or resources to complete basic homework assignments, or to safely recreate. Manos Abiertas began in the spring of 2005 to offer these children a safe space to do homework, learn, play, and be kids. Living in and around a former trash dump in itself makes life difficult for the citizens of Ventiocho, let alone the problems that come with it. Malnutrition, illiteracy, and unemployment plague this community. In order to combat these challenges, Manos opens its doors in the afternoon when school is finished.

Rostro de Cristo volunteers, together with Ecuadorian volunteers and staff work to encourage the children to be intellectual, healthy, conscientious and loving citizens by promoting the themes of friendship, responsibility, respect, and trustworthiness. As a program we seek to compliment what the children learn in school by expanding their critical thinking skills by having the children solve problems, express themselves and challenge themselves and others. After our formal activity time, the children are challenged to take the same themes of respect and responsibility, and apply them to a recreational setting. Children can play soccer, work together on puzzles, create art projects, or read a book. Most importantly, the children grow together as they have this opportunity to enjoy being a kid in a clean and safe environment. The children also love to sing and tell you about their theme song which bears the program’s name. In this, they will tell you “how lucky we are if our hands are always open and our hearts are without barriers”.

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