A benefit event organized to raise funds for the Catholic organization Mano Amiga (“Friendly Hand”) brought in an impressive $600,000 on June 10. The funds will be used for elementary schools in poor areas of Latin America.
The gala dinner took place at the Manhattan Hotel Plaza and was organized by the World Education and Development Fund, an association dedicated to raising money for Mano Amiga. The ceremony honored the work of businessman Carlos Slim Helu and his efforts to promote education in Latin America
“There is saying that goes, we must leave a better world for our children, but I think we must leave better children for our world,” said Slim, who was accompanied his wife and six children.
Created in 1963 by the Legionaries of Christ, the Mano Amiga foundation operates schools in the poorest areas of Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador and Argentina, providing education to more than 18,000 children and adolescents
The director of the World Education and Development Fund, Luanne Zurlo, thanked Slim for his financial support for Mano Amigo throughout the years.
In a recent article published by the National Catholic Reporter, Zurlo recalled that the first Mano Amiga school was founded in Naucalpan, Mexico. The first students had to wrap their shoes in plastic bags to keep from wearing them out on the dirt road that lead to the facility.
According to Zurlo, Mano Amiga has contributed to the economic development of Naucalpan, providing education to young people. The schools provide education to the poor until to complete their studies, thus helping them to gain better jobs. As a result more businesses are created in Naucalpan and thus more jobs.
This model has been successfully repeated in various countries. According to Zurlo, less than one-fourth of Mexican adults have finished high school, but more than 90% of Mano Amiga students make it to graduation.
Each Mano Amiga school has a chapel where students can pray and receive the sacraments. Since 2000, one Mano Amiga school in Monterrey has seen one or two vocations to the priesthood or religious life per year.