Helps Change the Ideology of the Communities

Helps Change the Ideology of the Communities

Colombia has population of 46 million people. 27.8% of those people live under the poverty line in dire situations. Although the country has roots in Catholic it is not prevailing ideology of the country. The government is doing everything in its power to increase security and stop drug trafficking and gang violence. Poor cities still suffer under this oppression though. Providing an education to poor child in impoverished area like the two Mano Amiga schools in Colombia helps change the ideology of the communities and helps children choose career paths other than corruption and violence.

Providing an Education to Impoverished Area

Providing an Education to Impoverished Area

Mano Amiga Bello

Students: 667
Founded: 1995
Location: Medellín, Colombia

Medellín, Colombia has dark history of gang violence. The repercussions of this violence are still felt today, but Mano Amiga Bello is a bacon of hope in the midst of great difficulty.

Mano Amiga Bello opened in 1995, during the hight of gang violence. In the beginning, there were 30 students who attended class in a small home. Soon, teachers, students, parents, and neighbors started to help. They began building “their school” to counteract the indifferences and destruction that was created by the violence in Bello.

Today, Mano Amiga Bello is major education institution in the area. It serve 600 low-income students, giving hope to impoverished families who can’t afford school otherwise.

Mano Amiga Zipaquirá

Students: 120
Founded: 2011
Location: Zipaquirá, Colombia

Mano Amiga Zipaquirá is located in a rural area in outskirts of Bogota. Their first classroom had only 20 students but they hope to one day have 900 students attend the school.

Today, Mano Amiga Zipaquirá is growing at a rapid rate. Out of nearly 11,000 residents, only 3,000 or so have some level of education. Visit the Updates tab to learn more about new efforts to support Mano Amiga Zipaquirá growth.


  • To provide underprivileged children with a quality education and values
  • Generate in the population in need for improvement, based on a solid and comprehensive formation, guided by Catholic values​​
  • Reaching out to the families involved
  • Provide educational support from preschool through technical education
  • Participation of companies in the process, promoting solidarity and sense of social responsibility

You can help the students of Mano Amiga Colombia reach their full potential when you give now. From structural repairs like broken AC units, to classroom basics like desks and school supplies, and even scholarships to help families cover tuition, you can make a huge difference!

The Need

In Colombia, one out of four parents and caregivers of Mano Amiga students at the Bello location have lost their jobs. The situation is even worse at the Zipaquira school. Rural areas in Colombia are historically affected by high unemployment and scarce opportunities. Both campuses have been hit-hard by job losses, food shortages, suspension of agricultural production, and limited access to vital medical services.



My name is Alejandro. I’m 16 years old and a senior high school student at Mano Amiga Bello School. I live with my parents in a house very close to my school. I have an older brother studying to become a deacon at the Legionaries of Christ vocational center at Rionegro.

Thanks to my mother, who works every day as a volunteer at the school canteen, I can access two meals, breakfast and lunch. She works very hard to have an income and makes gift boxes that she sells at crafts markets at Bello.

My father works as a welder, and he is the one who is responsible for the household and education expenses.

I like every space at Mano Amiga, and the school became my favorite place because I can share with schoolmates, talk with other people and forget, for a moment, the difficulties at home.

I’m grateful to my school because I have the opportunity to learn and explore my potential through didactic tools and activities, even though I have some learning problems. Teachers help me to overcome these problems and advance in my process.

I like the art class because I can express many feelings through art. I’m a person with difficulties communicating and controlling my emotions, so I constantly look to make activities to allow me to be calm.

I enjoy listening to music, watching movies, and playing basketball. I’m currently participating in virtual classes on pastry, I have already learned many recipes, and I hope I can be a great chef in the future.



My name is Joseph. I’m 15 years old and a high school student at Mano Amiga Bello School. I live with my mother and sometimes my older brother, who is 22 years old, comes with us.

My mother cares for our neighbors’ children in our house to have some income because she is responsible for all our household expenses. Even though she is a hard-working woman.

I love spending time with my friends and schoolmates at my school, and many sports and ludic activities make me happy.

During my free time, I like to play football, do exercise and read.

My dream is to become a medical examiner, to change my life and my mother’s life. I want to buy a house, so my mother will not worry about paying the rent. I want to offer us a different life and enjoy many things we have not had the opportunity to do.

My favorite subject is Chemistry, the teacher teaches exciting topics, and it becomes better when we do activities in the laboratory. I like the English class and find it very interesting, but sometimes it isn’t easy for me; soon, I expect to take additional courses.

I’m an autonomous and persevering adolescent; nevertheless, I usually look for spaces that help me control the anxiety occasionated by challenging situations surrounding me.

Juan Esteban


My name is Juan Esteban. I´m a seven years old student from 2nd grade from Mano Amiga Bello. I live with my parents in a neighborhood close to the school. My mother prepares fruit pulp daily and sells it to local corner shops, and my father works at a mechanical workshop. Every night he arrives late because he helps my mom with deliveries she can´t make.

I love to play with my friends and go to church in my free time. When I grow up, I will be a Minister to guide people to God because I´m a Christian boy, and I want everyone could meet God.

I want to be an architect too, and build a house for my mother, but a big one where she can be happy; that´s my dream.

Of Mano Amiga, I love the green spaces and all the plants we can find. I like math and natural sciences classes because we learn many good topics, like how to care for nature and animals. This year I´m learning addition, subtraction, and multiplication.

In Spanish class, my performance is not good. I like Spanish the subject the least because we must write and read extended books.

The person I love the most is my mother; she is very affectionate, helps me, and is the best mom in the entire world.



My name is Sebastian. I’m 13 years old and in eighth grade at Mano Amiga Bello school.

I live with my parents and my two sisters. My mother is very affectionate and is always caring for everyone at home. My father works as a salesman at a clothing manufacturing company and is a responsible man.

My biggest dream is to help my family and provide for them through sports; I participate in a soccer school at Mano Amiga facilities on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

My favorite subject is social science because I find history and ancient cultures exciting. The subject that I like the least is Biology because, for me, it is difficult to understand it.

At my school, I like the court and the way teachers make classes, and I particularly admire Mr. Walfran, the school principal, because he is educated and polite.

My grandmother is the person I love most because she always demonstrates love and affection.



My name is Sofía. I’m 7 years old, I’m at second grade at Mano Amiga Bello school. I live with my parents. My mother sells catalog products to help with our household expenses, but at the same time, she can take me to school and care for me. She is affectionate and cooks terrific; she prepares the best mushroom sauce.

My father is calm and patient and loves me very much. He works at a local supermarket where he peels potatoes and fruits and carries bags.

At Mano Amiga school I like green spaces very much because it calms me down, also I love to spend time with my schoolmates because it makes me happy.

During my free time, I like to practice writing in italics, listen to anglo music and go out with my parents.

The best class and the one that I like most is English because I understand y already know how to spell many words in English.

My Spanish performance is not good because it is difficult for me to write in italics, but I’m doing my best to improve. My mother feels happy because the improved writing in italics allowed me to keep updated on my homework.

18 Scholarships for Children

January 2023

Thank you again for your generous support that has contributed significantly through 18 scholarships for children in Colombia.



My name is Samuel, and I’m 15 years old and in eighth grade at the Mano Amiga Bello School. I live with my mother, grandmother, and grandfather.

Unfortunately, my brother, who was the eldest, was murdered by criminal gangs in Bello at the age of 16. It is one of the reasons why I want to improve myself professionally and be a source of pride for him, wherever he is.

My mother works as a quality assistant. She is a very hard-working woman, which is why she is the person I admire the most. My grandparents have always been attentive, and they were the ones who picked me up at school when I was younger. They are excellent support for my mother and me.

I like all the spaces at the school, especially the green areas. I want to finish my high school studies here at Mano Amiga because my brother always wanted me to educate myself in this school since this is a healthy and protective environment for children.

The people here are very kind, especially the teacher Alberto who teaches Chemistry and Biology subjects. He has become my favorite teacher. I like Biology subject, but the one that generates the most difficulty for me is the Arts.

In my spare time, I play soccer, I listen to music, and this year I had the opportunity to do the course “Cooking for All” at school in the second school semester. It was an excellent experience, and we learned to work as a team while learning new recipes.

I want to become an excellent Mechanical Engineer to support my mother financially, so she can stop working.

Ana Isabel


My name is Ana Isabel, and I am 15 years old and in ninth grade at the Mano Amiga Bello School. I live with my mom and dad in a house near the school; I have an older sister who is not with us.

My mom works as a medical laboratory assistant and is one of the people I love and respect. She gets up to work daily to help with household expenses. My dad works as an electrician but does not have employment and works informally.

I admire the patience and kindness of the Chaplains from Mano Amiga to support us in the situations that each student experiences within their reality. The school is a space full of values, and people work hard to create a better environment daily.

I’m grateful for the education I receive. I hope to prepare myself professionally because, in the future, I want to access more significant economic opportunities and better quality of life to support my family.

Ana Sofía


My name is Ana Sofia. I am 9 years old and in fourth grade at Mano Amiga. I live with my mom, dad, an older sister, and two puppies. My mom is a secretary, my dad works painting houses or other places that hired him, and my sister is in fifth grade.

The subject I like the most is Spanish because my teacher is a very good person and I love to read, and I also like Physical Education class. In my spare time, I enjoy playing with my friends from the neighborhood.

Growing up, I want to be a veterinarian because I like animals.

What I like the most about the school are the cheerful classmates and the court to practice sports.

Ana Paulina


Hello, my name is Ana Paulina. I have studied at Mano Amiga since Transition, and I love my school very much. I am 9 years old and in grade third. I live with my mother, a housewife, and my father, a worker at Fabricato. I also have an older sister who had to live with an aunt in Medellin to study.

My favorite subject is Spanish, and I love reading stories and learning new words. What I like the most about the school is the soccer field because there is so much space to practice the sports you want. I am very caring and like to be active and happy.

I enjoy playing the flute in my spare time, and I also like karate and all the sports I can play with my friends from the neighborhood.

I want to be a doctor to help people with illnesses and to help my grandmother when I grow up.



My name is Isabella. I am 11 years old, and I am in the 5th grade. I live with my mother, my father, and my pets, which are two puppies. My mom works in a warehouse, and my dad works as a delivery boy.

What I like most about school is sharing with my classmates and teachers. My favorite subjects are Arts and Physical Education. In my spare time, I used to draw and play with my two pets, Kyara and Dulce.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

I am a very cheerful, respectful, and kind person with all people.

Juan David


My name is Juan David, I am 9 years old and studying fourth grade of elementary school. I like to study and every day when I return from my school I eat, clean myself and start doing my homework right away, so I can play a little before is dark. I live with my grandparents, my mother and my aunt. In the weekends I go with my grandfather to sell “empanadas” in front of our house to help with the maintenance of the house, because my mother does not work at the moment because she is receiving a medical treatment that makes her very weak. My grandmother is who helps me with my food, and takes me to school.

My favorite sport is football and I play it at school. I am a fan of the Colombian football clubs

I am very grateful to study at Mano Amiga and with all the donors that make possible for me to receive this education.  In the future I would like to be a farmer because It is important to work the land and grow vegetables and fruits.



My name is Susana and I am 10 years old, and studying fourth grade at Mano Amiga School in Bello, Colombia. I live in a foster home and feel very fortunate because my new family has embraced me with love and I feel now this is my real family. I now have two sisters, a mom, dad and aunts. I study at Mano Amiga School in Bello, Colombia since first grade. I love my school because I have nice friends and my teachers are looking always after me so I can do well in my work and in my relationship with my friends. I love to read stories and my favorite time is when I go the library to do “story teller time”. I am very grateful to my school, teachers, my new family and to the donors that help with my studying, because when I grow up I just want to be a teacher and help other kids.

Raising Funds to Help Build an Additional Classroom

Spring 2019

Deacon Eric Gilhooly, LC, will soon be ordained to the priesthood! To celebrate this occasion, instead of gifts, Deacon Eric is raising funds to help Mano Amiga Zipaquirá build an additional classroom.

Celebrate Deacon Eric’s vocation and make a long-term impact for the children of Colombia!

Back to School Campaign Provides New Desks for Students

November 2017

A big thank you to all of you who gave to our Back to School campaign this year. You provided new desks for the little ones at Mano Amiga Bello! Check out the cute pictures in the image carousel below.

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