Thursday, June 25, 2015

Manos Unidas has released its newest video done by Alex Estrada, a Cusco videographer. Our accomplishments over the last seven years are impressive. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

First Open House for Phawarispa

PH student Irene takes orders from guests in Cafe Daria

Phawarispa, a Cynthia Caceres Baker Project, is the FIRST and ONLY vocational training center for young adults in the region of Cusco. Launched last April, Phawarispa is now attending to 20 students, preparing them for vocational placements within the community.

Guests purchase organic products from our garden
The center has its own Cafe to train students how to work in restaurants; a kitchen, a hotel room classrooms and a huge garden. All spaces are preparing students for future jobs.

Friday, April 10, Phawarispa held its first "Open House" for the community. Our students attended to customers in Cafe Daria, practiced hospitality skills with guests and sold vegetables from our organic garden. 

 Our students received more than 70 guests! Incredible!

Last year we ran a fundraising campaign to equip the new school and launch the program- THIS YEAR WE ARE RAISING FUNDS TO SHOW THE COMMUNITY OUR STUDENTS CAN WORK. If you donated in the past, its a great time to donate again- you can see your dollars at work and know they are changing lives. You can donate on the Crowdrise link to the right of this post. 

Its exciting to see such a grand dream finally come to life! 

-Celeste Marion
Co-Founder/Executive Director
Manos Unidas Peru/ Manos Unidas International

Thursday, March 26, 2015

World Autism Awareness Day

Manos Unidas is celebrating World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, in the city of Cusco together with hundreds of other friends, children, parents, professionals and colleagues in the region. 

We will be participating in the many events during the month of April including our first OPEN HOUSE for Phawarispa where our students will be attending to guests, serving them coffee and cake and selling organic products from our garden. We welcome the community to come and witness how young adults with disabilities CAN work and WILL BE active working members of society.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


A Personal Message from Manos Unidas International Board Chairman

The other day it hit me that I really, really hate thinking about fitting in with other people or [gasp] being average.  I take pride in not only thinking differently, but truly living differently.  I always want to be an outlier.  

Traveling to Peru last year, I was lucky enough to meet another outlier, Celeste Marion. Landing in Peru in 2004, I like to think Celeste went down there to volunteer her time, gain some hands on experience and frankly checkout a cool country.  Hit with brutal reality that special education is barely a thought in Peru let alone an afterthought, Celeste reacted differently than the average person.  Most people would have accepted that is a reality for all third world countries and returned home after finishing her volunteer stint.  Eleven years later, Celeste has spent almost a third of her life fighting tooth and nail for every student and each penny she needed to make Manos Unidas Peru what it is today.

Last September I flew to Seattle to join Manos Unidas' new 501(c)3, Manos Unidas International.  As the newly elected chairman of MUI, I am glad to say I fit in with Celeste and our new board.  She called me the other day and said was surprised how big Manos Unidas Peru had become and she did not know how it happened.  Laughing, I told her that she was the reason it got so big.  An outlier unwilling to accept the status quo, Celeste is now my favorite outlier.

Think you are an outlier?  We are recruiting outliers to join the MUI board.  We are 9.  I want 21.  Join us"

Lawson Baker
Board Chairman
Manos Unidas International  

Monday, January 26, 2015

99% Ride Visits Cusco, Donates to Phawarispa

Manos Unidas thanks the 99% ride for their donation! After an impressive visit to Manos Unidas by rider Dirk Spits in December, the foundation has decided to donate towards our latest program,  Phawarispa. The funds will help us with materials, utilities & important investments and repairs for our current school building.

The funds will be used throughout 2015 to ensure everything is working correctly and the students and teachers are able to learn and teach in a proper work environment.

99% RIDE does cycling expeditions around the world. They raise funds & awareness for children in need. They believe every child deserves an education. They believe everyone can share 1% of their time, money or knowledge. They inspire change. See their video here.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sponsor a Student Like Gabriel in 2015

Gabriel was one of our first students when we opened in Mercedes living room in 2007. He came to us on his mother’s back at 3 years old, she begged us to teach him to talk. He spent the first month in a hysterical state-screaming, turning over furniture and banging his head on the wall. He would only stop screaming for seconds when I blew bubbles. It took us months to teach him to sit in a chair.

His mother pulled him from our program 2 months later, claiming a public nurse told her her son was “fine”, he did not have Autism. Gabriel returned to us 6 months later, his mother was frantic for a solution for her son. Gabriel is a partial scholarship student.

He has excelled at Camino Nuevo since 2009. Our teachers spent hours working with his aggressive behavior, his obsessions, teaching him to communicate and finding his talents and abilities. Gabriel is now 10 years old. After years of dedicated education, Gabriel is able to do simple math sums, read at a first grade level, work independently, form sentences to communicate and is a flourishing artist.

Gabriel has spent 4 months in our innovative Inclusion Program, the first of its kind in the country of Peru. Funded by the Alma Childrens Education Foundation, our school Inclusion Program is now being recognized by the Peruvian Ministry of Education and has been considered for government funding.

In two years Gabriel will graduate into our newest program, Phawarispa, to learn transition skills for job training in the future. Phawaripsa, is the First and Only program in Peru to prepare young adults with disabilities for vocational placements in hotels, restaurants and horticulture. This second location, backed by two different funders, was opened in April of 2014.

This is just ONE story of 65. What if you were a part of Gabriel’s education? For as little as $25/month you can support students like Gabriel and the development of our programs, family support and teacher training.

Children like Gabriel have NO OTHER education alternative in Cusco. Please follow this link to subscribe today.Your sponsorship will be tax deductible.

Thank You for helping us change lives.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

UW PT Students Experience Peru

This September Manos Unidas welcomed 5 amazing physical therapy students from the University of Washington, Seattle, WA,  for a 2 week cultural-volunteer experience. This enthusiastic group of gals were accompanied by a licensed PT -UW alumni - and spent  2 weeks immersed in and educational setting. They worked directly with Amilcar, our physical therapist, visited students homes, spent a day in the Quechya speaking high communities, volunteered at an orphanage for disabled children, helped feed students, play with them and experience children with disabilities in an urban Andean setting - all in Spanish!

After full mornings at Manos Unidas, the gals had an opportunity to explore the great city of Cusco and its surrounding areas. The students are part of a University of Washington chapter called GROW within the Department of Rehabilitative Medicine, this was their first trip abroad. 

To read about this experience through their eyes, please visit their BLOG:

Manos Unidas extends its thanks to Corrin,  Catey, Jessica, Abbey and Liz for the incredible materials that were donated to the school and for Cheryl Kerfeld, assistant professor in the Dept of Rehabilitative medicine, for making this trip happen! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Inauguration of Phawarispa

Friday, September 5 2014 Manos Unidas inaugurated its newest program: Phawarispa - a Cynthia Carolina Caceres Baker project - the first and only transition and vocational training program for young adults with different abilities in the region of Cusco, Peru.

Friends and colleagues came to celebrate our opening with the ceremonial breaking of the clay pot of chica and cutting the red ribbon. Colleagues from municipalities, and disability organizations were present for the ceremony and tour of the new project.

The 1,500sq meter property consists of 12 rooms for students to prepare for careers in restaurants, dining rooms, housekeeping and self-sustaining garden products. The school also offers spaces for students to practice daily living skills like self-care, ironing and folding clothes as well as social spaces to spend time with peers and art/dance/theater.

The locations prime space is the cafe where students will learn to attend to guests, serve and maintain the space." Cafe Daria" will be open to the public on a daily basis.

Thank you to all those who attended this special event, may we be able to prepare many students in the region of Cusco. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MU Art at Peruvian Culture Event in NYC Sept 19

Manos Unidas has been invited to participate at an exclusive Peruvian Culture Event in New York City:

Jorge A. Meneses M. of  J. Meneses Group, Inc.
and the Consulate General of Peru  and the Commercial Office of Peru, in New York,
invite you to a special evening to rediscover Peruvian Culture

When: Friday, September 19th, 2014  from 6 pm to 9 pm
Where:  Metropolitan Building  44-01 11th Street, Long Island City – NY 11101

Come  enjoy live folk music and dance performance, organic food tasting and drinks, fashion–film & photo exhibit, live Peruvian-Flamenco experience. Dancing from 9pm till midnight

Manos Unidas will be raising funds by auctioning off incredible art pieces by Manos Unidas children and accepting donations. Celeste Marion, MU Executive Director, will be present at the event to meet and connect with friends and supporters. This event will launch the beginning of fundraising season for Manos Unidas in the US.

Please follow the link to purchase tickets in advance: 

Come out and enjoy a fabulous Peruvian evening!

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Manos Unidas launched its capital fundraising campaign for Phawarispa, the FIRST and ONLY WORK TRAINING PROGRAM for YOUNG ADULTS with SPECIAL NEEDS in Cusco, Peru, on April 8, 2014. Our goal was $15,000 to furnish the project and support with first years expenses. See our campaign video above.

Did we do it? We not only met our goal, but blew it out of the water! 82 donors across the globe from Seattle to Tennessee to Scotland helped us reach a total of $23,960! Those funds have been put to use as we finish furnishing the school and prepare for our big inauguration day in August.

Thank you to each and every one of you!

The campaign was sponsored by The Children of Peru Foundation and other anonymous donors in Memory of Dr. Cynthia Carolina Caceres Baker, who each offered a match for this campaign of up to $15,000.

Special thanks goes out to the McClelland Foundation for their generous support. Honorary thanks to the following donors and those who opted to name classrooms, garden spaces, the art room and cafe in their names:
Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou
Lawson Baker
Michelle Kunnen
Paul Hirz
Teri Taylor
Chicago Mercantile Exchange
Jeremy Lewno
Adam Dayan
Edgard Caceres
Debbie Rasiel
Mitch Hirz
Suzan Hirz
Paul Thomlinson
James Jones
Lyndsey Taylor
Linda Szeto and Daniel Duke
Greg Schmidt and Family
Anonymous friends with Bigg Hearts

Stay tuned for pictures from our big inauguration day!