Donations used to make much needed changes to Manuel Duato

Fr. Ed O'Connell and Fr. John Boles extend a special thank you to those who have donated money to support the renovations of the Manuel Duato school for special needs children in Lima, Peru.

Work on the new cerebral palsy department has recently finished. Besides a new storeroom for equipment there are toilets for parents and staff.

Some of the money donated will be used to cover the patio behind the kitchen and set up benches and tables so that it can serve as a canteen. In this covered space staff will be able to serve the children their breakfasts and lunches. As a result of the pandemic, families of the children attending the school have been badly affected financially. The school are expecting, once they re-open, to have to provide many more meals to the children who are malnourished and hungry.

Fr. Ed O’Connell and Fr. John Boles would like to personally thank you our supporters and benefactors for your generous contributions to the society which will enable them to make these improvements to the school which supports many children living with disabilities in the poverty stricken areas of Lima.

With donations received from our supporters around the world, Columbans in Peru are looking forward to making some significant and much needed changes to the Manuel Duato special needs school in the capital, Lima.

Besides continuing to distribute emergency supplies to the parents of the children attending the school as the Covid crisis in Peru continues and deepens, your generous donations have helped to pay the outstanding costs of the now-completed storeroom and toilet block. Work will soon begin to extend the social worker’s office creating a new space for parents to meet with the social worker and other professionals.

Manuel Duato is a school for physically and intellectually challenged children and adolescents. The children attend school in the mornings, accompanied by their parents. Fr O’Connell is President of the Civic Association Fe y Esperanza which oversees the management of the school. It is the largest special needs school in Peru and was founded in 1976 by an Associate Priest working with the Columbans. The building is well constructed and well laid out. It has its own auditorium, playground, computer rooms and many other rooms for therapy and learning.

There are classes for deaf children, those suffering from autism, cerebral palsy and other cerebral disabilities. The children who attend the school range from moderately to severely disabled. They come from disadvantaged areas and the fees charged are minimal. The classes for the children include babies less than one year old through to kindergarten and into primary school. Lots of work is physical motion, physiotherapy, art and music. Having parents involved is central to the children’s development. What the parents learn in the various classes they continue at home. The emphasis is on life skills rather than academics. A life project is worked out for each child with his/her family. While the main responsibility falls on the mother and/or father it is very important that the whole family become involved.

The school is also involved in advocacy work at municipal and national levels to ensure that the right to a decent education for children with special needs is upheld and followed through.