Our History - The Foundation
Amigos has always been about more than just language classes. Read on and find out a little more about our history. The official name of our organization was Nuevo Día del Cusco (NDDC), but we like to call it The Amigos Foundation. Within The Amigos Foundation, exists our Youth Program.
The Amigos Foundation was founded in April 2000, with the objective to give education, food, and host any students in emergency if necessary, as stated in our constitution. Jesus and his friend Finn Byrum, a Danish photojournalist who was immediately taken with the plight of the street children in Cusco agreed to help Jesús with his project. The two created an official Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) named Nuevo Dia del Cusco Foundation that would have its first project;
In 2002, the Amigos Foundation came into being. It began with a unique goal in mind; to become the first language school in Cusco to provide invaluable language skills, care and academic support to some of Cusco's most disadvantaged students.
The Youth Program
From 2002-2010, the school provided the children with the highest possible quality of education: the groups were small, the teachers highly qualified, and we aimed to give them the best learning materials available.
We provided the students with much more than just English instruction. We fed them on daily basis, providing them on Wednesdays for instance, with our freshly baked whole-wheat bread, avocado salad and papaya juice with milk. We worked to improve their interpersonal, physical and communication skills at all times, as well as in special Saturday workshops. We also provided tutoring assistance with their regular high school, and offered a private doctor when needed.
The children come from San Sebastián, Ticatica, Margen Derecha and other impoverished areas around Cusco. They range in age from 13 to 18, most come from single-parent homes or live with other relatives. All of them have an intense desire to learn. In addition to the educational program, they are learning how to share, compromise and voice their feelings in a more constructive ways. They are learning how to think ahead, how to plan for the future and how to dream. Most importantly, they are not working on the streets anymore.
The program offered youth a much better chance of entering the university system or the workforce in Cusco. English is one of the university's most difficult prerequisites to fulfil for Cusco's poor and many of the best job opportunities in Cusco require an advanced level of English.
Finally, an important principle of The Amigos Foundation was that we did not believe in handouts, as they can have a negative effect on self-esteem. Therefore, we assigned small tasks to the students every day in order to improve their sense of responsibility and achievement, and empowering them to achieve success in their daily lives. In 2007, we decided to expand the Youth Program by creating a VIP program. We also opened the Amigos Open Door Program
Amigos Open Door Program (ODP) was an educational program for disadvantaged young people from Cusco. The new program invited anyone in need wishing to learn English for free, to complete an intake interview to be considered. Amigos chose its candidates for the ODP, based on need, motivation and discipline.
As our mission statement mentions, we aimed to provide education to young people in Cusco who are in need of help. The open door policy applied to people who meet the following criteria:
- Recipients must be between 12 and 22 years of age.
- Be living in or around the Cusco area.
- Be able to prove that they or their caretakers are incapable of affording to get help in another way.
- Show strong motivation to learn.
- Show reasonable aptitude to learn (intelligence and Spanish level).
- Be respectful towards other people and property.
- Declare the intention to stay in Cusco for at least one year.
- Commit themselves to investing in our project 10% of the time we invest in them (for every 10 hours of class, they should work 1 hour for us).