The founders of El Manguaré

The Asociación Civil ONGD El Manguaré in Iquitos Peru was established to achieve the objectives of the founders and the Dutch Foundation. Meet the founders of El Manugaré. 

Founders of the Asociación Civil ONGD El Manguaré:

MFounder Mariëlle Pepelsariëlle Pepels:elementary and special education teacher, has lived in Iquitos since 2006. Formerly in charge of the education of the children from the Children’s home, “Arco Iris”, in Iquitos, she also has worked on the establishment of an efficient education system in local schools outside of the Children’s Home.

Founder Yolanthe van de GraaffYolanthe van de Graaff:developmental psychologist, has lived in Iquitos since 2000 and was, for more than six years, director of the “Arco Iris” Children’s Home in Iquitos.


DCo-founder David Cubasavid Cubas Encinas:local public administrator, working at the DREL (local coordinating organization). Co-founder of El Manguaré.


History of El Manguaré

In the years that Yolanthe and Mariëlle worked at the children’s home “Arco Iris”, it became clear that the education system in Iquitos is failing many children, and often children have to depend entirely on the support they receive at home. Many schools have absolutely nothing in the way of teaching materials, teachers tend to drone on and are totally unaware of the level of their students. Mainly the teachers have the students merely copy from the chalkboard and expect the kids to learn at home (with only the help of their often illiterate parents). In response to this situation, the children’s home launched a teaching project, and the teachers from the local school were invited to participate.

The project brought great advances in the academic performance of the children from the children’s home. As a result, Mariélle and Yolanthe decided that more children of Iquitos should be given the benefits of this program; starting with the other students of the school where the children of Arco Iris attended.

Teaching skills

This school opened its doors and gave us access to observe and subsequently make suggestions and implement a new way of teaching. This new way of teaching is more positive, more interactive, and less dependent on the often highly unstable domestic situation of the children. At the same time the first steps were taken to develop, in collaboration with the teachers of the school, language and mathematics books and other educational materials.

In the first two years that Mariëlle and Yolanthe ran the school they helped improve the quality of education, and learned a lot themselves. With this additional knowledge, in late 2009 they decided to fully dedicate themselves to improving the quality of education in schools in other disadvantaged areas of Iquitos, hoping to give the children of Iquitos a better chance at a successful future.

Thus, the education quality improvement program, El Manguaré (a drum used by jungle tribes to communicate with each other), was born. The other programs of El Manguaré are an outgrowth of the educational program. These programs have improved poor and disadvantaged children’s ability to access education and has improved their preparation for school, all of which has resulted in a reduction in the percentage of students who do not finish primary school.

Read more about the projects that El Manguaré runs at this moment.