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Having touched so many lives, De manos a manitas is a recently launched social programme led by Scandinavian Tobacco Group Canada that aims to increase literacy among employees and their families in the Dominican Republic.

Since the programme was implemented in July 2015, $28,000 (CAD) was donated to provide scholarships to 63 children of General Cigar Dominicana employees – a Group-owned tobacco-processing and cigar-manufacturing operation in the Dominican Republic.

De manos a manitas engages with local communities through access to education initiatives, such as paying tuition fees and providing primary school students with supplies and tools for academic success. To benefit from the programme, children must maintain academic and behavioural standards throughout the year.

The educational initiative has also impacted the lives of our Dominican employees.

Maribel Peña Martinez has worked for over eight years with General Cigar Dominicana as an assistant in the production area. Upon hearing of De manos a manitas, Martinez considered how her two children could benefit from such a programme.

“I enjoy working hard, doing a good job and providing for the basic needs of my family,” she says; “Participating in this programme makes me feel more committed to my son’s education and I am working more closely with him to keep up this important support.”

The fundraising initiative also helped Martinez cover the educational expenses of her daughter. “My whole family is grateful,” she says. “With the experience I gained through De Manos a manitas, now I also want my children to be enrolled in languages studies as I know this will bring more opportunities for them in the future.”

Roberto Alejando Caminero Brito,who has been with General Cigar Dominicana for 11 years working as a buncher, also experienced the positive ripple effects that resulted from participating in De manos a manitas.

“I believe that you have to work hard and, with time, you will be rewarded for your efforts,” Brito says. “The legacy I want for my three daughters is a good education; I wake up every day with the goal of earning more money to cover their education and participating in De Manos a manitas program is a very significant help for me.”

Considering the limited opportunities available in his community to provide educational support to children in the Dominican Republic, Brito was delighted that his family could benefit from the programme, both directly and indirectly.

“Since one of my daughters qualified for the scholarship, my life has turned around 180 degrees,” he says. “I used to observe my daughter studying, but now I give her more support and check if she has pending homework. I also help keep up my other daughters’ efforts in school – I now feel I have more responsibility and more connection to the education of all my daughters.”

Entirely funded by Scandinavian Tobacco Group Canada, De manos a manitas is managed in partnership with our handmade cigar manufacturer in the Dominican Republic.

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