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Population: 18.6 Million | CAPITAL: QUITO
Ecuador hums with life from its cities to its bountiful, ever-changing landscapes. The Equator, western coastal lowlands, eastern jungles of the Amazon, highlands and Galapagos Islands are an outdoor adventure lover’s dream. Though the smallest Andean nation, it is home to over 20,000 species of plants, 1,500 different birds and more than 300 mammals. Visitors are charmed by friendly and fun-loving locals. Ecuador is truly an exotic destination, known throughout the region as a microcosm of South America.
Despite its abundant natural and human resources, Ecuador’s potential for growth has been limited by unpredictable economic and political factors. Approximately 30% of Ecuadorians live in conditions of poverty, and another 24% in extreme poverty with a stunting rate similar to those reported by several Sub-Saharan nations. The poor are often the last to receive basic education, sanitation and utility coverage.
COMMUNITY MEMBERS directly benefited
Increase in Adult Class Enrollment
Hours served by volunteers last year
- 69% of women are underemployed
- Overall underemployment is 23%
- 11.1% of students drop-out of primary education
- 34,550 illiterate youths
- 58.9% illiterate female adults
- 12.1% undernourishment rate
- 52.8% of the population is overweight, and 18% obese
- 50% females drop out after primary Education
- Adult English courses and Conversation Club
- Children’s reading programs
- Children’s Wellness Programs (Nutrition, Cooking and Activity)
- Adult Nutrition classes
- Children's English courses
- Work with local hospitals and health professionals
- Computation Courses
- Computer lab with homework help hours
- Community Center with library and game room
- Women's group
- Working with Community Partners including Women's Shelter, Water Therapy for Disabled Children, and Local high school English
The Chillos Valley
The Chillos Valley is home to some of the greatest wealth disparity in the region. A diverse population of 150,000 shares close quarters; middle-class professionals live beside impoverished rural farmers. The cycle of poverty is reinforced as those who need it most are denied quality education, basic medical care, sanitation and utility coverage. Within this environment, our work stems from the belief that communities are equipped with a diverse range of skills and strengths. Our programs support local institutions and initiatives, build networks to connect individuals with resources, and empower individuals to thrive as leaders for a better future.
Rumiloma has a high incidence of diet-based ailments, food-borne illnesses and malnutrition. Cooking and Nutrition class impacts families by teaching adults how food powers the body. Participants practice creative meal planning and learn how to make healthy choices on a small income. These practices help prevent onset of diabetes, obesity and malnutrition.
English fluency opens a world of opportunities in Ecuador, where English education is too expensive for the low-income communities who need it most. Manna Project’s high quality, affordable English classes help students thrive. Small class sizes, strong student/teacher relationships and supplemental practice sessions result in high proficiency. Class participants gain self-confidence and sharpened mental acuity, and many graduate go on to obtain well-paying jobs. Similarly, the Ecuador site partners with local University ESPE to provide English speaking classes once a week, and provides pronunciation help and encourages conversation. On occasion the site also works with the United Nations Peacekeeping Units to provide conversation classes.
Few schools offer comprehensive English language tuition. Where classes do exist, subject material is frequently incorrect. Private English education is expensive and out of reach for low-income families, yet English fluency is a valuable skill in Ecuador’s job market. MPI Ecuador meets the huge demand for high-quality, affordable English language instruction from native-speaking teachers.
Ecuador’s stunting rate is similar to those of Sub-Saharan countries with critical food shortages. The problem in this area is not a lack of food, but the consumption of nutritionally insufficient food. Children's Cooking and Nutrition teaches students to meet the basic nutritional requirements of their bodies. Similarly, weekly Children's exercise hours provide kids with structured methods to release energy and stay active in a time when video and computer games tend to take preference. Workshops enable children to recognize healthy food and make positive choices.
Each week the Community Center hosts various kids programming activities. These are frequently changing due to community and Program Director interest, but include weekly Movie Night, Chess Club, Craft Hours and Reading Hours. These programs provide kids the chance to think critically and be creative while executing activities which stimulate their brains.
The Chillos Valley is home to some of the greatest wealth disparity in the region. Many lack basic education, sanitation, and utility coverage. At Manna Project's Community Center, kids can play, learn and read; teens can play video games, watch movies, read and hang out; and adults can pursue continued education through interactive workshops and internet access. Our Community Center also has a computer lab with laptops for English assistance as well as homework help. The Community Center partners with local universities to bring tutors to our location and help better the education of the children in our community. Similarly, there is a game room for kids to use with the supervision of Program Directors which includes ping pong, foosball and a wii.
Many community members have reported under or unemployment. Therefore, in an attempt to combat the difficulties in finding a job, the Community Center hopes to beign professional development workshops, CV review hours, and provide a space for individuals to take professional headshots. While this program is still in the beginning stages, it has potential to benefit many community members.
The Ecuador site has two programs centered around Women. Women’s group mets on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in the Community Center to discuss life, family, and empowerment while doing handicrafts. The women have learned how to make crafts to be sold for income, encouraging personal economic sustainability. Different women lead different classes teaching new crafts such as scarves, needlepoint, bracelet making, and much more. This core group of women are important participants in our community and help support in various ways. Similarly Program Directors work with local partner organization Hogar de la Madre Soltera, a teenage women’s shelter, to encourage weekly homework study, conflict resolution and female empowerment. Women’s programs are incredibly important in Ecuador, as statistics show.
Multiple studies have shown that children and adults who read do better in school or work. Reading reduces stress, increases focus, and improves analytical thinking, vocabulary, memory and writing skills. Manna Project's library is the first of its kind in the Chillos Valley and has a full range of books, games, puzzles and other intellectually stimulating activities for all ages.
The Teacher Empowerment and Advancement of Children's English Sangolqui (TEACHES) Project was developed as a resource for aspiring and current Ecuadorian teachers. TEACHES equips participants to succeed in the classroom and in their English language skills through preparation for the FCE B2 certification. Passing the B2 exam is required to teach English in public institutions in Ecuador.
MPI works with two public schools in Chillos Valley which lack access to needed educational resources. MPI's partnership with the schools focuses on health and nutrition education, English communication, and youth development. This relatonship extends to MPI's community center where these students can access a safe place to complete homework, hang out with friends, and have access to mentorship programs. MPI's current public school partners include Unidad Educativa Abelardo Flores and Unidad Educativa JM Jijon Caamaño Y Flores.
The Ecuador site partners with local nonprofit Antorcha de la Vida which provides education in the form of horse and water therapy for children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities. Manna Ecuador partners with Antorcha de la Vida to assist in these programs, providing extra hands and support in an area which is much needed in Ecuador.
Ecuador Country Director
Born in Haiti, Deborah has over 16 years’ experience in international development and nonprofits in the US, Latin America and the Caribbean. She is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Haitian Creole and has recently began learning Italian. Throughout her career, Deborah has learned that the best way to help people and communities is to first understand their hopes and dreams; hence intercultural communications is her most developed skill set. Deborah holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Economic Development from Sonoma State University and a Master’s of Science in Administration from the University of West Florida.
Yeimmy serves in a variety of roles at Manna Project International's Ecuador site. She is the Co-Chair of the organization's family advisory committee, coordinator of a women's group, as well as frequently teaches workshops for women and children at MPI's community center. Yeimmy and her daughter both participate in MPI's English classes as well as adult and kids cooking classes. Yeimmy loves organizing communities and has previous experience in the field.
Adriana is an English Teacher at a local high school and is the Co-Chair of MPI's family advisory committee. Her two daughters and her husband participate in English classes given at the MPI community center. Adriana has been a host mother to MPI's Program Directors and loves being part of the team to do helpful and meaningful work. Adriana also teaches MPI's Kids English Club and really appreciates the opportunities the organization has provided for her and her family.
University of Virginia '17, Finance and Management
Annie Borgeson grew up in Wyckoff, New Jersey about 30 minutes outside New York City. She graduated in May 2017 from the University of Virginia with a degree in Finance & Management and a minor in Psychology. After being involved in a club on campus that fundraised for health and education programs throughout Nicaragua and traveling there three times, she knew she wanted to serve with a nonprofit long term in a Latin American country. She is excited to learn, grow, and create relationships with Manna's community in Ecuador. In her free time, Annie enjoys being outdoors- swimming, kayaking, hiking (you name it!), listening to live music, and spending time with family & friends.
Villanova University '17, Psychology
Jennifer grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts. She graduated from Villanova University in 2017 with a degree in Psychology. She had taken Spanish in school so during her spring semester junior year she decided to study abroad in Spain. It was a great experience and she learned she had a love for learning about other cultures and wanted to continue improving her Spanish. After graduating Jennifer didn’t know what she wanted to do so decided to take a gap year. She choose Manna Project because in addition to being able to improve her Spanish she loved the idea that with the holistic approach she will be working in different fields and exposed to far more.
Montana State University ‘17, Biological Sciences and Latin American Studies
Brenna grew up in Billings, Montana and graduated from Montana State University with a double major in Biological Sciences and Latin American Studies in December of 2017. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Brenna enjoyed teaching Spanish in local elementary schools and English to migrant workers in her community. Through the relationships she made with the families she taught, Brenna knew she wanted to work with an international nonprofit after graduation. Brenna is passionate about MPI Ecuador's focus on education for both children and adults and its close ties to the local community. She is also excited about the opportunity to improve her Spanish skills! In her spare time, Brenna enjoys exploring anything outdoors and spending quality time with friends and family.
North Carolina State University ‘17, Biomedical Engineering
Gaby grew up in Memphis, TN. She graduated in May 2017 with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from North Carolina State University. After traveling to Ecuador last year to volunteer with a nonprofit, she knew she wanted to return and work in the nonprofit field for a longer duration. She felt drawn to MPI because of its efforts to establish authentic relationships with the community and work toward sustainable change. In Gaby’s spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, and relaxing with friends and family. She hopes to attend medical school in the future.
Northeastern University ‘19, Political Science and Spanish
Tori grew up in Hingham, MA, a suburb outside of Boston. In May 2019, she will graduate from Northeastern University with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. Tori is passionate about serving her communities, having volunteered with organizations that support health education, academic achievement, and elder engagement in the Boston area. This love for community development inspired her to join Manna. She also enjoys exploring new cultures and forging friendships with people from a variety of different backgrounds. She has travelled to many different countries, including Spain, Japan, and China, but this is her first time in South America!
University of California ‘15, Political Science and Psychology
Kelly grew up in Oakland, California. She graduated from the University of California, Davis in 2015 with a double major in Political Science and Psychology. Kelly has always loved the Spanish language and is passionate about equality in education and serving communities. However, it wasn't until teaching in Japan that Kelly discovered an interest for international education and development. Kelly is excited to join Manna's team in Ecuador to support, engage with, and learn from the local community. In her spare time, Kelly enjoys hiking, watching sports, and discussing public policy.