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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
Computer lab with homework help hours
Community Center with library and game room
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 180,000 shares close quarters; middle-class professionals live beside impoverished rural farmers. The cycle of poverty is reinforced as those who need it most have difficulty accessing quality education, basic medical care and adequate 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 begin 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.
Volunteer Community Advisor & Host Family
Laura has more than 10 years of experience in Social Development Projects and has collaborated with Manna Project since 2008 in various aspects such as summer camps for kids, spanish classes, accommodation for volunteers in the Valley of Chillos, volunteer program in her garden organic besides to support with advising in programs and projects of the foundation. She is a certified Spanish teacher and holds a Masters in Business Administration and a postgraduate degree in Business Creation, Laura works as a freelancer in training and assistant to small businesses. Lastly, she manages a web-based business that encourages national and agro-ecological production known as, De la Mata a la Olla.
Volunteer Community Advisor & Host Family
The main interest of Alexandra is to contribute with good initiatives and improvement to the community. She strongly believes that is important to help to develop skills, customs, knowledge, values and good manners in society. She had implemented different initiatives, such as embroidery class and helping with some recipes in cooking class, even, she is used to helping with the day of inscription to the English course. She and her two children participate in these English classes, the same one that she recommends. Alexandra was a host mother of one volunteer of MPI. Also, she really likes to spend time with volunteers and learn about them and their culture of USA. She likes to share Ecuadorian culture and customs, like food, history, and museums. She has organized different trips with them to the center of the Quito city. She has collaborated in other foundations, always maintaining her spirit of humanity and respect for the values and customs of the people, which fills her with happiness and desire to continue helping.
Volunteer Community Advisor
Sonia has been an English teacher at the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas-ESPE for 15 years. Through her hard work and determination, MPI and ESPE will now be collaborating on a project that will provide academic support and reinforcement in Math, Language and literature, and English to middle schoolers in Centro Manna, as well as neighboring schools. The program will bring together local teachers, university students from Espe and Manna volunteers to address and enhance the academic needs of its young participants. Let´s always keep in mind that Education is the core of success and freedom.
UCLA '18, Human Biology and Society
Kate grew up in Santa Cruz, California. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in Human Biology and Society. Her mother grew up in Nicaragua and much of her extended family still lives there; thus Kate is strongly connected with this part of her heritage. She travels frequently to Nicaragua and has worked as a volunteer for an orphanage in Mexico. These experiences opened her eyes to the rampant poverty that affects much of Latin America. Her drive to learn about life in different Latin American nations and pursue grassroots efforts to improve the quality of life in such areas drew her to MPI. She particularly values Manna's emphasis on building lasting relationships with community members. In her spare time, Kate enjoys painting, hiking, meditating, and trying new foods. She plans to attend law school after her time with MPI.
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 ’20, International Business and Spanish
Abigale is originally from Seattle, WA. In May of 2020, she will graduate from Northeastern University in Boston with a degree in International Business and Spanish with a focus on Social Entrepreneurship and Food Systems Sustainability. Abigale is passionate about social change and sustainability, having worked previously with organizations in the US and abroad that focus on rural community development, sustainable consumption, and issues of urban homelessness. Abigale loves to travel and apply her passions abroad, having most recently spent time working and studying in India and Mexico. In her spare time, Abigale loves to cook, spend time with friends, and explore new places!
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.
Urban Youth Development Volunteer, Peace Corps Ecuador
Coppin State University '15, Global Studies
Imhotep was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He's currently serving as an Urban Youth Development Volunteer with Peace Corps Ecuador's Youth & Families Program. Prior to serving at Manna Project, Imhotep served at Casa de la Niñez #2 working with adolescent boys who have had challenges with drug addiction and experience living in the streets. Prior to his service in Ecuador, Imhotep served as a program manager for Concerned Black Men National's CBM CARES® National Mentoring Initiative where he had an opportunity to serve over 100 middle school boys in West Baltimore. What motivates him to work in Public Service and Youth Development specifically, are the mentors he had growing up and the opportunities they provided that improved his overall quality of life. Imhotep's ultimate personal and career goal is to contribute to ending extreme poverty.
James Madison University ‘18, International Affairs
Pechta graduated from James Madison University and earned an International Affairs degree with a minor in economics. Her passion for human rights work has driven her to pursue roles inside and outside her community. She served as president within her university’s human rights organization, a devoted activist and coordinator, and life long student. She has a diverse background and identifies with three different countries. And although she has lived in three different countries, Manna will her first solo international trip. She aspires to be a global citizen and assist communities through communication and relationship-building. She is excited to share her knowledge and stories with the world, and she wants them to do the same. On her spare time she likes to try out different sports and activities, but she is currently involved in yoga, journaling and reading.