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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
2018 Data for Ecuador at Large
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
Manna Project’s Response
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
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
Due to rapid economic development in recent years at our current site and Ecuador at large, MPI’s long-term partner communities have fortunately changed from highly underserved residents to mostly moderately served residents. We are adapting our programs and locations to proactively benefit the highly underserved.
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 and upper-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.
Due to rapid economic development in recent years at our current site and Ecuador at large, Manna Project’s long-term partner communities have fortunately changed from highly underserved residents to mostly moderately served residents. We are adapting our programs and locations to proactively benefit the highly underserved.
Current 2019-2020 programs focus 50% on English, 25% on other education, and 25% on health.
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, however, due to rapid changes in the community and MPI's limited resources, we paused these programs until we could conduct a needs assessment to determine how best to reach those who need these services the most. During the upcoming fiscal year, the Community Center hopes to begin once again offering professional development workshops, CV review hours, and provide a space for individuals to take professional head shots.
The Ecuador site has two programs centered around women. Women’s group meets informally on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in the Community Center to discuss life, family, and empowerment while doing handicrafts. Different women community members lead different classes teaching new crafts such as embroidery, 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 and Fellows work with local partner organization Hogar de la Madre Soltera, a shelter for teenage single mothers, to support with 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. The goal is to equip 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. Since the original funding has ended, we have continued to offer this much-needed course as "B2 Prep" to professionals and each session we award two scholarships to take the official exam. Over the past year, we have had a 100% success rate with our scholarship recipients.
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.
Ecuador Site Coordinator
Vanessa was born in Quito, Ecuador and graduated from UDLA (Universidad de las Américas) with a degree in Political Science and International Relations. She is passionate about working with the community, human rights and traveling. Vanessa’s goal is to create a positive impact in communities during vulnerable situations through the creation of programs that allow community members to develop in the areas they need. Vanessa considers herself an activist for the rights of women and minority groups. Her dream is to travel around the world and leave a mark on the places she visits. Vanessa speaks Spanish, English and Chinese. She is very grateful for the work that Manna does in her home country and is excited to create a much greater impact in Ecuador.
Andie holds qualifications in Sociology, Social Research, Community Education, Community Development and TESOL. She has worked in Scotland, England, USA, Australia and Nicaragua in youth work, community development, adult education, teaching, social enterprise and international development. In 2011, Andie joined Northumbria University as a graduate tutor in Childhood and Youth Studies, and in 2017 completed her PhD in community development. In 2016 she became a full-time lecturer at Northumbria. From August 2019 to August 2020 Andie will be working with Manna in Ecuador as their Director for Program Research and Development.
Mary Clare was born and raised just outside of Chicago, IL and studied Community Health and Health Education as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois. She recently completed her MPH at the University of Queensland in Australia with a focus in global health. She is passionate about improving people’s access to formal health services and reducing health and educational attainment disparities for marginalized groups. Mary Clare is particularly interested in how culture, policy, and social determinants intersect and influence population health and development. She has studied and worked in health care systems in the United States, Peru, Costa Rica, Thailand, Laos, and Australia. Mary Clare is very excited to be back in South America as a new member of MPI Ecuador.
Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Emily has traveled across five continents, but her heart holds a special place for Ecuador. A summer internship in Cuenca opened her eyes to the country’s beautiful landscapes and the warmth of Ecuadorian hospitality. She is thrilled to return to Ecuador this year as a Community Development Fellow with MPI where she will have the opportunity to learn through teaching and program development. A recent graduate of the University of Richmond, Emily holds a degree in Spanish & International Studies. She has studied and worked in community organizations in Spain, Morocco, Chile, & Costa Rica. In her free time, Emily enjoys running, hiking, playing guitar, creative writing, and taking spontaneous weekend trips.
Madeline joins MPI Ecuador as a Program Director from September 2019 to March 2020, taking time off of her job as a management consultant to explore her passions for community development and individual empowerment. She is excited to build on her experiences within her own community of Minneapolis, Minnesota to contribute to the strength and growth of communities around the world and to connect with the individuals within those communities. Ecuador and Latin America hold a special place in Madeline's heart, having grown up participating in a Spanish Immersion program since the age of five and traveling around the world to different Spanish speaking nations.
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.