Capital: Quito | Population: 15.9 Million
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
- Rural farmers live on less than $1.00 a day
- Underemployment is 52.5%
- 29% of children under 5 are malnourished
- Limited access to cognitive development resources
- 6% of children ages 5-14 working as laborers
- 53% of girls do not attend secondary school
- South America’s highest deforestation rate
- 1 doctor for every 675 people
- 6 out of 10 women affected by gender violence
- 40% live on less than $2.00 a day
- 24% of children drop out of school before grade 5
- 16.5% of births are to mothers aged 15-19
- Adult Cooking and Nutrition
- Adult English
- Children’s Cooking and Nutrition
- Children’s Art
- Children’s English
- Education Global Access Program (E-Gap)
- Environmental Health
- Exercise and Wellness
- Library and Community Center
- Preventative Health Center
- Small Business Development
- Teen Center
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.
You Can Make A Difference
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.
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. Workshops enable children to recognize healthy food and make positive choices.
Many agrarian households in Ecuador live on less than $4 USD/day and have little money to spend on the extracurricular development of their children. Children’s Art provides a free opportunity for underprivileged children to express themselves creatively. Through guided projects as well as unstructured class time, children develop the skills that promote lifelong adaptability.
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.
Partner organization E-Gap works with vulnerable populations around the world to help them access high quality education and ensure a successful future. Our Blended Education 2.0 classes will start this summer in Rumiloma, Ecuador to help at-risk students gain vital job skills, improve their technology skills, and become entrepreneurs in their own communities. We are excited to be working together to change the lives of our students! Learn more about E-Gap at www.education-gap.com/home.html
Ecuador is a geographically beautiful, diverse country that is home to over 20,000 species of plants and more than 300 mammals. This bountiful variety is threatened by the worst environmental record and highest deforestation rate in South America. Environmental education helps children understand the importance of reducing pollution, littering and deforestation for personal health while promoting a healthier future for Ecuador.
The community of Rumiloma has a high incidence of obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Our co-ed Exercise Program promotes a healthy lifestyle through kickboxing, weight training, yoga, dance, aerobics and an annual 5K. Participants report improved mood, reduced stress, better sleep, less anxiety and increased confidence.
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.
Ecuador has an urgent need for knowledge on nutrition and disease prevention. The Preventative Health Center provides access to resources for mental health, birth control, disease prevention, management and general wellbeing. The Center features lectures from local experts, monthly group discussions, health fairs and immunization days. Ecuadorian public schools do not teach health or sex education; many young people visit the center seeking information.
Though Ecuador's economy is flourishing, the poorest sector of the population is unable to take part in the growth due to limited resources and education. The Small Business Development Program provides basic professional skills in business development, accounting and money management. Participants have access to resources to develop and implement specific, individualized strategies for success.
The Teen Center is a safe, dynamic drug- and alcohol-free zone exclusively for teens ages 12-19. Each month the Teen Center serves a core group of 50+ teens from underprivileged communities in the Chillos Valley. Participants in challenging circumstances find a listening ear, homework help, movie nights and outings.
The Teacher Empowerment and Advancement of Children's English Sangolqui (TEACHES) Project was developed as a resource for aspiring and current Ecuadorian teachers struggling to understand their curriculum. TEACHES equips participants to succeed in the classroom through 100 hours of classroom instruction, one-on-one tutoring, observed classroom teaching and TEFL certification. When teachers have a better understanding of course material, underprivileged Ecuadorian children can be guided to English proficiency and experience increased wellbeing through future economic advancement. MPI is currently seeking funding for The TEACHES pilot program.
Ecuador Country Director
Nancy served as a Peace Corps Volunteer and Volunteer Coordinator in Ecuador from 1999-2001 after graduating from Washington State University with a BS in Animal Sciences. Upon her return to Washington State, she worked as a Domestic Violence Victim’s Advocate at a local shelter and then later for over ten years in the prosecutor’s office. In her free time she became involved in her local community as a fitness instructor, holding certifications as a Group Fitness Instructor, Zumba, and CrossFit. Nancy, her husband, their two kids, her mother, and their dog returned to Ecuador to stay in December 2014. Nancy loves the country of Ecuador and all it has to offer!
College of Charleston '13, International Studies
Born and raised in the fabulous city of Charleston, South Carolina, Virginia spent her entire life in the Deep South. After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at the College of Charleston in International Studies with a concentration on Latin America and the Caribbean, Virginia decided it was time to travel even further south. With a passion for all things Latin American and a desire to spend an extended period of time immersed in the culture and language, Virginia applied for the position with MPIE and the rest is history. Her hobbies include yoga, writing poetry, baking pies, salsa dancing and cast net shrimping. Virginia loves living and working in Latin America.
New York University '14, Spanish, Latin American Literatures and Cultures
Carley is a New Yorker at heart, growing up in Rochester and moving to New York City to attend college. She studied at NYU where she majored in Spanish and Latin American Literatures and Cultures and completed a thesis on the presentation of Pope Francis in the Argentine press. After studying abroad in Buenos Aires and working for a summer at a non-profit in Medellín, Colombia, she was excited to get back to Latin America after graduation, and Manna seemed to be the perfect fit. In the future she hopes to continue to work on international development projects in Latin America and build bridges between the Latin America and the United States.
College of Charleston '14, International Studies and Spanish
Jessa is a Michigan native who earned a bachelor's degree in International Studies with a concentration in Latin America and the Caribbean from the College of Charleston. After studying abroad in Havana, Cuba, Jessa knew she wanted to work in the non-profit sector in the area of the world she was passionate about: Latin America. Jessa loves experiencing new culture and traveling the world; she is excited at the opportunity to improve her Spanish while in Ecuador.
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill '14, Environmental Health Sciences
Originally from Wilmington, North Carolina, Amelia graduated from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill where she studied Public Health with a concentration in Environmental Health Sciences and minors in Spanish and Biology. At UNC, Amelia served on the executive board of A Drink For Tomorrow, a non-profit dedicated to the global water crisis where she gained knowledge of international development and realized that she wanted to live and work abroad. MPI Ecuador was the perfect fit for Amelia to both improve her Spanish and to work for a non-profit while being fully immersed in the Ecuadorian culture and serving the community in the Chillos Valley. While in Ecuador, Amelia is excited to experience all the diversity that this beautiful country has to offer and hopes to travel throughout South America, learn salsa dancing and traditional Ecuadorian cooking. After MPI, Amelia hopes to pursue a career in public health and continue working in the nonprofit sector.
James Madison University '13, English and Political Science
Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Sydney graduated from James Madison University where she studied English and Political Science with a concentration in international affairs. Through her studies, she found a passion for working with international nonprofits and has been fortunate enough to work with organizations specializing in education initiatives, refugee resettlement and more. In 2011, Sydney worked as a summer intern with Manna’s Ecuador site and fell in love with both the country and the organization. After working with Amnesty International in 2013, Sydney decided to follow her lifelong dream of working on an international site and returning to Ecuador. She could not be more excited to immerse herself in a new culture and be reunited with Ecuador’s mountains.
Northwestern University '14, Biological Anthropology and Spanish
A Madison, Wisconsin native and Northwestern University graduate, Catherine studied Biological Anthropology and Spanish throughout her undergraduate career. A regular volunteer at a non-profit organization on the North side of Chicago, she tutored children in the Latino immigrant community and served as a mentor for those enrolled in the neighborhood’s after school program. She developed her love for all things international after studying abroad in Spain and teaching English to local children. The following summer she received a grant to travel around the world to ten countries on six continents to complete independent research for her senior thesis. Catherine is thrilled to be joining the MPI team, as it is a perfect fit for her passion for international development and non-profit work. She looks forward to building lasting relationships with local community members, advancing the goals of MPI, and immersing herself in Ecuadorian culture.
St. Olaf College '14, Political Science & Management Studies
A Northfield, Minnesota native, Evan is thrilled to be a part of the Manna Project International team. He has been fortunate to travel around the world and experience many different cultures. The opportunity to serve in the Valle de los Chillos will help him fulfill his dream to fully immerse in a new culture and develop connections that he believes will enhance his passion for international development. In addition to developing relationships with the people of Ecuador through MPI’s English and small business programs, Evan plans to share his love for music and sports. At St. Olaf College, Evan sang in the St. Olaf Choir and Limestones A cappella group. He also played on the football team for one year. Evan hopes to bring these passions to strengthen the communities MPI serves. Following his year of service with MPI, Evan plans to pursue a career in global strategic communications.
Wake Forest University '14, Religion
Ann-Lowry graduated from Wake Forest University in May 2014 with a major in Religion and a minor in History. She first came to Ecuador in July 2012 on a short study abroad trip and after spending a semester in Argentina, she knew she wanted to return to Latin America after graduation. Ann-Lowry spent 2 months volunteering in Baños, Ecuador before joining the Manna team in January. Ann-Lowry is excited to connect with the community through her personal passions, sports and the arts. She also has been enjoying learning new things from both MPI and their partner organizations in the Valle.
Northeastern University '18, Human Services and International Affairs
Native to the San Francisco Bay Area, CA, Allegra is currently a second year student studying Human Services and International Affairs at Northeastern University. At Northeastern, she developed an interest in international development, community organizing, social entrepreneurship and non-profit management. She also studied Arabic and Middle East Studies in Amman, Jordan, and participated in the leadership of various student organizations and university programs. In 2013, she worked for Dream Volunteers, an international education organization. This year, Allegra decided to revisit her passion for Latin American culture by taking a semester off to work with MPI Ecuador as part of Northeastern’s unique co-op program. She is very excited to gain experience living and working abroad, and to become a part of Manna’s holistic approach to community development.
Northeastern University '17, International Affairs
Born and raised in Westchester, New York, Michael is in his third year at Northeastern University where he studies International Affairs with minors in Spanish, Economics and Emerging Markets. He is taking a semester off from his studies to work for MPI as part of Northeastern’s co-op program. Through his studies and time spent volunteering in Boston, Massachusetts, Michael developed a passion for community development and other cultures. After spending the summer of 2014 living in Argentina, Michael’s enthusiasm for traveling and for Latin America grew significantly and he couldn’t wait to return. After finding out about MPI, Michael jumped at the chance to make a significant impact in an area in need and experience the incredible people and the beauty of Ecuador. He is looking forward to contributing to MPI’s efforts in the Chillos Valley and to experiencing all that Ecuador has to offer.
Clark University '14, Economics and Spanish
Melissa graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics with a concentration in Spanish from Clark University in May 2014. During her time as an MPI Summer Intern in 2013, Melissa fell more in love with Ecuador and the communities Manna Project serves there, which motivated her to return as a 13-month Program Director. Melissa is currently involved with MPI Ecuador's Children's English and Small Business Development programs. She is also excited about traveling around Ecuador and all over South America. In her free time, she loves to watch and play soccer and is a huge Real Madrid fan. After her year of service with MPI, she plans to pursue her master's degree in social work and business administration.
American University '15, Justice, Law and Economics
Monique graduated with a bachelor's degree in Justice and Law and a minor in Economics from American University in May 2015. She's from Miami and enjoys the beach, yoga, and meeting people from all different countries. Monique is currently enjoying her time teaching Children and Adult English classes as well as working in the Small Business Development program. She is excited about traveling around Ecuador and all over South America to learn more about different cultures and hopefully expand her knowledge on international development. After her 13 month service with MPI, Monique hopes to continue her education by seeking her J.D. Degree and pursuing a career in international development and diplomacy.
Butler University '15, Psychology and Spanish
Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Amanda graduated from Butler University where she studied psychology and Spanish. Through her leadership involvement during college, Amanda found a passion for non-profit organizations. She co-founded and served on the executive board of an organization for the clean water and economy crisis in Haiti. She was able to gain more knowledge of international development as the student-run group now takes an annual spring break trip to Haiti. Ever since, she has wanted to work and live abroad where she will be able to make an impact on a developing community.
Tulane University '15, Latin American Studies and Digital Media Production
Although Everett has lived in 5 different states over the past 23 years, he grew up in Frederick, Maryland. He graduated from Tulane University with a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies and Digital Media Production. In 2013, Everett served as a summer intern at Manna Project's Guatemala site. Last year, he studied at the Instituto de Historia at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso in Valparaiso, Chile. He has a deep love for the United States and the U.S. National Soccer Team.
Vanderbilt University '15, Child Development and Cognitive Studies
Kelsey is from Austin, TX and attended Vanderbilt University, graduating in May of 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Cognitive Studies. Kelsey has been involved with Manna Project since her sophomore year of college. Knowing she wanted to travel and that her post-graduation plans would likely look different from those of her friends, she investigated various international opportunities before determining that her heart lay with the mission of Manna Project. Her hobbies include taking endless personality tests and reading fantasy novels. Kelsey hopes to continue in the non-profit sector after her journey with Manna Project concludes, and plans to pursue a master's degree in either social work or counseling.
Northeastern University '17, International Affairs and Political Science
Emily Pratt is from Washington, DC, and is majoring in International Affairs and Political Science at Northeastern University. At Northeastern, Emily developed a passion for social work, teaching, social entrepreneurship, and women's empowerment. After focusing her studies in East Asian politics and culture, Emily decided to focus again on Latin America, and discovered Manna Project through Northeastern's cooperative education program. She has volunteered and studied in Costa Rica, Japan, and South Korea, and traveled to Colombia where she delved back into her Spanish. Emily enjoys making connections with the community in Ecuador and continues to learn about social work, running programs abroad and improving her Spanish.
Radford University ’15, Social Work and Sociology
Gabby grew up alongside the coast of Virginia Beach, but attended college in the Appalachian Mountains of Radford, Virginia. At Radford University, Gabby majored in social work with a minor in sociology. Through multiple trips to Nicaragua and studying abroad in Costa Rica, she realized her love of becoming immersed in new cultures and serving alongside of community members. Gabby enjoys building lasting relationships with the community, improving her Spanish, and absorbing as much Ecuadorian culture as possible. After her time with Manna Project, Gabby plans to return to graduate school to pursue her master’s degree in social work.
Colby College '15, Art History and English
Marina is a recent graduate of Colby College where she studied art history and English. A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, she is now engaging with hands-on community development in Ecuador. Her background involves writing, education, photography, design, and museum work. With Manna Project, she teaches art and English and hopes to develop initiatives that encourage women’s empowerment. In her international travel, she is enthusiastic about exploring new physical, political, and social landscapes, especially in the realm of social differences surrounding technology. Marina is passionately dedicated to a life of constant writing and learning.
James Madison University '15, Health Sciences and Special Education
Alex was born and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a 2015 graduate from James Madison University where she majored in health sciences, minored in special education, and plans to become an occupational therapist. Alex has always had a passion for traveling. Throughout high school and college, she traveled to Nicaragua (six times!), Costa Rica and Panama, and did a short-term study abroad in South Africa after her sophomore year at JMU. She is excited to be a part of the Manna Project team and to be immersed into a new culture and experience all that Ecuador has to offer.
Virginia Tech '14, Spanish and Communication/Public Relations
Kristin is a 2014 graduate of Virginia Tech, where she received two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Spanish and Communication (Public Relations). She is from Winchester, Virginia. Kristin studied abroad in Valencia, Spain as well as Quito, Ecuador. She is excited to be back in Ecuador working with Manna Project.