Population: 15.9 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
- 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.
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.
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 in Rumiloma, Ecuador 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
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 Education program provides access to resources for mental health, birth control, disease prevention, management and general wellbeing. The program 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 preparation for the 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 Dr. Telmo Hidalgo Diaz and Unidad Educativa JM Jijon Caamaño Y Flores.
Ecuador Volunteer Team
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.
University of Delaware '16, Environmental Studies
Francesca grew up outside of Philadelphia, PA. In 2016, she graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from University of Delaware. Francesca is passionate about environmentalism, social justice, and making the world livable for everybody! For these reasons, and the opportunity to develop her professional skills and work in the non-profit sector, Francesca applied to be a Program Director for MPI in Ecuador. She is very excited to teach as she learns and learn as she teaches.
Northeastern University '18, International Affairs and Economics
Joey was born in New York City and was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He is currently a senior at Northeastern University, located in Boston, Massachusetts. He is majoring in International Affairs and Economics and minoring in Spanish, and will be graduating in May of 2018. Joey wanted to work for MPI in Ecuador because he is very interested in the development field, especially when it comes to childhood education, and because he is interested in learning more about how an international NGO functions. He also wanted to work in Ecuador because he hopes to improve his Spanish speaking skills. After graduation, Joey plans to work for an NGO In either the U.S. or South America.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo '15, Civil Engineering
Mike is a civil engineer who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in July 2015. He wanted to work in Ecuador both to get back into international nonprofits and to improve his Spanish. In college he was a member of Engineers Without Boarders, where he had the opportunity to lead a team to Malawi, Africa for a project. It was an amazing experience and since then he has been wanting to move his career towards that field of work. In the future he would like to continue to work with international organizations focused on sustainable development around the world.
Colorado College '15, Neuroscience
Rob grew up in Ann Arbor, MI and graduated from Colorado College in Colorado Springs in May 2015 with a Bachelor's degree in neuroscience. After getting into medical school, Rob decided that he wanted to defer matriculation for a year to spend time learning about Ecuadorian culture and developing his Spanish skills before starting his career in medicine. He found Manna Project's holistic approach to community development particularly impressive and decided to apply as a Program Director. In his free time, Rob enjoys playing soccer and volleyball, mountain biking, and learning about natural science.
Worcester State University ‘16, History
Vincent was born in the Netherlands but has lived in Massachusetts for most of his life. He attended Worcester State University and graduated with his BA in History in May 2016. In addition to history, Vincent also focused his studies on political science, foreign services, and Latin American studies. After participating in an alternative spring break trip at Manna Project’s Nicaragua site, Vincent applied to be a Program Director in order expand his knowledge and understanding of Latin America. Vincent would like to spend the next couple of years in Latin America before choosing a Master's program and returning to the United States. He hopes to pursue a nonprofit career in community development with a focus on Latin America. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, researching and writing scholarly work, meeting new friends, and discovering new cultures.
Wake Forest University '16, Health and Exercise Science and Anthropology
Hunter grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and graduated in May of 2016 from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor's of Science in Health and Exercise Science and Anthropology. After previous trips to Central and South America, including three months working for a nonprofit in Tena, Ecuador, Hunter knew she wanted to return to Ecuador to learn more about the culture and values of the region. Her hobbies include working with other nonprofit organizations on strategic planning, photography, and running. After her time with Manna Project, Hunter plans to work with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programs in Global Public Health.
San Diego State University ’14, Economics
Marcus grew up in San Diego, California and graduated from San Diego State University in May 2014 with a BA in Economics. Having traveled to Central and South America and taken classes in international development, Marcus knew that he wanted work for a non-profit serving the communities in these countries. Marcus applied to Manna Project as a Program Director hoping to grow professionally and gain a better understanding of Ecuadorian culture and life. Marcus enjoys playing sports, going on hikes, and traveling. After his time with Manna Project, Marcus wants to further his education in international development and continue working in communities in Latin America.
Westmont College ‘16, Hispanic Studies and Cross Cultural Sociology
Hailey was born and raised in sunny San Diego, California. She graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara with a Bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Studies and Cross Cultural Sociology. Hoping to increase her knowledge of the nonprofit sector, gain valuable teaching experience, and, of course, improve her own Spanish, Hailey joined Manna Project Ecuador. She deeply appreciates Manna’s holistic approach to community partnership and service. Her favorite pastimes include soccer, volleyball, spikeball, surfing, camping, traveling, drinking tea and reading.