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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.
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. MPI's Kid's Corner 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, problem-solving, and creativity.
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.
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 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 Country Director
Carolyn's love of Ecuador began when she first arrived in 2011. After working with an isolated Kichwa community for six months, Carolyn rejoined society to join a local nonprofit organization, where she led volunteers and interns on their cultural exchange and development journeys. Carolyn brings passion and experience to MPI Ecuador through a diverse background in international development and small business operations. Since graduating from Mount Holyoke College with a BA in Film Studies and Spanish, Carolyn has taught English, led high-school study abroad trips, managed a nonprofit organization, worked as a translator and interpreter, and even started and operated her own restaurant in Tena, Ecuador! She has lived in Indiana, Massachusetts, Florida, Spain, Peru, Chile, and Ecuador. Her hobbies include swimming in rivers, riding horses, hiking in the jungle (or the Andes!), and meeting new people and cultures.
Senior Program Director
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. She then decided after her year working for Manna Project to extend her time within the community in order to further develop relationships within the community and support the Ecuador site with administrative and program development. Her hobbies include working with other nonprofit organizations on strategic planning, photography, and running. After her second year with Manna Project, Hunter will return to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to pursue a degree in Public Health with a focus on Global Behavioral Health.
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.
University of Virginia '17, Psychology and Art History
Rachel grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia in May 2017 with a B.A. in Psychology and Art History. Rachel has volunteered extensively both in and outside of the United States, and feels passionately about education and community development as a means for creating sustainable change. She knew that she wanted to work for an international nonprofit after college and was drawn to MPI in Ecuador after backpacking through South America and falling in love with both the landscape and the people that inhabit it. In Rachel’s spare time she enjoys outdoor activities, reading, and traveling, and eventually is looking to pursue her Masters in Social Work and Public Health.
Belmont University '17, Spanish and Corporate Communication
Erin grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota and graduated in December of 2017 from Belmont University with degrees in Spanish and Corporate Communication. After transformative study abroad experiences in Spain and Argentina, Erin realized her desire to use her Spanish skills in the contexts of service and community development. Erin was drawn to MPI Ecuador because of the opportunities to serve in a library and form close connections to the local community. Her hobbies include backpacking, traveling, and playing guitar. Upon return to the United States, Erin plans to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching Spanish. She is interested in learning about Ecuadorian culture to incorporate into her teaching pedagogy as a future Spanish teacher.
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.