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.
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 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
Limited government funding often leaves little room for hands-on learning in Ecuador’s public school system, even though diverse teaching methods can dramatically improve outcomes. The Creative Science Program supplements the public schools’ lectures and worksheets by providing opportunities for children to participate in hands-on activities that explore the creative sciences. Through experiments and take-home projects, children discover creative ways to connect with and process the information they are learning in school.
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.
Washington State University
Nancy served as a Peace Corps Volunteer and Volunteer Coordinator in Ecuador from 1999-2001 after graduating from Washington State University with a Bachelor's of Science in Animal Sciences. Upon her return to Washington State, Nancy 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 children, her mother, and their dog returned to live in Ecuador in December 2014. Nancy loves the country of Ecuador and all it has to offer!
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 Project seemed to be the perfect fit. Carley currently provides on-site and organizational support to MPI, and hopes to continue working on international development projects in Latin America in the future, building bridges between the Latin America and the United States.
University of Miami ’16, Biology and Music Composition
Nayna grew up in Morris Plains, New Jersey and attended the University of Miami, where she graduated with degrees in Biology and Music Composition. Nayna enjoys traveling and volunteering and knew that being a Program Director in Ecuador would be the perfect combination of the two. She loves being able to spend part of her gap year working with Manna Project and plans to attend medical school at the University of Miami in 2017.
Belmont University '16, Spanish and Entrepreneurship
Jimmy is from Nashville, Tennessee where he studied Spanish and Entrepreneurship at Belmont University. He developed a passion for Spanish and Latin American culture through studying in Valparaiso, Chile, and serving as a translator on a mission trip to rural Guatemala. He saw Manna Project's Ecuador program as an opportunity to immerse himself in a new environment and become a more well-rounded citizen of the world. He enjoys going to concerts, playing soccer and watching hockey.
Worcester State University ‘16, History
Vincent was born in the Netherlands but has lived in Douglas, Massachusetts for most of his life. He attended Worcester State University earning a Bachelor's of Art in History in May 2016. After attending an alternative spring break trip to Manna Project’s Nicaragua site, Vincent applied to be a Program Director for the opportunity to expand his knowledge and understanding of Latin America. Vincent hopes to continue traveling and is interested in a Master's Program in Latin American Studies and eventually his doctorate. Vincent hopes to pursue a career in academia by becoming a professor of international development.
Vanderbilt University ‘16, Medicine, Health, and Society; Spanish and Portuguese; PR Chair of Inter-American Health Alliance
Ayzsa is from Roswell, Georgia and attended Vanderbilt University, graduating in May of 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Medicine, Health, and Society and Spanish and Portuguese. Ayzsa learned about Manna Project as a freshman. Working as a Program Director is the perfect first step for her future endeavors abroad. After Manna Project, Ayzsa hopes to pursue her Master of Public Health to continue her work in the nonprofit sector in Latin America.
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.