On Saturday, May 21st, in the main town plaza just down the street from our community center, we held our 2nd Annual Hornado Solidario, a traditional way in Ecuador to raise money for a good cause. I remember in my high school in the States we used to have chicken barbeque events to raise money for sports teams...but in Ecuador, we barbeque an entire pig, whole! By the end of the day we had raised nearly $1800 to benefit Manna Project's education, health, and livelihoods programs in Ecuador, a tremendous success that will allow us to continue and expand our impact in the community.
More than anything, it was a great day spending time with our wonderful community members, students, and friends who make our time in Ecuador so special. We were all so touched by the generosity of our community members, local businesses, and local volunteers who helped make this day a success. They were the true stars of the day and the reason Manna Project in Ecuador is where it is today! We took hundreds of pictures at the event, but here are some of just a few of our community members we've grown to know and love during our time with Manna Project:
The Granda Family
The Granda family has been involved with Manna Project since it was just getting started in the Chillos Valley, and generations of Program Directors will remember their warmth, kindness, and their enthusiasm for all things Manna Project! Over the years they have invited us over to eat, donated their time to help us with projects such as our Daddy and Me events at the community center, and much more. We even we able to see José (center) play with his band at the Casa de la Cultura in Quito! The whole family is enrolled in English classes with Manna Project, and it brightens our day everytime we see them in our community center.
Yeimmy recently immigrated to Ecuador from Colombia, and has enjoyed getting involved in our community center in any way she can. She takes English classes with us on Saturdays, and was also involved in our Women's Group meetings where we discussed women's issues in Latin America. Most recently, Yeimmy has been a faithful participant in our entrepreneurship classes taught in conjunction with the U.S.-based non-profit Education Global Access Program. She has been learning a lot about marketing, pricing strategies, and much more, and is getting ready to start her own business. We're so excited to have Yeimmy as part of our community here in Ecuador, and can't wait to see her business plans take off to help her and her daughter "seguir adelante," pressing on towards a better future.
Clemencia and Blanca
Clemencia and Blanca are two very special sisters who have been involved with Manna Project for years now, and have a special way of making Program Directors feel like they've found their long lost grandmothers in Ecuador. They first got involved with Manna Project through our partnership with Dr. Escobar at the Sangolqui Hospital where we host a Diabetes Club to help diabetes patients learn about healthy lifestyles. They have also hosted Program Directors in homestays, and were so giving of their time to help prepare and serve food at the Hornado Solidario; don't they look so professional in their blue aprons? We always know we can stop by for lunch with these amazing sisters any time, and are so thankful that we've been able to get to know them during our time living in Ecuador.