Sunday, March 10th
What a fantastic week we’ve had! Leaving Sangloqui will be a
bittersweet departure as we reflect on our work and the impact we made this
week with our partner organizations and the greater Sangloqui community. Not only have we been so lucky to have the
opportunity to understand microfinance in a direct way, but we have also made
new friendships that we will surely cherish upon our return to Vanderbilt.
Yesterday, we took our second trip to Jatumpungo, the
community where our loan recipients live.
Our group of fourteen divided into two groups to go and help them out in
their gardens. My group met Rosa Maria,
who had a flourishing cornfield and cucumber plants growing. We dug up her fertilized soil to expedite her
planting process and attached rods to her cucumber plants so that they grew
properly. Rosa Maria was so kind and
gave us a fruit none of us had ever tried before. It was delicious! It tasted a
lot like a plum. When we got back to
Sangloqui, John watched Hugo Chavez’s memorial with Ecuadorians in the café
next to our hostel, which he found to be a special cultural experience. That night, we went out to dinner at a cool
restaurant in Sangloqui called Lycazte.
It was very enjoyable, and William and Peter may or may not have left
with some souvenirs…! After dinner, we played cards at the Manna House and
continued our fun bonding time back on the roof at our hostel. We shared silly stories about our childhood,
such as Kari’s interesting time at the movies, John and William’s “True
Gentleman” recitation abilities, and what happens to Julia’s friends when she
gets impatient. This was the last night sleeping at our hostel, which has been very
comfortable and we will certainly miss it!
Today, the group went to the Manna Library for English classes,
arts and crafts with the children, and a fun zumba lesson taught by Lucy.
Adriana and Emily taught a beginner English class where the students learned
vocabulary words for different animals and parts of a household! In the “teen center” room, the rest of us
buckled down and got to work on our lesson plan for the next small business
class that Lucy and Polly will teach our potential loan recipients. We crafted a workbook with seven sections:
Business Planning, Goal Setting, Profit, Supply and Demand, Inventory Tracking,
Business Expansion, and Specialization.
Each section of the workbook provides streamlined definitions of the
concepts, appropriate examples, and practice problems for the students to
complete at home as a reinforcement of the course material. Creating this lesson plan and workbook is
something that our group is extremely proud of because we know that it will be
beneficial to the future of the microfinance program that Manna runs and will provide
valuable information to our loan recipients in a straightforward and engaging
So, this is our goodbye! We’d like to thank ALL of the
phenomenal Program Directors (especially Lucy and Polly!) for everything this
week. It has been an amazing experience
that none of us will forget. While we
were only in Ecuador for a short week, our group has been so inspired by our
experiences here that we have decided to join the Microfinance club back at
Vanderbilt and fundraise even further for MPI Ecuador’s loan cycle program. Thanks for reading our blog!
Saturday, March 9th
Since Tuesday the group has seen
and experienced much more of the Ecuadorian culture and continues to grow
closer. That afternoon we went to an after-school program called Amigos Guias.
We helped the kids with their homework until snack time. Then everyone ran
outside to play on the playground or kick around a soccer ball. That night
after some cold showers at the hostel and dinner at the Manna House our group
sat down to watch Superbad, although most dozed off in between laughs.
morning the group took a bus to Jatumpungo and split up between two farms to
help some of the loan recipients with work around their property. Some shoveled
fertilizer while trying to keep the released ammonia from their lungs all
morning, while others helped plant vegetables in a backyard greenhouse. Next,
we took a long bus ride into the city of Quito to go shopping around the
markets. The best purchases were Adrianna’s leather backpack, John’s glow in
the dark Ray Bans, and Ryan’s soccer scarf. Meredith turned out to be a poor
A long cab ride up the mountains
brought us to a massive statue of the Virgin Mary to look out over the city and
take some pictures. Charlotte’s selfies were the group’s entertainment. We ate
a buffet dinner at a Mongolian restaurant before heading to go salsa dancing
downtown. On the way, Cross’s phone got stolen by some dumb pick-pockets, but
we didn’t let it bring down to the group’s morale. Fix tried to chase after
them but luckily didn’t find them and/or get stabbed. At the club, Katie
demonstrated her salsa skills with a native Ecuadorian man while a crowd
gathered around. He was a solid 7/10. Party Pete made a new friend, and
Charlotte was so sleepy she slept the whole way home!
The next morning everyone woke up
early to the sound of drilling on the roof outside the hostel windows. We drove
back to the gardening community center to help mix fertilizer again and help
build a wall by moving bricks. We spent the afternoon at the Library sitting in
on English classes, playing with the kids, and filming our own version of the
Harlem Shake. Two unnamed group members did jumping jacks with backpacks on
their heads. For dinner, Polly made us a wonderful pesto pasta. While Kari,
Fix, and Pete went to play soccer with some locals, the rest of us played
catchphrase and watched How I Met Your Mother.
Fun Facts: the sour cream and onion
chips from the hostel are surprisingly yummy, Ecuadorian ninas can’t understand
why Emily doesn’t have blonde hair, Jefferson was a beta, Julia panics during
catchphrase, Madeleine likes talking, anddddd one of us kissed a person of the
opposite gender with only one hand when they were in high school. Proud of my
Our first few days in Ecuador have been great! This is the first time to South America for most of our group members, so we are so excited to explore and serve a new country. We arrived late Sunday night and were met at the airport by Polly and Lucy, our fearless Program Director leaders for the week. We crammed fourteen of us into a little camioneta, something that we would soon realize is typical of our
transportation everywhere we go, and made our way past the interesting statues of Sangolqui to the hostel. After meeting the other program directors and the other Vanderbilt group and getting acquainted with the Manna house, we went to bed excited to see what the week would hold.
We spent the first full day getting to know each other and the country by hiking Rio Pita. The first part of the hike was straight uphill and very challenging for the group, especially because we are not acclimated to the higher altitude. However, the view at the top made the uphill hike incredibly worth it! We posed for pictures and admired the unique Ecuadorian landscape before heading on our way to the
waterfall. William and John were brave enough to slide down part of the waterfall into the freezing water! We ended the day by partaking in a Manna house favorite, Catch Phrase. We quickly realized that this game is very competitive, so we challenged the other Vanderbilt group to a game (which our group won!). The first day was filled with exploration and group bonding, making us even more excited for the rest of the week. Today we worked in the gardens at Vivero. The boys did some heavy lifting while the girls helped make planters for the gardens. The flowers from this garden go to all of the schools and parks in Sangloqui. We are excited to return to this site on Thursday.
Overall, we are so thrilled to be here! We are excited to serve the people in Ecuador in every way that we can, and I know that we will grow and learn so much this week. We are especially looking forward to helping with the microfinance program tomorrow, since that is the main purpose of our trip. We are so thankful to learn more about Manna and microfinance, to get to know each other, and to serve and love the people of Ecuador!