What’s an Hornado Anyways?

This past weekend, MPI Ecuador hosted its annual Hornado Solidario in Rumiloma.  What’s that, you ask? No need to be ashamed.  Just a few weeks ago I, too was an hornado newbie. The quick answer to your question is: a lunch fundraiser with traditional Ecuadorian food.  But don’t get it twisted; this ain’t your typical Firehouse Pancake Breakfast fundraiser.  A LOT more goes into an hornado than you’d think.  What follows below is an explanation of everything that required for a successful Hornado.

1.    The Hornado

Hornado, a signature of Ecuadorian cuisine, refers to a full, roast pig.  And I mean full: head and all. It is to be cooked by a skilled Ecuadorian person (usually a grandmother) and to be served by a skilled Ecuadorian person (usually a grandmother), who has no qualms about ripping off pieces of meat with her hands to serve on plates during the event (see Clemencia below). If you’re lucky, your hornado will come decorated, like ours.

2.    Las Tortillas de Papa (the potatoes)

We bought 200 pounds of potatoes for our Hornado.  For sizing help, 200 pounds of potatoes is enough to fill 3 large garbage cans.  We enlisted the help of our adult English students to help us peel all of them… and were able to finish in less than 2 hours!  We outsourced the boiling and mashing of the potatoes to another skilled Ecuadorian señora, so all that was left to do was to take the 3 garbage cans of mashed potatoes and make them into patties by hand to be fried on the day of the Hornado.  Luckily patty-making is grunt work and doesn’t require Ecuadorian skill (so most PDs and local volunteers were put on patty duty).  The frying of the potatoes, however, was spearheaded by Clemencia’s sister, Blanca.

3.    Mote

It’s a rule that a balanced Ecuadorian plate must contain at least two types of starches.  Simply putting a serving of white rice, corn, verdes (bananas) or potatoes is not sufficient.  You’ve gotta have a combination of them.  Mote is type of corn kernel (much bigger than those that we’re used to in the US) that fits the bill for the second starch of the plate.  It is boiled and cooked before serving.  

4.    Salad

We must have chopped at least 8 heads of lettuce, 50 tomatoes and 30 onions for the salad.  Agrio, or salad dressing, is made from tomatoes, onions, limes, cilantro and brown sugar loaf.  As another sizing estimate, we had enough agrio to fill a medium-sized garbage can!

5.    Great Company!

We served about 300 plates at the Hornado Solidario, before we began running out of food.  We raffled off some prizes that were donated to us, sang karaoke, painted kids’ faces and had a mini bake sale.  None of it would have been possible without the beautiful weather and all the help from community volunteers.  Below are just a few pictures of the great day we shared.

You can also contribute to the fundraising efforts of our Ecuador community by donating here! Type "Hornado" in the comments section. 

MPI's First Benefit Event!

This past Saturday, April 30, marked a momentous occasion in MPI’s history: we held our first benefit event on an MPI site in Quito!  The event, conceived and developed largely by Ashley over the past several months, took place at C’est La Vie, the Cajun style restaurant where we also celebrated Becky’s birthday and watched the BCS championship earlier this year.  Elva, Carlos, and the staff at C’est La Vie donated their space, normally closed on Saturday nights, time, and talents to help us realize the event.  As the very first major fundraising event at a Manna international site, it was a great success!

As part of Manna’s commitment to being an organization grounded long-term in its international sites, we wanted to reach out to potential supporters in and around el Valle de los Chillos.  About 20 guests attended the dinner and multipart presentation we held from 6:30-10:00pm, which included a raffle, an informational video, a slideshow covering Manna’s history in Ecuador, and a Manna trivia quiz.  We had a choice among three New Orleans inspired dinners with main courses of shrimp etouffee, jambalaya, and gumbo, preceded by a delicious house cocktail based around fresh strawberry and passionfruit juice and rum.  After a welcoming speech by Bibi, we showed a video outlining the history of MPI in Ecuador, followed by a trivia quiz on our current programs, the winners of which received MPI t-shirts.  Our raffle prizes consisted of gift certificates and items donated by restaurants and businesses around Quito.  Our slideshow played throughout the evening when the video and quiz weren’t on C’est La Vie’s central TV screen.

The scene at C'est La Vie
Bibi and Ashley making opening remarks
Friends of Manna!
Brock and Jack expertly tending the bar
Our guests watching the MPI history video
The benefit was an incredibly collaborative event for all of us program directors.  With Ashley coordinating everything and serving as the contact between MPI and C’est La Vie as well as all of the organizations who donated to our raffle, we all chipped in to make different aspects of the night happen: Brock and Jack collected photos and video footage and wrote the script for the video, Becky and I collected photos and put together the slideshow, Jack and I made and hosted the trivia quiz, Zoë and Luke spearheaded decorations, Hannah made the invitations, Sam and Luke created the program, and Luke created a fantastic stand on which to advertise the event outside of C’est La Vie on Saturday that we intend to use for future MPI events.  Before everyone left, Jack and I performed a brief set (Jack played the guitar and I sang).  Overall, it was a tiring but extremely rewarding night from which we not only gained significant monetary support but also exposed potential friends of Manna in Ecuador to what MPI truly does in the Valley and to our mission to remain in Ecuador over the long term, a goal that requires roots, both organizational and financial, in the site itself.
The welcoming table
Zoë's lovely centerpiece on each table
The menu, all food provided by C'est La Vie
Jack and Noel performing to end the night
We are extremely excited to have executed the first MPI benefit in what we hope to be an annual tradition here in the Quito area and a model for similar events at our other international sites in Nicaragua and Guatemala.  It’s a big step toward the sustainability of Manna in Ecuador and raising our visibility – thus extending our reach and effectiveness – at this site.  Hopefully next year will be twice as successful!

Looking ahead to MPI Ecuador's first on-site benefit!

With a look at a more organizational aspect of Manna in Ecuador, Ashley today brings you some details on the planning stages of a big event we have in the works for a few months from now...

So you’ve gotten to hear about our programs - here is a look into the donor relations aspect of MPI Ecuador. In addition to sending out thank you notes and keeping track of donations, we are beginning a new adventure: expanding our network and donor base within Ecuador. At this point, most of our donations come from our supporters in the United States - and of course, we are very thankful for anything and everything we receive! However, we felt it would be a great opportunity to include local residents in the work that is going on in their own backyards.

In order to begin this process, we have sent a proposal to our friends at the Louisiana-style restaurant, C’est La Vie, located in North Quito. With a great atmosphere and excellent food, we thought it would be the perfect place to introduce our friends and acquaintances to Manna. Bibi and I met with their intelligent and experienced administrator, Elva, who is an intense economist and chef, in addition to having worked in the petroleum industry for 25 years. She seemed quite excited about the idea, as it will increase both our connections as well as C’est La Vie’s clientele.
Zoë and the boys, featuring Wii bowling on C'est La Vie's big screen. 
Becky's birthday celebration from back in November taking place in front of C'est La Vie's cajun centerpiece, reading "laissez les bons temps rouler."
Manna and C'est La Vie!  We're excited for take two in April!
We are hoping that our 45-minute picture slideshow, multiple videos, several raffle items, and a guest speaker (from our centro!) will raise awareness of Manna, of our programs, our needs, and our vision for the future.

As we put together this benefit (in only about 2 months), please feel free to comment with any ideas or suggestions, especially for names of the benefit! I will be compiling all of the information into a instruction manual for next year’s PD’s, as hopefully they will be putting on our second annual benefit!