The 12 Gifts of 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!

Starting today, families across Latin America will celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas. The season will conclude on January 6th, Three Kings’ Day, when children will jump from their beds in search of a special gift.

In honor of this tradition, you are invited to join Manna Project in remembering the 12 most meaningful gifts of 2016. What are these incredible gifts? Hint: you are one of them! 

Today we begin a journey through “The Twelve Days of Manna." Each day, you'll find a "gift" posted here. The final gift will be posted the morning of January 6th, just as families are waking up to celebrate Three Kings' Day. 

You are the reason 2016 was so amazing - thank you for serving with Manna Project!

Thank you!

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Carissa Chen
Nicaragua Program Director, 2015-2016

The first gift of 2016 is...

Summer Internship Applications Due

The next summer intern application deadline is November 18th. 

Summer Interns live alongside other young leaders and community members, and are fully integrated into the daily functions of Manna Project’s work on the ground. Weeks are spent collaborating with staff to plan and facilitate programs, while weekends are for exploring. As the days progress, you will develop an understanding of long-term development goals and their implementation.

This unique internship program is designed to create the most impactful experience for you and the communities you’ll serve. Summer Interns are equipped and inspired to continue their work in a variety of career fields, including international development and the greater non-profit sector. Many Summer Interns return to Manna Project as Program Directors in following years.

Summer 2017:

  • Session 1: May - June, 4 Weeks

  • Session 2: June - July, 4 Weeks

  • Both Sessions: May - July, 8 Weeks

Begin your journey here:

Looking for a more in-depth international development experience? MPI's Program Directors spend 5, 7 or 13 months on site.

Sign Up for More Info

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My time spent with Manna Project International has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I developed incredible relationships and made memories that I will cherish forever. Part of me will always be involved.
— Javier, MPI Program Director

Program Director Applications Due 8/14


Manna Project International is accepting applications for Program Director positions for in Nicaragua or Ecuador. Applications are due August 14th.

Manna Project International creates communities of young leaders that help break the cycle of poverty in underserved communities around the world. If you are a recent or soon-to-be college grad with a love of travel, culture, and international development, apply to join one of our teams in Latin America. 

During this 11-month position, you will experience life and work alongside other young leaders and community members. At one of our sites in Nicaragua or Ecuador, you will direct a variety of impactful programs designed to meet the specific needs and opportunities of the community. 


Manna Project equips volunteers with leadership development skills for a variety of career fields, including medicine, international development, law, the greater non-profit sector, education and international politics.

Top reasons to become a program director

Do you want to talk to a current Program Director about what it's like to work abroad with MPI?




MPI Alumna Featured in Forbes

Congratulations to MPI alumna Jackie Weidman, whose work in clean energy leadership was recently featured by Forbes! After her time with Manna Project, Jackie went on to co-found the Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI). See the article by Lyndsey Gilpin here or read more below. 

Not long after she graduated from college, Jackie Weidman moved to Ecuador to teach environmental education with Manna Project International, hoping to focus on the impacts of climate change. After studying the subject in school and watching how the US remained in denial that climate change was occurring, she figured she’d be fighting a similar battle in the communities she worked with.

Instead, she experienced quite the opposite. “Everyone was like, ‘oh, duh,’ we obviously believe it.” The community got 80 percent of its water supply from a glacier that was melting at unprecedented rates, and because of that, Ecuador has some of the most progressive water conservation regulations in the world.

The people in Ecuador knew developing countries were at the root of the problem, too, and they couldn’t do much to stop it. So Weidman focused on agricultural and environmental education for the year she spent there, getting to know the stakeholders in the communities and how cliamte change impacted people at the local level.

When she arrived back in the US, ready to begin a career in federal environmental policy, she realized she felt incredibly removed from the politics of climate change. The BP oil spill and the fail of the cap and trade bill to reduce carbon emissions had both occurred the year she was abroad.

So Weidman decided to go straight to the source—to Washington DC to embed herself in the workings of energy and environmental policy, and she hasn’t left the District since.”
                                                                              MPI Ecuador Team, 2009-2010

                                                                              MPI Ecuador Team, 2009-2010

6 Months Later...

Last March, Ecuador Program Directors organized a $1,000 fundraiser for the Teen Center in Sangolqui. The amazing friends and family of our Program Directors responded, giving more than $2,000 to improve the resources we provide to a core group of teens from underprivileged communities in the Chillos Valley. 

This week, we looked back on the last 6 months to share the results of this incredible generosity. The Teen Center fundraiser allowed Manna Project to:

  • expand our special activities and events,
  • purchase new sports equipment,
  • and make many improvements to the Teen Center.

As a result, daily attendance is up by 63%! Improvements to this safe, dynamic drug- and alcohol-free zone, which is exclusively for teens, brought 113 visitors in the last quarter alone. The last six months have been packed with fun events including field trips, sports days, ping-pong tournaments, and game nights.

We are so grateful for the community supporting teens in Rumiloma - they are receiving encouragement, educational support and mentorship in a fun and safe environment. We can't thank you enough...but we will try!

P.S. In case you missed it, here is a picture of the Program Directors after being "pie-d" in the face when they hit the $2,000 mark. ;)


Third Quarter Retreats

Teams in Ecuador and Nicaragua went on short retreats to reflect, rejuvenate and plan. The Ecuador team traveled to nearby volcano Cotopaxi to explore leadership styles and personal growth. In Nicaragua, everyone headed to Playa Gigante, where they discussed program effectiveness, quality improvement and site growth. The retreats brought everyone together as both sites prepare for the upcoming quarter and arrival of summer interns.

You can see more retreat picture here

Spring Break Success!


It was a fun, productive month as both our sites welcomed Spring Break teams from across the United States! From pediatric check-ups to spelling bees, each team contributed their time and talent to support MPI's long-term commitment to the communities we serve. In Nicaragua,

  • Vanderbilt University students cheered on 200+ 5K participants as they crossed the finish line. This team made the day a huge success, raising $2,380 for the Cedro Clinic.
  • The University of South Florida's team of doctors and medical students provided primary care clinics, home visits, health education and planned for clinic improvements.
  • The University of Georgia led our Camp JAM students in the planting of a lovely new garden. Using recycled materials, they created bright and cheerful planters in Farito.
  • The University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing conducted a 4-day de-parasiting clinic, where more than 1,000 people received medicine to get rid of harmful parasites.
  • Worcester State University students taught creative arts camp for our Child Sponsorship kids and their siblings in Villa Guadalupe.

For a recap of Ecuador projects, see last month's Manna Mail here. 

Next month we will share updates from Nicaragua's Spring Break activities. Are you interested in starting a Manna campus chapter at your university? You can!