Tuesday, June 9, 2015


1. Finding Independence: You call this place home. You know the bus stops, how to take a taxi, how to live independently. To actually live in a country, not only tour it and learning with hands on experience, has helped me recognize my positionality within a workplace, a community, and a society. -Kevin

2. Finding Comfort: Learning how to get around independently on public transportation is a freeing feeling and a right of passage to living in this beautiful, crazy country. -Allie

3. Thinking about the Future: Being here reinforced my desire to teach English in Spain. I learned how to teach the students more effectively! -Ben

Manna is doing great things in Ecuador, keep yourself updated and consider donating or volunteering!  -Amber

Sunday, June 7, 2015

10 Impactful Experiences for our Manna Interns

Interning at MPI-Ecuador is life-changing. You receive hands on experience by working closely with the people, developing the programs for the community, and participating in fundraising and other organizational roles. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and immersing yourself in a culture extremely different than ours can be a daunting task, but with very few days left in this beautiful country, we’d like to share some of our experiences with you!


1. Climbing Cotopaxi: It was time to sign up for events for the morning at our hostel. We had no idea what we should do. Allie stated that she sort-of wanted to hike to the glacier line of Cotopaxi. I had been thinking about it all weekend but, reading a book and laying on the hammock staring at Cotopaxi and the surrounding mountains was just as tempting. I turned to her and said “Allie let’s do it”. We signed up and left bright and early for the most grueling, beautiful hike I’ve ever been on. P.S. Hiking shoes are advised when climbing on sandy volcanic ash. -Amber

2. Manna English: My most memorable moment working with MPI was the first time I got to teach a whole English class. It was so much fun teaching the students and seeing them light up and be so excited to learn something new. I'm really going to miss them! -Ben

3. Adventure: I never thought I would be able to scale a waterfall, swing jump from a bridge, and climb to the glacier line of the tallest active volcano, let alone do it all in less than a week! -Allie

4. Mamitas: I’ve never had a younger sister. I really enjoyed playing the role of an older sister to the girls over the past couple of weeks. To let them know that they matter and someone out here cares about them, has made this program my favorite. -Karmyn

5. ESPE University: I’ve always enjoyed public speaking, but my clinical exercise science major is far from the classroom teaching experience. I would have never dreamed that traveling and volunteering would lead me to teach an English class to my peers. The class was on the pronunciation of “ed” words. It was my first time teaching English but the class was a success, hope they enjoyed it as much as I did! -Amber

6. Friendships: Forming some of the best friendships of my life through shared experiences, trials, and a lot of hard work is a priceless treasure that brings a lifetime of memories. I love you guys! -Allie

7. Yoga: I was worried about not being able to communicate with people as I'm not a Spanish speaker. This fear was proven to be unnecessary as soon as I taught a yoga class at Manna however! It was amazing that I was able to connect to the community members through yoga and share my passion! -Erica

8. Children: One day when I was working in the library, it was pretty rowdy. I started playing the kids and we went up stairs and started playing tag with the exercise balls shouting “mine” in spanish. That was my favorite library shift! -Amber

9. Community: I never imagined I could be surrounded by so many people with such beautiful hearts. The Ecuadorian experience is always a humbling experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. -Karmyn

10. Día de los Niños: To celebrate the Ecuadorian holiday Día de los Niños, the interns organized a party in the library. I helped out in the art area, making maracas (because we really needed more noise.) A couple little girls got into the box of art supplies and started making jewelry. The group sent one little girl up to me; she showed me an impressively crafted pair of earrings. “Que lindo,” I said, “they’ll look so good on you.” But she giggled and shook her head. She reached up and tugged on my ears as she exclaimed, “tuyos!” in that adorable high-pitched voice only kids have. Did she just make earrings for her profe? This is the sweetest thing that has ever happened to me. I lean down and let her put the earrings in for me, then give her the biggest hug in the world. I’m still wearing them now!   -Sara

Friday, May 29, 2015

La Vida Saludable!

      Recently, with the help of the new Manna interns, we have started a weekly health club out of the Manna Centro to provide community children with fun, interactive and educational health info. Our first week, we covered dental health by teaching the kids new facts and healthy habits about their teeth. After making them practice brushing for two full minutes to the tunes of an Ecuadorian pop song, we played trivia with toothbrushes as prizes. Did you know that you're supposed to brush the six different sections of your mouth for twenty second each? Well, the kids of Sangolqui do! 
       This past week, our interns prepared a lesson on "Eating the Rainbow" by emphasizing the importance of getting a wide variety of colors through different fruits and vegetables in your diet.
       Each kid colored and decorated their own rainbow plate and learned the benefits of each of their favorite fruits and veggies. This was of course followed by a very competitive trivia game and a healthy carrot snack for everyone. So far I have been surprised by the high attendance and interest of the kids in our new health club! We can't wait to see where this program goes in the next few weeks as we try to cover all the important aspects of a vida saludable/health lifestyle! 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Welcome Manna Interns!

Hello everyone!  My name is Ben and I’m one of the interns with Manna Project this summer. I am from Iowa and just graduated Iowa State last Friday with a primary major in Spanish, a secondary major in international studies, and a minor in music. I am very excited to work with Manna Project this summer to gain professional experience teaching English as a second language, improve my Spanish skills, and give back to a community. All of us interns have some big goals while working with Manna Project. 

We want to repaint the wall around the roof of the building with the beautiful mountain scenery around us. This is a community project, as students who visit the Manna Centro will join in the project. We currently have the base coat of paint completed, and will soon begin adding the mountains. The students can't wait to cover the wall with their handprints to show they helped with the project.

After completing the paint project, our next goal is to enhance Manna Project's Environmental Education and Nutrition programs by adding to the Green Roof garden. We want to add some flowers and plants to liven it up even more.

Our hope is to make more planter boxes where students can learn to plant and care for fruit, vegetables and grains. As they develop these skills and implement trial and error in the Manna garden, they can apply what they’ve learned to help their families grow healthy, low-cost food at home.

Other goals of the Session 1 interns are focused in the kitchen. We hope to paint, clean, and organize this high-traffic area to help simplify community life for the staff, and liven up the room. We’re striving to accomplish these goals in one short month here in Ecuador, but I think we can do it! 

Friday, May 8, 2015


    Before coming to Ecuador, I was obviously passionate about issues of gender inequality and sexism. Once arriving in this area and learning more about the culture of machismo and the numerous effects it can have on females, some of the Manna Program Directors felt like we wanted to do something to work with these issues. While we clearly cannot solve or end the issues of machismo ourselves, we tried to explore what we can do and what services we can provide. Beginning MPI Ecuador's Women's Initiative in January has been an exciting albeit rocky process.
           Firstly, we began working with a local partner organization that houses young and single mothers. We began by going weekly and tutoring. This was sometimes successful - sometimes not. My sixth grade math skills were not very impressive in English and definitely not very useful in Spanish. So we began to bring fun activities in addition to tutoring help.

Making smoothies, Earth Day cookies and painting pottery has allowed us to spend some quality time with these young women in a social and stress-free environment. While it is not as measurably productive as homework help, the girls seem to really enjoy it (although they are sometimes confused as to why there is a tall white woman telling them to make a vase out of homemade clay).
                Additionally, we began a series of discussions for women in our community center. Unfortunately at first, there was very low attendance.  We are now trying a new strategy: adding a weekly fun activity into the mix.  For our first "club" today, I left the house feeling tired and doubtful about our cooking night. At four o'clock, I sat with my co-worker, Kate McCaw (more commonly known as Kate the Great) and lamented that no one had shown up. Maybe we didn't advertise enough? Or maybe no one was interested? But in true Ecuadorian fashion, a woman did show up 15 minutes late. And then another. And then another!  We all prepared delicious Mexican food and chatted.  I was feeling awkward about bridging the conversation from guacamole into issues of gender inequality but the ladies brought it up themselves.  Excited to discuss their experiences and opinions on machismo, we sat talking (and eating tacos, of course) for over an hour.  It felt exactly as we had hoped (a feeling that can be rare in the community development world!) The women connected, had fun and were so open to sharing their thoughts.  While we can't "fix" the culture of machismo - we found that we can provide a fun outlet for a group of teen mothers, we can provide a space to talk about issues for local women and we can (and did) make delicious guacamole dip.  Although we are still figuring this program out, we are so excited to see were Manna's new Women's initiative goes!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Work Hard, Play Hard


   Last weekend, for our Third Quarter retreat, we traveled to a nearby and active Volcano, Cotopaxi.  Here we focused on exploring and evaluating our individual leadership styles while discussing how we have each grown as leaders through our time with Manna. It was refreshing and inspiring to focus on how we have grown both as individuals and as an organization. This retreat definitely gave us the inspiring break we needed to begin Quarter 4. With tons of new programs, projects and volunteers in the next few weeks, it was great to have this time to revive our group's outlook and energy level. Additionally, while staying here we were also able to have some exciting adventures. Some of us went horse back riding through the mountains (and are still sore 4 days later),  other hiked to the glacier line of the volcano (an amazing albeit cold hike) and others went jumping in a nearby waterfall.
  Staying in the Secret Garden Hostel, we had plenty of beautiful views, free coffee and jacuzzi time. Our leadership retreat was definitely one of our best so far and we are excited to see its impact as we begin our last quarter with Manna. 

April is the Month of Microfinance

April is the Month of Microfinance! 2015 is Manna Project's second year partnering with Month of Microfinance, a grassroots movement of student and professional organizations with a passion for microfinance and an intense commitment to learning.

Over at Monthofmicrofinance.org, you will find daily blog contributions from a range of organizations. Not sure what Microfinance is? Here is a 2 minute overview:

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Find out what people are saying and join the conversation - search #MoMF15!