Thursday, June 28, 2012


Using a little bit of everything... Jhynno created a robot

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thank you and Congratulations

Thank you so much to everyone who helped out and supported our first ever Manna 5k Race, Carrera Por La Salud. Special thanks to all of our sponsors:

Esperanza y Progreso del Valle
Santa Maria
Color Car
Almacenes la Color

Thank you to the Cruz Roja, the Police and the Bomberos of Rumiñhaui for ensuring the safety of our race participants.

Thank you to our friends and English students who helped us out on the day of the race

Thank you to all of the race participants, we look forward to seeing you again next year.

And as always, thank you to our vecino Cesar for his indispensable support throughout the planning process as well as on the day of the race.

Congratulations to our champions:
Hector Toaquiza (first male finisher) 
Paola Lopez (first female finisher)

Manna 5k!

After months of planning and organizing and weeks of extreme stress and anxiety for the event planners (Nicole, Rachel and I), our first ever MPI Ecuador 5k is officially over. Although we experienced a few glitches along the way, the race was a success and should be ten times easier to plan and execute next year. We held the event in Rumiloma on Saturday morning, with the race starting a block away from the library, and the finish line right in front of the Centro. We made all the PDs and summer vols get up bright and early and head to the library to set up and start inscriptions. The DJ showed up early as well, it wouldn’t be an event in Ecuador without reggaton blaring at 7am.
Thanks to all of our sponsors, we had a plethora of sports drinks and water for the participants, drawstring backpacks and water bottles for everyone, and an array of cool prizes for the winners in each category. Since it was our first race, and the first race ever in Rumiloma, the streets weren’t exactly lined with cheering supporters. What we had instead were very confused storeowners, and bus drivers who had to temporarily change their routes to let our runners through. We had full support of the police who drove in front and behind the runners to keep the roads clear and make sure everyone stayed on the route, and an army of red cross volunteers on hand just in case. A bunch of friends and English students who didn’t want to run came out to volunteer and made our jobs a lot easier. The categories for the race started at age 15, but we had a few eager kids who wanted to run the full race as well. One 11 year old finished in amazing time, beating all of the women and a majority of the men as well. Special mention also goes out to Walter’s 9 year old son who thought he was in the kid’s race and ran the entire 5k while his dad looked everywhere for him.
When the 5k was over, we had a special race for kids on the cancha. This was by far my favorite part of the event. We had a bunch of library regulars show up ready to run, along with the kid’s of some of the 5k participants. We split the group up into two age groups, the 5-9 year olds running one time around the field, and the 10-14 year olds running two laps. The kids all got really excited and took off sprinting as fast as they could, and collapsed in the grass panting after crossing the finish line. There were enough leftover donations to be able to give each of the kids who ran a PowerAde bag, and we awarded prizes to the winners after the awards for the 5k.
During the event, Emily and the adult nutrition students sold healthy snacks they had prepared the night before, and handed out information about our programs. We did brief demonstrations of all our women’s exercise classes, and had quite a crowd join in with us. The event drew great support from our community, library regulars, friends and our adult students. It also helped to spread the word about Manna, and brought some new faces from as far as Quito to see what we do here. Stress aside, the event was a lot of fun to plan, and we look forward to seeing it grow in the years to come!

Early morning inscriptions 

On your mark... 

Red Cross volunteers 

Our neighbor at the finish line 

Emily selling snacks from nutrition class 

Our niños getting ready to run 

Emily, Nicole and Wendy coming in fast 

Our male winners, all the way from Quito

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Profe Nicole getting her face painted while visiting an indigenous village in Tena with summer vols

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Session 2 Has Begun

On Saturday we said goodbye to our Session 1 summer vols (miss you all already!) and got to work cleaning the house and grocery shopping to get ready for Session 2. Luckily for us, one of the summer vols, Amanda, decided to stay for both sessions which is going to be a huge help. Amanda first came to the Manna House in March on a UGA Spring Break trip. She fell in love with the kids in the library, and the adults in Charlie's English class, so she is back again. It has been really nice for us having Amanda here, first of all because we love her, and second of all because she makes a great leader for the group. You can read her final blog post from Session 1 and her advice for the Session 2 vols here.

So most of Session 2 arrived Sunday evening, and spent the day on Monday touring Quito and getting adjusted to the altitude. One of the vols had some trouble with flights and will be arriving on Wednesday. The girls are excited to be here and get involved in the programs. You can read about their experience first hand following the Session 2 blog here. 

A big thank you to Molly, Joanna, Tucker, Brooke, Suzie and Amanda for all of your help during the past month and welcome to Ecuador Session 2!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

And the Race is on!

When we first had the idea to put on a race in Rumiloma back in January, we had literally no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We mentioned the idea at our women’s exercise party and found some definite interest in the community. We set the original date (for March) and then started doing our research and talking to people with more experience in race planning. We quickly realized we were in over our heads, and if we wanted the race to be a success we would need a lot more time. So we moved the date to June to give ourselves some time to plan and organize. Well, now its June and too much time turned into no time at all before we knew it. So the race is on to finish everything we need to do and get ready for the big event on Saturday, June 23rd.

Ecuador seems to be in a race craze right now, and we wanted to join in. Our idea is to bring a race to the people in Rumiloma, promote exercise and a healthy lifestyle, and of course introduce more people to our centro. The majority of us in the Manna house are passionate about running, and we want to be able to share this with our community.

The entire process has been a lot of work, and we hope to see it all pay off with a successful event. We have spent the last few months writing lots of letters, talking to the transit police to close the roads and the Red Cross to ensure the safety of our participants. We have written to various companies all over the valley to try and find sponsors to help out with the race costs. We have been turned down by some and helped out generously by others. We have definitely learned the value of connections during this process. Something that I love about living here in the valley is the power of the word vecino. Our neighbor Caesar has been indispensable in the process of finding sponsors, walking me around Sangolqui and asking businesses to do us a favorcito and help out with the race. We have also been able to reignite our partnership with EPV, the cooperativa next door to the centro (our library vecinos), and they are helping us out a ton with event promotion and inscriptions. A friend of ours, Nolo, hooked us up with a friend of his in Powerade, who much to our surprise agreed to sponsor our race! We were amazed that they were willing to support our small race in a small barrio in the valley, but again, there is the power of connections. We opened inscriptions yesterday with our first runner, one of our other neighbors, the president of our barrio in Sangolqui. We are extremely anxious and excited to see how the race turns out, I will be posting more updates as the date approaches!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Teen Center Party

We have been talking for a while now about having a party in the teen center to boost attendance and just to try something new. We have had a few parties in the library this year, but never one just for teens. Taking advantage of the extra chaperones we have with the summer vols around, we threw a party for teens (12 and older) last night. We advertised the party at last week’s movie night, in the library, and at Chaupitena, the high school where Emily and Taylor teach nutrition classes. We weren’t sure what to expect having never done this before, but the party was a great success. The teen center filled up early with kids playing ping-pong and videogames, and fighting over what music to play on my ipod. As we hoped would happen, the teens mainly entertained one another, flirting, chasing each other around and trying their hands at break dancing. They all enjoyed the frozen pizza and cachitos and apart from a few spilt sodas, there was no permanent damage done. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and we are hoping to see a few new regulars in the teen center now.

Yesterday also happened to be a special day in Ecuador, el día del niño (Kid’s day). Special programs were held in schools, and we put the summer vols on planning some fun activities for our kids in the library. Molly and Amanda baked cakes, and took all the kids out to the cancha to play soccer after art class. With all the sugar and added excitement yesterday was an extra crazy day in the centro, but the time flew by.

 Summer Vols Amanda and Molly passing out refreshments

Kevin and his Cachitos 

Chaupitena teens playing cards