Monday, August 27, 2012

Update and Coming Plans

     We've finished up our summer camp Saturday with a rousing party for the kids and their families. The campers were awarded diplomas lauding their many achievements over the past three weeks of camp. They also each received a CD containing a slideshow of the paseos, charlas, and art projects. Now we have a lull in activities over the next two weeks that we'll use to prepare for the start of our class programs which begin on September 11th. These include English, nutrition, cooking, and computer classes while women's exercise and the library times will continue to run on their regular schedule. 
     Currently, there's an on-going festival in Sangolqui with an upcoming bullfight as the main attraction that most of us plan on attending. We've also have planned an overnight trip to Cotapaxi, a nearby, looming 20,000 foot mountain, so I'll have plenty more to write on over the next two weeks to keep everyone updated.

Until then, heres a picture of the family to hold y'all over. 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

And Our New Country Director is.....

Heather Kryzak!

Our usual readers know Heather intimately because she was the voice of the blog for last years group. Heather has generously accepted an offer to stay in Ecuador with Manna through December with an option of staying for the entire year. We are all extremely excited to not only have a new director that knows the ins an outs of life at MPI Ecuador, but one who is also a joy and pleasure to be around. Welcome back Heather.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


We are entering our third and final week of camp and I have confidence in saying that it has been a major success so far. It has been our first responsibility as PD's and everyone has instilled confidence in the kids and community that this group is as capable and as fun as the last! Our advertising paid off and we have 28 children signed up with half of them new to the library and Manna! The camp is three hours in the morning and consists of a charla (lesson), arts and crafts, english lesson, snacktime, and then games. We've also been on two paseos (field trips) with one more planned for this week. My last blog post was a little heavy on the words so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  

 Craft time

Joey leading the daily charla 

Polly reading in english to the kids

Our first paseo to a local pool 

Polly and Walter

Madeleine "playing" with the kids 

Snack time with Miguelito 

Me schooling Bolivar in futbol

As camp winds down we'll be prepping for the beginning of our class in September and are excited to get into our regular schedule so stay tuned for that. Also I'll be following up with an announcement about our new Country Director! Until then.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Kids on the Cuadra

Hello MPIE readers,

Well the final cluster of the PDs of 2011-2012 left yesterday so my group has taken the reins and its safe to say that the Ecuador chapter of Manna is in safe, capable hands. This is not only my first blog post for Manna, but my first blog post ever so bear with me over the next few weeks as I get the tone of the blog and formatting under control. We started our summer camp on Tuesday this week and its been a huge success so far, however a more in-depth post on that will be coming in the next week. I just wanted to use this first post to introduce myself and my fellow bloggers who will be running Open Hands and Dirty Feet over the next year.

My name is Jefferson Deming, 22 years old, and a recent graduate from Vanderbilt University. Im from  El Dorado, AR, a small town in the southern part of the state. I've traveled a fair amount throughout Europe and South America and am looking to bring this experience to the blog. As aforementioned, this is my first go at blogging so am looking forward to learning the ropes. Im the director for Small Business Development, Agriculture, Computer Class, and the Teen Center so let me apologize ahead of the time for any bias.

A graduate in Health Sciences from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, Peter is looking forward to the next year and all the experiences ahead here in Ecuador.  He will be working in the Agriculture, Child's Nutrition and Preventative Health programs, as well as being an active member at Manna's Teen Center and Library. Pete will also be heading up our Video blogging which we hope to incorporate more thoroughly into the blog this year. 

Sarah Grossman is a graduate of Brown University '12 in International Relations. Born and raised in NYC, she has spent the last three summers working in community development in Panama, Mexico, and Ecuador. In light of her passion for serving impoverished communities, she joined Manna Project in Quito, Ecuador. She currently runs the Small Business Program, teaches Advanced Adult English, and does international PR. When she returns home, she hopes to pursue a career in non-profit and international development

Thats just a quick bio on the three of us who will running the blog and if you'd like to meet the rest of the PDs this year just follow the link below and read up on us all. And I think I speak for everyone when I say I am deeply sorry for how we all look in our pictures.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Ecuador... you will be missed

This has been a week of lasts as the 2011-2012 Program Directors hand over our lives and programs to the new group. As my last blog post I compiled a list of things we “old PDs” are going to miss about Ecuador as we had back to the US. It is unbelievable how fast the time passed, and how quickly this foreign country became our home and these Ecuadorians became our family and friends. August snuck up on us, and while I do miss friends and family at home as of right now there is no part of me that is ready to leave Ecuador. Well, asi es la vida… Here are the things that made this year incredible and we are really going to miss:

The food! cevichocho, hornado, seco de pollo, humitas, encocado, encebollado

The music - especially the constant salsa and reggaeton mixes on the public buses 

Hugging kids in the library

Riding the Capelo

Being the tallest person in a 50mi radius

The community members who constantly make us feel appreciated and welcome

Reading with Matias

Crepes and Waffles ice cream

Fresh fruit juices

Playing rapido

The adventure! We woke up everyday not really knowing what to expect and in Ecuador, the unexpected usually occurred  

Family dinners in the Manna House

The Choclo

Doing work that is fulfilling


The weather in the valley

Speaking Spanish

Teaching exercise classes

Being called “vecina” and “mi hija” but mostly being called “profe”

Living in the same house with some of our best friends

Our English students and the Adult English parties

Being constantly surrounded by the Spanish language

The amazing hospitality of Ecuadorians

Living in the mountains, there is nothing like waking up to the Andes every morning

The natural beauty of Ecuador

This year’s blog will be managed by Sara, Jefferson, and Pete. One reassuring thought about leaving Manna, the new group is awesome. MPI Ecuador is in good hands.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Seventy-One Surgeries and a Changed Community

Here is a guest blog from Nicole about Manna's first annual pet sterilization clinic:

In the community of Rumiloma, stray dogs roam the streets, making bus stops or sidewalks their homes. Without medical attention, these dogs carry disease throughout the community and freely reproduce. While spaying and neutering pets is more common in the United States, cultural and financial barriers prevent it from being the norm in Ecuador. The surgery costs a minimum of $100, about half of the average Ecuadorian monthly income.

Emily Samson, lead PD on the PHC program, recognized this issue early on and began brainstorming ways to answer such a fundamental need in our community. This past weekend, we hosted our first spay/neuter clinic; not only was this event a first for Manna, but it was the first clinic for our community of Rumiloma. The clinic was thought up, designed, and executed by our Preventative Health Care program with the assistance of the other PDs, including the new 2012-2013 PDs – their first big community event! Protección Animal Ecuador, a local Ecuadorian organization, provided volunteer veterinarians and technicians. We were also able to obtain some supplies from local organizations, while the remainder was purchased with our monetary donations.

The event started with a Friday night charla (lecture) at the Centro where people received their coupon for the next day’s clinic. The attendance was overwhelming, with more than 70 people in attendance, and our good friend and veterinarian, Christian, agreed to add an additional 20 surgeries to the agenda. The next morning, we were beat to the plaza by an eager group of community members waiting patiently and excitedly with their pets. After set-up and extensive training for all the PDs, we began the constant stream of surgeries that lasted from 9:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. PDs and vets were all hard at work with stations including: registration, shaving, administering medicine, operating on the animals, cleaning the tools, nursing the animals back to health, and returning them to their owners with extensive follow- up instructions. We all got our hands dirty—some of us very dirty—as we worked together to cover every need and step of the way. Despite a late start (an early one, on Ecuador time!), everything ran incredibly smoothly from start to finish.

While I loved being by the operating table watching and taking pictures of the swiftness with which our amazing vets did everything, some of the most memorable moments were returning the animals to their owners and being greeted with such heart-felt thanks by them. New PD Peter Wagner got to work closely with one of our vets and even at the end of a very long day reported that “the sterilization clinic was a great success and very rewarding to be a part of. I couldn’t think of a better project to get our feet wet working with Manna and the community.” Sometimes community development work is difficult; you do not immediately see the benefits of your work. However, 71 pets and a crowd of happy and extremely thankful onlookers are hard to overlook.

A very special thanks to all of our donors, who helped us purchase the supplies, Christian Guachamin and Protección Animal Ecuador for their collaboration and hard work, and Emily Samson, who instills in all of us a love for animals and desire for their health and well-being, whose dream and determination made this possible.
The charla held the night before the event attracted over 70 community members 

Joaquin keeping order with the waiting list 

New PD Pete was a huge help 

Christian getting the job done 

A very thankful pet owner