Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Women's Exercise Party

Round table discussion on wellness
Janine thinking deep thoughts

People of all ages made it

A final exercise demonstration to round it out

This past Saturday, we had a party for our Women’s Exercise program to attract more women to our classes and to address a health topic that’s on the minds of most Ecuadorian women.  The topic of this party was how to get rid of belly fat, which sounds ridiculous as I’m typing it out, but it’s a big concern to women here.  However, we didn’t just want to focus on the exercise aspect of burning fat.  We also wanted to stress the importance of having a healthy diet and a balanced lifestyle.  So, we merged the party with our cooking and nutrition class in order to draw in people who were interested in both exercise and nutrition.

It ended up being a huge success!  We had around 15 women there, and they were so attentive, some even taking notes, as we talked about exercising and eating healthy in order to decrease belly fat.  Before the exercise talk, Madeleine and Janine led the cooking and nutrition talk, handing out a healthy smoothie recipe that we then made with the women.  Then Heather talked about foods that are good to eat when trying to cut down on belly fat, Jenni led the discussion on the health risks of having belly fat, and I talked about exercises and lifestyle habits that help to reduce belly fat.  After that, we showed them some exercises that target the belly area and did a zumba demonstration to give them a taste of what our exercise classes are like. 

Because of the great turnout and enthusiastic responses to the party, we’re hoping to see an increase in attendance in women’s exercise classes!   


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tingo Pools

All work and no play...

This saying does not exist for us here in Ecuador.  Combining our work with play, we took the jovenes on a field trip to Tingo, a local water park.  Spending all morning splashing around with our swim caps on (my first time sporting one), somersaulting into pools and riding the slides, a fun time was had by all.  Returning in the back of a pick-up truck (normal mode of transportation here), we shared popcorn and jokes as the sky turned gray, an afternoon storm quickly approaching and ending our day at the water park. 

 Playing in the kiddie pools
Just floating around..
 El tobogán

Teaser for Women's Exercise Party Post

Awesome picture from the Women's Exercise Party the girls hosted on Saturday. Post coming soon from someone that was actually there.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

¡Fiesta de Rumiloma!

 Joey and Jefferson testing their strength.
 Ecuador's Spiderman.
 Bird's-eye view of the party.
 Firetruck rides.
 Diana and her daughter Martina getting groovy.
 Jefferson networking with Nancy from one of our partner organizations.

Mis Amigos,

This past Saturday the Manna team hosted the annual community celebration known as Fiesta de Rumiloma, or FDR.  We were under the impression FDR was a day of celebration for the great President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; turns out we were misled. 

Rising early from our cozy beds to clear views of Cotopaxi and Iliniza Sur, both majestic mountains to the south, the crew began setting up tables for our partner organizations, a face painting station for the Red Cross, as well as numerous other activities to keep the community members entertained throughout the morning.  The Cooking and Nutrition Program had a bake sale while the Preventative Health Center distributed health information.  We had inscriptions for classes open to the public, signing more future students up for our English courses.  Local bomberos, firefighters, showed up later in the day for an equipment demonstration and a fire safety discussion followed by free firetruck rides through the community.
The Women's Exercise team demonstrated the wide variety of exercises they offer with short workouts from all different classes.  We had tug of war, a jump roping contest, corn hole, and soccer games all going on simultaneously.  We had a raffle, offering everything from free English classes for adults and children to free language exchange lunches with some of the Program Directors.
But most importantly we had a great time putting on this event for the community in which we work and live.

All in all, the day was a huge success.  Severely sun burnt and exhausted, all group members returned home after another successful day down here in Ecuador.

Thanks for stopping in and we will keep you posted on more Manna happenings to come.


Friday, January 18, 2013

President Correa Rally

The upcoming presidential election of Ecuador is in February so there's been a noticeable increase in political activity since we've been back. One of the most exciting events to happen occurred yesterday when President Raphael Correa held a rally in Sangolquí at Parque Turismo. In typical Ecuadorian fashion, we were told numerous starting times for the rally. So by one o' clock we were all raring to go and excited that even those that were on Library and Teen Center that day could make it. We then learned it was at three so went with a slightly smaller group at that time. Once we arrived, we couldn't help but notice that for an extremely popular president with an approval rating of 80%, there were very few people there. Of course, that was because it actually started at five and we were two hours early. I had to head to the TC but I heard by the time Correa came, the block was packed with, for the most part, rabid Correa supports.The Presidente wasn't able to project all that well since he had had three campaign stops before ours and was quite hoarse. What we all did take away was the insanely addictive campaign song that has been stuck in our heads now for two days. Sorry to do this:

A crowd

El Presidente

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Recruitment Help

Well the first week back has been busy as ever. Inscriptions are already on fire and most of our classes have hit the limit. But instead of a usual update, I'd like to ask a favor for all our readers. The applications for next years PD's have been coming in a little slower than previous years. If there is someone that you know that would be a good fit for any of the MPI sites (but mainly Ecuador, because come on, it's the best) please let them know about Manna. Also, if you are a part or know of any listservs that would want to know about Manna, you could pass along the blurb I've posted below. Thanks for your help and your continued following of MPI Ecuador.

Graduating this year?  
Looking for a unique summer internship?
Embark on the adventure of a lifetime with
Manna Project International!

Manna Project International is a non-profit organization that specializes in holistic community development.  We connect young professionals and recent college graduates with international service opportunities in
Guatemala, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.

Apply to be a 7- or 13-Month International Program Director! The day-to-day operations at each of our sites are run by teams of international Program Directors who design and implement community development initiatives in a range of fields, including health, environment, education, and micro-finance.  

Be a part of our Summer Internship Program! Through MPI's 4 to 8 week Summer Internship Program, interns assist the Program Directors in planning and leading programs on the ground in Guatemala, Ecuador, or Nicaragua. Interns use their skills and interests to determine the programs with which they work, and many choose to design and lead their own project!

For more information on these unique opportunities, visit or contact

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Home Again Home Again

Eight of nine have made it back home safe and sound. We are still desperately awaiting the arrival of Lucy from her hiking trip in Peru to make our house complete once more. We leapt back into the swing of things yesterday with the opening of the Library and had a great crowd of eager faces waiting for us.

Classes begin in two weeks so we'll be spending them advertising and setting up our Festivales de Rumiloma. FDR is a venture put on my Manna to promote ourselves and our partner organizations to the people of Rumiloma. Jenni and Joey are in charge and have already been working hard at getting everything organized. There should be games, competitions, music, food, dancing, and a moon bounce.  You know where I'll be for the entirety of the party. It's great to be back and I'm looking forward to continuing this blog with Profe Pepe.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Vacation Update

Oh, the places we will go. .

A quick check-in from the Manna crew.   Currently we are enjoying our holiday vacations; some of us back in the States, some of us here in Ecuador. 

Polly is back home enjoying time with family and friends in Connecticut.  She will be heading to San Francisco for his cousin's wedding in wine country!

Madeline started her break by traveling to Montanita, a popular Ecuador beach town, with Sarah and Polly.  She is home in Washington, D.C., celebrating the holidays with the family.  Spending New Years Eve in NYC, she returned home to host a baby shower for his sister-in-law, welcoming the first grankid into the family!

Jenni started her vacations traveling with a good friend from Ecuador camping in the Papallacta lake area.  Returning home to Colorado to spend time with family and friends, she is already back in Ecuador with her father visiting, keeping us company.

Janine started her vacation a bit earlier than the rest, returning home for Medical School interviews at Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Maryland.  Spending time with the family for the holidays in the Baltimore area she will be resuming interviews after the New Year before returning to Ecuador.

Lucy is back home in New Orleans with her family.  She has plans to travel San Diego to visit her boyfriend, who visited us in November and is an honorary member of Manna.  She will be back in South America soon, traveling to Peru with her sisters to hike the Inca Trail to Manchu Picchu.

Jefferson returned back to El Dorado, Arkansas for time with family and friends.  Spending New Years Eve in the Big Apple, he will back in Ecuador after a short stint in Cartagena, a popular Colombian beach town in the Caribbean.

Joey and myself spent two weeks in Colombia, spending most of our time in Cali, the Salsa capitol of the world.  After a few days spent in Ladrilleros, a small Colombian island in the Pacific, we returned back to Ecuador with new dance moves and traveling stories.

Heather has been splitting her vacation time between Washington, D.C. with her sister and Maine with the rest of her family.  Before Christmas she was in Philadelphia for a reunion with her girlfriends from last year's Manna crew.

New Years here in Sangolqui was so much fun!  Who knew that our little barrio turns into a host of live music, "las viudas" who are men dressing as women collecting change, people dancing Salsa throughout the night, fireworks filling the air with booming sounds and beautiful sights.

Vacation ends next week, when all of us will be back in the Manna house.  Check back with us then for updates and more interesting stories.

Happy New Year to all of our followers and supporters!

Best wishes,