Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Construction is Finished! Vandy Break Group Completes the Greenhouse

Thanksgiving has come and gone and with it our wonderful group of short-term volunteers from Vanderbilt University. As I mentioned in my last post, the fall break group was here to help out in the Environmental Health Program by constructing a plastic bottle greenhouse on the roof of the library. The idea for a plastic bottle greenhouse “sprouted” from our new recycling program in the library.  As community members continued to donate plastic bottles, we wanted to demonstrate other ways in which recyclable materials such as plastic bottles can be reused instead of tossed in the trash. Once the group arrived the greenhouse went up quickly, with only a few minor bumps in the road. By Saturday it was complete with planting boxes and a new composting bin, for the scrapes let over from Adult Cooking and Nutrition.  After our holiday break we will have a planting party to show off the greenhouse to our community and get some herbs and vegetables in the ground for our cooking classes! 

Check out these photos of their hard work and fun adventures here in Quito and the Valley:

Our wonderful Vanderbilt group (plus their awesome leaders) 

Our Vandy group leaders, Lauren and Roo, at the Bascilica 

Group at the top of the Teleferico

Sorting bottles 

Making the compost bin 

The FINISHED product! 
While the group was here they also helped out in other various Manna programs! Many enjoyed getting involved in our other education programs, such as teaching English and nutrition. Here is an account from volunteer Lauren Pak about her participation in various Manna programs as well as work with partner organizations like ESPE:

"As Manna’s Thanksgiving Service Participants, we had the unique opportunity to participate in a variety of community development programs.  We were excited to get involved in various education programs, specifically nutrition and English literacy. Here are some of our collective experiences:

Pre-school:  Not only were the kids a joy to work with, it was a wonderful experience to interact with small children.  Since some individuals didn’t know how to speak Spanish, it was lovely to see how communication and interactions can occur through physical touch as found with the preschoolers.  Language learning starts and is the most effective at a young age.  A good foundation is necessary for any kind of learning, and it was wonderful to see how Manna was working to build a strong starting point for the future.  It was interesting to see hear from the preschool teacher as well that some kids didn’t know their colors in Spanish but knew the vocabulary words in English.  As shown, primary education has an enormous impact in child development.   

Some of the vols spending time at the local pre-school 

Elementary: The elementary school was an eye-opening experience.  The children were very sweet.  They all clapped and were so excited to see new faces.  A sad realization was the fact that these classrooms were overpopulated and that there was a disparity between the learning levels of the children.  The problem lies in the fact that there are no extra classes to help those either being left behind in their academics or programs for those who are needing more stimulation.  

Helping out in nutrition class 

University: Since we are college students ourselves, it was interesting to see the community dynamics of the local Ecuadorian university and how it was similar and different from our own experience in the United States.  It was humbling to see with how much tenacity the students worked to learn English.  Some students were in their early 30s and came back to school to learn, others were married to native English speakers and wanted to learn how to communicate more effectively, and others had dreams of starting their own company in the United States and were hoping to cultivate heir English skills.  Overall, it was inspiring to see how motivated these students were to learn English in order achieve success." 

Headed to ESPE, the local university, to chat with English students 

No comments: