Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Interns trek Quilotoa!

A guest post from Adriana one of our 8 week summer interns:

This weekend the summer interns + Carryn and Torie traveled to Quilotoa. This was our first travel weekend and it was quite an adventure. Im not sure about the other interns but I had never traveled on busses with backpacks like that, but thanks to our great leaders, we made it to Quilotoa without a hitch. 

The whole group including trip leaders Carryn and Torie

After a 4 hour trip on 3 different busses we checked in to our "hostal." The rooms were great and thankfully had a small oven to keep our rooms warm. I definitely underestimated how cold it would actually be, but at an altitude of 12,841 feet I guess the cold makes sense. After having some lunch we prepared for our hike down the crater. I had seen the crater in pictures but once we finally made our way to the edge of the crater, I was blown away--it was stunning! The hike down the crater took us about 45 min, but the real beast was going back up. There were donkeys available to take us back up; however, we were determined (some more than others) to hike back up. After about an 1 hour and a half and many water breaks we made it to the top, exhausted and out of breathe. 

Laguna Quilotoa in all its glory 

PD Torie and intern Sophie enjoying the view
The next day we woke up at 5:30 am to watch the sunrise. We were a little disappointed that it was too cloudy to see the sunrise, but it was still beautiful! The rest of the morning we took a guided hike to see an Incan cave. The hike lasted about 3 hours and was much tougher than we were told, nevertheless we all felt very accomplished after we finished. 

The group on their Sunday hike to nearby caves 
Four of the six interns were also sick at one point during the trip but all in all it was a great weekend at Quilotoa! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Message from Jake Divine

Here's a post from Jake Divine, one of our 4-week summer interns here in Ecuador:

I’m one of the summer interns at the Ecuador site and I’ve just finished my first week here in Sangolqui and both Ecuador and Manna have superseded my expectations. This is my first visit to South America and the area has been beautiful, the people have been friendly, and programs have been fulfilling. As I am getting into the swing of things with the programs I will be helping with I am looking forward to spending the next three weeks here and getting to know the people we work with.

One of the programs I have assisted with is horse therapy for children with special needs through an Ecuadorian organization called Antorcha de Vida. This organization provides care, classes, and other resources to children with disabilities. Once a week the children do horse therapy, where they ride horses at a local military base. We helped the kids on the horses and then led the horses around the field as the kids enjoyed the ride and did stretching exercises at the instruction of a soldier who is trained in horse therapy. The kids also laid on their backs and stomachs on top of the horse. The theory behind the therapy is that the motion and energy of riding a horse is beneficial for the kids physically, mentally, and emotionally. I do not know anything about the research behind it but the kids certainly enjoyed it a lot.

From the outside, a slow walk around a field on a horse once a week might not seem like that big of a deal, but for these kids it means a lot more. These kids never get time to do independent activities so going to a place besides home or the center and do something active is something they really look forward to. Some of them had to overcome and work through either fear or physical disabilities to complete the ride but every single one of them did it. This is one way that they get to challenge themselves and figure out their capabilities. Not to mention it is a whole lot of fun. In the final section of the ride we got the horses to run with the kids on them. The kid’s faces lit up into wide smiles and they screamed with delight. After three hours of leading a horse around a field my shoes were soaking wet, I was sun burnt and tired, but it was all worth it when all the kids gave me big hugs afterwards. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them next week and do it all over again.

Country Director Fred with the Antorcha kids 

Jake leading the horse 

Heather and Adriana hanging out with the kids 

Fred leading the horse

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Summer Interns Have Arrived!

We are SO excited to welcome, Sophie, Jake, Caitrin, Sam, Adriana, and Rachel, our first session of summer interns to Ecuador!

The group of six arrived on Saturday night and immediately settled in very nicely. Their first weekend was spent getting acquainted with their surroundings. On Sunday PDs Claudia and Torie took the group into Quito to visit Centro Historico, the oldest area of the city. The group climbed the massive Basilica church, toured through the main plaza, and had their first almuerzo.  On Monday we spent the morning walking around our small town of Sangolqui, visiting the market, plaza, and main grocery store.  As more long term volunteers, the summer interns will be helping out with all of the Manna activities both at the library and here at our Manna house.

The wonderful new interns hanging with the Quito sign and famous Panecillo angel in the background 

Yesterday the interns spent their first afternoon in our community center/library. They attended Children's English classes, spent time in the Teen Center, and help sort a large donation of books that the library just received! Over the next few weeks they will be taking on larger leadership roles in all of of our programs, and possibly even starting new programs, such as music lessons in the teen center or teaching a short English course to kids on summer break. It is really fun to have new faces and energy at the Ecua Manna site and we are super excited to see where the summer takes us!

Every week a different intern will be writing about their personal experiences with Manna, keep posted to learn more!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

4th Quarter English Classes!

Last week we started our 4th and last quarter, for us current PDs, of both Adult and Children's English classes! It has been truly amazing to watch our English program grow so immensely over the past few years, and especially this year with the addition of 2 new classes, one in Adult English and one in Children's.

Here is a photo from PD Taylor Gaskill's first day of class. The kids are excited to be back in the Manna classroom and learning some English!