Tuesday, June 9, 2015


1. Finding Independence: You call this place home. You know the bus stops, how to take a taxi, how to live independently. To actually live in a country, not only tour it and learning with hands on experience, has helped me recognize my positionality within a workplace, a community, and a society. -Kevin

2. Finding Comfort: Learning how to get around independently on public transportation is a freeing feeling and a right of passage to living in this beautiful, crazy country. -Allie

3. Thinking about the Future: Being here reinforced my desire to teach English in Spain. I learned how to teach the students more effectively! -Ben

Manna is doing great things in Ecuador, keep yourself updated and consider donating or volunteering!  -Amber

Sunday, June 7, 2015

10 Impactful Experiences for our Manna Interns

Interning at MPI-Ecuador is life-changing. You receive hands on experience by working closely with the people, developing the programs for the community, and participating in fundraising and other organizational roles. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and immersing yourself in a culture extremely different than ours can be a daunting task, but with very few days left in this beautiful country, we’d like to share some of our experiences with you!


1. Climbing Cotopaxi: It was time to sign up for events for the morning at our hostel. We had no idea what we should do. Allie stated that she sort-of wanted to hike to the glacier line of Cotopaxi. I had been thinking about it all weekend but, reading a book and laying on the hammock staring at Cotopaxi and the surrounding mountains was just as tempting. I turned to her and said “Allie let’s do it”. We signed up and left bright and early for the most grueling, beautiful hike I’ve ever been on. P.S. Hiking shoes are advised when climbing on sandy volcanic ash. -Amber

2. Manna English: My most memorable moment working with MPI was the first time I got to teach a whole English class. It was so much fun teaching the students and seeing them light up and be so excited to learn something new. I'm really going to miss them! -Ben

3. Adventure: I never thought I would be able to scale a waterfall, swing jump from a bridge, and climb to the glacier line of the tallest active volcano, let alone do it all in less than a week! -Allie

4. Mamitas: I’ve never had a younger sister. I really enjoyed playing the role of an older sister to the girls over the past couple of weeks. To let them know that they matter and someone out here cares about them, has made this program my favorite. -Karmyn

5. ESPE University: I’ve always enjoyed public speaking, but my clinical exercise science major is far from the classroom teaching experience. I would have never dreamed that traveling and volunteering would lead me to teach an English class to my peers. The class was on the pronunciation of “ed” words. It was my first time teaching English but the class was a success, hope they enjoyed it as much as I did! -Amber

6. Friendships: Forming some of the best friendships of my life through shared experiences, trials, and a lot of hard work is a priceless treasure that brings a lifetime of memories. I love you guys! -Allie

7. Yoga: I was worried about not being able to communicate with people as I'm not a Spanish speaker. This fear was proven to be unnecessary as soon as I taught a yoga class at Manna however! It was amazing that I was able to connect to the community members through yoga and share my passion! -Erica

8. Children: One day when I was working in the library, it was pretty rowdy. I started playing the kids and we went up stairs and started playing tag with the exercise balls shouting “mine” in spanish. That was my favorite library shift! -Amber

9. Community: I never imagined I could be surrounded by so many people with such beautiful hearts. The Ecuadorian experience is always a humbling experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. -Karmyn

10. Día de los Niños: To celebrate the Ecuadorian holiday Día de los Niños, the interns organized a party in the library. I helped out in the art area, making maracas (because we really needed more noise.) A couple little girls got into the box of art supplies and started making jewelry. The group sent one little girl up to me; she showed me an impressively crafted pair of earrings. “Que lindo,” I said, “they’ll look so good on you.” But she giggled and shook her head. She reached up and tugged on my ears as she exclaimed, “tuyos!” in that adorable high-pitched voice only kids have. Did she just make earrings for her profe? This is the sweetest thing that has ever happened to me. I lean down and let her put the earrings in for me, then give her the biggest hug in the world. I’m still wearing them now!   -Sara

Friday, May 29, 2015

La Vida Saludable!

      Recently, with the help of the new Manna interns, we have started a weekly health club out of the Manna Centro to provide community children with fun, interactive and educational health info. Our first week, we covered dental health by teaching the kids new facts and healthy habits about their teeth. After making them practice brushing for two full minutes to the tunes of an Ecuadorian pop song, we played trivia with toothbrushes as prizes. Did you know that you're supposed to brush the six different sections of your mouth for twenty second each? Well, the kids of Sangolqui do! 
       This past week, our interns prepared a lesson on "Eating the Rainbow" by emphasizing the importance of getting a wide variety of colors through different fruits and vegetables in your diet.
       Each kid colored and decorated their own rainbow plate and learned the benefits of each of their favorite fruits and veggies. This was of course followed by a very competitive trivia game and a healthy carrot snack for everyone. So far I have been surprised by the high attendance and interest of the kids in our new health club! We can't wait to see where this program goes in the next few weeks as we try to cover all the important aspects of a vida saludable/health lifestyle! 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Welcome Manna Interns!

Hello everyone!  My name is Ben and I’m one of the interns with Manna Project this summer. I am from Iowa and just graduated Iowa State last Friday with a primary major in Spanish, a secondary major in international studies, and a minor in music. I am very excited to work with Manna Project this summer to gain professional experience teaching English as a second language, improve my Spanish skills, and give back to a community. All of us interns have some big goals while working with Manna Project. 

We want to repaint the wall around the roof of the building with the beautiful mountain scenery around us. This is a community project, as students who visit the Manna Centro will join in the project. We currently have the base coat of paint completed, and will soon begin adding the mountains. The students can't wait to cover the wall with their handprints to show they helped with the project.

After completing the paint project, our next goal is to enhance Manna Project's Environmental Education and Nutrition programs by adding to the Green Roof garden. We want to add some flowers and plants to liven it up even more.

Our hope is to make more planter boxes where students can learn to plant and care for fruit, vegetables and grains. As they develop these skills and implement trial and error in the Manna garden, they can apply what they’ve learned to help their families grow healthy, low-cost food at home.

Other goals of the Session 1 interns are focused in the kitchen. We hope to paint, clean, and organize this high-traffic area to help simplify community life for the staff, and liven up the room. We’re striving to accomplish these goals in one short month here in Ecuador, but I think we can do it! 

Friday, May 8, 2015


    Before coming to Ecuador, I was obviously passionate about issues of gender inequality and sexism. Once arriving in this area and learning more about the culture of machismo and the numerous effects it can have on females, some of the Manna Program Directors felt like we wanted to do something to work with these issues. While we clearly cannot solve or end the issues of machismo ourselves, we tried to explore what we can do and what services we can provide. Beginning MPI Ecuador's Women's Initiative in January has been an exciting albeit rocky process.
           Firstly, we began working with a local partner organization that houses young and single mothers. We began by going weekly and tutoring. This was sometimes successful - sometimes not. My sixth grade math skills were not very impressive in English and definitely not very useful in Spanish. So we began to bring fun activities in addition to tutoring help.

Making smoothies, Earth Day cookies and painting pottery has allowed us to spend some quality time with these young women in a social and stress-free environment. While it is not as measurably productive as homework help, the girls seem to really enjoy it (although they are sometimes confused as to why there is a tall white woman telling them to make a vase out of homemade clay).
                Additionally, we began a series of discussions for women in our community center. Unfortunately at first, there was very low attendance.  We are now trying a new strategy: adding a weekly fun activity into the mix.  For our first "club" today, I left the house feeling tired and doubtful about our cooking night. At four o'clock, I sat with my co-worker, Kate McCaw (more commonly known as Kate the Great) and lamented that no one had shown up. Maybe we didn't advertise enough? Or maybe no one was interested? But in true Ecuadorian fashion, a woman did show up 15 minutes late. And then another. And then another!  We all prepared delicious Mexican food and chatted.  I was feeling awkward about bridging the conversation from guacamole into issues of gender inequality but the ladies brought it up themselves.  Excited to discuss their experiences and opinions on machismo, we sat talking (and eating tacos, of course) for over an hour.  It felt exactly as we had hoped (a feeling that can be rare in the community development world!) The women connected, had fun and were so open to sharing their thoughts.  While we can't "fix" the culture of machismo - we found that we can provide a fun outlet for a group of teen mothers, we can provide a space to talk about issues for local women and we can (and did) make delicious guacamole dip.  Although we are still figuring this program out, we are so excited to see were Manna's new Women's initiative goes!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Work Hard, Play Hard


   Last weekend, for our Third Quarter retreat, we traveled to a nearby and active Volcano, Cotopaxi.  Here we focused on exploring and evaluating our individual leadership styles while discussing how we have each grown as leaders through our time with Manna. It was refreshing and inspiring to focus on how we have grown both as individuals and as an organization. This retreat definitely gave us the inspiring break we needed to begin Quarter 4. With tons of new programs, projects and volunteers in the next few weeks, it was great to have this time to revive our group's outlook and energy level. Additionally, while staying here we were also able to have some exciting adventures. Some of us went horse back riding through the mountains (and are still sore 4 days later),  other hiked to the glacier line of the volcano (an amazing albeit cold hike) and others went jumping in a nearby waterfall.
  Staying in the Secret Garden Hostel, we had plenty of beautiful views, free coffee and jacuzzi time. Our leadership retreat was definitely one of our best so far and we are excited to see its impact as we begin our last quarter with Manna. 

April is the Month of Microfinance

April is the Month of Microfinance! 2015 is Manna Project's second year partnering with Month of Microfinance, a grassroots movement of student and professional organizations with a passion for microfinance and an intense commitment to learning.

Over at Monthofmicrofinance.org, you will find daily blog contributions from a range of organizations. Not sure what Microfinance is? Here is a 2 minute overview:

Find Month of Microfinance on Facebook
Find Month of Microfinance on Twitter
Find Month of Microfinance events in your area
Find out what people are saying and join the conversation - search #MoMF15!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Exploring Colombia


   Obviously one of the best things about volunteering abroad is the opportunity to travel around Latin America. This past week, some of us were able to travel to Colombia to celebrate Semana Santa (Holy Week).  We discovered that Bogota is huge and beautiful and has so much to do.

            We also discovered that Catholics take Easter VERY seriously which shouldn't really have been a surprise.  Additionally, we learned that the Colombian Peso system can be quite overwhelming.  Why are there so many zeros? After exploring Bogota and drinking a lot of delicious coffee, we flew to the Northern Colombian coast. We visited Tayrona National Park or, as I like to call it, the most beautiful place I've ever seen. It is absolutely unreal! 
        After hiking along the beach and spending the day reading Harry Potter in the sand (basically my ultimate dream), we were able to spent the night in hammocks on the beach before hiking back the next day.  Getting to see a new country and explore was amazing. We can't wait for our next trip (I'm thinking Brazil). It was definitely a pretty memorable Easter holiday. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

UNC Tarheel's Health Week

Our second week hosting Spring Break volunteers we had groups from the University of Georgia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The volunteers participated in two very exciting projects: building and renovating the existing green roof on top of the Manna Library center and a Health Week full of many different activities. Kate and I were leaders for the UNC-Chapel Hill group who explored the health of Ecuador through a variety of events.  

The UNC-Chapel Hill group fundraised an *incredible* amount of money that will first and foremost go towards revamping our Preventative Health Center and totally recreating this community program. (Thanks volunteers!!!!)  By equipping the new health room with the necessary resources, such as a scale, a desk, new blood pressure cuffs, and organized health books, we can now invite doctors and health professionals to come and put on events to serve our community and address current health needs. And thanks to the strapping, young UNC-Chapel Hill men, and their patience, we now have beautifully built desk! 

One of the main events was a Health Fair geared towards kids at the Manna Library. The volunteers constructed three stations: a hand-washing and teeth-brushing station, a nutrition station where they prepared a healthy salad, and an exercise station. Each child had to rotate through all three stations to receive a goody bag filled with toothbrushes, floss and other fun prizes! 

The volunteers also helped the Manna reestablish an old relationship with a local school and children's home for at-risk youth by giving health talks and demonstrations to several classes on the importance of having a balanced diet and overall good nutritional habits.  

To end the week they hosted a Sport's Day on the field across from the Manna center to prompt kids to get off the computers and get active! And the volunteers also  painted a beautiful nutritional mural at the local elementary school where the PDs teach nutrition classes. 

After a tiring but wonderful and fun week I was so impressed with what we had accomplished. It's a really cool experience as a PD to get to work with a group of passionate college students who want to spend their Spring Break serving the community and learning about a new culture (& even cooler when they're from your alma mater!). All of us here in Ecuador are so grateful for the hard work of both UNC-Chapel & UGA and the lasting changes and renovations made possible by their week of service! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Women's Week! (Starring: University of Michigan!)

          I can't say enough about how amazing and dedicated this group of university volunteers was this past week. Apart from volunteering to spend their Spring Break here at the Manna site, they did an amazing job of hosting Manna's first ever Women's Week. The problems of gender inequality here in Ecuador are numerous and complex but we are all interested in working to improve this area.  While our Women's Initiative is very new, it was amazing to have the opportunity to discuss and experience these fresh perspectives.

         During their time here, we hosted several community events and introduced the volunteers to some of the opportunities within this field of work.  One of my favorite projects was working with and learning about NADENA's work, a fair-trade organization that empowers women by assisting them in the production and sale of goods made entirely from recycled materials. Aside from providing an extra income for these individuals, we hope that these workshops will provide both the skills and confidence to explore other markets.   Additionally, our volunteers planned and led a women's exercise class and well as participating in Zumba in the  park with local community members.  In Manna's community center we hosted a discussion featuring a sociologist and expert on the subject of inequality in Ecuador. With great attendance and great discussion, it was awesome to provide this event out of our Community Center and to learn more about these issues from our amazing guest speaker.  Likewise, we spent an afternoon preparing a lunch for the local young mother's shelter we volunteer with while bringing them an unimaginable amount of clothing donations gathered by our university volunteers.  This group of volunteers certainly got to experience Manna's holistic approach to development, whether that be tutoring United Nations Peacekeepers or farming at the nearby at-risk youth shelter. In addition to helping with our existing programs such as English classes or Children's Nutrition, I hope our volunteers got to explore some of Quito and experience some of the many things Ecuador has to offer.   
                As a Program Director, it was especially inspiring to meet and get to know this young group of volunteers.  Experiencing their enthusiasm and new ideas was refreshing and seeing their dedication to our work was definitely an excellent reminder of what Manna is here for. 

                        ~Sydney McKenney~ 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

New Partnerships!

This week the Manna Ecuador team was excited to welcome a guest from the States to visit our community here in Ecuador: Shanyn Ronis, the executive director of the non-profit Education Global Access Program. Like Manna, E-Gap is focused on the importance of partnerships and community-focused development, and they hope to partner with us to develop job training courses for young adults that have had trouble entering the local job market. Their use of blended education techniques-- using in-class instruction and technology-based content-- helps students gain technology skills thats are demanded in the job market, while also learning about different aspects of running a business.

Shanyn, Manna Country Director Fred, and myself (Carley) spent much of the week visiting with different organizations that Manna has connections with in the community, including the Fajardo school district, the Patronato of Sangolqui, Fundación Aliñambi, and Hogar para la Madre Adolescente. With the goal of both strengthening existing partnerships and identifying students for E-Gap's first round of courses, our visits were wildly successful, and community partners are getting excited for us to officially begin this new program in August. 

Shanyn and the E-Gap team are looking forward to returning to Ecuador in late July or early August for a comprehensive teacher training for the new group of PDs, and to begin the first round of job training courses in our community. We couldn't be more excited for this partnership to move forward, and can't wait to see the amazing impact that it will have on the lives of those in Sangolqui and the Valle de los Chillos. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Carnaval - The Good and The Bad

‘Tis the season of water balloons, flour, foam and eggs – Carnaval! It’s an exciting time here in Ecuador, but unfortunately Carnaval brings the risk of getting pegged by water balloons (or perhaps eggs) on your way to work. But really, it is crazy here, and no matter where you are, you have to be battle ready.
            For example, Ann Lowry, Michael and I took a lovely trip to Baños this past weekend. As we were enjoying a breakfast of crepes and coffee on an outside patio (our first crepes since arriving in Ecuador), we heard a mischievous crackle and were suddenly showered in foam, crepes and all. Needless to say, we did not appreciate it.
            However, now that we are nearing our long weekend for the holiday, we are getting more in the spirit of Carnaval. Everyone has exciting travel plans. A large group of us are going to Guaranda, Montanita and Puerto Lopez accompanied by none other than everyone’s favorite Spanish teacher, Ivan. Kate has friends visiting and they are hitting Baños and Ambato before meeting up with the group in Guaranda for parades and chaotic Carnaval celebrations. Evan is in Cuenca, visiting with an old friend, and Carley has plans to go to Amaguaña and Ambato, which is a haven that has banned water balloons and has a beautiful festival of flowers this time of year. Michael and I both have parents visiting for the occasion. Michael and his father plan on pursuing adventure with the highlight being mountain biking down the gargantuan volcano Cotopaxi. I, on the other hand, am heading to Cuenca with my parents for some rest, relaxation, and sight-seeing.
  At the library, things have been calmer than usual as public schools are on a two-week vacation and many families have been out of town. We’ve had plenty of time to help with homework, play and converse on a one-on-one basis with Rumilona community members, which has been very nice. We have also had some time to pursue projects like painting bookshelves and fixing up the Preventative Health Center.
            Still, we are excited for some much needed time off, and will definitely take full advantage of it. We can only guess the stories we will have on the other side of such an adventure-filled weekend.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


One my my New Year's resolutions is to be more active and to explore the beautiful places that are all around me. Literally all around me. Just from the balcony of the Manna house I can see four different mountains (Cotopaxi, Pasochoa, Pichincha and Ilaló) on a clear day!  

I decided to stay in Ecuador over our holiday break and I got to visit some amazing places. I stayed near the Cotopaxi National Park and hiked Pasochoa and it was amazing! It was definitely challenging but so worth it when I reached the summit at 4,200 meters. When the other volunteers returned at the beginning of January, they too agreed that we need to do more active (free!) activities on the weekends. Since we work on Saturdays we're often tired and just want to relax come later Saturday, Sunday and even Monday. Living and working abroad is an incredible experience but is pretty exhausting at times.

Last Sunday we finally committed to hike! Ilaló is a steep mountain with large cross on top - Ilaló means cross in Kichwa. It is a short bus ride away and is a (supposedly) relatively short 3 hour hike. However, it is straight uphill the whole time. No breaks, just straight up. Kate, Jessa, Allegra & Perry (the house dog), and I set out for Ilaló a little later than expected so by the time we got there it was very hot. We started on a winding stone path and I immediately felt the altitude and how out of shape I was. After 2 1/2 hours of huffing, puffing, stopping and creatively walking uphill backwards to work different muscles we reached the top! And the view was stunning. We rested at the bottom of the iconic cross, munched on our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and took it all in as Perry harassed the grazing cows.   

The way down was a workout in a different way as in we all had to brace ourselves from tumbling back down the mountain. In under an hour we were in a taxi ready to head back home - and that's including having to restrain Perry while guys on dirtbikes zoomed by. We all collapsed on the dining room floor but with joy and the adrenaline that comes from conquering an amazing hike.  This kind of outing will for sure be a regular one for the Manna chicos! 
                            ~ Amelia Hulbert ~ 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Life in The Valley

Living in the Valle de los Chillos just outside of Ecuador's capital city of Quito provides us with the best of both worlds: we get to enjoy some peaceful moments here in the "suburbs" while still being close enough to enjoy everything the big city has to offer. 

This week I spent some time in downtown Sangolqui eating helado de paila [a special way of preparing ice cream in a large bronze pot...it somehow makes it extra delicious!] and enjoying people watching. Even though there is less to do in Sangolqui than in Quito, there always seems to be something interesting and particularly Ecuadorian going on... like hornados [whole roasted pig, famous in Sangolqui] in the market place, or pick up soccer games in front of the main church. 

This weekend I ventured outside of the Valley and also spent some time in Quito, exploring Parque El Ejido with friends. We also discovered that this week is the beginning of the Festival de Cine Latinoamericano [Quito's Latin American Film Festival], and are looking forward to spending our free time taking in some awesome movies!

Its seems like our time here is flying by, but I am so excited to continue discovering the amazing things that Quito and the Valle de los Chillos have to offer.
                                                                               ~Carley Clement~ 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Profe Cat

The start of new English classes is always an exciting time at Manna – we get to meet new community members and welcome back many friendly faces. The highlight of Inscriptions Day this quarter was seeing two long-term friends of Manna enter the library for the thousandth time, though this time with an alternative motive than playing on the computer or reading books. Jonathan and Mateo, ages 10 and 7, have been visiting the library almost daily for the past 6 years and are without a doubt our most frequent attendees. They have never before inscribed in our English classes because the $20 cost poses a barrier for their families, but this year we were able to offer both boys spots in Children’s Basic English - free of charge.

            Jonathan and Mateo are learning quickly and their excitement for English has spread to other children who frequent the library. Whenever not in class, they can be found reciting what they were most recently taught to the other Program Directors. Mateo consistently takes his worksheets home after class rather than storing them at the library for safekeeping. He has told his teacher, “My mom wants to learn English too. So whatever you teach me, I’m going to teach her!" We cannot wait to see these two progress through all our levels of classes and eventually master English as their second language!
                                                            ~ Catherine Althaus~ 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Our New Partner Organizations!

Over the last few weeks, the Ecuador site  has expanded our work to support several local partner organizations.  When looking at international development, many of us felt that we could be used best as a resource to sustain existing Ecuadorian institutions in addition to continuing our own Manna initiatives. When looking around our community we found several organizations that could use our support.  

United Nations Peacekeepers Several of us are holding twice weekly classes with a group of UN Peacekeepers to help them practice English with native speakers. Since the focus of the class is speaking and listening, it is a great opportunity for us to both expand our English program and learn more about the Peacekeepers' work. Since teaching English is definitely one of our group's favorite programs, it's been the perfect opportunity to offer more English classes. 

Antorcha de Vida is a local organization providing activities and therapy for mentally and physically disabled children - an amazing organization attempting to meet a great need with a small staff. We are now helping with their weekly horse therapy and water therapy to provide more support for the children. Working with water therapy to increase the mobility and flexibility of the children is both rewarding an enjoyable. It is great to connect with this group of children. For example, I frequently work with a young girl named Bonnie who loves to swim - using me for support. 

Aliñambi functions as both a school and home for about 30 at-risk youth. Children of all ages, many who have been orphaned or removed from their family, all live, play and learn at Aliñambi. They grow all of their food on site and are definitely in need of help on their farm. In addition to assisting with their agricultural program, we hope to start more  programs with the children such as nutrition programs or English classes.

Hogar de la Madre is a home for young teen mothers, run by two nurses in the local community and sustained through donations. We aim to provide donations of both food and clothing in addition to working one-on-one with these women in our weekly tutoring program. In the next few months, we hope to begin a child sponsorship program between donors in the states and these young women. While we constantly want to do more, it has been rewarding to work with an organization that is so in need of support. 

Gotitas de Saber is a local preschool where one of our PD's, Catherine Althaus, teaches English to about 60 three year olds each week. While that may sound terrifying to some (me), she loves working with the kids who are always ecstatic to see her and excited to demonstrate their ever-growing English vocabulary. 

Our main goal over the next few weeks is to continue to establish and foster these new relationships while serving as an asset where these organizations need us most.  Personally, I feel that working with other organizations can be transformational to how our organization functions in these communities. Working with everything from horse therapy to advanced English classes, our new expansions help us to embody Manna's holistic mission while strengthening these local institutions. Although we've got our hands full, this is just the beginning!

Monday, January 26, 2015

First Weeks on the Job

I arrived to MPI's Ecuador site in Sangolqui about 3 weeks ago. It's been a rush of learning about all of the various programs, figuring out how to get from place to place, and getting to know the 9 other new housemates who immediately impressed me with their passion for this community, their drive to see projects through to the finish, and their ability to find humor in any situation. The first couple of weeks of orientation, I was overwhelmed by the variety of programs and partner organizations everyone seems to be involved with but now that my third week comes to a close I think I'm getting the hang of things around here. 

One of the programs I have become involved with is Kid's Nutrition (which I'm sure folks back home will find humorous given my personal eating habits). Part of this program includes twice weekly visits to a local school called Chaupitena, where we spend about an hour talking to a class about nutrition and then the following visit we all make a healthy snack together. The volunteers involved with this during the past several months have had more than a few difficulties. Between language barriers and the lack of understanding by the teachers about how nutrition and cooking go hand in hand (why cook a nice egg white omelet when you could be baking a chocolate cake?), the volunteers definitely felt like Manna's presence at Chaupitena was not very effective or always appreciated. There was talk of discontinuing these visits and developing a curriculum to give them instead, but in the end the consensus was to soldier on, but decrease the frequency of our visits to every other week. 

Last Tuesday was my first day on the job, and I really had no idea what to expect. We decided to start last semester's curriculum from the beginning because scores on the final exam hadn't been exactly stellar. Amelia and I went over the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, and to our surprise the students remembered lots of the material and were actively participating throughout the class. It was an encouraging sight, and made me feel optimistic for our future involvements with Chaupitena. 

One thing I've learned in my first few weeks here is many times you feel like you put in hours of your time and 100% of your effort into something and it yields no results. What we do here isn't always rewarding, and it usually leaves you feeling like you aren't actually making an impact of any kind. I've also learned that the little victories are still victories and the smallest impacts are still impacts. So last Tuesday when Amelia and I asked our class to give examples of protein, we listened to enthusiastic responses of chicken! meat! eggs! fish! and basked in our glorious little victory, that is until one kid yelled out "RICE!"   ~ Ann-Lowry Brown 

Friday, January 9, 2015

We're Back!

After over two weeks of continuous cheese-eating and showering at home, we are all excited to return to Ecuador! After seeing the many snow-filled Facebook photos, I have never been happier to live on the equator. With about a hundred new ideas to put into action, we are especially excited to welcome three new program directors into the group - Ann Lowry, Allegra and Michael. We can't wait to see what talents, passions and changes they bring to our Manna dynamic!