Location
  • Ecuador
    • Amazon
    • Amazon
Length
1 to 52 weeks
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, Payment plans, BIPOC funding

Program Details

Language
Spanish
Age Min.
18
Age Max
55
Timeframe
Short Term Spring Break Summer Winter Year Round
Housing
Apartment Guesthouse Host Family
Groups
Small Group (1-15) Medium Group (16-30)
Travel Type
Budget Older Travelers Solo Women

Pricing

Starting Price
900
Price Details
EXPENSES:
$900-$1,300 per month depending on length of stay

Manna Project's Program Coordinator position is among the most affordable long-term volunteer options available.

WHAT IT COVERS:
MPI provides a living package for volunteers that covers housing, food, transportation within country (including to/from the airport), visa, cultural experiences, quarterly professional retreats, and professional development from community leaders as well as international development professionals and an alumni network of 2,000+ including lawyers, CEOs, start-up founders, social workers, doctors, and many more.
What's Included
Accommodation Some Activities Airport Transfers Equipment Meals SIM cards Transportation Visa Wifi
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance
Nov 06, 2023
May 22, 2023
5 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Since 2004, Manna Project has offered life-changing cultural immersion experiences, allowing our volunteers to integrate themselves into the communities we serve, forming authentic relationships and gaining a first-hand understanding of the complexities of international development. MPI operates in the Kichwa town of Shandia in the Ecuadorian Amazon where we collaborate with local community members and volunteers to realize the shared goal of breaking the cycle of poverty.
At Manna, you will be part of the process of community development, leading already established programs and creating new ones where the community's visions intersect with your own education and passions. This unique model is designed to fulfill our mission of positively impacting underserved communities while empowering our volunteers to become social change makers. This position is perfect for someone looking to expand their leadership development, while experiencing a new culture and making lifelong friends.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We are a very small organization and we strive to work directly with our volunteers to give them individualized support. All participants on site have one-on-one support from our onsite staff as well as a Program Director who serves as a peer mentor. In addition to offering individualized attention, we are also able to be flexible to use our vast network to offer even more individualized support and professional networks and connections.

LGBTQIA+ Support

We are a very small organization and we strive to work directly with our volunteers to give them individualized support. All participants on site have one-on-one support from our onsite staff as well as a Program Director who serves as a peer mentor. In addition to offering individualized attention, we are also able to be flexible to use our vast network to offer even more individualized support and professional networks and connections.

Impact

Sustainability

We're onsite in the Amazon Rainforest working with communities that are directly impacted economically and physically by global climate change. We explore programming that will help keep the Amazon Rainforest the necessary ecosystem that it is as well as sustainable programming that encourages a stewardship with nature.

Ethical Impact

We prioritize community-driven development, empowering local voices and promoting sustainability in all our projects. We operate with transparency and accountability, ensuring that donations and resources are used efficiently to benefit the communities we serve. Additionally, we place a strong emphasis on cultural sensitivity and respect, fostering relationships built on trust and mutual understanding in all our initiatives.

Program Highlights

  • Deeper Cultural Immersion: Living within the community and sharing daily experiences provides a more profound cultural immersion experience, fostering genuine connections and friendships.
  • Individualized Contribution: Depending on your skills, interests, and the needs of the community, you may have the opportunity to develop and lead individual projects, tailoring your contributions to specific community needs.
  • Mentorship and Learning: You will be mentored by and become a mentor to local community, including personal guidance, support, and educational opportunities. This mentorship can be a meaningful and transformative experience for both parties.
  • Resume Enhancement: Your volunteer experience with MPI is a significant asset on your resume, with experiences that include Public Health, WASH and engineering, business development, education, and international development among others.
  • Everything you need to live and work in Ecuador for the length of your stay including food, visa, housing, transportation in-country, and professional retreats

Program Impact

Volunteering with Manna is all about making a big impact, here's what you can expect:

Empower Communities: Dive into indigenous Kichwa communities, making a lasting impact on education, healthcare, and economic growth.

Skills That Rock: Level up with essential skills in education, healthcare, and project management for maximum impact on your personal journey.

Be the Game-Changer: Take the lead, make those game-changing moves, and see the world transform before your eyes.

Global Changemaker: Travel, embrace diverse cultures, and amplify your impact, all while creating worldwide connections.

Ride the Impact Wave: Forge connections that last a lifetime, both with fellow volunteers and the communities you serve.

Values Redefined: Reevaluate your purpose, adopt social responsibility, and become a global citizen in the making.

Fuel Your Ambition: Kickstart careers in international development, social good, and more, driven by your passion to make an impact.

Impact in Action: Watch your moves create waves of positive change, leaving an indelible mark on yourself and those in your new community.

Popular Programs

Kids at a community health and nutrition class

One of the most pressing needs in Shandia is improved access to clean water. While 90% of residents have water piped into their homes, it comes untreated from the Napo River and results in high rates of water-borne illnesses, intestinal parasites, and other heath issues throughout the community. To help address this, MPI is launching a comprehensive water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) program as our first project in Shandia that will take a practical and theoretical approach to public health.

The youngest members of our community enjoying a movement workshop

Ecuador, like much of the world, has high rates of gender-based violence, environmental destruction, and poverty. At Manna, we believe that children are the key to long term, sustainable change in communities. Through arts classes, sports camps, health and wellness workshops, English classes, and after school clubs, Manna aims to create a more confident, engaged, and passionate generation in Shandia that can change the world.

Afterschool conversation club with our teens

Shandia is located in the Amazon, a region whose mountains, waterfalls, and rivers attract tourists from around the world. Because of this, ecotourism is rapidly growing and the ability to cater to an international audience is important to be able to sustain the local economy. Manna hosts English classes for different levels as well as conversation hours, community events, and supports English teaching in the schools to serve the community goal of increasing ecotourism.

Related Programs

Program Reviews

4.91 Rating
based on 22 reviews
  • 5 rating 90.91%
  • 4 rating 9.09%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 4.85
  • Support 4.9
  • Fun 4.95
  • Value 4.85
  • Safety 4.85
Showing 1 - 8 of 22 reviews
Default avatar
Ben
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

6-month term volunteering with Manna

Manna offers a unique and positive volunteer experience. It's especially great for someone who has not lived abroad for an extended period of time before. The staff and other volunteers are friendly, helpful, and wholly committed to Manna's mission.

Living in the group home provides a natural social outlet. I am still friends to this day with several of my co-volunteers! However, this means that you have to be intentional about exploring the community and country if cultural exposure is important to you. Luckily, the volunteering schedule is flexible provides ample opportunity to explore the Ecuador. We frequently took weekend trips into Quito and hiked up the mountains.

Manna excels at partnering with the community to meet their needs and foster relationships. Its services are created and operated with input from the local population. Manna also includes its volunteers in the strategic decision-making on how to allocate its resources, or develop new programming.

Pros
  • Live and work with a group of other volunteers
  • Volunteers can be involved in operational decisions within Manna
  • Ecuador is beautiful and Manna gives you time to explore it
Cons
  • The cost can be prohibitive - I recommend securing most funding before you go
  • It won't be as meaningful if you aren't conversational in Spanish
38 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Ye
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Manna Project International- Program Director

Getting to volunteer as a program director in Ecuador is definitely an eye opening experience which involves a lot of personal and professional growth. In my six months spent volunteering in the rural community, I got to become a part of the community and share many memorable experiences. I saw first hand the positive impacts that the volunteers had on the communities they served. Overall this was a very meaning experience and a big part of my personal life that I would love to share with others.

Pros
  • leadership opportunity
  • helps improve communication skills
  • helping others
Cons
  • anxiety with traveling
  • stress
  • getting used to a different lifestyle
41 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Danielle
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Short Term Service in Community Development

Over Spring Break 2023, I led a trip of twelve students from Michigan Technological University on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Sangloqui in partnership with Manna Project International. Their staff was truly fantastic and the trip was one of the most affordable we were able to find! Both Jeff and Abby helped make arrangements for our trip and ensured our students were prepared for the journey and Abby was with us every step of the way when we were in the country. She was an excellent translator, bonded with our group quickly, and shared great insights to make the experience more impactful. Our service was well balanced with experiencing the cultural aspects of the area, including an Empanada making class, several meals at local restaurants, and a day exploring Quito. Abby was adaptive to our needs and sought to match our interests wherever she could. This included increasing our hours of service when asked, incorporating regular opportunities for reflection, and arranging a tour with a technological university in the area. More than one of the twelve students who participated showed serious interest in returning for a program director role in the future, which I think speaks to the strong connections that were made, the positive experiences that were had, and the impact of our time in Ecuador.

Pros
  • Great cultural experiences with local residents.
  • Supportive and adaptive staff who translated on our behalf.
Cons
  • The only one I can think of is a handful of downpours. Pack an umbrella and a raincoat!
44 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Isaac
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

MPI

Working with Manna Project International was an unforgettable experience. The culture, the locals, the staff were all amazing. The work was meaningful and there were many people who we got to assist daily. There is also a large amount of people who are highly motivated to learn English and their energy is contagious which leads the teachers to be more enthusiastic when teaching. Lastly, the nature and hikes in the area are unbelievable. You can hike volcanoes within a few miles from the center or you can go on a bit of a road trip into the great Amazon Rainforest!

40 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Emily
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Manna Project International Alternative Spring Break

I had such a wonderful time volunteering with Manna Project International. This experience was supposed to be about helping others, however, I feel like I learned so much more than I gave to people. My experience was so insightful and enriching and I am forever greatful to have had this opportunity. The community members I interacted with in Ecuador were so kind, welcoming, and made me want to become a better person. I am very passionate about the work that Manna does and I am proud to have worked with an organization that makes such a large different in peoples lives.

Pros
  • Cultural Immersion
  • Travel
  • Helping Others
46 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Maddie
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Chillos Valley, Ecuador

My experience was incredible, from working with the PD's to constantly having support from Abby. We learned a new song called Piel Canela when dancing with elderly homies. We grew a craving for Choco Bananas. We were able to connect with younger members of the community and play fun games with them. We were able to practice our spanish skills with younger generations and those who worked at the market. Embracing the challenge of a communication barrier is what really drove our group closer. We were able to experience a blend of service projects, excursions, and cultural immersion.

Pros
  • Being forced to step outside of my comfort zone
  • Connecting on a deeper level with other members and the community we served
  • The cost was incredibly affordable for the plethora of experiences we had.
Cons
  • The communication prior to the trip in terms of lodging.
  • Toilet paper shortages
  • Felt a little unplanned at times.
47 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Muntaha
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Fall Intern at Manna Project International

Being an intern at MPI has certainly helped me learn more about myself and how a group of people can make such large impacts in the lives of others. Here at Manna, participating in the weekly activities, teaching English classes, leading fundraising initiatives, researching grants, and designing for the social media platforms have all been both successful and influential. Working with MPI has certainly been a great experience I will remember for life, as the people are so kind and brilliant about Ecuadorian culture and overall improving lives from education, health, wellness, and community programmes. I encourage everyone to volunteer at MPI, as it is certainly a valuable experience.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would change the strategies I used in teaching the kids and incorporate more interactive games and exposures to English through reading short stories and songs. Despite the virtual setting, I would like to improve on making strong social connections.
79 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Jefferson
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Impactful year abroad that allows for personal and professional growth

I chose Manna Project International - Ecuador because I wanted to do social work abroad for my first year out of college. MPI checked all the boxes I was looking for: impactful, safe, and a great work - life balance. My biggest take away from my 13-month stint as a Program Director was that Manna was not only focused on improving the quality of life of the people of Ecuador, but made it the goal to assist in the personal growth of their volunteers as well. I felt like I was making a difference in the lives of the people that took part in our programs, but also felt I was gaining valuable life and work experience. After Manna, I found I was referencing something I did during my year there in every question I was asked in job interviews. Because I was able to choose the programs I wanted to lead, I received a wealth of different experiences.

And on top of all the grant writing, microfinance, and teaching experience I was receiving, I got to travel all around an absolutely gorgeous, diverse country that I knew little about going in, but turned out to be a hidden gem in South America. We lived at 8000 in the valley outside of Quito in the Andes so had gorgeous vistas in our backyard. With a seven hour bus ride West, you were on the Pacific ocean, two hour bus ride south you were in a cloud forest near active volcanoes, and a six hour ride East took you into the Amazon. It truly is a beautiful country that you can explore fully during your time with Manna.

My experience not only helped my grow personally and professionally, but I also enjoyed every minute of it. 10/10.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I tried Cuy or as we know it in the US, guinea pig.
86 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers