Longterm Volunteer in Ecuador- Education, Health and Community Programs

Video and Photos

Health
Health
Community Program
Community Program
Community members
Community members
Program Director with community member
Program Director with community member
Community member
Community member
Program Director with local community members
Program Director with local community members
Program Directors
Program Directors
Children in Ecuador
Children in Ecuador

About

For 3-13 months, during your time with Manna Project International you will experience life and work alongside other young leaders and community members. At our site in Ecuador, you will direct a variety of impactful programs designed to meet the specific needs and opportunities of the community. These include long-standing and established programs. You will also have the flexibility to create new programs where the community's vision intersect with your own education, passions and interests.

This unique model creates the most impactful experience for you and the communities you'll be serving, and is designed to fulfill our mission. This position is perfect for someone ages 18-24 looking to extensively expand their leadership development, while experiencing a new culture and making lifelong friends.

Highlights
  • Extensive ongoing leadership experience (language training, mentorship, quarterly retreats) and preparation for many professional fields
  • Access to a growing and very distinguished Alumni Network of 2,000+ and resources to help with your future
  • 5-10 personal days (depending on length of commitment); 10 national holidays annually
  • A communal experience of a lifetime
  • MEDEX international travel insurance and a visa to live in-country for the duration of your work with MPI

Questions & Answers

Reviews

98%
based on 15 reviews
  • Impact 9.6
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 10
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 15 of 15
Default avatar
Jefferson
9/10
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.
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Eric
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

10 week volunteer in Nicaragua

I volunteered with the Manna Project in Nicaragua in 2005. I think this was its 2nd year in existence. I still look back fondly on my experience and it has significantly shaped my perspective on the world to this day. The highlight of my experience was probably the people I interacted with, both the Nicaraguans and other volunteers, and I appreciate those interactions to this day as well. I also respected the organization's consideration and care for how to work with these communities in a way that would be truly beneficial to them and avoid negative unintended consequences often common in international community-development efforts. I only stayed for 10 weeks because I wanted to do environmental-related work and they weren't involved in that at that time.

Default avatar
Greg
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Exciting, Fun, Impactful Career Launch

I was a year-long program director in Nicaragua my first year after graduating college. I appreciated every day the fun, flexibility, and impact of working with MPI, but its only years later that I realize how much of my professional leadership experience and career success I owe to the experience.

In terms of day to day experience, we were truly immersed in a local community in need, building friendships and professional relationships with local individuals and families and NGOs, and being responsive to them to contribute our resources (our energy, our relationships, our fundraising, our knowledge) to support their local grassroots initiatives. It made every day interesting and rewarding. Having these local relationships meant we got a real view into peoples lives and families, designed more impactful programs, and also got to live like locals for a while.

In terms of long-term benefit, MPI gave me an opportunity to think critically, figure out solutions, design programs, and lead local people and US resources. As a result, when I went to interview for my first "real job" after MPI, they were blown away by the leadership and problem solving experience, and I quickly rose into management. I also stayed involved in MPI as a former team member on the board (for which there are frequent opportunities) and that gave me great finance and staff management experience. All of that has translated into a really effective career launch pad that helped me have experience that puts me ahead of other people even many years later.

I didn't sit in an office making photocopies and filing stuff for other people right out of college, I designed and led programs and an organization, and that experience still benefits me in jobs and life years later. Also, I had way more fun and adventure.

Default avatar
Erica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible personal and professional development

I worked with Manna Project International for almost two years, first as a volunteer and later as staff. I was based at the old site in Nicaragua, but I was familiar with the Ecuador site as well. The professional and personal experiences I had while working there were incredible. I got amazing language, leadership, project management and teaching skills. It was a great opportunity to do meaningful and hands-on work that will build your resume, give you a chance to travel, and, most importantly, help those in need. The perspective and experience I gained from Manna helped me get into medical school, and I think about my years there every day. I feel so fortunate to have worked with this supportive organization that has a view on community development work abroad that is similar to my own. I build relationships with community members in Nicaragua, my fellow volunteers and the staff at Manna that have continued throughout the years since I left. I can't encourage you enough to apply for this amazing opportunity. It is life-changing and has given me new perspective on life and also provided me with a ton of opportunities I would not have had otherwise.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Keep and open mind and take advantage of the months you spend there. It will be some of the best of your life.
Default avatar
Jessica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

13-Month Program Director Experience

I worked with Manna as a 13-month Program Director in Nicaragua and it was the best decision I could have made. The opportunity allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and experience meaningful service alongside new friends and community members. The relationship with the community was very welcoming and I fostered great relationships with the families and individuals. Also, I appreciated the autonomy Manna gave their program directors with the various programs that allowed growth and challenges that they can use after their experience in-country. Not to mention, you have the ability to experience a country and travel throughout. It was very special too to experience everything with others you are living with and who quickly become life-long friends. Working with MPI is truly a Mannamily family.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take advantage of every day to get to know the community and travel the country.
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Fiona
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great organization and great volunteering experience!

I have had the pleasure of volunteering with MPI at both their Ecuador and Nicaragua (not currently active) sites, and had a fantastic experience in both locations. As a month-long volunteer in Ecuador, I was impressed by the organization's community center and programs and loved the support from the staff and other volunteers. Being able to explore Ecuador was amazing - it's a beautiful country! As a year-long volunteer in Nicaragua, my respect for the organization's philosophy and impact grew even more. By intentionally focusing on developing relationships with communities, MPI allows great growth to happen for individuals and communities. If you're looking to make an impact and grow personally and professionally, MPI is a fantastic program and will jumpstart many other opportunities for you!

Carley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Highly Recommended! A life-changing experience!

I am so happy to have made the decision to live and work in Ecuador with Manna Project International. The two years that I spent with the organization were truly transformative and unforgettable. From a personal standpoint, the experience pushed me outside of my comfort zone every day as I worked with community members and grew my Spanish skills. From a professional standpoint, even years later I still speak extensively in job interviews about how I grew professionally while working abroad and gaining experience in diverse areas of nonprofit management - it helped me land my current job!

This program is set apart from all the others for the uncompromising focus on community and integrity of service, while also building up volunteers and giving them the unique and personalized opportunities they need and desire to grow. I would highly recommend Manna Project to all that are interested in becoming a part of the life-changing mission, and experiencing life in Ecuador!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I did not know how diverse Ecuador was before I lived and worked there with Manna Project International. There is so much beauty packed within such a small country! From jungles to pristine beaches to volcanos, there is nothing you can not find and experience in Ecuador.
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Abigale
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

January - August 2019 Program Director

I have absolutely loved my time serving with Manna in Ecuador! Through my 7 months with Manna, I've been able to work on community projects and programs that are very needed and appreciated by the community and that have helped me grow as a leader and improve my Spanish. Our days here in Ecuador are so varied, between programs at the Centro to helping out community partner organizations in the Valley, that I've never been bored. My favorite programs have been our nutrition classes like Kids and Adult Cooking and Antorcha, a swim-therapy program for kids with special needs, because they challenge me to be creative and flexible and the people that we serve are so full of joy! Beyond the programs, one of my favorite things about working with Manna is the relationships I have made with the community members and with the other Program Directors at our site. The community has been very welcoming and is always willing to show us around the Valley and take us on day trips so that we can see as much of Ecuador as possible. I know that I have made some lifelong friends in the community here and among the other volunteers on site.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The two most nerve-racking moments I've had here in Ecuador were when I taught my Kids Level 1 class for the first time and when I rappelled down a 20ft waterfall in the Amazon! My Kids Level 1 class was nerve-wracking because I had never formally taught before and the class was to be taught almost entirely in Spanish! For my first day, I made a script of everything I wanted to say in Spanish and double-checked all of my grammar and spelling online. Over time, my Spanish improved a lot and I was able to make up the things I wanted to say on the spot. This challenging class really pushed me outside of my comfort zone and helped me improve my Spanish tremendously! My other nerve-racking moment when I went rappelling on a trip to the Amazon with my fellow Program Directors. I went down the waterfall last because I was scared, but with their shouts of encouragement from below I was able to make it down successfully! It was a blast!
Dunc
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome organization to get leadership development abroad!

I loved my time with Manna Project. It's an outstanding place to get leadership development training, especially if you're right out of school. They do a great job of giving you plenty of responsibility from the get-go, and helping you help others. Very rewarding work.

The staff and board is very supportive and the model is a great one. Many volunteer organizations a very expensive placement programs without a lot of responsibility, but MPI isn't one of them.

You can help with a variety of their programs, which are thoughtfully and deliberately organized into education, livelihood, and health programs. This layout lets you tailor your experience to what you want it to be and what is most helpful to you and your future.

Note MPI is not just for those want to pursue careers in international development. The alumni network is very strong and spans a bunch of different sectors.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
See as much of the country as you can while you're there, time flies!
Default avatar
Gaby
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Longterm Volunteer with Manna Project International

Volunteering with Manna has been one of the most amazing years of my life. It has without a doubt exceeded my expectations. I have had the opportunity to work on a range of programs such as teaching English to adults and kids, tutoring, planning and executing programs such as Kids Cooking, Adult Cooking, and Adult English Conversation Club. In addition, I work with a multitude of partner organizations such as a local university to TA in English, an educational center for people with special needs to assist with their swim therapy, and another local university to assist with their nutrition courses. On top of all that, I do several internal and organizational roles, such as finances, grant writing, recruitment, and inventory. I have gained so much valuable experience! Much of what I learned can be applied to my future in medicine, even if it is not directly medically-based. My favorite part of Manna is the ability to work with likeminded individuals. My fellow Program Directors are all so passionate and driven, and it is such a treat to be able to work on a team with them. In addition, we all live together. We're all good friends, and we travel together on the weekends. The fact that Manna gives you a unique volunteering opportunity along with a social component is what I think makes Manna so great and different. Finally, the last thing I have to say about Manna is that Manna creates sustainable change among the community. Community members are constantly expressing their gratitude for having Manna in their community. I have loved developing relationships with our community members, as some of them have become true friends. They are constantly inviting us to do things with them, such as hiking a mountain or making humitas at their house! It truly feels good to know that we are working hard and that our work is a making a difference.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My biggest is advice is patience! The great thing about Manna is that you can come to Ecuador with any level of Spanish, including not knowing any Spanish. The network at Manna is so great that you can get by without knowing any Spanish as you are constantly surrounded by people who know both Spanish and English. With that being said, you can still learn Spanish fast! I came here not knowing Spanish, and after one year I am fully conversational. However, it wasn't as if I was thrown into the big scary ocean when I first came here as I could depend on people in the Manna network to get by. And through learning through community members and the kids who come to the community center, I learned quickly! It did require a lot of patience though, as at first I would easily become frustrated. With patience and effort, anyone can learn Spanish during their time at Manna.
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Kate
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Working for Manna truly changed me for the better

My position as a volunteer for Manna exceeded my expectations in every way. I originally applied to be a volunteer for Nicaragua, but was unable to do so because the political situation in Nicaragua made it unsafe. I didn't know what to expect from the change in my role, but I firmly believe that things turned out for the better. Ecuador is such a beautiful country and the community we serve is filled with incredibly warm-hearted individuals that you can feel good about serving. The type of volunteers that Manna attracts are driven, passionate leaders who you will benefit on a personal level from spending time with. The level of autonomy that Manna volunteers are given is incredible. Volunteers are regularly challenged and given numerous opportunities to gain valuable, hands-on professional experience. I applied to law schools during my time with Manna and admissions officers from several top 14 law schools were very impressed by my experience with Manna and noted in their acceptance letters that they would like to learn more about my time here. This role is not only a wonderful resume booster, but also a wonderful life changer. Living in Latin America teaches you to be fearless, flexible, and adaptive. Life in Ecuador is very different from the United States and there is something to be said about learning to live in a culture that is very different from your own. Something that I think is really special about Manna is there are many different length positions that they offer! You don't have to commit yourself to spending two years in a position within a country you know little about.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be flexible and adaptive! Latin America is very different from the United State. You cannot expect things here to work the same as in the US. People here are much more laid-back and operate on very different schedules. It takes a little time to adjust but you just have to be patient! Additionally, if you are interested in becoming a member of the Manna team, you should know that teamwork is imperative. Good communication skills and a commitment to helping out are essential!
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Victoria
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Ecuador Program Director 2018

I served as a Program Director with Manna Project International from August 2018 to December 2018 at their Ecuador site. As a Program Director, I had the opportunity to lead several community programs including Kid's and Adult English and an English class for aspiring English teachers. I also worked at Manna's local community center and with several community partners, including a shelter for teenage mothers, a program for adults with disabilities, and a local university. One thing that I really loved about my experience with Manna is that I could tailor my experience based on my interests. I am very interested in education so that was the focus of most of my programs. However, other program directors did more health and economic development-based programs. I also helped with organizational roles within the non-profit, including running their social media pages and writing grants. These roles are great resume builders! I think that being a program director is a great post-grad experience- you get to experience another culture (and not just as a tourist- Manna really inserts you into their local community), learn/practice your Spanish, and have many invaluable professional development experiences. Also, the Manna staff was very supportive during my experience as a Program Director. Sometimes it can be difficult living and working in a foreign country, but the support I received from Manna helped me navigate these challenges. I really think the large support network you receive separates Manna from other similar programs.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The craziest thing I ate in Ecuador was "cuy" (in English- guinea pig!). It is very popular in Ecuador so I had to try it, but it definitely was not my favorite Ecuadorian dish. That being said, I love Ecuadorian food and miss it a lot now that I am back in the U.S. Hornado is definitely my favorite dish- it is a roasted pork dish that is usually served with tortilla (fried cheesy potatoes), mote (corn), and tomatoes and onions. One of the neighbors to the community center made the best hornado and we would go after our classes on Saturday mornings.
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Mikhael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful organization

I have been involved with Manna Project International for the last few months. The energy and dedication that I see from the board members, the executive director, the country director and volunteers are amazing.

This program is a great way for young volunteers to learn how to work in a team, build their leadership skills and help those in need. It's a great work experience to add to your resume. The costs are very reasonable to cover your living expenses. It's also a wonderful opportunity for new retires seeking to give back their wealth of knowledge and experience.

The positive change that this organization brings to communities in Ecuador are wonderful and exciting to witness. I am looking forward to getting more involved in the near future with this team of volunteers and professionals.

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Matthew
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Love Manna!

Manna is a mission driven organization that offers amazing opportunities to individuals who want to have a fulfilling overseas experience. I've seen graduates of the program get amazing jobs afterwards both in the public and private sectors. I cannot recommend Manna strongly enough to those who want to make an impact. Program costs are low, especially for the management and international development experience that you will have upon the program's completion. Others in the organization, including the staff, current and former volunteers, and board of directors exude senses of purpose and passion. They're great resources to learn from and have the values they refuse to compromise. My Manna experience has so far been incredible and I look forward to my continued commitment to the organization.

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Hailey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Program Director in Ecuador

So far, volunteering with Manna Project International: Ecuador has been an incredible experience! Even after just 4 months I have learned so much about myself, how to work in a team, how to navigate cultural differences, how to be a strong leader, how a non-profit functions in a foreign context and, of course, I have greatly improved my Spanish. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of my experience has been building relationships with our community members. I have enjoyed getting to know our students and the leaders of the partner organizations.

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About Manna Project International

Manna Project International (MPI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization where young professionals can apply their passions, experience, and education through service to communities in need. With the vision of communities serving communities, MPI’s...