March at Clara Luna

Preparing for Erase Una Vez

I arrived to volunteer at Clara Luna just as the carnival was ending. At Clara Luna, there were already four volunteers staying there and they were preparing for an event called Erase Una Vez. This event consisted of a puppet show, storytelling, and an educational section about recycling. To prepare for the event, Claude and Joanne, a Canadian couple built a puppet stage from scratch. It looked really amazing as it was decorated with many types of colorful fish puppets. Claude and Joanne also practiced with the kids for the show. Paola, Clara Luna’s director, helped the kids with learning how to read the story that was going to be presented at the story telling event. Everyone worked hard and was really excited for the event that would take place on the 10 th of February.

The Turtle Rehabilitation Center Visit

On the 9 th of February, Paola, Adam, and I took the kids from the disabled club to the sea turtle rehabilitation center. While we were there, we learned about the dangers that the turtles were subjected to from humans and how we can protect them. The kids were very happy to see the turtles swimming around in the pools, and they had a lot of fun.

Erase Una Vez

The anticipated event was finally here, and many kids showed up with their parents. The story telling took place first. The kids that read the story were so cute, and everyone enjoyed their reading and took many pictures and videos. Then, Simone, the art and dance teacher, taught the parents about recycling. Finally, the puppet show was on!! All the kids and their parents sat down on the outside patio and the show started. The kids manipulating the puppets and the ones reading did very well as everyone watching was very entertained. After the show was over, everyone clapped really hard and they all seemed to be very impressed. Some of the parents offered hot chocolate and snacks for all the attendees. Yey that was so much fun!!!!!!

The Trip to the North of Ecuador

On the 18 th of March, Paola, her son Joseph, his friend Benjamin, a new volunteer (Hani), and I headed to the north of Ecuador to do some work with the communities that were affected by the earthquake of April 2016. We had prepared a puppet show, storytelling, and an art activity for the kids in four communities (San Vicente, Rio Muchacho, Tabuchila, and Bahila). It was a very long weekend full of travel but I had an amazing time interacting with the kids there and making them happy. It was an eye opening experience to see how the people there are living in hardship after the earthquake. These communities need a lot of help and I was very proud to be a part of this effort organized by Clara Luna.


This camp was lead by the Peace Corps volunteer, Devin, who has been working with Clara Luna for awhile now. Together 45 girls came together, 15 from Puerto Lopez from our youth group, for a week of education and women’s empowerment. We held various sessions about sexual education, gender, and leadership and during our free time watched movies (She’s the man and Moana), did yoga, played games, swam in the pool, visited the beach, and more. The week was an absolute success and a wonderful week for the girls. They are surely some of the next women role models in Puerto Lopez and Ecuador.

World Water Day

On Wednesday March 22 nd , Clara Luna organized a trip to Los Frailes Beach for World Water Day. We went there with the kids, some parents, and guides from the Machalilla National Park. At the beach, the kids were taught about conserving water, keeping the beaches clean, and protecting the water on our planet. The kids had a lot of fun running around in the water at the beautiful Los Frailes Beach.

Surf Club

On Thursday March 23 rd , we took the kids to the beach for some surfing lessons. Some of the kids surfed with the teachers and others played in the sea and enjoyed the beautiful day.


February at Clara Luna

Carnival ends with cheer as electricity is restored to Puerto Lopez. Despite the few blips in electricity,the events of the holiday did not seem to diminish all that much. The crowds, from all over Ecuador and beyond, came to, what we now consider “our” town, to enjoy the beautiful beach and warm weather.

Puerto Lopez did not disappoint. As children scampered back and forth with spray cans of foam and squirt guns, giggling gleefully, and parents lazily basked in the shade watching the waves crash, I came to realize just how fortunate I have been to indulge in the infectious atmosphere of Puerto Lopez for nearly two months.

Beyond Carnival, February has been a busy month. It began with an ‘Erase Una Vez,’ our big monthly event, for the children and their parents. Students showed off their fantastic reading skills to smiling families filming and photographing their children with cellphones. The event culminated in a puppet show put on by the children, followed by snacks and congratulations. Awards were also given to those students with the best attendance records. Stay tuned for March’s Erase Una Vez, our fellow volunteers, Claude and Joanna, have been working tirelessly on preparing a main event that will surely receive an offer from Disney or some other major motion picture company.

Clara Luna also hosted a number of organizations in the surrounding area, all with the goal on helping children in their communities. The workshop, which lasted several days, allowed these organizations to meet, many for the first time. The leaders of the organizations shared lessons learned and together thought through problems that they all face in their respective communities. I expect workshops, such as this one, will continue and create a large impact in the region for helping to advance the wonderful missions of these organizations.

The day to day life in Puerto Lopez has also kept us busy. English classes continue, and our younger students have shown improvements in vocabulary, which has been fun to watch (no longer do they just say “I am happy” when asked how they are!). Our older students, already with a strong foundation in English, have been working hard on fixing grammatical errors. Turtle patrols have yielded few results for Lyvia and I, but Claude and Joanna have found live turtles on three separate occasions since their arrival in January. With just two weeks left in Puerto Lopez, we will keep our fingers crossed for a baby turtle sighting. Wish us luck!



January at Clara Luna

After the Christmas and New Year holidays,  the activities return on January 10th with the English courses for the Rabbits and the Butterflies levels, and a little later for the Tigers. The “Language exchange” returned as well, which was welcomed warmly by the new volunteers, whom have little knowledge of Spanish. “Club de Ninos” is very popular and the attendance is growing every week. We had 38 kids participate in the “Pirate” theme activity. They all made pirate’s hats, eyes patches and participated in a treasure hunt.  The monthly themes varies based on the books they are reading. The past month the kids have made a lion’s head mask, a big birthday cake,  and a bird in a nest. During club de niños they also play outside for a game or two. All this, of course,  after 30 minutes of reading. The new “Club de Jovenes” is having a lot of success.  About 20 teenagers meet at Clara Luna every Saturday morning. “Cuentas in la Plaza” happens every two weeks.  Many children and families playing in the park are interested and come to read a book or two.

For the first time Puerto Lopez had the “Feria Algarroba” from January 21-22 on the “malecon” or boardwalk. Clara Luna had a stand and offered different activities for the kids,  such as reading, face painting, a puppet show, and storytelling by Paola and some of the kids.  Valeria and Arturo, friends of Clara Luna, entertained the children with songs.

The last week of January,  Paola and three volunteers went to visit 3 villages touched by earthquakes last April. This is a visit that Clara Luna has committed to doing monthly since the earthquake. The children had a rare occasion to read,  draw, hear storytelling and watch a puppet show named “La Gallinita Roja” played by the volunteers.  The children appreciated the show and laughed a lot when the curtain accidentally play fell down revealing all of the puppets and actors.  This incident could be used again for the next shows,  it’s a guaranteed success for laughs.

Here we are , January is over and we are going into February with thrilling programs and busier than ever!

We are also kicking off 2017 with a new fundraising campaign that will be held year round. If you love the programs we put on for kids and want to continue supporting Clara Luna, here is a way! A few dollars can go a long way here in Puerto Lopez. Donate here.
Written by Johanne and Claude, volunteers from Canada.
IMG_2704_resized_2 IMG_2775_resized IMG_2792_resized IMG_2793_resized IMG_2811_resized_1 IMG_2812_resized

December at Clara Luna

The month of December was a very exciting one all centering around one event, our holiday party. Two weeks before, kids started preparing decorations for the party during kids club after our normal reading activities. Some parents of the kids met to make secret santa gifts out of recycled materials. And during English classes, the kids practiced some carols in English to sing during the party. The party was on the 22nd of December, where all the children who partake in our activities in Clara Luna were invited to attend with their parents. During the party we told a Christmas story, sang Christmas carols, did a secret santa gift exchange between parents, had a video and snacks, and most importantly had a special visitor, Santa, who gave out small gifts to each child. We had a wonderful end to 2016  and are looking forward to 2017 at Clara Luna!         15697747_1405814766108810_4402715655992308659_n 15697708_1405812776109009_8733672733705641046_n 15672881_1405812406109046_4180286814004396603_n 15672494_1405812609442359_2909221658467266386_n 15665621_1405814689442151_567936070982534476_n 15622292_1405812539442366_4419248812002001400_n 15589641_1405814042775549_3953367451799410320_n 15589553_1405812569442363_907069927526497424_n 15193527_1405813026108984_1480059739767849451_n

November at Clara Luna

In November, there were three girls volunteering at Clara Luna: Tatiana from Belgium, Lisa from France, and Sara from Germany. The experience at Clara Luna was unforgettable, we met such amazing people from the foundation and also from Puerto Lopez. Something really nice here is that you won’t be bored, there are so many different things to do. Apart from the regular programs that we have enjoyed, such as Club de Niños and English classes, we did several special activities this month:

As Paola and the volunteers do once a month, we went up to the north, where the earthquake hit few villages. It was pretty special because “Foundation Futuro” organized for the first time in their village of San Vicente “El Festival del Juego”. This event applied a french concept called “Ludotheque”, providing toys, playgrounds and reading areas. We spent the afternoon sharing the books and stories we had brought with us with local kids and families.

The next day, we went to Tabuchila, a community around Canoa. Many children moved from their places to participate at the activities we proposed (crafts, reading stories). We finished this beautiful day by presenting a Puppet Show that we had prepared before coming called “La Ratita Presumida”! It was a great moment to share with these kids. We will remember all their cutest smiles !!

The following week we prepared with the kids of Club de Niños a special event called “Erase una vez…”. This event took place on Friday evening, when the parents joined their kids after Club de Niños. Three of the kids read books they had been practicing to the audience, and for each reader another kid helped to show the pictures of the respective books. Another highlight of this evening was the puppet play “La ratita presumida”, which the children performed for their parents. It was a really nice event, and the kids did a great job!

Besides the activities at Clara Luna, we continued to help the Book Bus project. With Arturo, the person in charge for the project in Puerto Lopez, we visited schools in the surroundings, bringing books with us to read with the students. At the same time, we specifically supported students which had shown to have reading difficulties in the earlier examinations. We trained with the kids individually to increase their literacy level, by practicing to read single letters, syllables, and words, respectively. We like this project a lot, and hope it will continue for a long time! If you want to have an impression of the project, we recommend you to watch one of the videos on youtube.


reading  activity in Tabuchila
Tabuchila - making "quitapensares"
Tabuchila – making “quitapesares”
“Erase una vez…” – reading of Ramón preocupón
“Erase una vez…” – puppet play by the kids!
Book Bus – reading activity in one of the local schools
Book Bus – telling a story
Book Bus – improving literacy on an individual basis

October at Clara Luna

The month of October was very busy at Clara Luna with the month starting with only 2 volunteers, Geni and myself from Australia. Needless to say the fun never ended. In Club de Niños we did crafts of bears, chickens, elephants, sunflowers and frogs. Especially for Halloween and Día de los Muertos we made some beautiful lanky skeletons. In English different ages learnt a variety of topics with the youngest ones learning all about “Our World” and the oldest ones concentrating on the present perfect tense. On the third weekend of October we travelled up north to Bahia, San Vicente and Canoa to do activities with the kids affected by the earthquake. This eye opening experience included visiting a tent city where kids are still living under tarps 6 months after the earthquake. Shortly after this weekend, 3 new volunteers came to join; Tatiana from Belgium, Sara from Germany and Lisa from France. With the extra volunteers, everything ran smoothly, with a new set up coming to Club de Niños where half played games in the backyard while the others did crafts, then swapped. Near the end of the month, we also had our monthly event at Clara Luna where kids are invited to participate with their families. This month we had a soccer tournament (Las Olimpiadas) which was a huge success. We had four teams of children, one of teenagers, and two for parents. Each child received a recycled art medal at the conclusion of the tournament. As a big family we went out for Paella with volunteers from Equilibrio Azul. Likewise we learnt salsa at Victor Hugo with Lisa leading the show and dancing with the instructor. We also had the opportunity to work with The Book Bus, where we visited local schools to read books, run activities and test the literacy levels of kids of different ages.

By Xanthia Dubler


“Las Olimpiadas” – Team Mantarray
“Las Olimpiadas” – during one of the matches
“Las Olimpiadas” – group picture with medals
Reading with kids affected by the earthquake
Game at Club de Niños: “Frogs run loose in the backyard”
Some of the crafts done at Club de Niños
Me with two of the girls 🙂


42 seconds in which the Earth moved and forever changed the lives of all Ecuadorians


After the earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on 16 th April, something that nobody could imagine happened and from then on we were not, nor will we be the same.

Everyone surely remembers what they were doing that Saturday at 18h58, the day the Earth moved and moved us all. Then we begin to understand the tragedy. The whole country showed its solidarity with the victims of the North, of the provinces of Manabí and Esmeraldas and without exception we all contribute what we can to help people who lost a little, a lot and some who have lost everything!

Clara Luna team not could be indifferent to this drama that in many cases has gone beyond materials losses. With the raising of funds to aid the children who are in distress, we made relaxing leisure activities and recreation for our children in the North.

Our plan started from South to North, it took 6 weeks of work to identify and coordinate sites to carry out our planned activities with children. We began our route with the slogan “We are united by the same” and “Fuerza Ecuador”

During the time of our work in the north, we made a delivery of 1200 kits of paper for coloring and colored pencils in the communities visited. In 6 weekends, a total of 30 volunteers, between 5 and 8 people per week visited 25 different sites between communities, refuges and shelters, in the localities of Manta, Portoviejo, Rocafuerte, Tosagua, San Vicente, Bahía de Caráquez, Canoa, Jama, Pedernales and Cojimíes.

Our weekends became life experiences and a real example of people overcoming difficulties. Ecuador, such a small country, but simultaneously so rich in nature and warmth of humanity. We see it can rise from the rubble, work that is by no means easy but not impossible. We will continue in contact with our dear neighbors, taking the deserving children more activities and rest bite from their difficult time. And as stated in Canoa children when we said: “And Colorín colorado, this bridge has broken”

See you soon!

13164190_1209270045763284_6513182076597442683_n_large 13177097_1209269749096647_7813432560080379104_n 13177362_1209270239096598_3561972319120332513_n 13179217_1209266649096957_425824684328051281_n_large 13244862_1209267462430209_3800829414574827028_n 13256148_1209265162430439_7392251140162210240_n 13256273_1209264839097138_6240264638758479448_n_large 13406829_10154223399058134_2453648861023055196_n 13419286_10154218457328134_8405322878333009321_n blog-cl ph_24028_86702

July at Clara Luna

The month of July for Clara Luna was one of great change and excitement. We celebrated and commiserated the departure of Matheiu, Julie and Ava, our 3 French friends, as well as the always-enthusiastic Will, and the generous soul of Lilly, all of whom shared their own unique character and flavour with Clara Luna over the course of the previous month. But as is always the way at the volunteer house, the departure of one group of great people just makes room for the next, and we welcomed with open arms Romeo and Caroline, a couple of British and Dutch heritage respectively and both settled in fast and comfortable.
The beginning of the month had the Clara Luna household preparing gifts, games, and a party to celebrate the Día del Niño, or Children’s Day, on one wonderfully chaotic Friday afternoon Club de Niños, and our efforts resulted in an afternoon enjoyed by the volunteers just as much, if not more than the children we were preparing for. Musical chairs, musical statues, pass-the-parcel, and banana cake were the order of the day, as well as smiles shared all around.

A few weeks earlier some of the volunteers had a chance encounterwith a local political figure in the process of promoting the Día del Medio Ambiente or Day of the Environment for the region. The excited conversation that followed resulted in all the Clara Luna volunteers being invited to join forces with another local foundation to aid in the planting of several dozen trees native to the Puerto Lopez area in the area surrounding the town bus station. This was an opportunity to socialise and get to know some of the community figures, as well as a chance to help increase awareness of the impact, both good and bad that people can have on their environment in the local community.
Outside “officially sanctioned” Clara Luna activity, a few of the volunteers banded together for a weekend’s celebration in nearby surf-party town, Montañita. The details of said weekend were hazy at best, but suffice to say was and enjoyable and team-building experience for everyone involved. In other good news, the Chikungunya epidemic that took it’s toll onthe majority of volunteers faded away into an inside joke, and a light-hearted warning for all the new arrivals.

At the foundation, home visits continued on their course with significant improvements being made by several patients, but more importantly, the entire community begun its preparation for the town Paralympics to be held in the month of July. The dayis the brainchild of our beautiful and fearless leader, Paola, and is the talk of all the patients and their family’s both in and outside of official ‘treatment time’.

That about sums up the previous 4 weeks at the Clara Luna School, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the birthday of our amazing leader and friend, Paola, which, in true Paola fashion, we celebrated with a night of tapas and sangria on the balcony of the volunteer household. Happy 25th birthday Paola 😉



May at Clara Luna by Will Coley

image1 This month we celebrated the anniversary of Clara Luna, Paola can’t remember which possibly 6 years, with a tapas night, the food was nearly as varied as the month we’ve just had!

The house has been busy with new volunteers, with a particularly French feel, firstly with couple Matthieu and Julie, then Ava and Charles – adding further to my confusion between French and Spanish! Other changes include the arrival of Lilly from the USA, me (Will) from the sunny UK and the departure of veteran volunteer Jordan.

Lessons continue strongly, with our newest student Michael (12) image2making great progress, already having learnt many verbs, topics and now starting to use these in the future tense! Whilst over at the Centro de Salud, lessons with the doctors continue with hilarity and are great fun, with self proclaimed ‘super chica’ Maria and ever keen Leonardo, who mistakenly said he was ‘shitting in a chair’. The lessons are going from strength to strength, now moving beyond just the present tense and with the occasional drop in of a curious paramedic or nurse.

image3Over at the foundation the French have brought a great deal of variety of activities, including a trip to the lagoon at Agua Blanc, a beauty day with Julie and cooking with French cook Charles. Not forgetting Ava who commits a great deal of time and energy to all those at the foundation. Meanwhile Brayden continues to see patients everyday, in and around Puerto Lopez, with notable progress being made.

image4Club de Niños is as ever wonderfully chaotic with up to 40 excitable kids we’ve been kept on our toes! There have been welcome moments of calm instigated by creative art activities lead by Lilly, successfully making masks out of egg boxes, however paper mache was a little less successful and altogether more sticky! The children also made cards, and performed Clara Luna composed song ‘Mi Ma ma Mi Ama’ for mother’s day.

One of the highlights of the month was the visit of the students from America, there trip included the running of activities at a local school, the performance of Little Red Riding Hood puppet show and Maria’s largest ever class! A special note to Maria who continues to troop on with up to 4 hours of lessons a day and whom we all love! The Americans also kindly donated books and art supplies – Thanks!

image5-2Life in Clara Luna was a little shaken by the onset of Chikungunya which at one point infected 5 out of the 7 volunteers and lead to group trips to the Centro de Salud but which now has just become a running house joke! In better news, our weekends have been very memorable and varied with activities including private boat trips, Agua Blanca, Montinita, Isla de la Plata and many group dinners, including one for Matthieu’s birthday – Feliz Cumpleanos!

All in all it has been a very successful and rewarding month at Clara Luna, I will miss it greatly but I’m sure all the volunteers and Paola will continue their fantastic work.

April at Clara Luna by Jordan Davids

This month has seen the arrival of many new volunteers, Lilah and Guy (California) and Dave (England), all English teachers, also welcoming Brayden, a physical therapist from Australia!


Club de Niños has been strangely quiet as the children are on their school holidays.. But still crazy as ever! This month we celebrated Earth day, teaching the kids how to look after their environment. We made sign posts to put on the beach, the main theme being to look after the earth! We worked together with the Machalilla National Park, at the turtle rehabilitation centre, to show the children about the turtles and the work they do in order to help them recover from whatever injuries or illnesses they might have. The volunteers at Clara Luna were lucky enough to watch one of the turtles being set free back into the ocean after a strong and speedy recovery!












With the foundation, we celebrated Autism Awareness Day in which the local community were invited to come and learn more about autism. Some children from Club de Niños came and shared their knowledge, speaking to the community and answering questions. It was a fantastic success with many people joining us, it’s amazing to know that people really do care about the issues that surround them! The foundation now have the help from Brayden, who will be visiting patients homes and seeing others at the foundation in order to improve their way of life, what a brilliant feeling! English classes are still a huge success, with 3 new teachers, the students got the chance to learn in completely different ways, progress is being made and every week you can see the difference! There is not better feeling than being able to see the progress in the students! Spanish classes also excellent as ever, Manolo and Maria working hard to share their knowledge and help many people with their speaking. I’m so thankful to them, I couldn’t speak any Spanish when I arrived, but now I can talk to anyone. It’s especially good when working with the kids!


April has also seen yet ANOTHER engagement!!! Congratulations to Guy and Lilah, there must be something very special about Clara Luna!