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 🙂


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!




March at Clara Luna by Jordan Davies

11081778_10153246046819515_1178315118_nMarch at Clara Luna has been very different.. We said goodbye to so many amazing volunteers, Stephanie and Jared (USA), Sandra (Canada), Anneloes (Holland), Mary (Canada), and Kamila (Poland).. We also said hello AND goodbye to Elisa and Nora, both from Germany who both left to continue their travels! The house has been left extremely quiet, with just one volunteer! Luckily, Adam, who volunteered with us nearly 3 years ago, is now living in Ayampe and so he comes to join in with the Club de Niños fun!! Mary and Santiago were married in March, on the beaches of Puerto Lopez, where friends and family came from different parts of Ecuador, and of course Canada, to celebrate with the newly-weds.. What a beautiful day it was! Just one week later, Jared (our volunteer from the USA) asked Stephanie to marry him, to which of course she said yes!! Who knew the beaches of Puerto Lopez hold so much magic!

Having so many volunteers from all over the world means we can share different experiences, this month at Club de Niños, we had a winter sports day, which included makeshift snowball fights, skiing, ice skating and more, the activities had the children using their imaginations to the max as they tried to picture themselves in climates so very different to Puerto Lopez in summer!11130054_10153246017019515_1236192095_n

Spanish and English classes are thriving, with students learning more and more everyday, it’s amazing to see such progress and to be a part of it too! Finding fun new games or songs to keep the children interested in learning is a skill that all of our teachers have! Intercambio never fails to make us smile, with local people coming from the town to share their language skills with our volunteers here and vice versa, it makes for a great, relaxing atmosphere and of course very enjoyable!

11072853_10153246017859515_341311614_nEveryone at the foundation is continuing with their fantastic work, despite losing physical therapists, Steph and Jared, and intellectual therapist Anneloes! Seeing patients on a regular basis to keep up with progress the foundation is helping so many people to improve their quality of life not just in Puerto Lopez but also in surrounding towns! For the foundation it’s been a very busy end to the month as they prepare for Autism Awareness Day (2nd April), many things to look forward to!11088242_10153246017404515_1953480907_n

February at Clara Luna by Stephanie Littman

February has been an exciting month with fun new volunteers, Carnaval events, and plenty of learning and playing at Clara Luna. Gabriel from the US joined us to help with Clara Luna as well as Anneloes from Holland to assist with the Foundation. Its great to have so many different personalities and talents working together. DSC_0709

This month at Club de Ninos we had a wonderful talent show which included a hip hop dance, gymanstics performance, “home made band”, and beautiful artwork. Who knew there were so many talented kids here in Puerto Lopez?! We also learned new games such as NINJA SPLASH which quickly became a house favorite and Queso/ Pan which had everyone laughing. This week we had a great “wedding theme” day as we all prepare for our volunteer Mary’s wedding. The kids learned how to make decorations, cakes, serve food, and throw bouqets. It was a blast!  DSC_0596

The Foundation held two meetings this month, one in Puerto Lopez and one in Salango, to inform the public about future plans and prepare for the rest of the year. We have started seeing people twice a week at the foundation for physical therapy exercising and will hopefully install more equipment to better serve people in the near future. Home visits from volunteers for physical and intellectual therapy have continued throughout the area and are progressing well!
Our weekly language exchanges are always fun and helpful for people on all levels. Last week we practiced our Spanish or English by making up stories about very random objects we pulled from a paper bag which turned out to be hilarious for all.

English and Spanish classes are continuing and going strong. Students are showing good improvement and enjoying the classes as well as the games that make learning more fun. We have quite a few creative teachers here at Clara Luna.
Until next time…..

January at Clara Luna by Mary Moore

2015 year started off very successful here at Clara Luna!
We were sad to say goodbye to Gus and HELLO to Stowe (USA), Flor (Argentina), Freda (Germany), Jordan (England), Sandra (Canada) and Alex (England).


DSC01584We had no time to catch our breathe once Club de Niños started again- it was trail by fire for the newbies! January led to record numbers of participants and a few moments of scrambling find the space to make the magic happen. As always, we found a way to make it work and everything was fine!
January’s Club de Niños featured some musical numbers, co-operative art pieces, card making for “Grandparent Day”, a “games day” on the beach and even a series of short films!
Two videogIMG_2072raphers from LOLA were at Club de Niños program the first week back to collect some footage to show a gap-year project that Clara Luna will be taking part in later this year. Karen and Estevan were nothing short of a pleasure to have around and we look forward to working more with LOLA (https://loveoneloveall.org/gap-programs/)


We had two Argentinian friends, Sophie and Sebastian, stay at the house, help with Club de Niños and provide two workshops on quick and easy games we could use in program. The coupe gave the highly successful (and super fun) workshop to other community members that work with youth.

Finally the morning patrols paid off with the end of January leading to some eggs hatching! Our volunteer Jordan was just in time to catch the last of about 50 hatchlings making their way to the ocean and notified our partners, Machalilla National Park and Equilibiroazul to help in locating the nest and helping the last few stragglers in the right direction. What an experience!

Our work in the Foundación day club was put on hold while some restructuring was done within the organization, but the home visits to help with stretching and other physio-exercises was carried on by a few of our volunteers.
Classes in both English and Spanish have been FULL. We had to add an additional Children’s English class to accommodate the 20+ kids between the ages of 6-12 who have made the commitment to attend. Spanish classes have kept Manolo, Genesis and Denisse calling for back up teachers to provide classes. What a great ‘problem’ for our little school to have!

Intercambios have kept everyone coming back for more, with contributions by Paolo, Kamila, Mary and Flor.
Looking forward to another successful month: here we come, February!

December at Clara Luna by Mary Moore


The month of December was a whirl-wind here in Clara Luna.
December brought the strong sun that many volunteers were waiting for.. just in time for some of them to bid us farewell! Carolina (France), Paige (United States), Manuela (France), Lucy (Germany) all said “Adios” in December, and our poor new volunteer, Gus had to manage to help us pick up all the pieces!
Luckily for Gus (and everyone else), there was no shortage of parties here in Puerto Lopez in December. Manabî started off with “Inmaculada Conception” November 29th- December 8th: an entire carnival popped-up in the street over night complete with bouncy castles, zipper rides, and carnival games. Food vendors filled the air with their delicious smells while vendors of all other varieties filled the night with their offers booming through incredible sound systems. There were plenty of performances on the streets and stages set up for nights of cumbia dancing.IMG_8017 IMG_8120

Club de Niños took a particularly socially conscious turn with activities for the UN Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd. The kids read the stories they had made about accepting and appreciating differences and played games that promoted inclusion. Human Rights Day came right after on December 10th and was marked by Clara Luna’s first ever Club de Niños youtube video (check it out!).
Then began the The Club de Niños Christmas preparation. The kids went straight to work making decorations for the Christmas tree and decking the halls with all kinds of holiday cheer (and even Christmas Carols!) . They made home-made Christmas gifts that were eventually shared amongst the group during our very own Santa Claus appearance!
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As for the Christmas for the Clara Luna volunteers- I don’t think that anyone was quite prepared for the intensity of Christmas preparations here in Puerto Lopez:In place of hunting for Christmas trees, we were re-painting and propping up our ‘ole faithful’ Charley-brown christmas twig.
While our friends were wrestling with crowds of shoppers, we were down and dirty making homemade Christmas gifts with the kids.
Instead of stuffing stockings for our families and friends, we were making a production line to wrap the Club de Niños gifts. in time for he special day 
Our sweet mothers and grandmothers were enthralled in their christmas baking, meanwhile we were preparing popcorn tree-trim and Oreo-pops.

The Clara Luna gift-giving was on Wednesday, December 17th and the kids were over-joyed to receive a quality gift for their hard work and attendance here in our programs. Books, coloured pencils, erasers, colouring books and many other goodies filled the bags of wide-eyed participants. Special props to Steven y Nayeli, who won an extra-special gift for being the Participants with the Best Attendance.
The December 19th Christmas celebration was a huge success in no small part to our volunteer team. Stations were set up with face-painting, balloon animals, bubbles and a photo station. Santa Claus made an appearance, distributed gifts, gave participants a sugar-coated oreo-pop and quickly sent them on their way home (he’s obviously a big hit with the parents…)
Puerto López Bacelona fans mustn’t have been very well behaved this year: Emelec took home the “campéon” title December 21st… but we won’t give that much air time on this blog..
We said “Merry Christmas and See You Next Year!” to all of our English classes and closed the Clara Luna workshop for a much deserved 2 week Christmas break.
The Clara Luna volunteers had a very sweet (and very international) Christmas dinner on the balcony of the volunteer house before setting off to nurse their hot-glue gun machine burns and recharging their super-hero energies with a stiff regiment of delicious coconut drinks on sunny coastal beaches.

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2015!

November at Clara Luna by Kamila Berentowicz.

In November we had a full house. There were Jane & Phillip from England, Viviane & Mary from Canada, Manuela & Caroline from France, Paige from the USA, Kamila from Poland, and last but not least Christian, Claudia and Lucy from Germany. We were like happy sardines in a multicultural can 😉

We taught English classes to many groups: children and teens. We also had a special group of “Servicio Civil Cuidadano”, very motivated students who are currently unemployed and receive support from the Municipally of Puerto Lopez.
And of course we continued with “Club de Niños”, every Wednesday and Friday. We are so happy because the kids love to read. Every time we start our meetings with a short reading session in which children read individually. Sometimes we read together as well. Once we read “El pez Arcoiris” which kids liked a lot. Inspired by the story every kid made their own marine friend from a paper and we played some games like “fondo del mar”, to understand more how our little friends feel in their natural environment . Another time we discussed construction and recycling. We read a story called “Los tres cerditos” (which the kids know by heart but the wolf part is always so exciting to them J Chris and Claudia came up with a brilliant idea with spaghetti & marshmallow craft: the kids built a tower, car, doll, house and many other crazy things (and ate the leftover marshmallow, of course). The same day in which we were reincarnated as toys, with a little help of a Chris the Wizard and his magic stick.

Not to be overwhelmed by aquatic topics we also did some culture introduction at “Club de Niños”. Viviane told the kids about Canada, and Jane & Phillip about Great Britain. Soon we need to catch up with other countries 😉

Our favorite game in November at “Intercambio” was definitely “Taboo,” lead by Claudia and Jane. Always full of laughter and smiles. But in Clara Luna we not only practice languages, we also practice Yoga. Viviane was our instructor. She made a very active and relaxing contribution to Clara Luna’s community. Thank you, Viviane! 😉

In November volunteers of Clara Luna frequently vistied persons with different disabilities to practice physiotherapy and help them with their schoolwork.

We also helped Machalilla National Park by doing morning and night patrols in search of turtle’s nests as now it’s their nesting season and these majestic animals are in need of protection.

The weather was rather moody in November but somehow we made it! 😉




October at Clara Luna by Phil Davies

This month the volunteers at Clara Luna were:

Tessa (Holland), Manuela (France), Jane & Phil (England), Dana (South Korea), Jenness (US), Darren & Fiona (Scotland), Steffen (Germany), Viviane (Canada), Claudia & Christian (Germany) and
Picker (Taiwan)

Working at the Foundation: Caroline (France)


We were also visited by a friend of Clara Luna, Gary Vance from Tennessee in the USA. Gary not only cooked us all a meal (¡muy rico!), but also entertained us with songs he sang and played on his guitar. He then generously left his guitar for students at Clara Luna to play. ¡Estupendo!

Caroline, Manuela, Viviane and Jane have been reading stories at Sindicato de Choferes School. This included “Somos diferentes” a story about diversity which was written by Caroline and Manuela.


Fiona continued to visit disabled people in their houses to show them and their families how to do physiotherapy exercises, ably assisted by Darren. Sadly for everyone, Fiona and Darren moved on at the end of October and Jane and Phil went on visits with them to learn how to work with one seven year old boy, Ulises. Jane and Phil will leave in mid November and will pass their knowledge on to other volunteers so that the work can continue.





* English

English lessons have continued of course, with Jane & Darren teaching students from Servicio Civil Cuidadano. The students are planning to find work in tourism and so an ability to speak English gives them an advantage.

The volunteers continue to give lessons to a range of local school students, ranging in age from 6 to 17 years old.

There are also lessons on Saturday mornings for adults from Jipijapa and Puerto López.

* Club de Niños:

Reading: The children can always read stories independently and there has also been group story reading by Jane, Manuela and Caroline, in particular La Oruga Hambrienta (The Hungry Caterpillar)



Tessa gave a presentation on her home country, Holland, featuring windmills and clogs.
Dana presented South Korea and taught the children how their names appear in the Korean alphabet.
Darren and Fiona presented Scotland. The many highlights included the Loch Ness Monster and teaching the children Scottish country dancing. This was very authentic and popular, with Darren wearing a kilt.



Chess and Scrabble are regularly played in the house and various outdoor games such as volleyball in the back garden.




This month we have had Viviane from Canada with us who is a qualified yoga teacher. As well as offering yoga classes to the volunteers and adults from the local community, Viviane has held taster sessions at the Club de Niños and they have proved highly popular.

Intercambio / Language Exchange:
Paolo, Steffen and Jane have been the leading lights, with Fiona, Darren and Phil joining in.

Other activities:
By popular demand, we returned to read “La Casa de Alberto el Pez” in the plazoleta and in Central Park we read “La controversia entre los colores” by Jenness. The highly appreciative audience of kids and parents would like to see us back soon: