Testimonial: “Clara Luna is an experience of life and deep humanity!” by Annabel Wiest

Translated by Lorraine Smart.

Hi, I’m Annabel, I’m 25 years old. I spent these last five years in college and now have a Master’s degree in Cinematographic Studies. Before I came to Ecuador, I had already fallen in love with Latin America through many films that had caught my attention and that marked me deeply. And it was after a trip to Colombia, and another to Costa Rica that I discovered a real passion and a desire to spend some time of my life in this part of the world and do something meaningful there.

But what does it mean to “do something good”? First of all, it’s knowing what you want. The opportunity for civic service appeared as a logical consequence after I finished my studies. I had matured and wanted to live a unique experience that made sense and would help people. Volunteering is about engaging, it is about creating sense and cohesion among people. I was fortunate to be able to volunteer in Ecuador, and find a mission with goals that immediately caught my attention, with a community that joined me as a family member.

In Puerto López (Manabí) I work every day. Here, access to culture, art and books is difficult and particularly expensive. The Clara Luna Foundation welcomes a group of children for our “children’s club”, organizes English classes and intercultural encounters, and works with people with disabilities. In addition, I am fortunate to work with a group of highly motivated teens to open a library in Clara Luna, the only community library in town, which will provide free access to books for all. Each week is different and finds new projects and new activities splashed with increasingly surprising stories.

Ecuador is full of secret places, legends, and you will find a varied and delicious meal. Ecuadorians are so kind. I was pleasantly surprised by their patience and calmness, and I really like the musical atmosphere on every corner. I arrived in the “cold” period of the region, but human heat prevailed over the climate.

Puerto Lopez is a coastal town, a paradise on our planet, which can be immediately recognized for its blue fishing boats. There is a very quiet and familiar atmosphere where on Saturday the city turns into a salsa-flavored party. It is a city where people meet you, I was quickly known as “the girl of Clara Luna” and where you quickly feel at home. My first experience was very warm with a very understanding people and I see Clara Luna as a great family.             

Volunteering has made me grow and has given a real and profound sense to my life. I feel involved and see my experience not as a mission but as a way of life. In these times of health crisis and quarantine, I am very frustrated that I cannot continue working with children on a daily basis. I am particularly concerned about some families whose parents are no longer able to practice their profession and who no longer have any income. I can’t stand idly by: We’ve distributed food, we’re distributing books to children, and we’ve transformed our daily lives: Clubs continue virtually. Children keep pace by reading a story I prepare in advance with Paola’s help. And we organize virtually all of our activities. We have managed to adapt and renew ourselves, turning such a difficult situation into an opportunity to create new things for our Club de Niños.

Volunteering means opening up to others and learning from these people. Some people think volunteering should be done at 18, to gain maturity and responsibility. At 25, I am discovering a lot and learning more every day. I already felt mature but I feel more and more understanding and with more resources needed to life, thanks to Clara Luna. There is no age, only and above all willingness.

Clara Luna is an experience of life and deep humanity!

November at Clara Luna by Annabel Wiest.


“A month of Rights and Respect” by Annabel Wiest.

Translated by Lorraine Smart

  Here we go again! This month of November was intense and full of wonderful themes. We are still recording our Facebook Lives and we’re working hard for our kids’ clubs. The good news is that winter is coming, so is the sun, actually …

 Clara Luna’s team was working on new themes in relation to Human Rights and respecting others. We celebrated the day of non-violence against women, the gender equality, and the day of disability. The challenge was getting to explain such important themes to children from 6 to 12.

With the Library group, we could get deeper in these themes especially the ones that concerned women’s rights. It was incredible to have the group on Saturdays: we had debates, free talking, and activities to understand what exactly gender does mean and what questions it does bring. We also talked about harassment with them, and cyber harassment. We tried to get more comfortable about the theme in order to prevent harassment; we even made an activity where we had to put ourselves in someone’s shoes and get to know at what point we were talking about harassment. These kids are so open-minded and were able to talk about their own experiences. I feel that when they’re coming to Clara Luna, they feel safe and know that they can share with us. Clara Luna is also a place of support where you can express yourself without any sort of shame.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is getting to its end. In December, we’ll have one or two chapters left. So we are already thinking about our next book to finish the year. The movie night’s celebrity was “Matilda” so that we could stay with Roald Dahl’s theme.

The Virtual Language Exchange is welcoming more and more people. And our surprise is that we have now a lot more people who want to practice their Spanish … So we are waiting for you, you’re the only one left!

Thanks for reading us, we’ll see you in December with Christmas stories …

October at Clara Luna y Andreina Mejía

Translated by Lorraine Smart

This month, I started doing my internships with the Clara Luna team, as it is my last year in school, and you need to have experience about what you studied. I decided to do them at Clara Luna because it would be very good for my future aspirations as I can learn to do better with an audience, and I can lead a working group at any time in my life, and well, also because I know that it will serve me a lot in the career I want to study in college (Architecture), also because I feel that it is a great opportunity to know new things, and open me to a world of learning.

During the internships, I am helping to prepare live broadcasts, Language Exchanges and youth group activities. Now, we are dealing with the project of the implementation of the Community Library, a project based on the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), which I am leading, and helping the Clara Luna Foundation team with. Many of us wonder … why a library? What’s interesting about it? And well, here in my locality a library is necessary because there are many young people and sometimes we seek a quiet place to be and read, and the books available are indispensable. It looks complicated, but with the desire we have to make it a reality, we will achieve it!

As you know, we have been teaching children’s clubs and English classes virtually, the face-to-face volunteers are: Annabel, Paola and I, and virtually there are Barbara and April, although April says? good bye to us at the end of this month. Most exciting is that we still travel in the story of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, each chapter is a new, and amazing experience for the children who accompany us on the broadcasts.

On movie night, the children chose a film full of magic, emotion and fantasy: “The Big Friendly Giant.” They enjoyed it and had a lot of fun. You might think that preparing and delivering the virtual kids club is easy. I personally can tell you that it is not easy, because sometimes there are technical flaws, the internet goes off, and you also have to look for information for each transmission, then coordination is required, and a little agility to solve the problems that arise when it comes to the transfer.

At the end of this month here in Ecuador we will celebrate the Day of the Dead.  People usually make guaguas of bread (the word guagua means child, and comes from the indigenous language kichwa or quichua), this bread is made with flour dough in the form of a child, and it is decorated to taste with a glaze of different colors, as you wish. The guaguas are eaten accompanied by a drink called colada morada (spiced purple corn fruit drink), this drink is considered an intangible gastronomic heritage of Ecuador.

We say goodbye to this month of fun and learning and thank you for reading it. Remember to follow security protocols and take great care of yourself.  See you next month!

October at Clara Luna by Margo Vanoverbeke

The month of October was an exciting month for the Clara Luna Foundation. Not only did our team consist of no less than five volunteers, we also had a lot of exciting activities to prepare and perform. This month our team consisted of Maddie, Annabel and Margo previously mentioned in the blog of September and we had the pleasure of having Matteo and Sarah from Switzerland helping us out for three weeks too. 

During the first weekend of October, we made a trip with the organisation to Canoa, San Vicente and Tabuchila respectively, were we performed ‘La Peor Señora del Mundo’, a muppet show starring the worst female on earth and her surroundings. This may not sound so fun, but it sure was. The children were all very excited to see how ‘La Peor Señora del Mundo’ is being tricked into being nice to everyone around her. The voice of this despicable woman was executed wonderfully by Annabel, who nailed the evil laugh and smoker’s cough and in this way added an extra value to the muppet show. I must add that pigeon’s ‘roo roo’, executed by myself, Margo, was also pretty spot-on. After the muppet show we would read a story together with the children of the different communities and perform an activity in relation to the story. 

 However, in the hometown of Clara Luna, Puerto López, our main focus of this month was on scary stories, more specifically old ecuadorian legends. Since the month of October is known for Halloween, which is followed by Día de los Muertos, we mainly worked around different ecuadorian legends such as ‘La Mano Negra’, ‘La Dama Tapada’, ‘Las Brujas Blancas’ and many more. With Halloween and Día de los Muertos in mind, we organised an event on the 25th of October, during our weekly Club de Niños. On this day three pairs of children read the ecuadorian legends for the other parents and children. Another group of children performed a muppet show called ‘Davilara, el Rey de la Bomba’, based on the (recently) award-winning book ‘A ritmo endiablado de bomba’ written by Marco Chamorro and Alice Bossut. Thanks to the help of the parents, the volunteers and Paola’s organisational skills the event turned out very successful. The children were all dressed up in their favourite Halloween costume and the parents had prepared some delicious hot chocolate milk and rosquitas, which is a traditional treat during similar Clara Luna events.   

Overall, October was an exciting, scary and educative month full of great moments between the children and the volunteers and Paola at the Clara Luna Foundation. I am already excited to read about what the month of November will bring for us. 

March at Clara Luna

March celebrated International Woman’s Day at Clara Luna

by Edward Feeley

Clara Luna planned many activities of Club de Niños during this month around the celebration of
courageous and influential women of the world. One source of inspiration and information about heroic
women was the book “ Cuentos de Buenas Noches para Niñas Rebeldes “ ( Good Night Tales for
Rebel Girls) by Elenea Favilli and Francesca Cavallo.
This book tells of the extraordinary lives of 100 brave women and, in addition, features the illustrations
of 60 artists from around the world.
Volunteers Marie, Maelle and Yesica read the stories of their lives and their struggles and then the
children illustrated their deeds on posters.
Some of the selected stories featured Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan biologist, environmentalist and the
first African woman to receive the Nobel Prize. She was known as the "Tree Woman" for having
promoted the planting of millions of trees.
Policarpa Salavarrieta was a hero and martyr in the Columbian fight for independence from Spain.
The story of Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head when she returned by bus from the school to
her home was of great interest to the children. The reason for the attack was clear: this 16-year-old girl
had dared to raise her voice to defend rights of girls to be educated. We staged a puppet show that told
the story of her fight for education and the bravery she exhibited.
Volunteers Ed, Dallas and Mercedes continued English lessons with their respective classes.
Once Upon a Time, a monthly program, spotlighted young readers, Flavio, Jaime and Harold, reading
short stories to an audience of parents and peers.
The Disabilities Club learned to make ceviche, cleaning the fish, chopping the ingredients and squeezing
the limes. Then we had a delicious meal. We also went surfing. Many of the participants ventured into
the surf for the first time and discovered that they loved it. Special thank you to Adam and the surf crew
from Ayampe. See the video by Brian Bautista.
March was a busy and fulfilling month at Clara Luna.

February at Clara Luna

Charles Darwin’s Birthday in February at Clara Luna by Marina Morel

February began with the Popular Consultation in Clara Luna. Every member of Clara Luna got an ID card for the  “Republic of Clara Luna” and voted yes or no on seven questions concerning future activities of the foundation. Would you like to meet an author?  Yes!!

To celebrate Darwin’s birthday , we did activities about evolution.  From the book “Grandmother Fish”, we did all together a big evolution tree. The volunteers, Ed, Nina, Yesica and Marina had fun preparing the activity.

With the help of a Peruvian art therapist,  Luciana,  the Children’s Club also did some theatre. We all became fishes, monkeys, dolphins…After that, we read a story about Darwin’s life and told it, then played it.

On a  rainy day, after carnival, a motivated group went to clean the beach in an event sponsored by the Ministry of the Interior and Conservation International. Together we collected hundreds of pounds of trash. We all want to protect our planet and our cousin animals. Good job!

The Disabilities Club worked on the conservation theme, and they also went to surf twice on Thursdays! They were great afternoons, because of the beautiful sun and special help from Adam and the surf crew from Ayampe.

This month is also the beginning of Rainbow Days. With the kids between 10 and 12, we are doing activities to improve self-esteem. Now, we can say: ¡Yo soy! ¡Yo puedo! ¡Yo tengo! ¡Yo haré! ¡Yo creo! ……I am! I can! I have! I will! I believe!

The Youth Club talked about sexual education. It was a really interesting exchange with the teenagers. They know a lot of things, but they are sometimes confused because of what they can see on movies. On Saturday, after el club, Yesica teached us acro yoga on the beach. The kids loved that and they planed to do it each Tuesday.

To conclude this month, Joseph, Yesica, Paola and Marina went to the north with the Marin turtle story. In spite of the rain, the kids of San Vicente, Tabuchila, Canoa and Chone seemed very happy with the puppets show, the games and the handcrafted turtle.

February is a short month but we did a lot of interesting and funny things!

A Magical January

A Magical January at Clara Luna by Nina Unternährer

After the Christmas break we dove into the world of magic. The magic was amusing not only for the kids, but also for the volunteers. Ed, Lino, Paola, and Nina very enthusiastically practiced magic tricks, which they can presented to the kids. We became proper magicians and even amazed each other with our magical abilities.

The children from the “Club the de Niños” read by themselves, as usual, then Paola read them a related story about magic. Afterwards it was time for the show by our magicians. One after the other we showed our tricks; Lino had some card tricks, Ed had the magic two-dollar bill and the magic coins, Paola made the coins disappear and reappear and Nina had the magic flying bottle and the magic spoon. Wow, you should have seen the faces of the kids!!! Amazing! They were completely shocked, sitting there with their mouth wide open! We said, Mission Completed!

For our trip to the north we prepared the magical puppet show “El Mago de Oz” (The Wizard of Oz). For this we received help from the new volunteer Jade. Together we created the puppets, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman, Lion, Wizard and two Witches, one Good and of course, one Bad. Our first performance was before the assembled “Club the Ninos” on a Friday afternoon. They really enjoyed the show. After the performance, every kid made his own magic wand which completed the magical ambience.

After this first show we were ready to go on tour to the kids in the earthquake region up north. Very early Saturday morning we left by bus. Our troupe managed to inspire and fascinate these kids with the puppet show and our simple magic tricks. They also became true magicians with their self-made magic wands. It was an unforgettable experience for all of us.

With the “Club de Jóvenes” we looked at the subject evolution. We explained evolution to them, showed them videos and got them to know Charles Darwin and his evolution theory inspired by the Galapagos Islands.

To finish our magical month, we got totally bedazzled by the laughs, smiles and energy of the disabled kids during the surf lesson, simply magical!!!

Nina showing her Magic tricks “Sim Salabim”

There is not place like home!









They got their Magic Sticks

Magical day with “glitter”, feather and tricks.

A Legendary October

In early October we said goodbye to Szilvia, and we also began to plan for our next theme. Following up the success of the Clara Luna Olympics was a difficult task, but we decided that a theme like the Legends (Leyendas) of Ecuador would be appropriate for a month that includes Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos!

During the week of October 9, we enjoyed Club de Ninos on Wednesday by finishing up with one of our September books, La Manzana Roja, by painting trees and drawing animal characters and doing a red tempera paint apple print on the tree–messy, but the children had fun doing it!  We also were treated on Friday after Club de Ninos to a teatro, Adan y Eva, performed by a traveling couple of actors from Switzerland. The play was very entertaining and the children were laughing their way through most of it.  We said goodbye to Lucas on Friday and Laura on Saturday, and then the Clara Luna House got a bit more quiet for the rest of the month. On Saturday October 14 we worked with Club de Jovenes on a sensitive topic regarding understanding personal space and how having a good understanding of it links up to proper behavior in social and dating situations.

During the week of October 16 we presented two of our Leyendas to the students during Club de Ninos – La Mano Negra (on Wednesday) and Etsa–Leyenda de Oriente (on Friday). We did crafts for each of these legends–spiders made out of hand-prints for La Mano Negra and colorful construction paper birds to be used for decoration for the puppet show in the upcoming Erase Una Vez–for Etsa.  On Saturday the Club de Jovenes learned about birds of Manabi Province and made some larger and more colorful birds to be used as set decoration for the puppet show.

During the week of October 23, we read the last two of our legends to the kids at Club de Ninos on Wednesday.  We also did crafts for each of these legends, making white handprint ghosts for La Dama Tapada and colorful crepe paper cut-out calacas (skulls) for La Caja Ronca–to be used for decoration in the upcoming Erase Una Vez on Friday. The Erase Una Vez on Friday was a big success. We had readings of each of our legends by some of our Club de Ninos students, a reading of another leyenda, La Madre Goyita, by Valeria Saenz, and the puppet show Etsa was put on by four students from Casa Búho in Machalilla. Puppets were made by Trish, and our decorations looked fabulous! On Saturday, the Club de Jovenes students traveled to Ayampe with Ed, Alex, and Lobo to watch the release of some endangered Papagayo birds into the wild as part of our focus on learning about the native birds of Manabi province.

Also on Saturday, Paola, Joseph, Linda and Scott left early in the morning for a weekend-long visit to Canoa, Tabuchila, Río Muchacho, San Vicente, and Chone in northern Manabí province. We visited many locations in these areas and gave the kids a chance to read for a while, sing and dance along to Chumba La Cachumba, listen to a reading of each of the leyendas, and watch a presentation of the puppet show Etsa.  As Szilvia said about the trip to the north last month, it was amazing to be able to make the children laugh and be happy!  

We returned to Puerto Lopez late on Monday October 30 and awakened to find that another volunteer, Antonia, had arrived from Quito (and Germany!) by bus overnight–Happy Halloween! We enjoyed the day getting to know each other and ended it at a local restaurant watching the kids of the town go by in their costumes.  October was a great month at Clara Luna, and we are looking forward to November and more leyendas!


September at Clara Luna


We started the Olympics theme in Clara Luna in the Kids Club.

At first we talked about the antique Olympics, we played games, for example we tried the movements of discos. In the activity we made olive branch with them. Then we spoke about the modern Olympics; we watched recording of different sports. We made 5 taps, 5 colors of the olimpic circles, every volunteers represented their own country; Germany, Hungary, Spain, USA and of cours Ecuador.

From then we practiced a lot with the kids the different sports (running, relay, archery, long jump, football) at the beach. It was fantastic how the kids took the competition seriously. Of course we always said that the most important thing is to enjoy the game.

We worked a lot! Every day there was something to do. There was a very good volunteer team, it was great to work together.

In the end of september we went to North again; we made other theatre (I made the poppets I am so proud) and read other books and do activities. It was amazing again to make the children happy!

On Octuber 6th was the big finale; the children told tales, they did the puppet’s theatre; solemn announcement of results, prize-giving ceremony. It was a worthy closing of the subject.

The children were really happy and we also!

Archery time.

Spain in action!

Olympic Flag and Ceremony.

Wheelchairs race.




August at Clara Luna


In August, we were joined in the activities by Guillaume from England and Melissa from Germany.

Club de Niños learned of hospitality, through the stories and activities they learned The Humanity Rainbow, the children of the world, their rights, the causes and consequences of the migration, and they discovered Human Values ​​such as tolerance, empathy and brotherhood that explained hospitality.

The books we read were Derek Munson’s “Pastel para enemigos (Enemy Pie),” “Ígor el pájaro que no sabía cantar (Igor the Bird Who Did Not Sing)” by Satoshi Katamura, “Los días raros (The Rare Days)” by Maria Fernanda Heredia, ” La vida sin Santi (Life without Santi)” by Andrea Maturana, “La partida del soldado (The soldier departure)”of Javier de Isusi, and “La peor señora del mundo (The worst lady of the world)”of Francisco Hinojosa.

Also, the children prepared the puppet show, “La peor señora del mundo (The worst lady of the world)”, which was a resounding success in the monthly event “Érase una vez (Once upon a time)”.

In “Cuentos en la Plaza – Mobile Libraries”, we explored humor, tolerance and empathy. In our pink suitcase, were the books “Fernando el furioso (Fernando the furious)”, a child who destroys the entire planet in a tantrum when he loses control of his temper. The children then helped Fernando to rebuild the world. The book “Pastel para enemigos (Enemy Pie)”, taught us to resolve conflicts in a positive way. Another title that we read was “Hipopótamo peleón (Big Bully Hippo)”, a story that deals with importance of good manners and cordiality. Our puppet show was “La peor señora del mundo (The worst lady of the world)”, a story that illustrates a lesson on the importance of living together in harmony. We visited Ludoteca Nueva Esperanza in San Vicente, Pío Montufar Refuge in Bahía de Caráquez, Gabriela Mistral School in Tabuchila, the Ricardo Abad Solórzano School, Juntos Venceremos Special school and 30 de Mazo  Neighborhood in Chone.