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Belmont Religious Council Adult Service-Learning Trip to Shandia, Ecuador



The Belmont Religious Council is excited to share its first ADULT service-learn trip to Shandia, Ecuador, in May 2024! The BRC was founded in 1954 as an organization of the various faith communities that serve Belmont. Its purpose is "to enhance the spirit of unity through fellowship, to develop understanding and appreciation for the various religious faiths represented, and to exert a positive influence in the social and moral life of the Belmont community." And we're so excited to share this interfaith opportunity with you.


Leaders: Youth Director Raeann Mason from First Church in Belmont and Senior Minister Joe Zarro from Plymouth Congregational Church

Dates: May 4-11 (plane ticket purchases pending), with a possible optional 3- to 4-day add-on to the Galapagos Islands.

Airports: Flights will be in and out of Quito.

More Info: If you're interested in learning more, we hope you will join us for a Zoom info session on January 4. Contact Raeann at rmason@uubelmont.org for the link.

Sign Up: Ready to join? Sign up here!


Project Partner

Manna Project International http://www.mannaproject.org/

  • Mission:

"To foster communities of talented young leaders to become the next generation of social change agents by engaging in collaborative, on-the-ground service with international communities in need." 

  • Vision:

"Our vision is to create communities of young leaders that help break the cycle of poverty in underserved communities around the world. It's why our mantra is "communities service communities," and it's why we're different.' 


The Big Picture

Shandia, an Indigenous Kichwa community within the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador, has a unique approach to health and wellness. Manna Project has deeply engaged with the community throughout 2023 and beyond, collaborating with local health clinics, cultural leaders, and stakeholders to understand their health needs. The focus involves creating tailored programs in youth health, nutrition, teen reproductive health, water sanitation, and sports for kids after school. The aim is to foster a healthy community.


Manna Project also supports education in Shandia, with volunteers aiding classrooms during the day and running English classes for adults, storytelling sessions for kids, and homework help after school. Their collaboration spans Indigenous leaders, women artisans, and health organizations. Together, they're developing English, health, sports, and computer literacy programs to address economic disparities and empower the community for positive change. All of which YOU have the opportunity to be a part of. 


Onsite Expectations

This experience will examine Shandia's life and culture through service, cultural immersion, and learning. Each day will be busy with service, cultural activities, and reflection.


A complete packing list will be provided.


Lodging and Food:

Participants will stay in the local, native-owned hotel, Shandia Lodge, in double- and single-occupancy rooms with wifi access. Meals will be served at the hotel, home-cooked, or at a local restaurant (all meals are prepared in a safe and clean environment).


Participant Preparation:

Participants should be flexible, patient, open to a new culture, hard-working, and able to handle themselves professionally in delicate community situations. We will serve the community of Shandia in ways the ways they see fit and support Manna Projects' ongoing projects through service, cultural immersion, and learning. There will be opportunities for any fitness level and ability. Participants will have a meeting dedicated to cultural shock and sensitivity before departure. 


A sample day in Shandia: 

  • Wake up and have breakfast at the hotel

  • Service Project until lunch with Manna Project (ex: teaching, construction, clinics)

  • Cultural Immersion experience (ex, rainforest hike, chocolate making, etc) until dinner in a host home

  • Reflection and community building with project staff and locals in the evening


Estimated Costs

Cost: $1,000 per person + flights

Optional 3-4 day Galapagos add-on: $900-$1200. Includes flights to and from the island, park passes, hotels, and 2-3 excursions. The cost will vary depending on the number of participants.

Does not include meals on travel days or flights in and out of Ecuador.  


Application & Payment Schedule

Application and $750 deposit due January 27, 2024

The final amount is due February 11, 2024

Financial aid and extensions are available.

Reach out to Raeann Mason at rmason@uubelmont.org.


Check should be made out to

Belmont Religious Council. 

Mail check to

First Church in Belmont - UU

404 Concord Avenue

Belmont, MA 02478


We hope you will join us for this fantastic interfaith experience!

You may download this info packet here.

Already know you want to join? Sign up here!




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