FOUNDERS

Tomás Gómez

Tomás is the entrepreneur man, tourist manager of Don Juan and owner of the Hostería Camare. His family has been the protagonist of the community organization and the reconstruction work of the Bellavista neighborhood of Don Juan. Tomást the neighbor we all go to when we are in trouble. Today he is the president of the community of Don Juan.

Tomás is a born leader, knowledgeable about all the neighbors, their stories, the myths and legends of Don Juan and also the great link with other external organizations. In addition, he has encouraged multiple community processes in Don Juan. He is a founding member of Fundacion A mano Manaba.

Rut Roman and Esteban Ponce

Esteban and Rut are a couple of Ecuadorian professors who worked for many years in several universities in the United States. They returned to Ecuador in 2013 and settled in Don Juan a month before the earthquake when, like all the neighbors in this fishing village, they lost their home and all their belongings.  Rut is the acting President and Esteban is Treasurer and Secretary of Fundacion A mano manaba.

James Madden

James arrived in Don Juan in April 2009, as a Peace Corps volunteer from the US. He started to work with the community at once. Along with the people from Don Juan, he transformed an abandoned tourist office into a library, his most successful project. For over a year, James and his neighbors opened and managed the library, which had its hours, its everyday doings and a nice collection of books and games. This small place became a safe space, educational and fun.

In 2010 James continued living in Don Juan, then he met Rut and Esteban. They were vacationing in the same community and James showed them the famous library. They swore to return one day.... In June 2013 James left Ecuador leaving his dear library in the hands of his neighbors. He hadn't heard from Rut or Esteban, though they had already been planning their return for years!.

In 2016, after the devastating earthquake, the three of them met again in Don Juan. James had returned from the US to help his neighbors and check on his house. Seeing it was destroyed, along with the library, James decided to donate his plot to the rebuilding effort. Along with Rut and Esteban, they began talking about a new organization that could revive the children's library and other social projects.  James is an active member of Fundación A mano Manaba...


ALEXANDRA CUSME

The day after the earthquake, Alexandra crossed destroyed roads to reach Don Juan to help her friends in distress. She stayed for months in the reconstruction effort and was part of the first afternoons of the library on the beach leading Domingo, the burrito, loaded with colorful books for the children.

Alexandra has a Master's degree in Cultural Studies from the Simón Bolívar Andean University but decided to make her life in the field. She is a feminist amorfinera (oral tradition), knowledgeable of everything montubio. She runs the Cultural Center "La Montuvia" in Calceta. She is Vice President of the A mano Manaba Foundation where she teaches workshops on crafts, gastronomy, and agriculture of the Manabita field. She is a researcher of the montuvia culture and has published Memoria del monte: Manuel Rendón Solorzano, Oral poetry.

" We dream of men and women capable of living with dignity, we dream of a library that moves forward"