Yambiro Ecuador Project


The Yambiro Project is a partnership between the College of St. Benedict/ Saint John's University students and the Women's Cooperative in Otavalo, Ecuador.  This non-profit project allows the women in the indigenous Yambiro community to be economically self-sufficient as they put their embroidering skills to use.  The canvas bags, blouses, kitchen towels, and other products that the women embroider are sold at a price that covers the cost of the products and the wages paid to the women, and goes toward a scholarship fund for the young children in the Yambiro community.  This allows the women to provide their families with the necessities every individual deserves such as food and clothing.  The scholarship fund allows deserving children in the Yambiro community to afford an education they would not have been able to pursue without financial support.  If you are interested in donating to the Yambiro Project in order to purchase more materials for the Women's Cooperative, or toward the scholarship fund please complete the Donation Form on the right.

Want to study abroad?



  • Purchase eco-friendly totes or other products made by the Women's Cooperative
  • Donate to the scholarship fund
  • Donate health supplies (i.e. band-aids, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap bars, hand-sanitizers)
  • Donate school supplies
  • Donate clothing and shoes (for all ages)
  • Donate sports equipments (i.e. basketballs, volleyballs, kickballs)


Population: 16,144,000 (2015 est.)

Religions: 90% Catholic, 10% Other

Ethnic Division:

  • Mestizo = 71.9%
  • Montubio = 7.4%
  • Afroecuadorian = 7.2%
  • Amerindian = 7%
  • White = 6.1%
  • Other = 0.4%

Language: Spanish, Quechua, Shuar

Population below poverty line: 25.6% (2013 est.)

Life expectancy: 76.36 years

Literacy rate: 93% (age 15 and over can read and write)

School life expectancy: 14 years

Child malnutrition (under 5): 25.3% (2012 est.)

Current environmental issues: deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution; pollution from oil production wastes in ecologically sensitive areas of the Amazon Basin and Galapagos Islands

More information


A group of CSB/SJU students - Sarah Rathbone, Hannah Manley, Heather Kaluzniak, John Wells, and Andrew Sweere- along with professor Patricia Bolanos traveled to Otavalo, Ecuador in the summer of 2015. Before leaving on the trip, some of the group members raised money and collected donations to support the Yambiro community.

The group spent three weeks in Otavalo offering activities to the children such as sports, arts, and health.  Some of them worked with the mothers of these children who are a part of the Women's Cooperative.  The cooperative consists of 7 women who worked extremely hard to embroider products such as scarves, shawls, hand towels, skirts, and pants within three weeks.

Before returning to the United States, some of the donations were used towards bringing clean water to the local community center - leaving something physical behind besides the memories.