Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Health Promotion in Cedro Galan

It is hard to believe it is June already and there are only two months left of my volunteer service! The relationships I have made with the community have been life changing and ones that I will hold onto closely beyond my time here. I am already planning trips back! Fortunately, I have some exciting projects coming up.

An MPH student from Vanderbilt, Jessica, just arrived and I will be working with her the next two months to set up a health promotion program in our community of Cedro Galan. First, Jessica and I will be performing a community health assessment while community mapping (i.e. scouting out different stores, green spaces etc). This will give us a good idea of what we need to focus on for our health promotion program and the true community health needs.

So far, I have been working on health education materials in our clinic, such as brochures, pamphlets, posters, etc. However, this health promotion program will be taken a step further. After our assessments we will construct a health training curriculum in which we can train 5 community members who will become our health promoters. This is a great way to involve community members in their health needs and in preventing a lot of diseases. Partnering with the community is key! The 5 health promoters will go house to house and teach community members what they learned during our trainings in hopes to improve the health on a large scale.

Jessica and I are hoping to focus our program on preventable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, which are major issues in our community. While we have seen this as a major health implication, it is still necessary to gather the appropriate data to back our hypothesis. 

Overall, we are hoping to decrease the consumption of salt and sugar, increase green space, and educate our community members on the easy ways to prevent diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. I am so excited for this project and know it will be a great way to end my time with Manna Project International. 

By Natalie Ball

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Nicaragua Summer Interns

Our summer session 1 interns have acclimated quickly and are already fitting right in to our house, community, and programs! We are excited to have new faces and energies helping us out for the next few weeks and we know they are going to have a positive impact on MPI Nicaragua. The interns will be here until June 6th, then we have summer session 2 interns arrive. We are so looking forward to these next two months and the impact we can make as a team! 

By Blair McGee and Natalie Ball

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Surfing Sam

May is here already! Can you believe it? The past two weeks have been filled with lots of work and fun. The Austin Samaritans, a volunteer group out of Texas, came to visit our clinic in Villa Guadalupe. Program Directors Erica, Elena, and myself worked alongside the volunteers fitting community members with prescription reading glasses. We ended up handing out over 85 pairs of glasses to community members over the age of 40. It was a very successful day. Our monthly Milk Day was also a success. In addition to handing out vitamins and milk we did hemoglobin testing to test for anemia. If a child had low hemoglobin levels we would instruct their mothers on the correct dosages of iron to supplement their diets in order for them to improve their health. I had the opportunity to work along side Program Director Natalie, also a fantastic nurse, assisting her with administrating the tests to the kids. There is a lot going on at the VG clinic, so it has been a great opportunity to work alongside all the organizations and volunteers. Despite all the work, I was able to escape to the beach for one of the best swells to hit Nicaragua in the past decade... Gotta love Nicaragua!!!! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tres Mariposas By Katy Clements & Dana Hanley

For most of us growing up, being able to do arts and crafts or having safe spaces to play games with friends was a given. But here in Nicaragua there are few places where kids can just go and be kids. Camp JAM aims to address this by providing a safe space and creative outlet for the children living in Cedro Galan. It has definitely become one of my favorite programs during my time here, and I have so much fun working with these kids every week. They are always lined up at the door when we arrive and can't wait to see what we have planned for the day! It's great to see how excited they get and how much of an impact something seemingly so small can make on their lives. 

This week we got extra messy with some face painting! The kids absolutely loved it and insisted that we do it again soon. 

By Dana Hanley

One of the best days of Camp JAM this year was when we did face-painting. We had some new recruits that day, and we think the face-painting sealed the deal for their future commitment to the program-especially when they showed up to the next class asking for a new design!

By Katy Clements 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Nurses Do Good!

Hola todos! 

Excited to be updating you all. A lot has happened these past few months, but I want to highlight one of my favorites weeks.

In March, we hosted spring break groups from universities all over the country. Seven students from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (my alma mater!) spent spring break in our community in Nicaragua working with my non-profit, Manna Project International, a non-profit that uses the passion and energy of young people to empower developing international communities through hands-on learning and service.

It was such a great opportunity for the freshmen nurses to enhance their skills in taking vital signs and in getting a head start on the importance of physical assessment and pain assessment.

From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day we worked at two community clinics, shadowing a doctor and nurse, educating patients, collaborating with medical and pre-med students and performing community home visits/assessments.

Our main project was de-parasiting our community, which was done for the first time ever in our communities, Manna Project International has never implemented a health project on such a large scale before...
We ended up de-parasiting 1,004 community members - far over our goal!, and we were able to incorporate nursing education by focusing on the importance of hygiene and hand washing to prevent parasites. Below are graphs that depict the populations that received the de-parasiting medications. You’ll notice a slight spike in the age graph for 11 year olds, which is because of the 6th Grade health classes we specifically gave out to (as we are their teachers). Also, there were 48 people who did not record their age on the sheet, and they all are probably older. But, you can see that we generally helped out a good sample of Nicaragua, which is a very young population compared to the United States. And a hefty sample at that.  

Parasites and preventable diseases are a large problem in rural Nicaraguan communities due to poor hygiene, lack of hand washing and contaminated water and food. As part of the de-parasiting treatment, the freshmen nursing students gave out medication free of charge, staffed an education table for teaching the patients the importance of hand washing and proper sanitation and distributed free soaps and toothbrushes. We had to be sure patients understood all the instructions because so many of the people cannot read or write, let alone understand the complexity of health literacy.

It was such important practice for the nursing students to learn to be culturally sensitive and to work on their Spanish skills and to be fully exposed to global health issues. While working on pediatric, adult and geriatric cases, we focused on the importance of holistic care, understanding where the patients live, what they eat, their financial restrictions and their cultural barriers. 

One patient we cared for was a woman who had two toes amputated due to an infection. The nursing students had the opportunity to not only learn about wound care but also about issues the woman faced regarding limited transportation to the hospital and lack of cleanliness in rural conditions during the dry season where dust and dirt can easily permeate an open wound. 

Overall, we had such an amazing week and made a major impact in our community. De-parasiting 1,004 community members, wow! I was so incredibly proud of my nursing students who dedicated a week to Manna Project International and the communities in which I work. With Penn Nursing’s motto, Care to Change the World, I can most definitely say they changed the lives of many - into healthier, more lively ones. I can’t thank them enough.

By Natalie Ball

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Live, Love, Lax

Of all places to learn how to play lacrosse, I never dreamed it would be here in Nicaragua! I started working with the Lacrosse the Nations program in February at Club Hope. Each day my skills improve with the help of these kids. It is a very positive environment. We are always cheering each other on and help each other learn new skills. Last week we scrimmaged, and I scored one goal. (I’ve come a long way.) After the class one of the kids said his favorite moment of the day was watching me score a goal. I am just so glad I joined this program and have the opportunity to spend time with these kids.
By Juliene Joyner

Monday, April 20, 2015


April is the Month of Microfinance! 2015 is Manna Project's second year partnering with Month of Microfinance, a grassroots movement of student and professional organizations with a passion for microfinance and an intense commitment to learning.

Over at Monthofmicrofinance.org, you will find daily blog contributions from a range of organizations. Not sure what Microfinance is? Check out this 2 minute overview:

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Find out what people are saying and join the conversation - search #MoMF15!