Sunday, September 28, 2008

i love milk days

Today and yesterday saw the voyage of tired yet excited gringos bearing gifts for the children of Chureca (the Managua city dump) in the form of milk, oatmeal, vitamins, and many strong hugs. We just completed our monthly Child Sponsorship 'Milk Day' in Chureca which I'm in charge of coordinating. Needless the say, the week leading up to the milk day is quite hectic. I order the milk on the phone (which in Spanish is sometimes quite tricky!) and it is then delivered to our house by my new friend Lino. I order the vitamins from a local pharmacy which we pick up when we go grocery shopping, and we buy about 50 one pound bags of oatmeal from our wholesale grocery store. We get rather strange looks pushing around a huge grocery cart overflowing with oatmeal, maybe I just like my grains okay?

Our troops arrive to the Chureca clinic at 9am sharp; our tank-like vehicle, the Patrol, is driven through the front entrance (which we hardly ever frequent) laden with the milk day goodies. The rest of the group walks in through the back entrance like normal and we unload everything into the clinic. Arlen, a little girl in the program, insisted on helping me carry in the bags of oatmeal. Her little frame could barely hold one bag while we carry 5 or 6, but seeing her willingness to help was so heart warming! The moms were in their weekly health talk put on by the ministry of health, and as we waited in the front of the clinic, we laughed and played with a few of the precious children running around with their dirt smeared bodies and ragged clothes. Heysell loved drawing on our legs and hands with a pen, while Arelys enjoyed taking pictures with my camera. I divvied up the duties for the day: a photo taker, someone who hands out the milk, a height/weight measurer, one person who records these measurements, and one 'messenger' who takes the mother and child to one of two consult rooms where Nikki, Mose and myself review the child's health and growth with the mother based on their weight and height progression over the past few months. Most kids are plagued by chronic sickness and a weight gain of even half a pound is a celebrated victory! We make sure the children are eating their milk, vitamins and oatmeal, and that if they've been sick or had diarrhea the past month, that they've seen a doctor at the clinic. Today a few children I saw currently aren't enrolled in school, which is a big no-no! I tried to encourage the moms to enroll their kids as soon as possible... we'll see if they start going or not.

Walking through the clinic, tracking mud from my boots across the white tiled floor, I was so encouraged as I glanced around and realized I knew all of the women and children filing through. We've been working so hard to learn their names, where they live, and their stories, and it seems to be paying off little by little. The women confide in us and trust us a little more each time we love and care for their beautiful children.

I love milk days,


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

welcome to our world

Hola! And bienvenidos to the MPI-Nicaragua blog, a weekly glimpse into the ponderings and adventures that life in Managua inevitably brings. Though already two months into la vida Nica (sans AC and hot water!) we are still learning, still exploring, still figuring out what our role is to be within the communities that we serve. Amidst the constant sweat and frustratingly inefficient pace of life, we are often caught off-guard by the sweet spirit of these people – by their shouts and hugs, their joyful resilience, their hilariously crazy driving…

Meet Natan, a seven-year-old boy in our child sponsorship program. He lives just outside La Chureca, the city dump, and suffers from a severe vision problem. For years he has only been able to see with his peripheral vision, always walking around with a cocked head and rolled eyes. A few weeks ago, we were able to get him the glasses he needed. What a gift to watch this joyful little boy see the world head-on and
with the clarity to play normally! He loved on Tressa with such gratitude that morning.

Or visit our women’s exercise class... Welcome to the funniest, most entertaining hour of your life! Blasting the American rap, Nikki and Mose teach cardio and yoga to thirty giggling and hollering Nica women on the floor of a local ranchon (think large open-air straw hut). Not only are we completely uncertified to teach kickboxing, these women have zero experience in the exercise department! Sprawling bodies and unsuccessful push-ups make each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon a hilarious time of sweat, laughter, and precious friendship.

And it is with weekly thoughts and stories such as these that we hope to provide you snapshots of the people and programs of MPI-Nica. May you glimpse the delight we take in living and working in the land of lakes and volcanoes!

Until next week…