Tuesday, November 25, 2008

conquering the bug

This week crackers and ginger ale have been in high demand. Sickness hit the Manna house with full force! With Nikki away in the States for med school interviews, there were only seven of us here to hold down the fort. And the stomach bug dominated us seven for seven. Lovely vomiting passed from Mose to Emily to Christina to Michael to Josh to Maddie… and the cycle was complete when Tressa threw up two days ago. Sick people taking care of sick people leads to general lack of hygiene and some pretty foul smells. But thanks to lots of Gatorade and Immodium, we’ve conquered the bug and are now back on our feet! (Although I’m not sure Tressa has left her bed or eaten anything today.)

On a happier – and healthier! – note, Josh (our go-to construction man and veteran PD) has been working hard on a series of wooden structures to be used at Tesoros de Dios (Treasures of God), a local school for children with disabilities. He was contracted by Jackie, a professor at Worchester State who has served at the school, to build equipment to aid the school’s physical therapy program. He has dreamed up, designed, and constructed a large round rocking “pig” that encourages kids to maintain their balance… and a sturdy square walker to assist children in learning to stand on their own... and there are more inventions to come!

Josh’s creativity in construction shines through in these projects, demonstrating the way that Manna allows each PD to pursue his or her passions. Additionally, the construction serves to foster a cool bridge between MPI and this unique young school, with both organizations combining their resources and strengths to love on Nicaragua. Just an example of how MPI overcomes the throw-ups!

Now let’s hope that our current visitors from Vanderbilt don’t get sick – I mean, how do you disinfect an entire house!?


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

life in the barrio

You’ll have to excuse last week’s lack of a blog entry… I was just too busy cooking rice and beans, taking bucket showers, and killing scorpions. Manna Project had moved to the barrio! Over the past two weeks, the current eight PDs have been doing homestays in Cedro Galan and Chiquilistagua, two communities in which we work. And to say it was “an experience” would be quite an understatement. Maddie had to cook Nica food for the whole family (for the first time, by herself!). Mose and I got a little (a lot!) sick and spent a few days vomiting. Nikki kind of didn’t shower. Christina woke up each morning with children on top of her. Michael learned sign language. Tressa was constantly running away from a crazed grandma (wearing feathers?!). And Josh celebrated his 22nd birthday watching Spanish movies with a 10-year-old. But despite such hilarious adventures, the opportunity to live alongside the families we daily serve was invaluable. Sleeping in a 3-room concrete house, showering with a bucket, hand-washing my clothes… all of these simplicities form a way of life here, a dear existence stripped of the luxurious security of the “first world” that so often forms a bubble of stale and lazy ambivalence. My heart was indeed humbled by the generous spirit of my “madre” Raquel and the way she served me with such strength and grace. It was a modest home – but one brimming with hard work and a deep joyful determination. When life is hard, a purposeful perseverance is fostered. It was a privilege to witness this.

And so we’re all back in the Manna house now (which almost feels like the U.S. sometimes!). We have peanut butter and cereal, flushing toilets, and tile floors – but I’ve learned that everything I really need fits nicely in a backpack.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

day of beauty

On Thursday morning two huge vans pulled up to the clinic in La Chureca, ready and waiting to be filled with gleeful children and excited mommas. It was Milk Day time again… but this morning would prove to be far more exciting than the normal organized chaos of distributing milk, oatmeal, and vitamins to our child sponsorship families. We were taking the mothers and children from the city dump on a field trip! Christina had planned a Day of Beauty…

And so the crowded vans drove from the heart of Managua’s dump to “the land,” a wide open space in rural Chiquilistagua where we run many of our sports and exercise programs. We’d hired two beauticians to treat the mothers to hair-dos, manicures, and pedicures. (Many a Chureca toenail was washed and painted in the mixing bowls from our kitchen, yum). And it was a rare chance for the children to swing, slide, and play soccer in clean, green space.

Little Est├ęban rolled down the grassy hill over and over. Leonardo loved playing soccer with Michael. Arlen and Arelys just lay in the clover and frolicked around the volleyball court. Arlen was very careful to not “botar” her trash on the ground. “This is not La Chureca. We cannot put our trash on the ground here,” she told Arelys in her bossy little girl voice. (That’s my rough translation of little kid Spanish).

All in all, it was a fun day of rare treats – personal time for moms to be pampered, green play space for the kiddies, and an opportunity for the Manna team to witness the sweet enthusiasm of these children as they experienced a new and clean place to explore.

Highlight: We gave each child a new pair of precious little bitty shoes…