Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Nicaragua is known as 'the land of lakes and volcanos.'
It's obvious when looking out at the landscapes that decorate our lives and explorations, just how stunning this country really is.

the view of Lake Nicaragua from Catarina

the Colonial town of Granada

a view from a walk just 10 minutes from the Manna House

a steaming volcano in Leon

5 volcanos in a row

the sweeping country side in Masaya

Thursday, November 25, 2010


As many of you know at MPI Nica we have a pool in our backyard.
We have a lot of pool parties as rewards for the community members in our programs. For many of them this is their only chance to learn/practice swimming. Right now is getting to be the end of our first term and it's party season! Here are some photos from Steph's Children's English Class (we split up the boys from the girls in hopes for a little less chaos during the fiesta... it sorta worked).

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Bi-weekly the women of Cedro Galan meet and have an hour long fitness class.
The women come to class in the same clothes that they wear during the day: knee-length skirts, jeans, and sandals (which they often slip off for class, participating barefoot) and they never complain. Before they knew that we had a set of free-weights they suggested we fill old plastic water bottles with rocks for weights. Their enthusiasm and willingness to learn how to exercise continues to inspire me to plan new work-outs and different fun ways to get in shape. We do a mix of cardio, yoga/stretching, and muscle work in class. I remember the first class when I tried to get the ladies to do some sit-ups, and it just wasn't going to happen. But, recently we've started doing up to 50 sit-ups in one class! They may not be the most co-ordinated group of gals, but I've seen them improve drastically in the past 4 months.

Back home I played with my university's Women's Ultimate Frisbee team named the UVixens (the short form of my university's name is UVic). Last week they sent over a box of donations (shoes, sports bras, shorts, t-shirts) for the women that participate in the class and we gave them out as Premios last Wednesday.
A Premio is a reward/prize that we give out to people that participate in our programs regularly. A Premio will often be a thing that a person needs for the program but can't normally afford on their own. For example, shorts or running shoes for fitness class. It was so great to be able to reward the ladies for all of their hard work with some much needed exercise apparel!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


What is holistic community development? Well, that's a really good question. I feel like it's a lot like the phrase 'sustainable living': you hear it all the time and you use it in sentences, however you don't really know exactly what it means. Firstly, it can mean different things for different people and different organizations. For MPI, it is the base of which we do all of our work. We recognize that if we run an English class for children, if the children aren't healthy, how can they focus on learning? So, paired with our English and Art classes. We faciliate a teeth-brushing program and also help with a feeding program. We believe that by helping all aspects of a person's life (health, education, creative, happiness, social, etc...) that's when a person will really be able to grow.

Another aspect of holistic community development is how we nurture and utilize a Program Director's unique strengths and skills. For example, a current PD, Steph Barnett majored in Spanish and Developmental Education. She uses those skills to run a children's english class, and also volunteers at a pre-school in the community. On the other hand, Trent Draughon (another PD) who is more tech savvy than most of us, teaches the computer class.

I never knew much about holistic community development before I started working with Manna Project, but now that I do, it just makes sense.

Marcos taking some notes in Steph's english class

You can't tell by this photo
but this class is one of the hardest to teach.
The children are very rambunctious.
But, through Steph's masterly skill of working with children in Spanish
she is able to keep them focused.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Last Sunday we celebrated Will's 23rd b-day with a nice dinner, cake, and of course a Spiderman shaped piñata! It's also a Nicaraguan tradition to crack a raw egg on the head of a person when it's their b-day. The Nicas say it's for good luck... and of course we wanted Will to have all the good luck he could! jejejejeje.
Here are some pictures from the celebrations.

Jaquie, Spiderman, & Will

Marcos blissfully trying to hit the Piñata and William watching seriously in the background preparing himself for the battle to get candy

Will really enjoyed it!

It was little Jaquie's b-day too
so she got a good luck egg on the head too

Lester making sure there was no left over candy hiding in Spidey

Saturday, November 6, 2010


My first experience with MPI was as a Summer Volunteer in Quito, Ecuador in 2009. A fellow Summer Volunteer and good friend of mine, Rebekah Ann Chappell has been living in Costa Rica for the past 14 months, working and volunteering as a dance instructor. This past week we were lucky enough to have Bekah visit us in Managua and teach a dance camp for girls in Cedro Galan. The classes included basic ballet, jazz, and songs from High School Musical. Needless to say the girls absolutely loved it. Bekah's lessons focused on exercises that would help teach the girls body awareness as well as dance technique. The week passed way too fast and it was really sad to have to say good bye to Bekah this morning as we dropped her off at the bus stop to head back to Costa Rica. This past week I couldn't help but think about how great it would be for a the community to have permanent dance classes. I really hope that a future Summer Volunteer or PD will have a dance background and the skills to implement such a program.

despite varied foot-ware the girls in Cedro Galan still all were able to

Maria and Laurita learning a little bit of Jazz

Every class this week started with sitting in a circle and talking about respecting each other while learning how to dance

Bekah liked to call this one the "Michael Jackson"