Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Celebrations

The month of December has been a sweet, sweet time to be involved in the lives of our community members. December brings graduations from elementary and secondary school, communions at the catholic churches, Purisima (kinda like a mixture of caroling and trick-or-treating), and of course, a little Christmas celebrating. We feel so lucky to be invited to these personal and familial events and it's been a great glimpse into the Nicaraguan culture. We are all leaving for Christmas break this weekend, so the events almost seem like a great way to celebrate and reflect on the past 5 months that we've spent here. We love this time of year!





Monday, November 19, 2012

The PD Experience

This is an excerpt from a post that one of our PDs, Kiely, wrote about her experience as a Nicaragua PD thus far. If you're interested in applying for the 2013-2014 PD team, click here!

"I have been a Program Director for four months now. It took me one month to learn how to make the 'tostonés,' or fried plantains, on my own at home so I could basically eat fried deliciousness whenever I wanted. It took me two months to feel as though I had solid friendships in the communities where we work. It took me three months to feel as though I could understand a full conversation in Spanish (which was at a zero percent comprehension-level when I arrived) and four months to feel as though I am now fully at home in my beautiful surroundings. To be a Program Director for Manna means allowing yourself to be swept up in an energetic, excitingly new pace of life. While I joke about the arbitrary benchmarks of my experience, after living in Nicaragua for four months I can say with certainty that I am getting exactly what I wanted out of my choice to become a Program Director. I have learned to actively create or expand new programs, teach classes alongside other PD’s and how to make the necessary decisions about what our community programs may need to become more sustainable in the future. My personal development with Manna thus far was brought home for me today in Chureca with the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua as we chatted about our experiences as long-term Manna P.D.’s: 'Thank you,' she said to us all after our discussion, 'for being such great ambassadors, yourselves'."

Day in the Life of a NICA PD!

Check out this video that one of our Program Directors made about a day in the life of a Program Director. Click here to apply to be a PD for 2013-2014!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

La Chureca

Hi all!

Please take a few minutes to watch this video that one of our PDs, Hannah, made about our work in La Chureca. It's a good inside look at what life is like there. Keep in mind, it's never advisable to film there out of respect for our friends who live there, so a lot of the footage was taken from the car.

If you're interested in applying to be a PD next year or a Summer Intern this year, please click here! The next deadline is December 1.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Men's Health Class at Colegio Chiquilistagua

I'm very excited to introduce our newest program for Manna Project Nica... Men's Health! This class came about 8 months after the Sexual and Reproductive Health class for girls at Colegio Chiquilistagua was started. SRH has a class of 11-13 year olds on Wednesday, and a class of 14-16 year old girls on Thursday. During these times, the boys in these classes would have an hour for extra recess! Seeing that this was a great opportunity to provide for the boys, JJ, Jamison and Javier decided to start a complementary Men's Health class. It's just beginning but we're all really excited about it. Here's what JJ had to say:


"This month we began a health class for 6th-8th grade boys at the public school in Chiquilistagua.  There was already a program in place for the young women at this school, so MPI Nicragua expanded our efforts to teach to the young men as well.  Now, we teach two classes a week to boys whom before the class begun had a free hour while the girls were in heath class.  Just like the women health class, we use Como Planear Mi Vida as a resource for our subject material.  A lack of information about health, gender relations, and sexual relation is present in this community so we see a lot of potential to provide a beneficial class.  We are very excited to continue get to know the students and provide a valuable lessons to the young men in Chiquilistagua."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Apply to be a Program Director!!

Tomorrow is the first deadline to apply to be 2013-2014 Program Director in Nicaragua, Ecuador, or Guatemala. But don't worry, you can still send in your application after October 15th!

Below is a video that I made for my family and friends about my experience thus far in Nicaragua. I spent my first year out of college working in an office and decided to go abroad to get more experience and adventure under my belt. It's been the best decision I could have made.




Sunday, October 7, 2012

We Are Family

This blog post was featured on Hannah's blog, and I thought it was beautifully written! If you are interested in applying to be a Program Director in 2013-2014, apply soon! The first deadline is October 15th.

"One of the aspects of Manna that really drew me to apply was it's very unique, strong relationship with the communities it works in.  There are many programs that can teach English or do microfinance which don't get me wrong are very helpful in developing countries. However, the people we are helping are not numbers, but people with personalities and families and life stories. They have experiences and values that can be shared and are important to understand toreally touch them in an impacting way.  Just like my own family, they face struggles and hardships as well as find happiness in the celebrations of births and graduations.  This is why since coming to Nicaragua and meeting the community members of Cedro Galan and Chiquilistagua, I have never once felt like an outsider or a person incapable of understanding their culture. Instead, I have been welcomed with open arms and been invited into each of their families.

Two nights of the week I am invited into Lorena's home for a delicious dinner while we sit in rocking chairs on the front porch talking about life.  She hugs me tightly and says "adios mi bebita" when it's time to go. Despite the rain, Jaqueline and Proyanka carry me through the lake of a road to their house so I can teach them English on a Friday night.  They don't hesitate to give up one of their sweaters so I don't catch a cold and give me their only candle when all the electricity is cut off. Tammy and her mom Lupe come over to my house to have fun in the pool and eat some lunch. As Tammy and I are catching up in my room, I am nearly knocked over when she throws her arms around me and says "you are my aunt!"

These are just a few examples of the love and acceptance I have received since coming to this beautiful country.  I am reminded of the beauty of human connection every day and I know I will forever be impacted by the kindness I have experienced here. Every day I can feel myself learning how to become a better person and I have the beautiful people of Nicaragua to thank for that."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Women's Exercise

Twice a week the beats of Danza Kuduro can be heard throughout Cedro Galan.  The sounds may be mistaken for a filming of a latin music video, but in fact it’s our Women’s Exercise class. Two hours a week four PDs (Hannah, Robin, Kiely and Julia) teach a fun, energetic work out to the powerful women of Cedro Galan.  Although the age separates the women, their goal unifies them.  In a routine where caring for children and putting food on the table three times a day is what is expected, giving women a sense of empowerment and free time is a valuable.  Due to the imposing theme of machismo in Nicaragua, women are rarely allowed to leave the house and do something they enjoy for themselves.  In addition to this, women are often subordinated and made to feel worthless through either emotional or physical abuse.  Our program tries to combat these issues through our exercise classes and self-esteem charlas given by our psychologist.  

We have gotten to know each woman personally through the class and it is amazing to see them open up more each week and find a new sense of ease in completing each exercise we give them.  In each hour we do a warm up, cardio, weights, abdominal exercises, yoga.  Each class we try to add something fun, Danza Kuduro and The Wobble are our personal favorites.  We often end the class with free dance so the women have a chance to express themselves and release their stress.  The women always come in with a huge smile on their face and always have new ideas to make the class even better.  Here is a picture of the women in exercise action:



The other component of the program is to provide empowering charlas to help women overcome issues machismo in the household.  Through knowledge of women’s rights laws in the country as well as understanding their self worth are very important to combat inferiority complex present in this community.  Our psychologist, Elisabeth, has come twice to discuss self-esteem and healthy communication within relationships.  The women responded very positively to both charlas and really connected to Elisabeth.
We are very excited to continue growing and improving this program.  We hope to start a nutrition class to supplement the exercise class to educate the women on how to lead a healthy lifestyle.  In the past there have also been cooking classes which we hope to start back up again as well.  This program has so many directions to improve, and we know with the overwhelming support from the women we will be able to make a great impact in the community!

 (Written by Hannah Peterson)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Retreat at Laguna de Apoyo


 This past weekend we had our first retreat at Laguna de Apoyo. We had all heard great things about this spot but I think all of our expectations were surpassed! The clean, blue lake and lush, green slopes of the crater were breathtaking. It was the perfect backdrop to our time of team and vision building.

My favorite part of the weekend was when we reflected on everything that has happened so far. Even in our brief two months of being in country, we have achieved things together-- big and small. Looking forward, we have a better vision for what we want to learn and how we want to grow the programs of MPI Nicaragua. We are all invested in our programs and want to see the people in our communities flourish for the rest of this year and the years to come.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Roscoe

Last week we introduced a new member into the family... puppy Roscoe! He is going to grow up to be an awesome guard dog, but in the meantime, we're happy spoiling the little pup.


Milk Day

Milk Day was one of the most anticipated tasks to complete as a group of new PDs. This is the day that our families involved in our Child Sponsorship program receive a combination of milk, cereal, vitamins, and beans to last them the month. We measure and weigh each child and talk to their mothers to see how everything is going. We never got to see the old group of PDs actually do a Milk Day, but with the help of the MPI staff here Milk Day was a huge success! If you are interested in sponsoring a child in our program, please click here!




Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Introducing the 2012-2013 PDs!

The last of the old PDs left this morning and us new PDs are officially in the swing of things! We learned a lot from the old PDs in the short time we were together; their stories and achievements were encouraging and inspirational. I hope that we can continue to improve and strengthen MPI's programs just as they did. Last week we had the annual despedida/bienvenida party at El Farito to say celebrate both teams and the community. It was the perfect way to say heartfelt goodbyes and meet new friends. Especially since a piñata and a cake were involved.


Click here to meet the new team!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Our first business cards

Josefa and Martin, two of the business development recipients, have designed their first business cards.  Special thanks to summer volunteers Amanda Sawyer and Alex McCue who worked on the importance of branding and designing these cards.  We are pretty excited to take this to print this week and have them start using them.



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Visiting Granada

On Sunday the Summer Interns headed to Granada to tour a coffee plantation! Being that it is winter season, the actual beans are not mature until December, though we did sample some delicious Nicaraguan coffee.




Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kid's Camp

Today in El Farito the Summer Interns taught the kids a new craft! We made these awesome little start doorknob hangers.  So proud of how they listened and everyone was excited to take their finished project home! .... such a great day @ MPI Nicaragua.









Thursday, June 21, 2012

The sign read, "Welcome Home.."


A Place to Call Home


I'm one of the summer interns who's here in Nicaragua for eight weeks, learning from the program directors and being taught by and serving the Nicaraguans in the local communities.  As we come to the end of my fifth week here, it's amazing to say that this place has become home in a very short time.  A whole new group of summer interns arrived on Sunday, and this week has been spent orienting them to life in Nicaragua and the programs we're all a part of here.  As the program directors, the other eight week interns, and I welcomed the new interns, we all hoped they would see the beauty we've seen and feel as much at home as we do.  We posted a “Welcome Home” sign in the main room of the Manna House, and we set goals for the next four weeks that include making the new summer interns feel comfortable here.  We've been able to walk the new summer interns around Cedro Galan, introducing them to our Nicaraguan friends (who we're friends with after only 5 weeks).  This experience as a summer intern with Manna Project has been incredible so far, as I've gotten to experience the hospitality and openness of Nicaraguans.  In the next three weeks, I hope to see all the new summer interns experience this same hospitality, and hopefully come to call this place home.

Jessica Crandall
Summer 2012 Intern 
MPI Nicaragua

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Little Things...


The Little Things

While it may seem intimidating at first, making the leap to volunteering in another country is something that everyone should experience. I know what it's like to live in a comfortable little bubble, hiding behind all of the eccentricities of middle-class American life. I grew up in a small town in Ohio, and haven't seen much else outside of that town. However, upon entering college, I began a desperate search for new sights and experiences.

Since coming to Nicaragua, I've talked to mothers in La Chureca, helped teach English in Farito, and played soccer with kids in Salero. I've seen kids dance their hearts out on the dirt floors of their homes. What we're told is the face of poverty actually has a smile on it. These people truly enjoy the little things in life, and make the best out of less pleasing situations. They have inspired me so much, and I truly appreciate being able to meet them.

Whether it's volunteering with Manna Project or not, find what is calling you and go after it. Stop hiding behind all of the comforts of home, and explore the world. Volunteering abroad has been one of the most rewarding experience I have had, and I am glad that I did it. The types of people I have met and the experiences I have had are just not something that I would have been able to take part in if I hadn't ventured outside of my comfort zone.

_Bryant Sheppard
Bowling Green State University
Manna Project Intern '12

Friday, June 8, 2012

Alex's Homestay



 ".... one of the boys woke up at 5 am to make it to class on time"

I walked into the house of my host family for only the second time and was met with warm greetings and bed of my own. We ate an awesome dinner with friend chicken, avocado, Nicaraguan cheese, rice, plantains, a salad, and (surprisingly) mashed potatoes. We also got a bright pink corn soft drink that...took some getting used to. Meals with Nicaraguans have been some of my favorite experiences because while it is about the food, it is more about the experience; connecting with people, sharing stories and laughter, and sitting at the table long after the food has totally disappeared. Eventually everyone went their separate ways, but I'll remember that dinner for a while. The next day one of the boys woke up at 5 AM to make it to his university on time, which made me feel pretty embarrassed for complaining about my 9 AM class so much last semester. The other woke up around 7:30 and at a leisurely breakfast of cheese, eggs, plantains, and gallo pinto (rice and beans) with his parents and me. When I asked him the reason, he said "because I slept." From my home stay, I learned a little about how to eat, how to wake up early without complaint, and how to live your life at the right pace.

Twenty and Tuani,

Alex

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Josh's Experience as a Summer Intern




As a summer volunteer with Manna Project International I have been able to help make a difference in community we work in. One of the community members I have had the opportunity to work closely with is Agdiel. Agdiel is a special needs student who has difficulty speaking. In my time here I have worked with Agdiel on his pronunciation and vocabulary. Although, I have only been here three weeks I feel Agdiel has improved since I first started working with him. Opportunities such as this are one of the reasons I applied to Manna Project International, and am glad I did so.


-Joshua Snow
 Nicaragua Summer Intern 2012
 Manna Project International

Monday, June 4, 2012

Relaxing in Laguna de Apoyo

It was nice to get away for the day as we headed to Laguna de Apoyo.  Water was so pure; 

Nicaragua has endless hidden treasures. 



Summer Interns at Cerro Negro

"The weekend trip to Leon was a wonderful combination of gorgeous beaches and our once in a lifetime adventure on Cerra Negro." ---The 2012 Summer Interns 







Friday, June 1, 2012

Walmart and Manna Partner for a Project in La Chureca!


Walmart impulsa proyecto económico y social para apoyar a mujeres de La Chureca
El proyecto beneficiará a 2 mil personas
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El Gerente de Asuntos corporativos de Walmart en Nicaragua, Eduardo García Montenegro, entregó una donación de 27 mil 476 dólares a la directora de Manna Project Internacional en Nicaragua ,Katie Messick , para combatir la pobreza , el desempleo, la desnutrición que afectan a 120 familias que residen en el basurero de la Chureca, el basurero más grande de Centroamérica.

El proyecto beneficiará a 2 mil personas en total y nació luego que en el mes de noviembre 2011 el voluntariado presentó un plan de negocios que permitirá implementar el “proyecto de fortalecimiento a Mujeres emprendedoras”, dijo el Licenciado García Monteneegro. La actividad se realizó en Supermercado la Unión de Linda Vista. Las mujeres beneficiadas se dedicarán con el aporte de Walmart de México y Centroamérica, dijo la directora de Manna Project Internacional, Katie Messick, a labores de bisutería.

El Gerente de Asuntos Corporativos afirmó que con el Proyecto se generarán 25 empleos autosostenibles para 25 madres desempleadas; 50 madres empoderadas para toma de decisiones positivas de nutrición y alimentación para ellas y sus familias.

También se espera atender 22.000 consultas y tratamientos de salud y nutrición anuales en la Clínica Casa Base de Salud, institución que Walmart apoyó en el 2011 a través del Voluntariado Corporativo que efectuaron 100 asociados. Ese es el único centro asistencial médico que existe La Chureca y que atiende a las 120 familias.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Update from Nicole ... "an incredible community."

When I arrived in Nicaragua as a summer intern two weeks ago, I was not sure what to expect. Since then, I can honestly say I have been floored by the intensity of Manna's connection with the community. I feel like Manna Project is the definition of holistic community development and the mission of "communities serving communities" truly is being met.

I am involved in a number of programs including English classes for all ages/levels, the child sponsorship program, sexual and reproductive health classes, computer classes, horse therapy for children with special needs, and women's exercise. Because I am a medical student, I have also had the unique experience of shadowing doctors in the clinic in La Chureca. It is really quite impressive how all of these programs work together to develop assets within the communities where we work and bring each of them closer together.

In addition to helping with programs, I have been able to spend a lot of time with the people in the community in a more casual setting. During our first week here, each of the summer interns went and had dinner with a family at their house. This is something new Manna Project is doing to immerse us in the community. It was incredible to experience the families' generosity and hospitality firsthand. It also shows how much these people love and appreciate Manna.

I have also been doing an English-Spanish exchange with one of the community members. We meet for four hours each week and practice English for her sake and Spanish for mine. When I was at her house on Friday, she explained to me how much Manna has helped her over the years and talked to me about a lot of past Program Directors that have impacted her life. She also told me that our meetings/exchanges are helping her more than I can imagine and she thinks if we keep practicing, she will be able to get a job at a call center (a dream job for many people here). It was heart-warming and encouraging to hear just how big Manna can be to the people it serves.

This week, I plan to do a homestay with one of the families in Cedro Galan. I am sure it will be an awesome experience and only further my feel for the fabric of this incredible community.


Love, 
Nicole

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Casa de Ben Linder celebrates 25 years!

Summer Interns visit Casa de Ben Linder





They also got to see the finished product painted by muralist Gerardo Hernández 


Monday, May 14, 2012

Beginner's English: A teacher's pride

This week we have a guest post from Fiona about our Adult Beginner's English classes, which does a great job of reflecting what I also feel about our two amazing groups of students. Enjoy!


Four times a week, Sam and I teach a beginner's English class - Mondays and Wednesdays to about 15 students at El Salero, and Tuesdays and Thursdays to about 20-25 students at El Farito.  There used to be only one beginner's English class, but Sam and I started the new one at El Salero about 7 months ago because some of our teen English students were clearly interested in and capable of an adult English class.  Beginner's English has been one of my favorite programs this year, and we have a lot of fun teaching the class.  Our students are fantastic (most of the time...:-)) and it's a fun level of English to teach.

Last week, since we had finished our six-ish month curriculum, we gave a placement test to our students.  The test was to determine if they had learned enough in beginner's English to move on to our second English level.  Out of the 33 students who took the exam, 20 of them received a high enough score to pass!  I am so, so proud of our students and how much they have learned - the reality is that when we only have 2 hours of class a week, there's only so much we can do as teachers, and the students have to motivate themselves to study more and learn English.  I am particularly excited for our teen English students, because I have no doubt that they will quickly advance through our English levels if they stay motivated and will be able to speak very good English before they graduate from high school.  Knowing English is a huge help in getting jobs here in Nicaragua, so it will be a very useful skill for them to have at such a young age.

Every rose has its thorns, though, and this is no exception.  The 20 students who passed the exam will be moving up to elementary, and Sam and I are very sad to see them go.  It'll be strange not to go to our English classes next week and be greeted by the familiar faces of our students, but we're hoping to have a new batch of students interested and excited about learning English!


 Farito Beginner's English

Salero Beginner's English (the silly version)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yet another one of the many benefits to living in Nicaragua....a fabulous location to host our Spring Retreat 
Laguna de Apoyo


Sunday, April 22, 2012

The More, the Merrier!


Nearly everyone in the Manna house did some traveling during Semana Santa—some PDs left Nicaragua to travel to the US and Guatemala, while others explored Rio San Juan and Leon. Lucky for us, the fun and excitement of our week of vacation continued upon our return to the Manna House. In addition to the visiting parents of three PDs, three old PDs from 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 stayed in the Manna House!
Many community members were extremely excited to visit with Hemby, Carly, and Steph, who attended classes, did homestays, and attended a wedding during their time here in Cedro Galan. Steph will be with us for another week, although we won’t see in her the house quite as much as we’d like, in light of her decision to spend as many nights as possible in community homestays. It’s great to have old PDs here and to hear their feedback on the evolution of programs and the community. Not to mention how helpful Steph and Carly were during my recent battle with head lice (now completely gone thanks to Steph’s masterful nit-picking skills!).
Although we are sad to say goodbye to Hemby, Carly, and Steph, this summer we will be graced by more special visits from last year’s PDs, including Megan, Luke, and Katie. We’re also getting excited to share the Manna experience with our summer interns, who will begin to arrive on May 12th. We anticipate re-energizing our sports programs and English classes with summer volunteers’ fresh perspective and experience. Hopefully their arrival will coincide with the onset of the rainy season, so we can get some relief from the winter heat!

2009-2010 PD Andrew with Holly

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Empower. Love. Inspire. International Women's Day



Martha Ney is the mother of 2 amazing sons, David and Alejandro, who participate in MPI’s Baseball, Math, Literacy and English Programs. MPI programs work to empower young women like Martha to be agents of social change by providing health, education and livelihoods programming for women in the communities we serve. Martha participates in our English, Nutrition and Exercise Programs – her passion motivates all of us to be stronger teachers. Martha's selfless and compassionate personality and commitment to learning and providing opportunities for her family are constant inspirations.



Saturday, March 3, 2012

Spring Break Begins!

This week, MPI Nicaragua is excited to host our first two groups of spring break volunteers, from Vanderbilt and UNC Chapel Hill. Our Vandy group will be working closely with our math and literacy program, and have brought books and other supplies that will greatly benefit the class. Meanwhile, UNC Chapel Hill will be helping with our women’s health and nutrition initiative by funding and hosting a inaugural hands-on cooking lesson in El Farito for our new women’s nutrition class. Later on this spring we will also host groups from UGA and Worcester State. Stay tuned for daily updates from our spring break volunteers themselves—you can find each university’s postings on the appropriate tabs above. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Baseball and a special visit


Pictured: Lori and Modesta 

Hello, hello! While I was caught up in the excitement of our new women’s sexual heath class, I neglected to mention two recent and noteworthy happenings here in Nicaragua. Shortly after our return to the Manna house in January, we had a visit from MPI Executive Director Lori Scharffenberg, US Director Joel Griffith, and Financial Manager Greg Welch. Many families in Cedro Galan had been anxiously awaiting Lori’s visit for months, and were extremely excited to spend time with a dear friend and original program director! Lori was able to watch the evolution of old programs and the development of new ones, and also meet Modesta, the child whom she sponsors in La Chureca. The trip was equally exciting for Joel and Greg, who had never before visited the MPI Nicaragua site. We were happy to share a bit of our daily lives and enable them both to better understand exactly how we positively affect and are affected by community members throughout Cedro Galan and Chiquilistagua.
In other news, Davis and Jesse have recently restarted Boys’ Baseball, holding weekly practices and attending league games at El Salero. Although the Manna team is often the underdog in terms of age and size, on Saturday they won their first victory with a score of 3-0. Although Davis and Jesse have little experience coaching baseball, they are able to manage the team thanks largely to the help of David, a student in Manna English classes who loves baseball and has a strong relationship with many of the team members.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Girl Power!

Hello, everyone! It's been quite a while! Last week, you met Lindsay, the newest member of the MPI Nicaragua team. We're lucky to have her here with us--her enthusiasm and smile have already proved contagious! In other news, with the new year we've decided to add a new class to our current programs at el Farito.

During our time here, Christin and I have become increasingly aware of gender inequality and an overall need for a safe space in which women can discuss their lives and obtain basic sexual and reproductive health education that often goes untaught in Nicaraguan schools. Over winter break, we began brainstorming, and put together a curriculum based on an adapted version of a health education manual by the Boston Women's Health Collective. Upon our return, we asked girls and young women ages 11 and up if they would be interested in a women's health class, and after receiving a positive response, we held our first class in mid-January. By polling the class and urging them to submit anonymous questions, we found that our students were interested in a wide range of topics. Thus far, we have had three classes, in which we have addressed a variety of subjects, including menstruation, body image, and healthy relationships. Attendance is slowly growing as more community members become aware of the class, and Christin and I are now contemplating holding class once a week as opposed to twice-monthly. We anticipate increased attendance and a potential partnership with a local health clinic in the near future, and will keep you posted as we move forward!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mi primera semana = My first week.

Last monday I arrived on site to the Manna Project International house in Nicaragua. I thought I would share 5 first impressions since my arrival.

1) Coming from the Northeast, the weather here is beautiful. In January/February/March it is the dry season in Nicaragua. The temperature is 80+ on most days with an occasional breeze.

2) The Manna House serves many purposes. Located slightly outside of the community we serve the house is not only sleeping quarters but also a home office, social networking, an exercise room and most importantly a place to build friendships with 10 other people who have the common desire to work along side the people here in Managua.

3) The main form of transportation here is our micro. I have learned to love it already, as it serves not only as our mode of transportation but we often pick up several kids in the different programs at their homes. Otherwise I don't think they would attend without us picking them up each day.

4) It takes a village to raise a child. This statement has reoccured in my mind several times this week. Here in Nicaragua the front door is always open. In the states, I think our culture has drastically shifted away from helping our neighbors. Just in the short week I am reminded that it is oh so important to invest in your neighbors and those who you live with. Each time there is a break in between classes, any one of us can simply walk across the street and chat with just about anyone nearby.

5) The programs are successful because of the people behind them, both in the community and the staff in the Manna House. Everyone is devoted to their individual programs and are often looking for ways to make improvements. Upon arriving to the house I wasn't really sure which program (s) would interest me most. The best thing about being here so far is that I don't have to decide yet and there is a wide variety to choose from. Will share more later on each of those programs. #buenosdias