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.