Thursday, May 30, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Today we celebrated Nicaraguan Mother's Day within our communities!!

In La Chureca this morning, PDs and Summer Interns visited each of our families to deliver a small card and some treats to each of our Child Sponsorship mothers. All too often in this culture mothers shoulder most of the responsibility to raise their children and run their homes, so it meant a great deal to us to use this time to applaud their efforts and encourage them. We were met with many hugs and grateful smiles as our attentions turned from their children to them as mothers and women.

After comedor (feeding program) in Cedro Galan, the summer interns threw a Mother's Day party with the kids participating in Summer Camp. They brought their mothers to class today for a dance party and cake, and we able to give their mothers handcrafted gifts made during Summer Camp the past week.

We're so thankful for our mothers here in Nica, both those we are learning from and those who've adopted us during our year. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Welcome Summer Interns!

There has been a breath of fresh air here in the Manna House and we call them Summer Interns! We are excited for their service with Manna and their presence in our communities. We have added a new page to our blog where you can find updates written by our interns about their experience in Nicaragua. Click on the tab labeled "Summer" for information about the program and to hear stories from our interns.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Morgan's First Month

Hi Everyone!

My name is Morgan, and I've recently joined MPI as a 3-month PD in Nicaragua. Things have been fast-paced here since the first week I arrived, when I attended nearly every program we run to get a feel for which ones I was interested in working with. Doing this allowed me to start engaging with members of the community and to gain a better understanding of the responsibilities of being a PD.

Despite having only been here for a month, I already feel like I've been accepted into the community here.  I was so excited the first time kids from Cedro Galan remembered my name while I helped run Comedor, our feeding program. I've also gotten to know my students in our Level 3 and Level 4 English classes that I co-teach. These classes have been one of my favorite parts of the PD experience thus far, and I look forward to planning exciting lessons for each week. Last week I was able to experience life in the community by doing a home-stay, and also by traveling to San Juan del Sur with members of one of the churches in the community.

Now that I'm feeling more settled in, I'm looking forward to what I have ahead of me in the next two months. In this time, I want to focus on improving my Spanish (of which I knew basically none when I first arrived) by having one-on-one language exchanges with people in the community, and by doing more home-stays and traveling. I also can't wait to see the progress we make with the health clinic, and the changes in our programs now that summer volunteers have arrived. Make sure you check back soon for updates from our summer vols about their awesome camps and activities in the community!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Partner Update: USF and the Cedro Clinic

University of South Florida Health students and faculty have spent the past few weeks working with MPI-Nicaragua on a brand new health initiative in the Cedro Galán community.
It all started nearly a year ago when a MPI summer intern/USF student and former MPI Program Director completed a needs assessment in the community which identified lack of healthcare as the most pressing problem. The needs assessment would eventually lead to a USF Health and MPI partnership to bring healthcare access to this community.

As a first step, USF Health and MPI combined their resources to find out what it would take to create a holistic and sustainable health project in the community. In a series of key informants interviews, MPI and USF Health asked for more information on the lack of access to care and for advice on creating a community-driven health initiative. What we got was not only invaluable information, but also a community prepared to take ownership of the project.

After coming to a more complete understanding of the health-related need in Cedro Galán and witnessing the community's passion for health improvement, MPI and USF Health resolved to help bring a primary care clinic to the community. On Monday, April 22nd, Dr. Robert Nelson of USF Health announced the plans for the clinic at a community-wide dinner in El Farito. Since then, we have all been working together to put the plan in motion. 

Over the past two weeks, USF Health and MPI together facilitated the formation of a Community Advisory Board, made up of and elected by Cedro Galán community members. The Community Advisory Board will inform all decisions made by USF Health and MPI regarding the healthcare initiative, including the next step of hiring a physician. Currently, as their first activity, the Board is working with the Nicaraguan Foundation for Diabetes’ President to organize community health worker trainings in Cedro Galán.

Stay tuned as MPI and USF Health continue working hand-in-hand with the Cedro Galán community to bring a primary care clinic and health education to the area…

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Despedida and a little thing called retreat

First of all, we apologize for the lack of updates from our beautiful country. It has been a time of transition here in Nicaragua and now that we've found our way back to Blogger we'd love to let you know what has been happening!


We concluded our Spring Break season here on March 24 when our Worcester State team returned to the US. We were thankful for all our SB team's enthusiasm and energy as they served here in Nicaragua with us. Just after Spring Break finished up, we were all on vacation for Semana Santa with travels that took us to Connecticut, Tennessee, Virginia, Illinois, Texas, Maryland, east coast Nica, and some that stayed right here in our community. Everyone found their way back to the Manna house at the beginning of April to enter our last several months here in Nica as PDs. 

A little over a week ago our Manna team packed up and headed south to Playa Gigante near San Juan Del Sur for our third retreat. We were excited to have this time away as a family as we celebrated the arrival of our new 3-month PD, Morgan Loughery, and enjoyed our last weekend with Jen (our fearless media coordinator, hence the lack of updates). Besides enjoying some family bonding (our favorite!), we were excited to have some time away to continue our work in developing Manna's programs here in Nicaragua. We had groups laying out our goals in education, health, and livelihoods, and were excited to see how our programs link to Manna's larger goals as an organization in Latin America.

We are sad to say that our house has lost one of its voices. Jen Metzger has said farewell to Nica as she embarks on new adventures like grad school and marriage! We are so appreciative of the dedication and love that Jen poured into her programs here in Nicaragua over the past 10 months! She contributed selflessly to our English programs, feeding program, Sexual and Reproductive Health class, girls' sport programs, and our organization as the house media coordinator. She will be missed by her students, her friends here in Nica, and this Manna family. We wish her the best of luck as she continues her journey!

Check back soon for updates from our new PD Morgan, as well as our USF Med Student team that has been working hard in Nica over the past several weeks!