Wednesday, October 30, 2013


by Kate Squires 

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Manna Project International’s presence in Managua, Nicaragua. Our Child Sponsorship Program, Girls & Boys Health classes, and Nutrition/Exercise program are all part of our holistic approach to health and wellness. This year is special to Manna as it celebrates its anniversary, but to the 12 Program Directors that live in Nicaragua, this year, this month means something a little different. Last week we opened the first MPI run and operated clinic in the community of Cedro Galan.  

Access to health care was the most urgent request when the community needs assessments were done just a year ago. Prior to the first interview with our nurse, a PD was walking up to the clinic site when she heard a girl screaming nearby.  She ran to find 7 year-old Sara having just fallen off of her bike. With an injured foot and no resources, it was a telling sign that our clinic couldn’t open soon enough. Over the next few weeks, a constant PD presence kept her foot clean, dry, and wrapped to prevent infection and severe scarring. We bartered cookies for cleaning and because of that she is now walking and will have no permanent damage. Sara is one of the many examples that we encounter daily in Cedro Galan.

One of the main reasons I chose MPI for my year of volunteering, was because of the impact that I would be able to see before starting my own journey in the health care world. Many of the patients we will see at the clinic are people that do not have the resources to travel to a hospital, or even spend the time to wait for a doctor. Everyday that the clinic doors are open, we have the opportunity to create change in a way that we were not capable of before last week.

Up until October 25th, 2013 we were worried just how long those doors would stay open. However, on October 25th, we successfully raised over $11,500 with the help of over 100 generous donors! The clinic has now met the needed budget for the next year because of the success of our 25 in 25 match event. We could not be more grateful for all of the donations and support we have received thus far.
Our next fundraising event will be held on November 23rd, 2013 in conjunction with our partner organization, Lacrosse the Nations. For more info on how to get involved check out the event here, LtN Health Cup. After 10 years on the ground in Nica, we are excited about how our presence and programs are evolving. We would not be the organization we are today without the help of supporters like you. With every donation you are making measurable change.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Our first Mannamily retreat.

This Sunday is our 3-month mark, three months of progress, three months of challenges, and three months of working together. A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to talk about the accomplishments and challenges of the last couple of months at our very first PD retreat. With the amount of programs we lead we are generally all going 100 miles a minute and not usually in the same direction. So our first retreat gave us the chance to meet in a way that we hadn’t been able to since our July orientation in Miami. 

One Thursday, we all piled into the micro and departed to one of the most beautiful places in Nicaragua, Laguna de Apoyo. Laguna de Apoyo is a crater lake in between the cities of Masaya and Granada. When we arrived we were all shocked to see the georgous lake and home we would be sharing for the next two days. We quickly unpacked and sat down for our first meeting. Over the course of two days we were able to plan, evaluate, share ideas, and even have a little fun!

With all 13 of us together and the experiences we have had so far, we were able to set long-term and short-term goals for the remainder of our time here in Nicaragua. We had the opportunity to split into our program groups and evaluate what is and isn’t working and plan ahead based on the new knowledge we’d gained. We were able to do team building activities to get to know each other even better than before.

Since returning from our retreat we have implemented strategies to help us reach our goals. We are now having Spanish Thursdays, during which we are allowed to speak in Spanish and Spanish only. We have had the chance to implement new program ideas and new roles within each program. We have seen programs grow, shift, and evolve from the ideas we came up with in just two short days.

With our next retreat just two months away we are excited to see the programs continue to grow. We are hoping to see our Spanish vastly improve and are working hard to reach that goal. There will be different obstacles we face along the way, but again we will have to opportunity to evolve as time goes on. We know that with each new day there is an opportunity for us all to do great things together. Challenge accepted.