Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Back in Nicaragua

After almost a year I’m finally back in Nicaragua! I am so excited to be in one of my favorite places working for an organization as wonderful as MPI. These first two weeks have been a bit overwhelming for myself and the other new 7-month volunteers. With Spanish classes four hours a day, multiple meetings, and settling into our new home and lives we’ve been quite busy!

Lex, Rob, and I have certainly learned many new things in a very short time. We’ve improved our Spanish, visited Cedro Galán, shadowed programs, and much more. Some of my favorite things we’ve done so far have been our community dinners and day trips. The community dinners allowed us the opportunity to share a meal with two families in Cedro Galán on two separate occasions. We were warmly welcomed into the homes of two great families our first week. They happily made us delicious meals and took the time to get to know us. They were also very patient with our rather limited Spanish vocabularies, too! These meals allowed us to be gently introduced into the community we will soon be working in, and it allowed us to makes connections in the hopes of forging friendships. As for the day trips, we recently traveled to Los Cardones, Laguna de Apoyo, and Granada. I’m eager to see what the rest of our time here has in store for us!

 By Blair McGee

Monday, January 26, 2015

Worcester State University Visit

We were happy to welcome our first visiting group, occupational therapy students from Worcester State University, this January. The students volunteered at a nearby occupational therapy organization, Tesoros de Dios. Program Directors were able to actively participate in the WSU visit by acting as translators at Tesoros de Dios. For a lot of health focused Program Directors, this was a great exposure to developmental, physical, and occupational therapy issues (such as cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome and spina bifida) within our communities here in Managua. After a great week of volunteering, the WSU group was able to explore the nearby cities of Laguna de Apoyo and Granada. Overall, we had an exciting week and look forward to hosting them again next year!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Happy, Healthy 2015.

Happy, Healthy 2015. 
Well. The first half of our time as Program Directors is complete - happy 2015 everyone! 
Weird to think how fast it has gone by, but let me tell ya - we have been busy!! While holistic community development is dynamic and diverse, it definitely adds a lot of “to dos” to my list. However, addressing the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit - social profit that is), is our top priority. Having the opportunity to immerse myself into such special communities has been inspiring, challenging, ridiculously fun, and a true blessing. I’ve had so many opportunities to grow as a nurse, an individual, a Spanish speaker, a volunteer, a global citizen. While I came here to give my services and support, I have been given so much more - happiness, acceptance, realizations, friendship, and love. To give is to receive. And to receive is to inspire. 
I have been determined to make a change - at least starting here in the communities in which I work. To partner and listen closely to the needs and assessments of the community- to collaborate and make change. People often forget that it’s the community that knows what change they need, want and can address. Change must start coming from the bottom up- with that it is essential to target community leaders that are excited, passionate, and driven to make a difference. One must look to…women! In a machismo culture ran by men, women are often overlooked and given less opportunity. Inspiring them and educating them on just how powerful they are is critical. And the key to true, ongoing change.
The woman - mom, wife, daughter, sister… Change Agent. To give health and education to a woman is to give her opportunity. And to give her opportunity givers her power. With power comes conflict and with conflict comes change. Being able to protect pregnant woman from illness and provide a healthy pregnancy increases maternal health and decreases child mortality (two of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals goals… three if you include women’s empowerment). This leads to the opportunities of life… offering universal education to all - GIRLS and boys, which opens various, critical doors. 
As you can see, empower the women = empower the family. With a healthy family comes future and hope. I can rant about this forever but I think you get my point - we need to find leaders, namely women, who are passionate and care to change the world. 


Safe to say there is a lot to be done but now that I have established a trustworthy, real, sincere relationship with the community I believe together we can catalyze change. My hope? A field, trash collection system program, health promotion program and an overall healthy Cedro Galán and Villa Guadalupe, the two communities I work in, live in, and now feel I truly belong in. 
Happy, HEALTHY 2015 you all - Feliz Año Nuevo… let’s start making change! 
p.s. - - My New Years' resolution is to blog more! So stay tuned.