University of Georgia

Manna Project International is a non-profit organization founded on the principle of "communities serving communities." This three-word slogan itself is a picture of what MPI stands for, two communities joined by service. Day to day, it means a host of situations: college groups traveling and volunteering together, our MPI site teams working with locals, or our organization partnering with existing programs and missions. Service connecting those communities might be meeting health and educational needs, developing durable friendships, raising awareness and challenging the status quo, or developing leadership within those communities.  

MPI-UGA has great opportunities for people interested in helping the global community. We will be acting as a resource to underprivileged international communities by taking trip a Spring Break trip to MPI's international site in Nicaragua.  We invite friends & family to follow along in this incredible one week experience. 


Once upon a time, it was Tuesday.
Initially we were going to record our trip day by day, but we figured that a brief summary about the total experience would be a better representation. The overall feeling of the whirlwind week was that of gratitude and general amazement. La Chureca expanded our mentalities and opened our eyes. We were able to be present for the inauguration of brand-new homes for two extremely special families- one with a child with Down’s syndrome, and the other with a seventeen-year-old mother. Their immense gratitude brought tears to our eyes, not of sympathy or pity really, but of comparable gratitude. We’d never felt quite so in another’s shoes as when Cecilia prayed with us for the continued blessings in her life.
Another miraculous experience was called “milk day.” This once a month event happened to fall on the week that we were here. People sponsor children by providing them vitamins and milk for a month.  We helped give consultations and a general weight and measurement of the children.  This was a favorite for us because playing with children brought the biggest smiles to their faces.  At the clinic where milk day is held the Jewelry Co-Op is housed. Women in La Chureca use recycled material to make beautiful jewelry. Everyone in our group was so impressed, and we all bought multiple items to support the women’s work.  

El Farito, the little open-air school that Jessie wrote about at the beginning of the week, translates to “the little lighthouse,” and it truly lives up to its name. It stands as a beacon of hope, a future full of more creativity and productivity, a future with more educational opportunities and less falling into tragic stereotypes. El Farito remains a place where Agdiel can be not only free from discrimination, but celebrated for his unique nature. We will all miss seeing the beautiful, innocent faces of all the children. These children, who ran up to us and embraced us without even knowing our names and continued to fall into a mutual adoration with us throughout the week, are what made this trip what it was. Wherever we go henceforth, we will carry these kids in our hearts. We will pray that they grow up to be as incredible as they seem right now, to live up to their potentials.
There are too many memories to pack into just a few paragraphs, but here we are trying. These words can’t even begin to stand up to the actuality of this week full of rooftop mornings, gallo pinto for every meal, dust-covered existence, tiny children hanging on us as though we were eucalyptus trees, picking mangoes up off the ground, swimming in the midst of ten thousand stars, cramming a clown-car amount of people into a three-wheeled taxi, making the Harlem Shake our own with a Nicaraguan flair, feeding the world’s most adorable children at Comedor, dancing like fools in Matagalpa, and just enjoying life to the fullest, as cliché as that may sound. These moments are irreplaceable; these moments are unable to be captured. Not even with a swanky Nikon DSLR.    


Jessie here from MPI UGA chilling out with 4 fellow bulldogs and 9 awesome program directors after our first big day in Nicaragua. Before leaving the States, daylight savings time decided to thoroughly ruin our sleeping schedules. We sprung forward an hour at home just to be plunged back an hour in Nica making us feel like we're living 2 hours in el futuro. All 5 of us were up by 630 ready to go, but our Nica PDs are a little more use to the time, the loud birds, and blinding sunrise. 

After a quick orientation we were off in the microbus to meet the community. Cedro Galan is only a kilo and a half away. We split up in two groups for a walking tour of the area. What seemed at first like a simple dirt road unfolded into an entire town with many people, houses of various shapes and sizes, and compound-like neighborhoods. Here we actually got to eat in a Nicaraguan home! The food was amazing and the company extremely  pleasant. At our lunch we enjoyed Gallo Pinto (rice and beans; name so because of the purple color the beans make on the rice). There was also a cilantro-y salad (YUM), stewed meat of some kind, and sweet custard for dessert. During lunch we heard all about the community dynamics and about how this host family is spread throughout the neighborhood, all while the kids were watching the Junglebook in Spanish inside (I was definitely tempted to sing along). We spent our time freely and meandered back to the community center for our next program: math and literature class.

At our next location, Salero, we helped out with a very large Beginner's English class. Even with 30 plus kids in the room, it is easy to speak simple spanglish with any of them just one on one. Tess, Christina, and I had a highly hilarious interaction during English class with two characters Dylan Jose and Brian. These boys were definitely the class clowns, singing their answers, copying our English, and making silly animal noises. Jacqueline helped with a very diligent group of eager students. After English class, Anise bravely lead the class in our first creative arts activity of the week: Origami! Even the rowdier bunch of children settled down to focus on folding their paper into a pretty lotus flower. That just goes to show how much they enjoy the arts. We have been told that all of the kids have been looking forward to this arts week for months because it is not in their usual curriculum. We expect to have a lot of fun with our eager participants!

After a long, hot, dusty day we were all glad to come back to the house for a quick swim and cold shower. We are very excited to do more of the activities from today and to experience so much more. Hopefully tonight our bodies will let us sleep in...

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