Population: 6.2 Million | CAPITAL: MANAGUA
In the heart of Central America lies a beautiful land of untouched rainforests, pristine crater lakes and rugged volcanoes. Nicaragua is a country of contrasts, known throughout the region for its diverse cultural history, vibrant art, and grand literature. Visitors find themselves welcomed by a passionate people living at their own pace, where age-old traditions combine with deep faith for a strong, authentic character.
Nicaragua’s vast potential springs from a past as varied and dramatic as its landscape. A long history of political turmoil, violence and natural disasters has slowed development. The country is now the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere, with 76% of the population living on less than $2.00 a day. This environment is an opportunity for successful and sustainable development through long-term, holistic service.
COMMUNITY MEMBERS directly benefited
Hours served by volunteers last year
- Teenage pregnancies account for 1 in 4 births
- 75% never completed elementary school
- 43% live on less than $1.00 a day
- 100% of children need treatment for parasites
- 15% of children ages 5-14 involved in child labor
- 1 in 3 children suffers from chronic malnutrition
- 21% of children drop out in the first grade
- 52% of women have experienced domestic violence
- 53% of girls do not attend secondary school
- 1 in 10 adults has type 2 diabetes
- 9.2 hospital beds for every 10,000 people
- 96% do not have access to preventive health care
- The public education and health systems did not begin until the 1980’s
- Adolescent Health Education
- Cedro Galán Health Clinic
- 1,000 Days of Difference
- Community Health Promotion
- Creative Arts
- English Vocational Training
- Lacrosse the Nations
- Public School English
- Villa Guadalupe Health Clinic
Cedro galán & Chiquilistagua
For more than ten years, Manna Project has been a constant presence in the neighboring, semi-rural communities of Cedro Galán and Chiquilistagua. Families live in open-air homes with dirt floors, and imported cars share the road with ox-drawn carts. These communities, located on the outskirts of Nicaragua’s capital city, Managua, have extremely limited access to even the most basic services. Opportunities for advancement are rare. While few ever leave, families are strong and committed to finding a better future for their children and grandchildren.
For many years, Manna Project served families living in La Chureca, Central America’s largest municipal trash dump. Incredibly, the dump was home to more than 1,000 people who survived by sorting and selling trash. When the Nicaraguan government closed the dump and relocated these families to Villa Guadalupe, along with 3,700 people who were left homeless by flooding in 2010, we moved with them. The community faces unemployment, constant food insecurity and malnutrition. In the absence of outside resources, motivated leaders are emerging, and neighbors give what they can to support one another.
Students hone their English skills in Advanced English to fully prepare themselves for the employment opportunities available to English speakers in Nicaragua. Having mastered a large amount of knowledge in Levels 1 through 4, students enter Level 5, where the focus is on practicing what they have learned through various activities including projects, competitions, games, and more. Students who graduate from Level 5 English speak, comprehend, read, and write in English at a highly advanced or fluent level. Many of our students go on to obtain employment based on their English English-speaking skills.
Nicaragua has the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Latin America. Manna Project partners with local secondary schools to teach health classes to boys and girls separately, where adolescents may speak openly about issues they face. Curriculum covers basic nutrition and physical health. Students participate in discussions on stereotypes, gender inequality and the physical, emotional and cultural aspects of sexual health.
In a country with very limited employment opportunities, learning English is one of the very best ways for Nicaraguans to obtain steady, quality employment to support themselves and their families. Our Beginner English classes consist of Levels 1 and 2, where large numbers of students learn the essentials of the English language. This includes basic vocabulary and grammar, and practice in speaking, reading, writing, and comprehending English. For both children and adults, the path to English fluency begins here.
In a country with only one doctor for every 2,700 people, families living in poverty feel the impact of this shortage the most. The Cedro Galán Clinic opened in October of 2013 and operates in partnership with the University of South Florida Health Colleges. The Clinic provides crucial primary care and health education for the underserved community of Cedro Galán. The Clinic is staffed by a local doctor and nurse and its operations are guided by a Community Advisory Board comprised of Cedro Galán residents.
The 1,000 Days program is an evidence-based pilot program that aims to combat childhood malnutrition and support the development of healthy families in the community of Villa Guadalupe. The program enrolls high-risk pregnant women, specifically targeting pregnant adolescents ages 15-19, and provides prenatal care, breastfeeding support, nutritional education, well-child care, and family planning during the first thousand days of a child's development, from pregnancy to age 2.
Structured and unstructured playtime is crucial for the physical, emotional and cognitive development of a child. Manna Project’s Creative Arts program in Cedro Galán is specifically designed to help Nicaraguan children between the ages of 5 and 12 realize their creative capacity. Weekly games, art and music provide a safe space where low-income children can develop lifelong problem solving skills.
One of the premier job opportunities for English-speakers in Nicaragua is to work for an English language call center. While there are many openings, few are qualified. MPI offers a course to train students in skills needed by local call centers. The end result of the course is that students possess the skills needed to successfully apply for and obtain employment at a local call center, thereby vastly improving the livelihoods of both themselves and their families.
Opportunities abound in Nicaragua for English speakers, and our English program prepares community members to take advantage of these opportunities to improve their financial stability. Having learned the basics of the English language, students enter Intermediate English, which consists of Levels 3 and 4. In these classes, students learn advanced details of the language, and fully transition over to hearing and speaking English exclusively during class. Once students finish Intermediate English, they speak English at an advanced level.
Manna Project works in partnership with Lacrosse the Nations to create joy and opportunity for children in need. Participants develop life skills and self-esteem to succeed both on and off the field. In a community where only one in four people completes primary school, the program results in improved health, school enrollment, attendance and graduation rates.
Learning the English language is one of the best paths towards a brighter economic future in Nicaragua. Additionally, learning the language from native speakers is a very rare and valuable opportunity. Our Public School English courses provide local sixth graders with the opportunity to learn the foundation of the language from native speakers, and to get excited about English before entering secondary school where they have the opportunity to further their English education. For many local students, the route to English fluency and a brighter future begins here.
Villa Guadalupe is home to more than 1,000 people displaced by the closure of La Chureca, Central America’s largest municipal open-air trash dump. These families joined 3,700 others displaced by flooding. MPI’s clinic in Villa Guadalupe, formally known as Clinica Medica Manna Project International, opened in December 2014. The Villa Guadalupe clinic provides primary-care and gynecology services to community members. The clinic operates with permission from the Ministry of Health (MINSA) and is staffed by a local team of practitioners including a health promoter, general doctor, nurse, pharmacist, and gynecologist.
In Nicaragua, many suffer from preventable disease. MPI works to improve health outcomes by training local volunteers to act as health promoters within their community. Through home visits and group activities, our dedicated health promoters equip their peers with the resources needed for healthy lifestyle changes designed to prevent chronic disease.
Nicaragua Country Director
Christina's involvement with nonprofits began when she volunteered for a domestic violence organization while pursuing her BA in Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She went on to spend eight years working with domestic violence victims, incarcerated females, and at-risk youth. Christina received a Master in Public Management from SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy and worked for the World Health Organization while living in Italy. In 2009, Christina was first introduced to Nicaragua and went on to spend two years working with the Nicaraguan Ministries of Health and Education in the department of Masaya. Christina is currently pursuing a Master in Public Health at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and was selected to receive the Emerging Global Public Health Scholars Award and the Gillings Merit Scholars Award. Prior to joining Manna Project in 2013, Christina worked as a Research and Evaluation Associate for Safe Horizon, the largest victims' services agency in the US.
Nicaragua Assistant Country Director
Dana’s interest in nonprofit work was sparked while pursuing her B.A. in International Development at Clark University, where she had the opportunity to intern at various nonprofit organizations including Habitat for Humanity and Lutheran Social Services of New England. She first joined MPI Nicaragua in 2014 as a Program Director after receiving her M.A. in Community Development & Planning. During her first year in Nicaragua, she fell in love with the communities that MPI serves and was impressed by the organization’s holistic and sustainable approach to development. After a year of working in MPI's educational and business development programs, Dana decided to extend her contract to work with MPI as a Senior Program Director for two more years, providing on-site and organizational support before transitioning to her current role. She is thrilled to be a part of the Manna Project team and for the opportunity to continue working with the communities she has grown to love.
Villa Guadalupe Clinic Administrator
Yami has been working with Manna Project International for over ten years and has become an invaluable part of the work the organization does in the Villa Guadalupe community. She first began working with MPI while the organization was still operating in La Chureca, which was the largest open-air landfill in Central America. She has over fifteen years of experience working in the health field. Yami handles the administration of the Villa Guadalupe clinic, helping with everything from making sure patients receive a kind reception to keeping all of the clinic's files organized and up to date.
Nurse, Cedro Galan Clinic and Villa Guadalupe Clinic
Selma has been part of the MPI team for three years, working as a nurse at both of the organization's health clinics in Nicaragua. She has thirty-three years of nursing experience under her belt. She was first drawn to nursing through her love of helping others and she feels that working with MPI has given her a chance to reach those most in need.
Doctor, Villa Guadaupe Clinic
Lilliam has been working as a general practitioner at MPI’s clinic in Villa Guadalupe since it opened two years ago. She has over ten years of medical experience and her warm personality never fails to put patients at ease. Lilliam knew from a very young age that she wanted to become a doctor so she could help people improve their health and prevent illnesses.
Gynecologist, Villa Guadalupe Clinic
Karla has eight years of experience working as a Gynecologist at Carlos Roberto Huembes, which makes her an incredible resource for the women of Villa Guadalupe. Karla's favorite part of her job is working with new mothers and getting to witness the joy they experience after giving birth. She also believes that improving women’s health in Nicaragua is critical for the country’s development and feels passionate about improving access to care in underserved communities like Villa Guadalupe.
Doctor, Cedro Galán Clinic
Wendy decided to become a doctor because she loved the idea of helping others to improve their health. For the past three years, she has been doing just that by providing care for patients at MPI’s clinic in Cedro Galán. With 17 years of experience as a general practitioner, Wendy is a tremendous asset to our staff. She is passionate about providing access to quality healthcare to people with limited resources and feels that the presence of a clinic in Cedro Galán has made a huge difference for the community.
Social Worker & Health Promoter, Villa Guadalupe Clinic
Julio has been with MPI for over ten years. In addition to helping with the administration of the Villa Guadalupe clinic, he also serves as a community health promoter and oversees Manna Project's childhood nutrition program. His favorite part of working at the clinic is going door to door in the community and finding people that MPI can help through the services the organization offers.
Nutritionist, Villa Guadalupe Clinic
Monica has been working as a nutritionist with MPI at the Villa Guadalupe clinic for the past four years, helping to oversee the nutritional care of the children in the child malnutrition program. Monica brings a wealth of experience, with over twenty years of practice as a nutritionist and fifteen years of experience working for the Nicaraguan Health Ministry (MINSA). Monica experienced her own nutrition-related issues as a young girl, which is what first inspired her to get involved in her field. She says that her favorite part of her work is getting to see her patients’ health improve.
Angela has been working with MPI since the organization first began to operate in Villa Guadalupe over three years ago. Angela has become an invaluable part of th clinic team. Thanks to her, members of the Villa Guadalupe community always have a clean and organized space to receive care. Angela says that she loves being able to do her part at the clinic and believes that the community really appreciates the services offered.
University of Pennsylvania '16, Chemical Engineering
Born in São Paulo, Brasil, Arthur experienced a nomadic childhood and grew up in the likes of Germany, Italy, Japan and Thailand before setting sail to Philadelphia, PA. He earned a BSE in Chemical Engineering ('16) and an MSE in Systems Engineering ('17) from the University of Pennsylvania, at which point he realized that his true passions lay in the non-profit realm. Arthur's aspirations from his MPI experience are twofold; he hopes to fuel his desire to travel all the corners of our gorgeous planet, and to use this as the beginning of a career in international aid. He is also a certified yoga instructor, and loves to spread peace using this majestic art.
Wake Forest University ’16, Health and Exercise Science and Psychology
Benedicte is from Washington D.C., and graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and Health and Exercise Science. After graduating in 2016, she moved back to Washington D.C. and worked as an EMT on an ambulance and as an ER technician in an emergency department. Benedicte has traveled through out Central America and chose to work for MPI to continue to develop her language skills and to experience working in the non-profit sector. Outside of work, Benedicte enjoys running, reading, and cooking and hopes to pursue a career in medicine after her time with MPI.
Penn State '17, Political Science
Andrew is from Stone Harbor, New Jersey. He graduated from Penn State in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. In 2015, Andrew was a Summer Intern with Manna Project International in Nicaragua. It was during this internship that Andrew first developed his passion for both Latin America and non-profit work. While at school, Andrew developed a passion for working with kids after being a part of Big Brothers Big Big Sisters and seeing the impact positive role models can have on children as they grow. Andrew is excited to be back in Nicaragua to build relationships in the community and explore the country and culture he was first exposed to two years ago.
Whitman College '14, BBMB
Carol is from Portland, Oregon. She graduated from Whitman College in 2014 with a degree in BBMB (biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology). After college, Carol worked as a clinic medical scribe and in a neurosurgery lab. She volunteered with Manna Project in 2012 and was impressed by their holistic approach to development and their partnerships with the community. Her experience with Manna Project inspired her to return sometime after graduating college to continue working in community development. After her time in Nicaragua, she hopes to enter the medical field to help those who are disadvantaged access the healthcare they need.
University of South Carolina '17, Biology
Jaclyn is from Charleston, South Carolina and graduated from the University of South Carolina Honors College in May of 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. Throughout college she shadowed doctors and worked in hospitals, which sparked a love of healthcare and medicine. Her passion for working in Latin America developed through a study abroad trip to Mexico to study endangered sea turtles. She chose to work with Manna Project to learn from the culture and time spent in the medical clinics. Jaclyn hopes this experience will enhance her desire to pursue a career in healthcare and attend medical school.
University of South Carolina ‘17, Biology and Chemistry
Madeleine is from Boston, Massachusetts and graduated from the University of South Carolina in May 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Science of Biology and Chemistry. As a premedical student in college, she traveled to Panama for a service learning trip where she developed a passion for culture and working with underserved communities. Since then she has continued working with patients and physicians in clinical settings. Because of these experiences, she chose to work with Manna Project to be further exposed to cultural differences and develop her Spanish communication skills. Madeleine plans to attend medical school after her time with Manna Project.
Franklin & Marshall College '17, Spanish
Matt is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in 2017, where he was a Spanish major and played intercollegiate soccer. In college, he was involved in service-learning trips to Honduras and South Africa and also participated in a public health study abroad in Santiago, Chile. Matt joined MPI Nicaragua for the opportunity to work with a unique nonprofit and meet others who are enthusiastic about community development. He is excited to be exploring Nicaragua, meeting its people and developing life-long ties. He is passionate about global and rural healthcare and plans to attend medical school after Manna. In addition to sports, Matt likes photography, hiking, and traveling.
Elmira College '17, International Studies and Spanish
Meredith is from Corning, New York and graduated from Elmira College in 2017 with degrees in International Studies and Spanish and a minor in Political Science. Meredith spent two weeks in Nicaragua in May of 2016 and was determined to return after that trip. After going to college 20 miles from home, Meredith is excited to break out and have this new experience with such a great organization. She sees this position as a stepping stone towards a career working towards sustainable development in the non-profit sector.
UNC Chapel Hill '17, Global Studies
Susan was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2017 with a major in Global Studies and a minor in Spanish. Throughout college, she worked at various summer camps and after school programs, where she developed a passion for youth development. She chose to work with Manna Project for a variety of reasons, including pursuing her interest in nonprofit work, improving her Spanish fluency, and contributing to the deep community values of the organization.