5 Things I Learned in Nicaragua

Executive Director Samantha Church reflects on her August visit to MPI's Nicaragua site.

1. Manna Project is deeply connected with the communities it serves.

During my week-long trip, two community members, Sonia and Chepita, hosted me in their homes for traditional Nicaraguan lunches. Sitting on the porch, listening to the women tell timeless stories about the volunteers they have gotten to know over the years, emphasized MPI’s commitment to its motto, "Communities Serving Communities." 

2. Progress takes time.

I was extremely fortunate to be in Nicaragua when the Clínica Médica MPI (MPI medical clinic) in Villa Guadalupe received its official license from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA). Country Director Christina Palazzo and her clinic team started the licensure process in December 2014. Being there to see Christina hang this license up in the clinic was especially exciting, and a testament to the team's hard work! The license includes both primary care and specialized OB/GYN care, and will allow the clinic to actively collaborate with MINSA on community health initiatives (i.e. vaccination drives, direct referrals for specialized exams/patient follow-ups, and public health campaigns).

3. Nicaragua is breathtakingly beautiful. 

Christina brought me to Masaya Volcano National Park, which showcases one of Nicaragua’s most active volcanoes. I also had the opportunity to relax in Laguna de Apoyo’s refreshing lagoon water!

4. Everything is more colorful in Nicaragua.

Whether it be the public school playgrounds, or the massive, brightly-lit trees that line the streets of Managua, Nicaragua and its people are visibly vibrant.

5. MPI Nicaragua staff and volunteers work tirelessly to fulfill Manna Project’s mission. 

I am so honored to be working with MPI's teams. A HUGE thanks to Christina and the team for welcoming and introducing me to the impactful health, education, and livelihood programs we operate daily on-site!

Want to join the team? Early registration for Program Director positions in Nicaragua and Ecuador ends October 1st. Learn more here or apply below:

40 Things to Love About Nicaragua

The following post was written by Nicaragua Program Director Mike Fisher, who returned home to England after seven months with Manna Project in Nicaragua. Looking back on the experience, Mike shares some of the things he will remember most about Nicaragua.

Back in England

I'm back in England after seven and a half months working for Manna Project in Nicaragua.

I’ve not written a blog whilst out here, and I could say so much about the work I did, the friends I made from the U.S., the local families who welcomed me as one of their own, etc. ... but I’ll stick to Nicaragua in general for now. Since my Buzzfeed-addled mind can now only think in lists, here’s a sample of things I’ll associate with a country I’ve grown to know and love:

Part 1

  • Pouting to gesticulate everything like you’re Jagger in his heyday;
  • inexplicably deserted beaches (for now);
  • crimson sunsets;
  • mad cheap travel;
  • mosquitoes;
  • dogs;
  • geckos;
  • iguanas;
  • more mosquitoes;
  • more dogs;
  • birds of paradise;
  • swarms of gorgeous butterflies;
  • smoking volcanoes on the horizon;
  • and churning lava you can’t drag your gaze from.

Part 2

  • Berserk street parties;
  • walking through six back gardens to get to your friend’s house;
  • a total openness of home and heart;
  • beer wars: Toña vs Victoria Clásica;
  • no one likes Victoria Frost;
  • postal addresses which are literally just directions from landmarks so you end up having “Sr. Flores, three km south of the Western Fire Station and two blocks to the East, the second house to the left of the little blue church, Nicaragua”;
  • gallo pinto and every other combination of rice and beans imaginable;
  • and turning all the fans in the world on to your face full blast in order to make it through the week.
  • The bus experience: essentially a riot in motion as locals ply their goods over the music whilst the money collector screams the name of the destination out the window over and over again – "RIVAS RIVAS RIVAS RIVAS RIVAS GASEOSA AGUA RIVAS RIVAS RIVAS!";
  • a complete inability to organize into two teams for a football game;
  • and humbling graciousness and helpfulness embedded so deeply into the national culture it’s almost ubiquitous.

Part 3

  • A weariness of a war-battered past and a determination for peaceful progress;
  • the Daniel Ortega phenomenon;
  • driving through red lights because it’s getting a bit dark outside;
  • horse-drawn carts going past whilst kids play marbles and hopscotch in the street;
  • that one ten-year-old boy who tears through Cedro Galán on a white stallion like a Boss.
  • Two cent bananas and two dollar apples;
  • everywhere a ceaseless reggaeton and bachata party;
  • night skies coated in the clearest stars;
  • the radio station which ingeniously pirates Magic FM from the UK and throws over their own jingles;
  • getting a one dollar haircut every fortnight;
  • suave chele,
  • todo tuani,
  • fist bumping fifty kids before you get into the classroom... the list could go on.

 Nicaragua, and the people I met there, I’ll be paying you a visit again as soon as I can.

want to work in Nicaragua?

Semana Santa in Nicaragua

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a common Latin American religious celebration prior to Easter. The week traditionally a reminder of Jesus Christ’s final days prior to his crucifixion and is a national holiday in most Latin American countries.

During Semana Santa, our Nicaraguan Program Directors took a much-needed reprieve and traveled to San Juan to visit the beautiful and eponymously named Playa Hermosa. Next, Program Directors flew in a tiny prop winged aircraft to the other side of the country, all the way to the Corn Islands, widely held to be one of Nicaragua’s loveliest vacation destinations.

The Program Directors stayed on Little Corn, which is so removed from civilization that it only has electricity for half of each day. 

Semana Santa was a wonderful time for rest and relaxation for everyone, but now that it’s over, everyone is hungry to get back to work on our amazing programs.

See yourself here? Join MPI's team in Nicaragua: