maddie reports

In The Manna House-

Two new Program Directors arrived: Kyle and Josh (another Josh! Who would have thought). They're absolutely splendid and have fit into our Manna family perfectly. Both are intelligent, enthusiastic, patient, kind, and most of all…they're boys! Let me tell you, evening out the gender ratio in this house has definitely made everyone happier. Too many girls can get a little catty sometimes.

I kid you not, MILLIONS of fire ants attacked our house twice about a week and a half ago. We think the boys might have disturbed a colony while creating their "man cave" in our unused garage (don't ask, I have no idea), and as a result the ant army retaliated. If anyone is interested, you can kill them with the following: boiling water, water + bleach, or fire. I don't recommend the last option.

As I've mentioned, we have two rottweilers, mother and son. The son may or may not have gotten mumsy pregnant when she last went into heat. Another word of advice: it is pointless to try to keep rottweilers in heat apart, because they will inevitably find a way to be together. We're still waiting to find out if she's pregnant… if not, we're getting her spayed asap.

In Programs-

Microfinance: after reviewing our applications and conducting interviews, Mary Rose and I have decided to hand out five $150 loans and one $100 loan. They'll be making payments twice a month, and each date that a payment is due we will have a meeting with all the participants to discuss how their businesses are doing, offer encouragement, strengthen relationships and friendships, etc. I'm very excited about this program and hope everything will go well!

Creative Arts: Emily and I have decided to make the next 3-4 months "country" themed, and this time we are sticking to our themes! February is Nicaragua month, March is Costa Rica, and April is Ecuador (the location of our sister MPI site). Ecuador might leak into early May, but our summer volunteers are arriving May 12 and will be entrusted with planning from then on out. We're pretty excited about this date. Also, we've realized that the children behave better when doing arts and crafts as opposed to "rehearsing" skits.

Intermediate English: Kyle has come on board with me, which has been a great help. We now tend to divide the class into two groups and thus get more work done/offer more individual attention. My students are getting a little rowdy, and I might have to soon give them the "I do all this for you please respect me or don't come to class" speech… though I'll probably use nicer words. In any case, they're progressing well and have already learned 3 new vocabulary lists.

Child Sponsorship: I've decided to step down from this position, as I wasn't contributing much to the program and wanted more time to plan my other classes/catch up on other work. However, I still manage to make it to La Chureca once a week/every two weeks and maintain my relationships there. We also went to a presentation at Casa Ben Linder today, wherein several Churecan children talked about their new organization (they do radio bites) and passed around photos of their barrio. Needless to say, we MPI people new at least 70% of the people that appeared in the photos. Guess we're doing our job pretty well!

Community survey: Mary Rose and I are about to conduct a community survey on Manna and how community members view us as an organization. This is the first time that Manna has internally conducted a survey like this and we're very excited about conducting it and compiling the results.