Vanderbilt University Spring Break Group

Last week, our first group of spring break volunteers arrived from Vanderbilt University to work with Nicayuda painting a pre-school and to help out in all Manna’s programs. On Saturday, after a long day of traveling from Nashville, Tennessee, the 11 Vanderbilt girls were ready to take on Nicaragua. Group leaders Amanda and Zac met up with them at the airport and brought them back to the Manna house to settle in.
To truly understand the girls’ experience in Nicaragua from their own perspective, we asked them to write a reflection on the week.  The following is a guest blog from spring break volunteers Lexi Kaminer, Alyssa Cohen and Liza Warshaver, with pictures by Leslie Dawson.

When we first showed up, we weren’t sure what to expect from Nicaragua and the Manna community. After hearing our schedule we were so excited to see we would have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the culture and help the local people. The first day we went to the pre-school in the Altagracia area. We were interested to learn that the government does not provide very much help for Nicaraguan pre-schools and for that reason we were glad to help repaint the entire school. After two days of hard work we were excited to have completed our painting, and it was such a rewarding experience to see the children’s reaction to their brand new school.

Vandy girls hard at work.

Some of the finished product.
Pre-school students in their freshly-painted school.

Another moving experience was our trip to La Chureca where we were able to walk around with the mothers in Manna’s Child Sponsorship program. During this visit we saw a different way of life and the power of strong bonds within a community.  We also saw the clinic that Manna sponsors and we were moved by how much it positively aids the children and their families.
Throughout the week we also had the chance to attend English classes, exercise classes, baseball practice, drumming, and the Feeding Program, all led by the talented and dedicated Manna Program Directors. We were so happy to see how much Manna does for the communities and how much the children appreciate their involvement.
To conclude our trip we had an amazing weekend excursion. During this trip we got to relax by Laguna de Apoyo, canopy through the trees near the Mombacho Volcano, and experience Granada, the oldest city in North America.
We in the Manna house thank the Vanderbilt team for their hard work, and we know Nicayuda and the pre-school in Altagracia share our gratitude.  Today, we'll be saying goodbye to the Vanderbilt girls and hello to a group from Worchester State University.  Look for an update about their work next week.  What a busy time of year!