When I arrived in Nicaragua as a summer intern two weeks ago, I was not sure what to expect. Since then, I can honestly say I have been floored by the intensity of Manna's connection with the community. I feel like Manna Project is the definition of holistic community development and the mission of "communities serving communities" truly is being met.
I am involved in a number of programs including English classes for all ages/levels, the child sponsorship program, sexual and reproductive health classes, computer classes, horse therapy for children with special needs, and women's exercise. Because I am a medical student, I have also had the unique experience of shadowing doctors in the clinic in La Chureca. It is really quite impressive how all of these programs work together to develop assets within the communities where we work and bring each of them closer together.
In addition to helping with programs, I have been able to spend a lot of time with the people in the community in a more casual setting. During our first week here, each of the summer interns went and had dinner with a family at their house. This is something new Manna Project is doing to immerse us in the community. It was incredible to experience the families' generosity and hospitality firsthand. It also shows how much these people love and appreciate Manna.
I have also been doing an English-Spanish exchange with one of the community members. We meet for four hours each week and practice English for her sake and Spanish for mine. When I was at her house on Friday, she explained to me how much Manna has helped her over the years and talked to me about a lot of past Program Directors that have impacted her life. She also told me that our meetings/exchanges are helping her more than I can imagine and she thinks if we keep practicing, she will be able to get a job at a call center (a dream job for many people here). It was heart-warming and encouraging to hear just how big Manna can be to the people it serves.
This week, I plan to do a homestay with one of the families in Cedro Galan. I am sure it will be an awesome experience and only further my feel for the fabric of this incredible community.