by: Kate Feeney
This month promises to be an
exciting one here at MPI Nicaragua.
Although we were sorry to say goodbye to three of our 5-month fellow
Program Directors, we are happy to introduce three new PD’s to take their place
and join our Mannamily. We are all excited to get to know them better, as well
as see how their energy and dedication help our programs grow. It is also
exciting to see the new direction in which some of our programs are heading.
After our last retreat in December, we discussed the positive growth of Women’s
Computer, Business Development, and our Jewelry Cooperative will undergo in the
Women’s Computer will
be designing a more concrete syllabus with a more specific goal. They will aim
to standardize a curriculum and target university-age girls and women seeking
to enter the work force, providing the tools these women need to advance their
careers or educations.
Business Development will also
undergo restructuring. Instead of a classroom-based curriculum, we will be revamping
our microfinance program.
entrepreneurial community members will be chosen who will create business plans
and receive short-term loans.
is to use these loans to augment already existing businesses and to have full
repayment of these loans by August.
Despite some vehicular
technicalities on our way to the beautiful Playa Gigante, our retreat was
overall successful and marked a change in how we have conducted retreats in the
This retreat we were responsible
for doing research and creating presentations that focused on broadening our
understanding of International Development Goals and where Nicaragua
specifically fits into the larger scheme of world development.
More importantly, we discussed what role
Manna plays here on the ground, and how our goals align with the United
Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (about which you can read here
These presentations were highly
instructive, both to help us better understand Manna’s place in the greater
world of non-profit organizations, as well as Nicaragua’s place in the
the second poorest country in GDP per capita in Latin America, and while the
education and infrastructure have both improved since the revolution, it is
clear that Nicaragua still has a long way to go.
We also learned that water is not as
efficient as coolant for the wellbeing of micro-van engines, but that is neither
here nor there.
Our final night on retreat ended
with a documentary on the history of Nicaragua as well.
Nicaragua was plagued with a dictatorship
that fell in the late 70’s, and faced civil strife for nearly ten years after
Despite relative political
stability since then, the country has also faced a serious earthquake and
This documentary was
the culmination of a retreat intended to heighten the PD’s awareness of life
and culture in Nicaragua, to help us better understand the communities in which
we work and the people with whom we have formed such personal relationships.
Overall, the retreat ended a successful five months and we are all looking
forward to see what the next seven have in store.