Every time I look at the calendar and it says December I just can't believe it. It seems like just yesterday our group of new Program Directors (PDs) was arriving in Nicaragua, and now in just a few days my time here will end. As a five-month PD, I will be leaving December 15th, and new PDs will transition in in January. Needless to say, they are very lucky!
It was hard to have expectations of what my time in Nicaragua would be like, but any expectations that I did have were completely shattered. This experience has been the most challenging and also, by far, the most rewarding time of my life. Volunteering with Manna Project has taught me everything from Spanish to the importance of relationships when working in development. The 5 months here would have been nothing without the people I met along the way.
Each program I worked on allowed for a special bond, all in different ways:
- In Girls' Health, I was given the privilege of reminding some of the most amazing girls in Nicaragua how special they are, and how they have important rights to fight for every day.
- I was able to help extremely talented and creative women in Villa Guadalupe make a sustainable income for their families by selling their beautiful, handmade jewelry.
- Teaching English to people of all ages was always a highlight of the week, and I could not have asked for a more energetic or fun class.
- Finally, spending time with some of the cutest and happiest children in Villa Guadalupe each week not only brightened my week, but was a constant reminder of the challenges many Nicaraguans face, and how important the work of Manna Project really is.
I remember thinking when I first arrived how amazing it was that the old PDs were able to just hop out of our microbus at any spot in the community to go spend time with a family. Everyone knew everyone, and I wasn't really sure if I was ever going to be able to make relationships like that myself. Now, I can't imagine my life without them. I now am able to hop out of the micro and go visit multiple families that have become as dear to me as my own. They have cared for me like a real daughter, sister, and friend, and completely changed my perspective of Nicaragua for the better. I may have to leave, but I cannot wait to visit these people who will always hold the most special place in my heart.
Along with the community, I have made another family. Five months ago I showed up in the Miami airport and met total strangers. Now, in a few days, I will be in the Miami airport flying away from my family - or Mannamily, as we like to call it. I have been able to make the most amazing friends that are incredibly smart, caring, kind, giving, selfless, and so much more. Working alongside these 8 people has been an incredible blessing, and I wouldn't have wanted to have taken on the daily adventures of Nicaraguan life with anyone else.
As my time comes to an end, all I can feel is how lucky I am. I'm very sad to go, but I know that this experience will stay with me for a lifetime!
- Liz Rosenbaum