Child Sponsorship

The Little Things...

The Little Things

While it may seem intimidating at first, making the leap to volunteering in another country is something that everyone should experience. I know what it's like to live in a comfortable little bubble, hiding behind all of the eccentricities of middle-class American life. I grew up in a small town in Ohio, and haven't seen much else outside of that town. However, upon entering college, I began a desperate search for new sights and experiences.

Since coming to Nicaragua, I've talked to mothers in La Chureca, helped teach English in Farito, and played soccer with kids in Salero. I've seen kids dance their hearts out on the dirt floors of their homes. What we're told is the face of poverty actually has a smile on it. These people truly enjoy the little things in life, and make the best out of less pleasing situations. They have inspired me so much, and I truly appreciate being able to meet them.

Whether it's volunteering with Manna Project or not, find what is calling you and go after it. Stop hiding behind all of the comforts of home, and explore the world. Volunteering abroad has been one of the most rewarding experience I have had, and I am glad that I did it. The types of people I have met and the experiences I have had are just not something that I would have been able to take part in if I hadn't ventured outside of my comfort zone.

_Bryant Sheppard
Bowling Green State University
Manna Project Intern '12

Walmart and Manna Partner for a Project in La Chureca!

Walmart impulsa proyecto económico y social para apoyar a mujeres de La Chureca
El proyecto beneficiará a 2 mil personas
Redacción Central

El Gerente de Asuntos corporativos de Walmart en Nicaragua, Eduardo García Montenegro, entregó una donación de 27 mil 476 dólares a la directora de Manna Project Internacional en Nicaragua ,Katie Messick , para combatir la pobreza , el desempleo, la desnutrición que afectan a 120 familias que residen en el basurero de la Chureca, el basurero más grande de Centroamérica.

El proyecto beneficiará a 2 mil personas en total y nació luego que en el mes de noviembre 2011 el voluntariado presentó un plan de negocios que permitirá implementar el “proyecto de fortalecimiento a Mujeres emprendedoras”, dijo el Licenciado García Monteneegro. La actividad se realizó en Supermercado la Unión de Linda Vista. Las mujeres beneficiadas se dedicarán con el aporte de Walmart de México y Centroamérica, dijo la directora de Manna Project Internacional, Katie Messick, a labores de bisutería.

El Gerente de Asuntos Corporativos afirmó que con el Proyecto se generarán 25 empleos autosostenibles para 25 madres desempleadas; 50 madres empoderadas para toma de decisiones positivas de nutrición y alimentación para ellas y sus familias.

También se espera atender 22.000 consultas y tratamientos de salud y nutrición anuales en la Clínica Casa Base de Salud, institución que Walmart apoyó en el 2011 a través del Voluntariado Corporativo que efectuaron 100 asociados. Ese es el único centro asistencial médico que existe La Chureca y que atiende a las 120 familias.

Update from Nicole ... "an incredible community."

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.


Lake Xiloa

This past Sunday some of the PDs and summer volunteers travelled to the lake with the moms and children of the CS program from La Chureca.  Every couple of months the PD’s involved in the program throw sort a party or paseo for the families, and so yesterday they all headed to Lake Xiloa, which is a small lake about ten minutes north-west of Managua.  Although the day started out uncomfortably cloudy for a day on the water, most of the moms still came and as the the day progressed the clouds disappeared and the rain held off.  While most of the mom’s stayed out of the water to chat on the beach, the kids were constantly in the water playing with PD’s and summer volunteers.  There were also cookies and bananas to share for a mid-afternoon snack.  Overall it seemed like everyone had a really pleasant and enjoyable time! Here are some pictures of all the fun and activities.  
Sahari :)

Marina, Joseling, Zeneyda, and Mariella, some of the moms in the CS program.
Program director Luke with Elvis.

Summer volunteer, Paul, playing with some of the older kids in the water. 
Program director Katie and little girl Lisbeth. 

Highlight: Child Sponsorship - Chureca Gets A Play Day

Child Sponsorship's quarterly field trip gave the children and mothers in our nutrition and health education program an afternoon's rest from life in Chureca. It took two buses to get everyone from Chureca to El Salero, or "The Land" in Manna jargon, and back, but it was well worth the trip for everyone. The sponsored kids received lunch and each his or her own children's book, but most importantly rare time to play in clean air and open spaces. Kathy and Halle August's sports complex was the perfect venue. The new Program Directors were particularly thankful that we had time to get to know both the children and mothers in the Child Sponsorship Program, but above all it was a day full of joy. Enabling a child to run, laugh, and play brings joy in a portion that is rarely matched. Here we share some snapshots of Chureca's play day.

Lauren Page "LP" Black attempts to help Maria Antonia simultaneously tackle her fear of swings and cameras.

Andrew Hemby, more commonly referred to as "Ands" or just "Hemby," being kept from his Gallo Pinto by Heysel and Josué Daniel. Heysel helped us hand out cookies!

Jose Manuel, rarely separated from his faithful backpack, braves the tire swing on his own.

In addition to his undying love for Spiderman, or Hombre Araña, Josué Daniel always brings a laugh when he insists on introducing himself by his full name, Josué Daniel Chávez Ortega.

Hemby gives Jefrey a boost toward the basket.

The children of Chureca are a sincere lesson in the resilience of a child's joy. I suspect that we, the new Program Directors, may find that Manna's sponsored children and students have more to teach us than we ever suspected.