Feeding Program

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.



Two weeks ago the feeding program at Farito started back up, one of the programs that Manna helps facilitate on a weekly basis.  The program was started by Kathy August, a missionary who also lives here in Nicaragua.  This year, however, she is taking a 6-month break from Nicaragua to teach in the United States, and so the Manna team has  taken over the twice weekly job of organizing and feeding lunches to about fifty to sixty kids that live in Cedro Galon.
How it works is we have an organized schedule that designates two cooks for every Tuesday and Thursday, who are women living in the community.  Everyone who volunteered to be on the schedule will cook about once a month.   Our duties then are to help make sure that all of the kids wash their hands before they eat, receive their food, and then brush their teeth afterwards.  We also assign a few kids to help with clean-up afterwards in order to get some Farito dollars for the Venta.  Despite the whole process being a little loud and crazy, everything worked out the past couple of weeks and the kids were happy and fed.  We had around sixty kids the first week and about the same this past week.  So far so good and we look forward for the weeks to come!
The kids getting ready to get their food. 

The kids enjoying their comida!

PD's Amanda and Johanna washing dishes.

Table of girls enjoying their meal.

Shirley smiling with her clean bowl after her meal.

poetry and snow cones

Maddie and I often say that we need a nap and a cocktail after MPI’s biweekly Creative Arts class. Thirty children are a handfull for sure – but when given handbells, drama props, or the deadly combination of glitter and glue, all semblances of order and quiet disappear. So perhaps we were insane to think it would be a good idea to take these students on a field trip, but Granada (a neighboring colonial town) was hosting a poetry festival. Why not expose them to a cultural world outside their neighborhood?

After permission slips were signed and attendance requirements stated, we were left with 14 poetry participants. On Thursday after Feeding Program, Maddie and I loaded the kids in the van and kidnapped Amira and Tressa to help us supervise. The ride to Granada involved many small heads and arms flapping out the windows, some tooting recorders (which they found under the seat, who knew?!), and one stop at a gas station for a poor “I’m going to vomit” niño. But we arrived to the festival with children intact. After dividing into groups, we wandered the main city square and meandered among the booths of poetry books. Despite the aura of refinement and literature, I’m convinced that the kids’ favorite part of the trip was eating raspados (gooey Nica snow cones) before we headed for the van to hit the highway.

Although it seems fairly insignificant to take a child to a festival and give her a snow cone, I have been recently realizing just how small is the bubble of a world in which these children live. They go to school and they come home. They play soccer in the dirt streets in their barrio and occasionally board a bus with their mothers to buy rice and beans at the market. And that’s all. No family vacations or school field trips or outings to the movies. No exposure to museums or libraries. But part of MPI’s mission is to empower these children – to encourage them in their abilities and to offer them opportunities beyond their limited world. With this mindset, an afternoon trip to a cultural festival in a new city is not only significant, it’s vital. It can open eyes and expand minds to see that a world of prospects lies beyond what they know as day-to-day life.

With a newfound love for poetry and snow cones,