Introducing the 2012-2013 PDs!

The last of the old PDs left this morning and us new PDs are officially in the swing of things! We learned a lot from the old PDs in the short time we were together; their stories and achievements were encouraging and inspirational. I hope that we can continue to improve and strengthen MPI's programs just as they did. Last week we had the annual despedida/bienvenida party at El Farito to say celebrate both teams and the community. It was the perfect way to say heartfelt goodbyes and meet new friends. Especially since a piñata and a cake were involved.

Click here to meet the new team!

Quinceañera Norma

This past weekend some of the program directors celebrated a fiesta de quinceañera with one of the girls, Norma, that lives in the community.  For those of you that do not know, turning fifteen in Nicaragua and in most Latin American countries is a very big deal.  It is distinct from any other birthday because it marks the transition from childhood into adulthood for a young girl.  Quinceañera is the name of the girl who is turning fifteen, and the fiesta de quinceañera is the name of the actual party.  So on Saturday night program directors Carly, Steph, Luke, and myself headed into the community to celebrate.  Upon arriving we were immediately asked to sit down and were served dinner, which consisted of a rice dish, a roll, and soda.   After we ate the rest of the evening then followed a similar pattern to that of a wedding: a father-daughter dance, lots of chatting with surrounding neighbors and friends, many pictures of Norma in her beautiful dress, a cake-cutting ceremony, and lots of dancing. Norma's house and the surrounding area was completely transformed for the party, with pink balloons and streamers everywhere and a DJ playing music.  All of her family and friends were also extremely involved, acting as either hostesses or helping serve food, which made it really special and fun to see.  It was such a beautiful party and a privilege to be able to celebrate with her, and we all ended up having a really good time and were thankful to be able to go. Below are some pictures from the fiesta.  
Norma after her mass service at the church.
Luke, Steph, Carly, Norma, Megan and Tressa.
Norma in front of her cake.


As many of you know at MPI Nica we have a pool in our backyard.
We have a lot of pool parties as rewards for the community members in our programs. For many of them this is their only chance to learn/practice swimming. Right now is getting to be the end of our first term and it's party season! Here are some photos from Steph's Children's English Class (we split up the boys from the girls in hopes for a little less chaos during the fiesta... it sorta worked).


Bi-weekly the women of Cedro Galan meet and have an hour long fitness class.
The women come to class in the same clothes that they wear during the day: knee-length skirts, jeans, and sandals (which they often slip off for class, participating barefoot) and they never complain. Before they knew that we had a set of free-weights they suggested we fill old plastic water bottles with rocks for weights. Their enthusiasm and willingness to learn how to exercise continues to inspire me to plan new work-outs and different fun ways to get in shape. We do a mix of cardio, yoga/stretching, and muscle work in class. I remember the first class when I tried to get the ladies to do some sit-ups, and it just wasn't going to happen. But, recently we've started doing up to 50 sit-ups in one class! They may not be the most co-ordinated group of gals, but I've seen them improve drastically in the past 4 months.

Back home I played with my university's Women's Ultimate Frisbee team named the UVixens (the short form of my university's name is UVic). Last week they sent over a box of donations (shoes, sports bras, shorts, t-shirts) for the women that participate in the class and we gave them out as Premios last Wednesday.
A Premio is a reward/prize that we give out to people that participate in our programs regularly. A Premio will often be a thing that a person needs for the program but can't normally afford on their own. For example, shorts or running shoes for fitness class. It was so great to be able to reward the ladies for all of their hard work with some much needed exercise apparel!



Last Sunday we celebrated Will's 23rd b-day with a nice dinner, cake, and of course a Spiderman shaped piñata! It's also a Nicaraguan tradition to crack a raw egg on the head of a person when it's their b-day. The Nicas say it's for good luck... and of course we wanted Will to have all the good luck he could! jejejejeje.
Here are some pictures from the celebrations.

Jaquie, Spiderman, & Will

Marcos blissfully trying to hit the Piñata and William watching seriously in the background preparing himself for the battle to get candy

Will really enjoyed it!

It was little Jaquie's b-day too
so she got a good luck egg on the head too

Lester making sure there was no left over candy hiding in Spidey