The Lacrosse the Nations Cup

This year was the fourth annual LtN Cup and our most successful one to date. Not only did every team get fully sponsored by the day of the event, in total we raised over $40,000. This was $10,000 over our original goal, and over $35,000 more than LtN raised in their first Cup just three years ago. As LtN’s programs in Nicaragua continue to develop, the LtN Cup will only grow to include more players, coaches, and LtN scholars. Through this event, our LtN student-athletes are able to become agents of change for their communities and strong competitors in the lacrosse world. $4,500 of the total raised will go toward MPI's health clinics in Nicaragua.

As a Lacrosse the Nations Program Director, the LtN Cup was something I heard about before even arriving in Nicaragua. Whether I was speaking with my boss Javier, Senior Program Director Dan, or players who have participated in LtN programs in the past, everyone around me regularly expressed their excitement for this day. Having an athletic background, I could recognize and share in this excitement for competition; however, prior to experiencing the LtN Cup for myself, I can honestly say I had no idea just how special this day is.

The Cup is one of LtN’s biggest fundraisers. On the day of the event, teams that we coach from the Chiquilistagua Public School compete against the teams we coach at Club Esperanza Private school in Villa Guadalupe in a championship style format. The goal of the Cup is to get each team sponsored in order to play. Through their team’s sponsorship, LtN student athletes are able to play an active role in giving back to their communities.

On a weekly basis, we hold practices for various ages, from 4th grade all the way up to the high school level. One thing I immediately noticed upon arriving at practices was the players’ unarguable passion for lacrosse, across all age groups. Whether it was answering questions during our life skills discussions before practice, mastering a new concept, or scoring a “tuani” goal on the field, the kids show a constant love for the game. When it came to their preparation for the Cup, their motivation alone triggered my own excitement.

The day of the Cup is like no other. Players from each school arrive together on a bus geared up and ready to go. Normally, these kids practice on a gravel-dirt mixture or a concrete basketball court. On the day of the Cup, they are greeted by the site of three turf fields with painted lines and music playing. The players are divided into their respective teams and enter the fields single file. This moment alone gave me goosebumps, reminding me of when I would suit up for games. The only difference was, this is a special occasion that only comes around once a year for these kids, and they are playing for so much more.

I had the honor of coaching team Managua this year, a group of players from Chiqui. While we did not have the age or size of some other groups, I saw performances from these players that I had never seen before. Millie is high school aged girl who is able to come to practice just once a week. During the Cup she was our star defender - chasing down fast breaks and stealing the ball from boys twice her size. Fourth grader, Jose, who was by far the smallest player on the field, scored a hatrick in our last regulation game which took us to the semifinals for Chiquilistagua. Every accomplishment on the field was celebrated by team Managua that day (my personal favorite being the seated rowboat with their sticks). I could not have been more proud of my team, not for their physical performance, but for the mere energy they brought and encouragement they provided each other.

Whether players were from Chiquilistagua or Club Esperanza, being able to represent where they were from created a sense of belonging in their game. Each player's pride for their respective school and community was apparent in their demeanor. The desire to perform well and compete for their program really shown through. As a coach, there was nothing more gratifying than being able to witness all that their hard work amounted to.



Help Casa Base!

Casa Base

As many of you already know every week Manna travels to La Chureca to run its weekly programs;  Megan and Matt to teach the beginner's English class, Zach and Amanda to teach the intermediate English class, and Joanna, Katie, Dane, Luke, and Will to run the Child Sponsorship Program.  Located in La Chureca as well is the health clinic, Casa Base, in which the  child sponsorship team works with to help host its weekly 'charlas' on various health-related topics.  Casa Base is one of the only clinics in the area and provides assistance to the nearly 200 families that live in La Chureca.  Unfortunately, because of the lack of funding,  the clinic is closed as of right now and is going to continue to be closed for the month of March until sufficient funds can be raised. 

The situation: 
    • Since 2006, MPI and another non-profit, Austin Samaritans have financially supported the clinic.
    • As we wait to hear if Austin Samaritans will be able to provide its half of the budget, MPI is seeking the remaining funds needed for 2011 or seeking another funding source to help. (we will know by the end of March).
    • The total operating cost is $48,000/year which provides for all medicine and treatments the clinic offers as well as salaries for the Nica health staff of 2 doctor, 1 pharmacist, 1 nurse and 1 health promoter. 
    • As of right now, MPI only has enough funding through February, which has already ended, and is seeking the remaining $4,000 in monthly support for operating expenses in 2011

The people living in La Chureca are extremely poor, many living off less than one dollar a day, which is what the World Bank classifies as a level of "extreme poverty".  Many of the residents make a living by digging through the mounds of trash in search of some sort of collectible scrap, such as glass bottles, metal, or cans, to turn in for money.  For most this money is necessary to provide them with an evening meal.  Because of the proximity to the trash, the daily fires burning the trash, and the overall lack of sanitation, this environment is a breeding ground for disease.  Needless to say, these people rely upon the free assistance that they receive from Casa Base, and to think that this clinic is not going to be available to them is unsettling.  Below are two links that will take you to sites where you can read more about the clinic and the specific work it does.  The second is a video that is a couple of years dated but none the less paints a picture of the clinic's significance and work in the community.

It is always uncomfortable asking people for money, at least for me, but thinking about the people of La Chureca living without the clinic and their ability to get access to healthcare for them and their children is even more unsettling.  So if you would like to donate money towards keeping open the health clinic of Casa Base please visit fundraising site at or mail a check to MPI, PO Box 121052, Nashville, TN 37212.  Be sure and designate “Chureca clinic” online or in the memo space of a check.  And please help spread the word.  Your help is greatly appreciated!

La Chureca

Another photo of La Chureca

This past weekend our Country Director, Amira Tahir, ran her first half marathon ever!
Amira raised just over $1500 for Manna Project International and has definitely inspired some of us PD's to start training for a half marathon ourselves. Not only did Amira meet her own personal goal of never walking during the whole 21km (13.1 miles), but she also completed in under 3 hours!



Thanks to the efforts of all our supporters, Manna Project was among the top 100 vote-getters in the Chase Community Giving competition. MPI will receive $25,000 from Chase Bank. $5,000 will be allocated to each site's programs. Here in Nicaragua, that money will, among other things, go to the purchase of teaching English as a foreign language books, workbooks, and teaching guides so that we may standardize the material in and quicken progress through our multiple levels of English classes. Some of the money will also go toward the $24,000 needed to keep Casa Base de Salud community clinic in La Chureca open. The remaining $15,000 will go to operating costs, which are often difficult to fundraise for but essential to Manna's continuation.

We at Manna owe a huge thank you to Chase Bank, but especially to all of you who took the time to vote for us in the Chase Community Giving competition.

2 Clicks and $25,000!!!

Chase Banks is putting on this competition called Chase Community Giving, in which the top 100 non-profit organizations to earn the most votes on Facebook will win $25,000. This is HUGE. As of right now, we have a definite shot of being within the top 100... but WE NEED YOUR HELP.

Here's what YOU need to do:
1. Click here to become a "fan" of the Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook.
2. Click here to vote for Manna Project International.
(3. Or you can just click that handy little button at the top of our blog)

That's all you have to do! One vote really does make a difference. (And if you want to send an e-mail out to any friends, groups, co-workers or listservs who might be willing to vote for us, that would be fabulous!) If we win the 25k, $5,000 will go directly to funding Nicaragua's programs!!

Additionally... since you can vote for up to 20 organizations, we are teaming up with a coalition of other non-profits to cross-promote and increase our chances of winning. This joint effort is sure to give us a leg up on the competition, so please vote for these organizations as well:

Thank you so much for your support... we stand a great chance of winning this competition and we can't do it without you! We appreciate your commitment to our ongoing initiatives, as well as your votes!