Getting Sick and Getting Better

The More, the Merrier!

Nearly everyone in the Manna house did some traveling during Semana Santa—some PDs left Nicaragua to travel to the US and Guatemala, while others explored Rio San Juan and Leon. Lucky for us, the fun and excitement of our week of vacation continued upon our return to the Manna House. In addition to the visiting parents of three PDs, three old PDs from 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 stayed in the Manna House!
Many community members were extremely excited to visit with Hemby, Carly, and Steph, who attended classes, did homestays, and attended a wedding during their time here in Cedro Galan. Steph will be with us for another week, although we won’t see in her the house quite as much as we’d like, in light of her decision to spend as many nights as possible in community homestays. It’s great to have old PDs here and to hear their feedback on the evolution of programs and the community. Not to mention how helpful Steph and Carly were during my recent battle with head lice (now completely gone thanks to Steph’s masterful nit-picking skills!).
Although we are sad to say goodbye to Hemby, Carly, and Steph, this summer we will be graced by more special visits from last year’s PDs, including Megan, Luke, and Katie. We’re also getting excited to share the Manna experience with our summer interns, who will begin to arrive on May 12th. We anticipate re-energizing our sports programs and English classes with summer volunteers’ fresh perspective and experience. Hopefully their arrival will coincide with the onset of the rainy season, so we can get some relief from the winter heat!

2009-2010 PD Andrew with Holly

Encounters with the Unfamiliar

Syd with a less lethal victim, an iguana

The position of Program Director entails many responsibilities and privileges, one of which is living in the beautiful Manna House. As new directors, we’re starting to better understand how to maintain and take care of the house and our two Rottweilers, Sydney and Cola. However, just as we began to feel that we’d gotten the hang of things, the fauna of Nicaragua threw us a rather frightening curve ball. On Thursday night, Sydney, our beloved older guard dog, attempted to eat a giant toad that had decided to take a dip in the pool. When poor Syd began foaming profusely at the mouth, we realized that she had crossed paths (and fluids) with a cane toad, a particularly nasty amphibian whose poison is responsible for many dog deaths. Against the odds, and after many hours of care and worry, Syd pulled through. We owe a great deal to the plethora of online resources available, our own initiative, and two local veterinarians, one of whom came to the house twice to administer shots and an IV (thanks so much, Jeff!). We’re happy to see that Sydney has completely returned to her normal, voracious, and bipolar self. Watch out, world!

On a lighter note, this past Friday we helped to host a lacrosse tournament with our new partner non profit, Lacrosse the Nations. Lacrosse the Nations utilizes lacrosse as a means of promoting unity, health, and sustainability in the U.S. and Nicaragua. As their partner, Manna will help to coordinate programs and serve as a liaison between local coaches and U.S. based directors. In order to get a better feel for LTN’s mission and work, we spent the better part of Friday at Salero, helping their current group of volunteers to host an impressive lacrosse practice and tournament for over 80 children, most of whom are from La Chureca. Thanks largely to our southern, midwestern, and western roots, few of us at Manna have experience playing lacrosse. However, many of the children from La Chureca have been involved with LTN for several months now, and were more than willing to show us the ropes. We look forward to working further with Lacrosse the Nations as they extend opportunities to children in need. In the meantime, we’ll be honing our lacrosse skills in preparation for the next tournament. J

conquering the bug

This week crackers and ginger ale have been in high demand. Sickness hit the Manna house with full force! With Nikki away in the States for med school interviews, there were only seven of us here to hold down the fort. And the stomach bug dominated us seven for seven. Lovely vomiting passed from Mose to Emily to Christina to Michael to Josh to Maddie… and the cycle was complete when Tressa threw up two days ago. Sick people taking care of sick people leads to general lack of hygiene and some pretty foul smells. But thanks to lots of Gatorade and Immodium, we’ve conquered the bug and are now back on our feet! (Although I’m not sure Tressa has left her bed or eaten anything today.)

On a happier – and healthier! – note, Josh (our go-to construction man and veteran PD) has been working hard on a series of wooden structures to be used at Tesoros de Dios (Treasures of God), a local school for children with disabilities. He was contracted by Jackie, a professor at Worchester State who has served at the school, to build equipment to aid the school’s physical therapy program. He has dreamed up, designed, and constructed a large round rocking “pig” that encourages kids to maintain their balance… and a sturdy square walker to assist children in learning to stand on their own... and there are more inventions to come!

Josh’s creativity in construction shines through in these projects, demonstrating the way that Manna allows each PD to pursue his or her passions. Additionally, the construction serves to foster a cool bridge between MPI and this unique young school, with both organizations combining their resources and strengths to love on Nicaragua. Just an example of how MPI overcomes the throw-ups!

Now let’s hope that our current visitors from Vanderbilt don’t get sick – I mean, how do you disinfect an entire house!?