Laguna de Apoyo

5 Things I Learned in Nicaragua

Executive Director Samantha Church reflects on her August visit to MPI's Nicaragua site.

1. Manna Project is deeply connected with the communities it serves.

During my week-long trip, two community members, Sonia and Chepita, hosted me in their homes for traditional Nicaraguan lunches. Sitting on the porch, listening to the women tell timeless stories about the volunteers they have gotten to know over the years, emphasized MPI’s commitment to its motto, "Communities Serving Communities." 

2. Progress takes time.

I was extremely fortunate to be in Nicaragua when the Clínica Médica MPI (MPI medical clinic) in Villa Guadalupe received its official license from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA). Country Director Christina Palazzo and her clinic team started the licensure process in December 2014. Being there to see Christina hang this license up in the clinic was especially exciting, and a testament to the team's hard work! The license includes both primary care and specialized OB/GYN care, and will allow the clinic to actively collaborate with MINSA on community health initiatives (i.e. vaccination drives, direct referrals for specialized exams/patient follow-ups, and public health campaigns).

3. Nicaragua is breathtakingly beautiful. 

Christina brought me to Masaya Volcano National Park, which showcases one of Nicaragua’s most active volcanoes. I also had the opportunity to relax in Laguna de Apoyo’s refreshing lagoon water!

4. Everything is more colorful in Nicaragua.

Whether it be the public school playgrounds, or the massive, brightly-lit trees that line the streets of Managua, Nicaragua and its people are visibly vibrant.

5. MPI Nicaragua staff and volunteers work tirelessly to fulfill Manna Project’s mission. 

I am so honored to be working with MPI's teams. A HUGE thanks to Christina and the team for welcoming and introducing me to the impactful health, education, and livelihood programs we operate daily on-site!

Want to join the team? Early registration for Program Director positions in Nicaragua and Ecuador ends October 1st. Learn more here or apply below:

Reflecting at Laguna de Apoyo

Thursday morning we packed up the Micro, said goodbye to our beloved dogs, Roscoe and Tola, and took off for our Quarter One Retreat. We drove an hour southeast from Managua to our final destination, Laguna de Apoyo.

Laguna de Apoyo is one of the most breath taking places in Nicaragua. It’s a clean, warm, beautiful lake inside the crater of Apoyo Volcano. The views are so serene and although this was my third trip to Laguna, I always have to blink ten times to make sure it’s real.

We had the pleasure of staying at Casa de Sol, a beautiful house equipped with hammocks, an infinity pool and pool floaties (our favorite part)! It was the perfect place to take a step back from programs, reenergize and relax for a weekend.

After running programs and administrative roles on site for two months we had a lot to debrief and discuss at retreat. We learned more about the history of Nicaragua, strategized on how to continuously improve programs, and most importantly, set team goals for the year. Some of our goals include: continuing to support the team, practicing Spanish and building community relationships.

On our last night together we watched the 2013 documentary Living on One Dollar (it can be found on Netflix). The film follows four college graduates to rural Guatemala where they live on $1 a day for two months. The four boys face the many challenges that come with living in extreme poverty including hunger, illness and financial stress. I won’t spoil the rest. Here is the trailer:

After watching the movie (and shedding a few tears) we discussed the similarities between what is shown in the documentary and what we see everyday in our communities here in Nicaragua such as informal labor, inconsistent pay and tough family choices that are forced to be made due to lack of financial stability.

I would recommend this movie to all; it is moving, to say the least, and has the power to put everyone’s life into a new perspective in an hour.

Over all I would say Quarter One Retreat was a huge success. We were able to see positive progress from our first two months, as well as set goals and strategize for how we will carry out the rest of the year!

Stay tuned for more adventures and updates from MPI Nicaragua!

- Carissa