The sign read, "Welcome Home.."

A Place to Call Home

I'm one of the summer interns who's here in Nicaragua for eight weeks, learning from the program directors and being taught by and serving the Nicaraguans in the local communities.  As we come to the end of my fifth week here, it's amazing to say that this place has become home in a very short time.  A whole new group of summer interns arrived on Sunday, and this week has been spent orienting them to life in Nicaragua and the programs we're all a part of here.  As the program directors, the other eight week interns, and I welcomed the new interns, we all hoped they would see the beauty we've seen and feel as much at home as we do.  We posted a “Welcome Home” sign in the main room of the Manna House, and we set goals for the next four weeks that include making the new summer interns feel comfortable here.  We've been able to walk the new summer interns around Cedro Galan, introducing them to our Nicaraguan friends (who we're friends with after only 5 weeks).  This experience as a summer intern with Manna Project has been incredible so far, as I've gotten to experience the hospitality and openness of Nicaraguans.  In the next three weeks, I hope to see all the new summer interns experience this same hospitality, and hopefully come to call this place home.

Jessica Crandall
Summer 2012 Intern 
MPI Nicaragua

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

Alex's Homestay

 ".... one of the boys woke up at 5 am to make it to class on time"

I walked into the house of my host family for only the second time and was met with warm greetings and bed of my own. We ate an awesome dinner with friend chicken, avocado, Nicaraguan cheese, rice, plantains, a salad, and (surprisingly) mashed potatoes. We also got a bright pink corn soft drink that...took some getting used to. Meals with Nicaraguans have been some of my favorite experiences because while it is about the food, it is more about the experience; connecting with people, sharing stories and laughter, and sitting at the table long after the food has totally disappeared. Eventually everyone went their separate ways, but I'll remember that dinner for a while. The next day one of the boys woke up at 5 AM to make it to his university on time, which made me feel pretty embarrassed for complaining about my 9 AM class so much last semester. The other woke up around 7:30 and at a leisurely breakfast of cheese, eggs, plantains, and gallo pinto (rice and beans) with his parents and me. When I asked him the reason, he said "because I slept." From my home stay, I learned a little about how to eat, how to wake up early without complaint, and how to live your life at the right pace.

Twenty and Tuani,


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.


Mi primera semana = My first week.

Last monday I arrived on site to the Manna Project International house in Nicaragua. I thought I would share 5 first impressions since my arrival.

1) Coming from the Northeast, the weather here is beautiful. In January/February/March it is the dry season in Nicaragua. The temperature is 80+ on most days with an occasional breeze.

2) The Manna House serves many purposes. Located slightly outside of the community we serve the house is not only sleeping quarters but also a home office, social networking, an exercise room and most importantly a place to build friendships with 10 other people who have the common desire to work along side the people here in Managua.

3) The main form of transportation here is our micro. I have learned to love it already, as it serves not only as our mode of transportation but we often pick up several kids in the different programs at their homes. Otherwise I don't think they would attend without us picking them up each day.

4) It takes a village to raise a child. This statement has reoccured in my mind several times this week. Here in Nicaragua the front door is always open. In the states, I think our culture has drastically shifted away from helping our neighbors. Just in the short week I am reminded that it is oh so important to invest in your neighbors and those who you live with. Each time there is a break in between classes, any one of us can simply walk across the street and chat with just about anyone nearby.

5) The programs are successful because of the people behind them, both in the community and the staff in the Manna House. Everyone is devoted to their individual programs and are often looking for ways to make improvements. Upon arriving to the house I wasn't really sure which program (s) would interest me most. The best thing about being here so far is that I don't have to decide yet and there is a wide variety to choose from. Will share more later on each of those programs. #buenosdias