Lessons Through Lacrosse

¿Qué hubo?

Today we had two new players at afternoon lacrosse practice at Lacrosse the Nations (LtN), one of Manna Project's partner organizations in Nicaragua.

After a few weeks of inconsistent practices during late July—due to holidays and earthquakes—we are trying to get our numbers back up at practice. We’ve been encouraging all the kids to get the word out and bring their friends, family, and classmates, so we were all really excited when lacrosse player, Josseling, brought two of her cousins.

While LtN Coach and Country Director Javier Silva, and LtN volunteer, Miles, organized our warm up and passing drills, I got to teach Kevin and José Martín the basics of how to pass and catch. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried, but it is not an easy task to learn to throw the first time you pick up a lacrosse stick - and that’s not even considering that I was teaching them in Spanish (and I’m probably worse than I’m willing to admit). To their credit, both boys took everything in stride, and listened to and made adjustments from all of my suggestions. José Martín especially turned out to be a complete natural and was banging passes around and even putting a few shots on goal by the middle of the practice.

Even more impressive than their skill improvements were Kevin and José Martín’s attitudes. At the end of practice everyday, we go around and everyone says one thing that they liked and one they didn’t like, or something we could improve during practice. When Kevin was up, he said he enjoyed learning to play lacrosse and playing in the scrimmage with his team. José Martín said that what he didn’t like about practice was that during the games “No me dan pases,” (they didn’t pass to me). He said this with the same confidence of a player who knows once he gets the ball he’s about to tear it up. I have no doubt that as soon as everyone gets to know them a little better, these guys will be some of the first looks for passes. I personally am super excited to watch these new players develop during my time here, and I have no doubt they’ll be back playing again on Wednesday.

In addition to our new teammates, today’s practice was the best I’ve seen so far. Everyone had a good attitude and was giving 100 percent from before practice even started, during warm ups, all the way through drills and into the charla (class lesson) at the end of practice. After only one month, I’m incredibly excited to see where this energy and all these awesome kids take us during my year here.

On a more bittersweet note, today’s practice was the last for Miles, an LtN volunteer and all-around great guy who’s been here for the past month helping us with some of our behind the scenes work. We are all are certainly sad to see him go, but the work he’s done for us will definitely help us make some changes and make LtN an even better organization.

Until next time, Tuani,


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

Baseball and a special visit

Pictured: Lori and Modesta 

Hello, hello! While I was caught up in the excitement of our new women’s sexual heath class, I neglected to mention two recent and noteworthy happenings here in Nicaragua. Shortly after our return to the Manna house in January, we had a visit from MPI Executive Director Lori Scharffenberg, US Director Joel Griffith, and Financial Manager Greg Welch. Many families in Cedro Galan had been anxiously awaiting Lori’s visit for months, and were extremely excited to spend time with a dear friend and original program director! Lori was able to watch the evolution of old programs and the development of new ones, and also meet Modesta, the child whom she sponsors in La Chureca. The trip was equally exciting for Joel and Greg, who had never before visited the MPI Nicaragua site. We were happy to share a bit of our daily lives and enable them both to better understand exactly how we positively affect and are affected by community members throughout Cedro Galan and Chiquilistagua.
In other news, Davis and Jesse have recently restarted Boys’ Baseball, holding weekly practices and attending league games at El Salero. Although the Manna team is often the underdog in terms of age and size, on Saturday they won their first victory with a score of 3-0. Although Davis and Jesse have little experience coaching baseball, they are able to manage the team thanks largely to the help of David, a student in Manna English classes who loves baseball and has a strong relationship with many of the team members.