Women's Fitness

Empower. Love. Inspire. International Women's Day

Martha Ney is the mother of 2 amazing sons, David and Alejandro, who participate in MPI’s Baseball, Math, Literacy and English Programs. MPI programs work to empower young women like Martha to be agents of social change by providing health, education and livelihoods programming for women in the communities we serve. Martha participates in our English, Nutrition and Exercise Programs – her passion motivates all of us to be stronger teachers. Martha's selfless and compassionate personality and commitment to learning and providing opportunities for her family are constant inspirations.

Things that made us smile this week, part two

After a two-week hiatus, we’re back! Sorry again for the delay in posting—most PDs went out of town last week during the holiday celebrating Central American independence, and we’ve been extra busy since our return! As promised, here are more anecdotes that made us smile this week.

· Watching Agdiel, who is extremely handicapped and generally unable to articulate sentences, answer a question asked in English correctly. –Davis

· A three-year-old Nicaraguan student asking if she may use the restroom in English during our Kids English class at Salero. –Davis

· One of our students, who is thirty years old, sprinting to the board during a game of Pictionary yelling the English answer at the top of her lungs, and telling us multiple times how much she had loved the class. –Davis

· Ariel, who generally struggles at math, confidently explaining to Flor, one of our best students, how to find the area of a circle; which we had just taught him. –Davis

· Watching our women’s exercise class do a zumba workout to Danza Kuduro in the water during our pool workout at the Manna house! –Anna

· This week my kid's English class at Colegio Cristiano La Esperanza in La Chureca was amazing. All of the kids were so motivated and focused on learning a hard concept. To see them eager to learn and willing to try with great attitudes even if it meant getting the answer wrong was awesome. The thing that left me beaming all day though was watching them succeed and the pride that showed all over their faces when they got the answers correct. –Jesse

· "Johnny," Luis Fernando's talking basketball, writing the correct answer to a question on the board in our Salero Kids English class. –Maggie

· Francisco, another student in our Salero Kids English class, telling us that we're his family when we got up at 6 am to watch him participate in his school's parade. –Maggie

· Seeing Douglas, a kid in our Child Sponsorship program, sprinting 50 feet down the street in Chureca because he's so excited to see us. –Maggie

· Seeing lots of my students at Mass today, and meeting the adorable little brother of one of my favorite students, William. –Fiona

· Delicious pizza and good conversation with fellow PDs at a nearby Italian restaurant. –Fiona

· Getting a chance to see the house and small store of one of our child sponsorship families in La Chureca. –Fiona

· Jose Raul, one of my math students, understanding how to simplify fractions! –Fiona

Things that made us smile this week

Davis playing Jenga with Janice and Arexa

Maggie and Henry

This past weekend, Fiona shared her most recent blog post, titled “Things that made me smile this week.” After reading her post, several of us in the Manna House were inspired to write similar blogs and emails for our friends and family. The idea is a great one, and helps to explain what makes our work so meaningful here in the communities of Cedro Galan, Chiquilistagua, and La Chureca. Together we’ve compiled a list of experiences that made each of us smile this past week. I thought I’d save some for our next blog post, so stay tuned for more smiles to come!

Things that made us smile this week:

· Randomly running into one of our teen English students, Francisco, at the market on my way to catch a bus, and him actually being excited to see us. –Fiona

· An amazing mother helping her three year old daughter to start learning English, by attending class with her and practicing outside of class as well. –Fiona

· Hearing Lesther, a two-year-old in our child sponsorship program in La Chureca, laugh for the first time. –Fiona

· Realizing that FOIL (an acronym we learned in high school algebra) doesn’t translate to Spanish, and deciding to use a sandwich as an analogy for binomial multiplication. While finding the product of binomials, Jose Antonio, my math student, now mutters “Here is the bread, here is the lunch meat…” –Sam

· The incredible drawings that 14-year-old Samuel makes after math and literacy and lets me take home. Samuel has dropped out of school for the semester and suffers from low self-esteem, so it’s great to see him create something he’s proud of. –Sam

· When our previously unruly girls soccer team responds super well to direction, and doesn’t complain about running suicides! –Sam

· Receiving a drawing of myself and Aydel holding hands. Aydel is a mentally handicapped boy in the community who is 16-years-old and I work with him on learning the alphabet and numbers. He can understand most everything when you talk to him but has a very difficult time saying anything. –Carrie

· Watching the women in exercise class dance Zumba to Shakira’s “Waka Waka” and having the 3-year-old children imitate us! –Carrie

· Singing the weather song with my kid’s English class. (“What’s the weather? What’s the weather? What’s the weather like today? Is it sunnyyy, is it rainyyy, is it cloudyyy, out today!”) –Carrie

· Last week, Davis and I walked home with one of my Kids English students, Norlan. We realized that he walks one hour each way just to come to Farito English classes twice a week. We got a chance to meet his mom and I told her what a great student he is. He was so proud and was grinning from ear to ear. I am so thankful for students like Norlan! –Christin

· Watching Ariel from our loan program making cinderblocks using materials he bought with our loan; also meeting his family and getting to know him better. –Matt

· Hearing from Alejandro that the other students in his math class ask him for help with polynomial expressions—the subject we've been working on for the past few weeks. –Matt

Getting our Sea Legs

A group shot at the women's exercise despedida

Hello! Sorry for the delay in posting—like all programs and responsibilities here at Manna Nicaragua, this blog has changed hands. We’ve recently said goodbye to all of the outgoing PDs, which has been a difficult process on several levels. Over the past month we new PDs have grown close with those on their way out, relying on them for emotional and practical support as we experience the transition that they went through exactly one year ago. While it is sad to bid farewell to the 2010-2011 team, I am incredibly excited to assume leadership of MPI Nicaragua with our new group of nine program directors. Although biographies and photos of our team can be found on our website, let me briefly introduce the new Manna Nicaragua team! Fiona Turett, Christin Stewart, Anna Gajewski, Davis Snead, Jesse Zimmerman, Carrie Torn, Maggie Thomas, and Samantha Wyatt (yours truly!) compose the new leadership of MPI here in Managua. But that’s not all! We are extremely fortunate to be joined by Matt Creeden, who has opted to stay on as a program director for an additional six months. His experience and wisdom will doubtless prove extremely helpful as we move forward in serving the communities of Chiquilistagua and Cedro Galan.

The past two weeks have been full of bittersweet despididas—in addition to the general bienvenida/despidida party that Megan described, individual classes and programs have put on specific events to thank and say goodbye to outgoing PDs. I was able to attend the women’s exercise despidida, in which women in the class prepared speeches, dancing, and food to express their gratitude for Megan, Steph, and Carly’s work over the past year. The snack of whole-wheat sandwiches prepared by the members of the class was nearly as touching as their speeches; a thoughtful reflection of the nutrition tips that Megan has offered throughout the year.

With Amanda's departure this morning, the last outgoing PD has officially headed home, leaving all responsibilities to the new team. While we still have much to learn about effectively running programs and meeting the needs of community members, I can confidently say that we already feel quite at home within the community. The joy of receiving a personal greeting or hug at the close of a class or practice cannot be understated, and even after only several weeks here, hugs and personal support abound. I look forward to detailing the development of both our programs and personal relationships here in Nicaragua as we strive to serve the communities in which we are so fortunate to live and work. Thank you for reading!

Pool Time

This past week the pool was at full capacity, acting as a host to both a kid's English party as well as a women's exercise class.  Not only was it an escape from the immense heat that has settled in down here, but it was a treat to all of the community members who come and participate in our weekly programs.   

So first on Monday afternoon, program directors Megan, Steph, and Joanna hosted a pool party for one of the kid's English classes taught at Salero to reward them for their good behavior and steady attendance.  The pool was packed with about thirty-five kids, not including some of the moms and younger siblings that came, and because many do not know how to swim were all huddled into the shallow end.  Needless to say the leaders were kept on our toes for the entire event, but in the end everyone had a great time and walked away accident-free.  

Then the next day, Tuesday, the women's exercise class came over to have a day at the pool for themselves.  Led by program directors Steph and Megan, the afternoon was filled with water aerobics and exercises, a game of dance freeze, and some healthy snacks and hangout time.  All in all a beautiful event.  For many of the women this was the first time they had ever done or participated in any sort of pool exercise class, and so it was extremely rewarding for the directors be able to share it with them.  The hope is that this can become a more regular activity for the class, as the women really had a great time. 

Megan and Steph leading the women in some stretches holding onto the side of the wall. 

All of the women's exercise class in attendance. 

Shirley, who also joined us for exercise class.

A snapshot of kids excited to be in the pool.

Kid's English.