The Power of Love on #GivingTuesday

What is the real power of love?

We asked Huey Lewis and The News:


Did you press play yet? Do! (Then Come back...)

In the 4 minutes it takes to play this song, YOU have the power to send love straight to the heart of communities in need. It's #GivingTuesday, an international day of giving back. When you give today, your donation will be DOUBLED. There are two ways to send love today:

Manna Project volunteers are hosting Facebook fundraisers today on behalf of the projects that are close to their hearts. You can support one of these projects, or choose your own at the GivingTuesday page. All fundraisers will be eligible for matching funds.

Sending lots of love your way today and every day - 

MPI Nicaragua Country Director Receives Gillings Merit Scholarship

MPI Nicaragua Country Director Christina Palazzo has received the prestigious Gillings Merit Scholarship from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health. The Gillings Scholarship is awarded to select graduate students who show exceptional promise and potential.

The Gillings Merit Scholarship will allow me to gain up-to-date knowledge I can put into practice immediately in my work in Nicaragua.
— Christina Palazzo

Christina is currently pursuing a distance-based Masters in Public Health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, the top public school of public health (US News & World Report, 2016). Christina is part of the Public Health Leadership Program, which prepares leaders with skills to assess community health needs and develop new policies and programs to address those needs.

Christina’s research focuses on mosquito-borne illnesses and community-based preventative initiatives in under-resourced countries in Latin America, as well as the socio-economic factors that contribute to mosquito-borne diseases. Her research is particularly relevant due to the maternal and pediatric health effects of the current Zika outbreak. “I am passionate about finding community-based solutions for health issues affecting vulnerable populations in Latin America,” Christina said. “The Gillings Merit Scholarship will allow me to gain up-to-date knowledge I can put into practice immediately in my work in Nicaragua.”

Christina Palazzo, MPI Nicaragua Country Director

Christina Palazzo, MPI Nicaragua Country Director

This research is highly relevant for MPI’s work in Nicaragua, where mosquito-borne illnesses including Dengue fever, Chikungunya virus, and Zika virus impact tens of thousands of people each year. 

Although these illnesses impact individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds, the burden tends to be highest among poorer communities with limited access to clean water, solid waste infrastructure, and where conditions are most favorable for mosquito breeding. Due to these factors, the communities MPI serves in Nicaragua are at particularly high risk for mosquito-borne illnesses. Christina's research will help us to better equip clinic staff and further educate community members about ways they can protect themselves. Christina will graduate in December 2017.

You can read the Gilling School's announcement here.

Congratulations, Christina!

We are so grateful for your dedication to the health of at-risk communities!

The prevalence of Zika virus has led to a sharp increase in patient numbers at MPI's clinics in Nicaragua. Your donation has an immediate impact for communities in need of health care. Please donate today!

Jaqueling and Jefry's Story of Hope

"Now I feel better that I'm not living in [the landfill]. Thanks to the cooperative, I don't have to work out in the sun and breathe in the fumes. I'm now working in my house and I get to see my son...everything is good."

Jaqueling, 20, Nicaragua

Jaqueling is a 20 year old single mother living in Villa Guadalupe, Nicaragua. For 13 years, Jaqueling lived in La Chureca, the largest open-air landfill in Central America. She was part of a community of 250 families who made a living by collecting and selling recyclable materials from among the trash. In 2013, the Nicaraguan government closed the dump and relocated these families to a new housing project called Villa Guadalupe. 

In this week's Story of Hope video (above), Program Director Dana Hanley will introduce you to Jaqueling as she shares her story with you.

The Benefits of a Bilingual Brain

Cultural immersion is one of the quickest and most successful ways to learn a language. Every year, MPI's new Program Directors develop the arsenal of language skills they need to thrive in an unfamiliar culture; all leave with much higher levels of proficiency than when they arrived. It goes without saying that this verbal acuity is of great value on the ground - but what are the long-term benefits of multilingualism? 

Brain imaging technology has shown that using more than one language increases activity in both hemispheres of the brain. Practicing use of more than one language keeps both hemispheres engaged and active as we age. In addition to these advantages, multilingual brains show higher density of neurons and synapses, more activity in certain regions, and delayed onset of diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia - by up to 5 years. 

While lingual flexibility doesn't happen overnight, the major cognitive benefits of bilingualism last a lifetime. If you woke up this morning and wondered, "What is a dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and what is its role in executive function?" then this video is for you. If the previous sentence made you want to click away...this video is also for you!

Check out the benefits of a bilingual brain TED-Ed talk by Mia Nacamulli:

If you are ready to transform your monolingual brain, consider working with Manna Project International in Ecuador or Nicaragua. The life-long benefits can't be beat! Program Director applications are due October 1st, so hop on over and use your prefrontal cortex to fill out an application:

Learn more about serving abroad for 5, 7 or 13 months at

"Regardless of when you acquire additional languages, being multilingual gives your brain some remarkable advantages. Some of these are even visible, such as higher density of the grey matter that contains most of your brain's neurons and synapses and more activity in certain regions when engaging a second language." - Mia Nacamulli

Land Purchased for Clinic in Villa Guadalupe, Nicaragua

Villa Guadalupe was built in 2011 to house more than 8,000 people left homeless by flooding and another 2,000 people who were displaced by the closure of Central America's largest municipal trash dump, La Chureca. In Villa Guadalupe, the average family lives on less than $2.00 a day, and 100% of children are affected by parasitic infections. The entire community faces unemployment, constant food insecurity and malnutrition. 

Manna Project's Clinica Médica meets the medical needs of as many families as possible from a small, rented space. We dream of opening a larger, more well-equipped facility. This week, the first steps were taken toward building a permanent medical center in Villa Guadalupe. Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, we now own the land to build! With committed donors and a growing community of supporters we are fundraising to build this new clinic which will include four designated exam rooms to allow us to provide specialty services as well as general medical attention.

Do you have a heart for families in need of medical care? You can make a recurring gift to the clinic here

Has the work week got you down? You'll get a boost when you see the impact your support has on communities in need! Like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter for regular updates.

Eyeglasses Brigade

A brigade from Austin Samaritans visited MPI Nicaragua. At an event for community members over the age of 40, nearly 100 adults had their eyesight assessed. Those who needed assistance with short distances were fitted for reading glasses according to their level of need. The day was a huge success as word spread, and 85 people left with new glasses. We are so grateful for the opportunity to improve sight - thank you, Austin Samaritans!

You can see more pictures here.

Cedro Health Clinic Celebrates First Anniversary

Last week, the community of Cedro Galán came together to celebrate the first anniversary of the Cedro Health Clinic. In the last year, the clinic has provided 1,230 affordable health consultations and now treats more than 15 patients per day - up from 15 per week in October 2013! 

At the celebration, attendees enjoyed snacks and drinks, a slideshow of photos from the past year, and a video thanking clinic staff and volunteers. Community members visited educational stations covering information on diabetes, hypertension, hand-washing and Dengue fever. These stations:

  • Taught the dangers of high sugar consumption and illustrated the sugar content in popular beverages 
  • Offered blood pressure screenings and heart-health tips
  • Hosted activities including "My Plate," an art project where children learned the elements of a balanced meal
  • Reminded community members of Dengue fever warning signs and the clinic's free, rapid-response Dengue testing
  • Made hand-washing fun with a water station for kids to practice proper techniques

The celebration ended with a dance, which was a huge hit! We are so grateful to the community and to you for a wonderful first year. We look forward to many more years of improved health in Cedro Galán. 

You can help provide vital health services for Cedro Galán through our donation page.       Would you like to see more photos from the celebration? They are available here.