So I'm living in Nicaragua... and I love it. I’ll be here until summer 2007.
Quick background about Nicaragua, where I'm working, where I'm living and what I'm doing here:
Located in Central America. It's the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere (next to Haiti). It borders Costa Rica (to the south) and Honduras (to the north). The climate is tropical (humid and hot, with the exception of nights when it cools down slightly). Its western coastline is on the Pacific Ocean, while the east side of the country is on the Caribbean Sea. Nicaragua's economy has historically been based on the export of cash crops such as bananas, coffee and tobacco.
During the pool party we had at our house for the girls' soccer team.
MANNA PROJECT INTERNATIONAL-
I'm working for a non-profit organization called Manna Project International, which was founded 3 years ago by some Vanderbilt graduates. Basically, Manna Project is an international service opportunity for recent college graduates. One of its purposes is to "connect and encourage communities of young adults to collectively apply their passions and education through service to communities in need." In a nutshell, this means that I live with 9 other recent college graduates (ages 22-25) and run various programs in an impoverished area in Nicaragua called Cedro Galan. Currently, the 9 Manna members in Nicaragua are running a Literacy Program, Sports and Recreation Program, Microfinance Program, Health Program, Child Sponsorship Program, art lessons, english lessons, a feeding program, music lessons and other smaller activities. I am involved with the Health Program (I'm beginning a women's health program, and we're also wanting to set up a network that will bring US doctors to volunteer at a local clinic), I co-coach the girls' soccer team, and am helping out with Child Sponsorship at La Chureca Clinic (we give milk, oatmeal, vitamins, etc. to extremely malnourished children living in the local dump- more on that later). Check out Manna's website at www.mannaproject.org. We're in the process of re-designing it right now... so in a few weeks it will be brand new.
Jordan, one of the Manna members with the kids during music class.
The city I'm living in is called Managua. It's the capital of Nicaragua, is about 1 hour from the beach- Pacific Ocean side. It's located in the west of Nicaragua, near Lake Managua. Managua is considered to be the safest city in Central America, doesn't have any street names (super confusing) and suffered a massive earthquake in the 1970's. Most of the damage was never fixed due to a politically unstable government, so downtown Managua still consists of ruins from the earthquake in 1972.
I live in a (beautiful) house with the other Manna members. My favorite parts of the house are: (1) the roof, which looks out over our palm-tree covered street, (2) the pool and pool house in our back yard, where we host pool parties for kids in the community (3) the blue-tiled shower in my room (there’s only cold water, but a cool shower feels so incredible after a hot day’s work). My least favorite part of the house is the chicken coop in the backyard that is home to 11 chickens and 1 annoying rooster who basically wakes us all up at 5:00 am. Currently, we have 2 adorable baby chicks, Tex junior and Jimmy junior (the original Tex and Jimmy are no longer with us thanks to a possum incident).
View of our backyard- pool, deck, pool house, hammocks...
PROGRAM GOALS FOR MY YEAR IN NICARAGUA-
1. create a Women’s group in Cedro Gallan, (includes women’s health education classes, group discussions, exercise classes, etc.)
2. form a program at a healthcare clinic in La Chureca that will allow doctors and medical students from the US to come volunteer in Managua. Create an easy way for medical volunteers to work in and around the Cedro community.
3. Create a program that will channel donated medical supplies from the US to La Chureca clinic
4. fundraise for the new Manna/ Project HOPE clinic in Managua
5. begin a child immunization program in the Cedro community and couple it with child health classes
6. streamline the Child Sponsorship Program
I’ve already been here 3 weeks. Time in Nicaragua flies…
To see all my photos, go to www.snapfish.com
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