July 12, 2011

Service: Mandi, Kaleb and Jacob in Matagalpa

Three students are in Matagalpa, the provincial capital city of the department that shares its name. Located northeast of Managua and demarcating the start of the country’s northern region, Matagalpa is known for dense mountainous forests, spring-like weather, coffee, cattle and eco-tourism.

Kaleb and Jacob work at Infancía sin Fronteras, a non-governmental organization with a presence in eight countries. Founded in Spain in 1998, Infancía sin Fronteras originally focused on international humanitarian aid. Since that time the organization has added social awareness and community development to its strategic priorities and thus offers a variety of enrichment programs such as after-school activities workshop where Jacob and Kaleb spend most of their time. Services range from music and art lessons to practical skills such as sewing and computers. So far Kaleb and Jacob have helped make dozens of papier-mâché masks for children to wear during an upcoming city-wide carnival and have worked on both design and content of educational bulletin board displays. Their supervising coworker Antonio shares our impression that Kaleb and Jacob have pretty active imaginations when it comes to mask-making.

Mandi works at the Centro de Recuperación Nutricional, a residential facility for severely malnourished children. A community health clinic adjoins the center, and Mandi’s host mother, Doña Nubia, is the director of both the clinic and the center. Located between Matagalpa and the rural community of San Ramon to the north, the Center houses up to 12 children at any one time, many of which are there for 2-4 months while recovering from the effects of malnutrition and the medical complications that often result from it. Mandi helps with feeding, diaper-changing, cleaning, cooking and playing with the children. Mandi’s deep compassion for the children is obvious in her attentive care and interactions with them.

Mandi’s favorite part of her work is playing with the children. She also loves the time she spends with host mom and director Doña Nubia, who is congenial, articulate, passionate about her work, and has a great sense of humor. One of our favorite quotes from the visit was when Mandi told us, “See that chicken over there? I got to bring it to work on the bus.”  (And yes indeed she did.)

Co-leaders Lisa and Jen

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