Find You Butterfly Effect: Manna Project International
Introducing Manna Project International:
Manna Project International (MPI) utilizes the passions and energy of young people to empower developing international communities through hands-on learning and service. With a focus on college-age students, MPI hopes to establish a global network of communities where young adults live and work alongside one another in underserved communities to initiate positive change. MPI's model is a collaborative community-based approach to development. By working within and alongside communities, MPI volunteers strive to promote each community’s success while simultaneously learning from them. Manna Project's approach stresses holistic development, recognizing that the challenges facing these communities are multi-faceted. These challenges must therefore be addressed through a variety of disciplines, as well as a combination of direct service, local leadership, and broader policy change.
How Manna Project International Does Good
Manna Project International has sites in Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Guatemala, as well as domestic sites at a variety of universities throughout the United States. Volunteer programs are 1 week (Spring Break), 4 or 8 weeks (summer program), or 13 months (Program Directors). Working on a number of different programs, Manna Project volunteers relate each program to multiple facets of a given community, and work in concert with other volunteers who may be focusing on other areas of need. Some main areas of focus include health, education, leadership development, and economic empowerment. Manna Project volunteers live together near the communities of focus in order to promote exposure to daily challenges, experience life in the community, and build a sense of one community. A specific geographical focus allows volunteers to pursue holistic development and build relationships with community members. It also lends itself to impacts that are visible and measurable, and ensures that the volunteer's efforts in different programs and projects positively reinforce each other.
Manna Project International's Impact
By inviting college age students to volunteer in communities abroad, Manna Project International sends them on a journey. Directly impacting the community they touch, they themselves are changing. Together, the communities develop and the volunteers return home with a deeper connection to the impact of which they are capable. [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/9543368 w=475&h=356] Manna Project International from Ashley Zeiger on Vimeo. In 2009, Manna Project International volunteers prevented the Casa Base clinic in Nicaragua from closing its doors and leaving the 1,000 people who live in La Chureca (a community in the Managua city dump) without basic healthcare services. Casa Base is not only a vital community resource, it is also home to MPI's Child Sponsorship program, whose sponsors helped them provide regular vitamins, food and medical attention to over 50 children throughout the past year. That same year, the MPI team in Ecuador opened the first lending library in a low-income valley serving over 300,000 residents. The library also serves as a teen center, and hosts English, art, and health classes to residents of the Los Chillos Valley.
Catchafire's Impact with Manna Project International
Catchafire professionals have worked with Manna Project International on three separate projects. One professional did an extensive Market Analysis to provide insight on volunteer fees, investigating how to balance and cover costs while keeping fees as low as possible. Next, the organization chose our CEO Expert Advice project, where Cindy Gallop of If We Ran The World advised MPI on growth strategy and maintaining company culture. For their third and most recent project, a Catchafire professional is helping the organization develop a search strategy for more board members. Together, these three professionals have saved MPI close to $60,000 in professional services, and helped spread the organization's ability to help more communities while giving more college students a chance to volunteer internationally.
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