As a Program Director with Manna Project International (MPI) in Nicaragua, Natalie Ball, Nu’14, has the unique ability to take a holistic approach to her work as a global health nurse.
Manna Project International is a volunteer driven non-profit organization that aims to create communities of young leaders that can help break the cycle of poverty in underserved communities around the world. International sites are run by Program Directors like Natalie who serve as 13-month volunteers.
While she works in two community health clinics, she also participates in the following programs: a Child Sponsorship/Nutrition program, a Women’s Exercise and Nutrition program, and a Women’s Jewelry Cooperative that addresses women’s empowerment and leadership opportunities. Natalie also enjoys taking part in the clinic’s Generation program, a youth program that offers those interested in health careers classes on health and resources to study for their nursing/medical entrance exams. In addition, Natalie teaches Girls’ Health, Level 2 English and leads the health promotion program within her clinic. Every Friday, she also has the opportunity to walk throughout her community with the local nurse performing home visits.
For Natalie, being able to address critical health needs from various angles is very exciting and crucial to solving major development issues around the world. “I have loved the opportunity to solidify my Spanish skills, create close friendships within the communities we work, and see tangible change through the fieldwork we perform,” said Natalie. “While most of my friends took hospital jobs upon graduation, I decided to follow my passion for global health and am so glad I did, for this opportunity is an amazing foundation to my future career and an experience I most definitely will not forget.”
Natalie first demonstrated her commitment to global health at Penn Nursing. Throughout her time at the School, she was involved in global health leadership opportunities, from serving as the first Junior Global Health Ambassador, to being selected to study abroad in Oxford, England and becoming the President of the Nursing Student Leadership Council her senior year. Natalie was awarded Penn Nursing’s Alumni Spirit Award for Graduating Students in 2014 and has submatriculated into the School’s Family Health Nurse Practitioner Program.
Natalie continues to be driven by the relationships and experiences she is having in Nicaragua, and is excited to bring them back to Penn Nursing when she returns for her master’s degree within the next few years.