Coming Together in Nicaragua

Mary and Barb, two representatives from Sprouts Farmers Market—one of Vitamin Angels’ corporate partners, — made life-changing connections during their recent trip with us to Nicaragua.

By Elysia Cook

It wasn’t until Barb Holbert and Mary Pozzi found themselves in Nicaragua that they became aware of their commonalities: they both work as vitamin trainers at Sprouts Farmers Market, capping off long-standing careers in the industry. Their travel experience, prior to joining us in Nicaragua, was limited to vacations in Europe and Mexico. Both are loving mothers. And perhaps most poignant, they are both strongly compelled to give back to their communities.

For Mary, the trip rekindled a desire that had been set aside amidst the day-to-day demands. “Before this whole trip came into my orbit, I wanted to travel and do some service work. Being out there was what I’d been thinking about. I was like, ‘I could do this down the road,’” she shared.” That spark, she said, “was empowering.”

The experience allowed Barb to carry on a family legacy. “I come from a background where the idea of doing community service is really embedded,” she said. “My mom has worked for an organization for many years, and she sews dresses for orphanages,” Barb added, “So when I told her I was going to Nicaragua to see some of the work that Sprouts has been a part of [with] Vitamin Angels, she got a big smile on her face and said, ‘It’s finally happening, Barb!’”

The duo, who joined Vitamin Angels along with other representatives from Sprouts, toured communities outside of Managua, Nicaragua’s capital.

Our field partner, AMOS Health & Hope hosted the group, sharing insights about the challenges of reaching remote populations. The work made an impression on Barb, who said, “The field partner—this arm that can reach these communities that are so remote—that in itself was really incredible to see in action.”

Observing the power of our prenatal multivitamins for the mothers and children receiving them made an even greater impression. Although their personal experiences with prenatals differed, Mary and Barb shared a renewed appreciation for their health benefits.

“That was huge! Just seeing how healthy they were with the prenatals… The mothers were glowing, and the children were glowing; that’s the only word I can use to describe what I saw,” Mary enthused. “I remember I took prenatals, but I think they’ve come a long way. And the ones Vitamin Angels distributes are amazing.”

Barb echoed her sentiments. “The mothers spoke so wonderfully about the vitamins and the difference they made. A lot of them had been sick and nauseous and not feeling well, and once they started taking the vitamins their energy would go up and they’d feel better,” she said. It was something Barb wished she’d known for herself, during her own pregnancies.

Barb continued, “I did not take multivitamins with my children.” But, perceptions about nutrition have changed with the times, and so has Barb’s perspective, “I’m a big advocate of [prenatals] now.” She added, “You live and learn. All my children took prenatals—I wanted them to have that security in their ‘body’s bank account,’ as I call it.”

A shared belief in the value of prenatal multivitamins wasn’t the only thing Mary and Barb had in common with the moms they met in the field. “What really hit me was that mothers are mothers, we love our children,” Barb recalled. “I had my arm around a young mother, and it was like she was my friend from the down the street. We had something in common: our children.”

Mary with Daisy and Jelsin

Barb with Gamalid and Freydie

Sisters Jeslin and Keiling

Mary jumped in. “One community sang us a song. The power of the community and their love was amazing,” she mused.

The lyrics translate to a simple, yet powerful message, ‘Together as sisters and brothers, we are one.’ It was a fitting soundtrack to an unforgettable journey of connection.