Fantastic NGO that is making a difference. Good people, great ideas, and (best of all) the determination and know-how to make a difference.
I have followed Jason Glaser and La Isla's commitment to their mission in Nicaragua for many years. Because of their work, workers in the sugar cane fields and their families have received the attention they so desperately deserve, and resources that would not otherwise have been made available to them. The La Isla folks have done this with sometimes great personal risk, and certainly great personal sacrifice. For this reason, I have supported their work financially and will continue to.
LaIsla is a fantastic NGO with self-less experts working for the underprivileged. I agreed to be a scientific advisory board member only after reviewing their past works and also based on the reviews from peers and experts in the area of Climate Change and Occupational Health. The network does excellent service not only for the workers in Central America but also very keen in South East Asia where the workers' condition needs attention. Getting out of their orbit of North America and to think of workers at a global level with the intent of workers' health is an extraordinary act of service. A small project funded to study the "Impact of Heat Stress on the Renal Health of workers in select industries in Indonesia in Climate Change context" is a standing example of the NGO's intent to serve the global worker population. 'BEYOND BORDERS' are the words that come to my mind. Student fellowships and scholarships are on the horizon of the organisation for aspiring students from developing nations. I truly believe that they are trying making a difference in workers' health and into making phenomenal changes in worker health initiatives. I wish them well and all success in their noble endeavours.
I began working with La Isla Foundation - now La Isla Network - in 2015. I was contacted by their CEO to do a community based art project with the community of Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, a hotspot of the CKDu epidemic. During this time, there was a lot of unpredictable change and adjustments within the organization and their multi-national relationships. It was impressive to see this team, dedicated and hard working, work together throughout these dynamic times. It is very difficult to continually fight for those who are largely overlooked by our global society. LIN is a frontline fighter for many lives and voices, who are rarely heard, and yet are so intrinsic to our collective global network. It is an honor to know, experience, and support LIN and team, they are emblematic of what NGOs should aspire to be.
I've followed the work of La Isla Network since 2013 when I first became a volunteer with the NGO in Nicaragua. I was greatly impressed by their passion, dedication, and commitment to shedding light on a neglected occupational illness among workers in Nicaragua and MesoAmerica. I worked with the public health team and the communications team (both in conjunction with the affected communities themselves) to both understand the roots of the chronic kidney disease of undetermined causes (CKDu) and ensure that the voices of the community were projected locally and internationally. I always found the La Isla team to be professional and undaunted, despite navigating the challenges of groundbreaking public health and human rights work.
Since parting ways with LIN in 2014, I've seen LIN develop a broader global role while maintaining their mission to bring evidence-based solutions to end CKDu. I've been impressed with LIN's ability to partner with experts from across the globe to better understand the global scope of CKDu, while simultaneously researching and advocating for better working conditions in worker communities. They've assembled an expert team from multi-disciplinary backgrounds and I'm confident we'll continue to see stellar work produced from their multiple work channels.
Review from Guidestar
They let anyone volunteer, no matter the skill set. Chaotic but fun to volunteer with the kids in the community! That was the best part. Always seems to be staff office drama.
Originally interested in La Isla Foundation for it's commitment to public health in Nicaragua. I was disappointed in how the management interacts with volunteers and staff. It is unclear how time and money are managed.
Review from Guidestar
I first learned about La Isla through a local friend who worked there and said they did a good job and was a wonderfull place to be. So when I needed a break in my law studies I contacted them and offered my help. They were very proffesional, and I had two skype interviews, first with the head of law at the organisation, to review my abilities in the field, and then with the head of spanish to see if my spanish was good enough. And luckily they offered me an internship in the law department.
Most people at La Isla have experience in public health or similar, so the law department is really smal. But this only means you get a lot of responsability and lots of relevant work. So far my stay has been qute hectick, but such a great experience. Lots of interesting work, super friendly coworkers and quite a bit of fun in between all the work.
So far my stay has defenately lived up to my rather high expectations, and it is great to feel part of all the amazing work that goes on here.
I started an internship at La Isla Foundation in September and it has been a fantastic experience so far! Everyone on staff is super friendly, as are all my fellow interns and volunteers. La Isla Foundation does amazing work and it's inspiring to be a part of such an important organization. I was pretty unfamiliar with public health and human rights issues (I'm a grant writing intern), but everyone I've gotten a chance to work with has been great with explaining the ins and outs to me and I feel like I've gained an amazing education in the time I've been here so far. Another huge plus - I get to do actual work. It's not the kind of place where interns spend their time filing or going for coffee runs. This is a fantastic organization to intern for!
I originally came to La Isla in early 2013 to intern with the Legal Department on a field study for three months. I was going through a rough time at that time, but the people I met at LIF were so friendly that I was quickly able to create a strong supportive network. The work the organization does is inspiring, and you can still volunteer while taking Spanish classes or going on excursions in the region if that's what you are looking for. The ties I made at LIF were so strong that I was asked to join the Board of Directors later in the year. I have really enjoyed my time on the Board so far, helping with top-level planning and getting a big-picture view of the organization's future.
I first got to know La Isla Foundation a year and a half ago when I came to this organisation to fulfil my final requirements for my master degree in public health. It was such a powerful experience, and I knew that there was so much more interesting work that needed to be done in this field that I decided to come back to continue to work with this organisation.
It is a challenging job, but it is so exciting to be part of this fight to help to end the epidemic CKDu that affects poor agricultural workers in Nicaragua, and eventually will have its effects in many other countries in the world that experience similar problems. More and more informations becomes available about the cause of this devastating disease and more large international organisations are starting to pay attention to this epidemic. This strengthens my belief that this epidemic can be stopped, and that is what keeps me going, and keeps me here in Nicaragua working for this wonderful organisation with dedicated people to get this job done!
I volunteered with La Isla in their communications department, and lived in one of the private rooms upstairs. The La Isla staff was an incredible team: they listened to what I wanted to do and learn and gave me projects that were educational and enjoyable. The other volunteers were welcoming, and there were plenty of activities outside of work for us to do.
Volunteering as a Public Health Intern with La Isla Foundation for a month in Leon was an incredible experience. The staff is extremely motivated and welcoming. There is never a loss for something to do, whether it is doing work for the organization, taking a Salsa class or practicing your Spanish with one of La Isla's fantastic tutors. Finally, this organization taught me much more about the Nicaraguan culture than any textbook or traditional tour could have. I would strongly recommend volunteering with La Isla Foundation if you are staying in Leon.
They say that some things are such that words do not do them justice. Such is the case with my stay in Leon with La Isla Foundation. The following however, comes as close to how I feel as I can put into words.
There is no doubt in my mind that La Isla Foundation's "raison d'être" is among the noblest of human endeavors. And that is to exist solely to serve others.
In this instance that service is a race against time trying to find a cause and possible solution or cure to the health problem plaguing a small Nicaraguan community.
Young men, in the sugar cane industry, are dying at early ages from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). To say that this is devastating to the community should come as no surprise. Fortunately, La Isla has many dedicated volunteers who are attempting to eliminate this problem.
In addition, others are assisting by donating to the cause. There are several ways to do so. One can simply make a donation, or go there in person and experience a variety of activities suited to the adventurous soul. They include: learning Spanish and/or how to salsa; visiting Leon or other cities; visiting natural reserves or one of the several nearby volcanoes. Do these and assist La Isla and its worthy cause
In doing so, you will step into a world far different from our own. And be sure to savor the friendship of the volunteers, for such as these, saints are made.
when I walked in off the street 3 months ago looking for some volunteer work I had no idea about the chronic kidney epidemic of sugar cane cutters in chichgalpa, but I'm happy to know that there is an organisation like La Isla Foundation working to fix it. I really do feel their approach to the problem is working and will bring great results to the health, wellbeing, education and job prospects of this community. personally I have loved volunteering with the foundation an I feel the work of the volunteers does directly benefit the community. My work at the foundations has included teaching English, organising and helping sports and art with schoolkids in the community, returning test results in the community and translation. I would thoroughly recommend volunteering here, you will learn a lot,work with a fantastic commited team and meet some great people, both from the foundation abbeys communities.
My daughter spent her high school years developing a love of service to the under-served and a command of the Spanish language; then her college years developing interests in sustainable agriculture and public health. To complete her degree requirements she chose an internship with La Isla Foundation. The three months spent as an intern germinated a passion in her for the work of this organization and upon completion, she accepted a position on their full-time staff. My interest began by following Katie's blog and continued as I followed the links and learned more about the issues that so drive her. Her passion and her absense from home inspired her Dad and I to visit. I saw for myself the devastation that CKDu has on the sugar cane harverters, their communities and families. A young man (son, husband and father) no longer able to work - stopped by an illnes sure to be fatal. LIF is involved in demographic study and other research to determine the cause of this specific CKDu and to recommend change. Further, they are teaching the children of the community skills to enable their future employment to be in healthier occupations. LIF is also raising awareness of the issues in the larger community and world. They are advocating for a population unable to advocate for themselves. To raise some of the money needed for this mission, LIF is present in the community teaching English and Spanish, guiding tours and teaching Salsa Dance. We stayed in their hostel. They were most welcoming, instructive, passionate and fun. I am proud that my daughter works for such an important organization and would welcome the opportunity to visit LIF again.
I first learned about La Isla Foundation and Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Aetiology (CKDu) while looking for public health and geographic information system volunteer opportunities abroad. That was 6 months ago and since then I have packed my bags, made my way down to Léon, and begun working with the La Isla`s public health team. Being here it is hard not to be inspired by the commitment and passion that all of the staff and volunteers have for this issue. I have also been very impressed at how multi-faceted La Isla`s approach to this issue is: it works with affected communities to provide education through english classes, computer lessons, art, and sports, it also raises awareness and promotes partnerships and collaborations between stakeholders for improved communication and research, and raises funds by offering spanish, yoga, and salsa classes to visitors. Léon has been a beautiful place to live, and La Isla, an inspiring place to work. I would recommend this organization to anyone!