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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

La Isla Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: International, International Relief

Mission: By addressing the CKDu epidemic we will improve the lives of those affected by ensuring that governmental and corporate institutions respect and facilitate human rights, workers’ rights and public health standards. Engaging in direct action and highlighting institutional failures that have contributed to this public health crisis ensures that future generations are not affected. Since our founding, La Isla Foundation has been instrumental in researching the cause of the disease; coordinating communities, workers and researchers; and bringing respected international media attention to the CKDu epidemic. Our goal is to facilitate change in governmental and corporate policies making the health of workers and their communities a priority on both sides of the sugar and biofuel supply chain. These Pillars are both our guiding principles and reflect our goals. 1)Facilitate research into the cause of the CKDu epidemic. 2)Organize and support workers, researchers, and communities. 3) Connect consumers, producers, and workers through coordination with international media and our own content production 4) Change government, industry, and consumer policy via legal avenues, certifications, and trade regulations while ensuring compliance with these future policy changes

Results: -Completed prevalence study for La Isla and Candelaria communities -Renovated health clinic and primary school -Completed Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices Study -Completed initial Human Rights Study -Initiated feasibility study for potable water -Renovated a school building for use as a community learning center -Implemented English classes for primary school in La Isla -Supplied La Isla school library with books and computers -Built latrines throughout Guancastal Sur -Implemented computer classes for youth and adults in La Isla -Began after school sports and arts clubs in the primary school -Arranged speaking tours through the USA and Europe -Completed the demographic study and socioeconomic survey in La Isla -Initiated Compliance Study investigation

Programs: Public health investigation research to find the cause of the CKDu epidemic. Community education including: public health, english and computation classes, alternative trade workshops, and after school programs.

Community Stories

22 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 1

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.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 2

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

Volunteer

Rating: 5

La Isla popped up on my radar when a good friend versed in Latin American politics recommended it. The Foundation is both super professional and very down to Earth. It's just as welcoming an environment as it is fast-paced and goal-oriented, and I think that makes a winning combination.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

LizzieUhl

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Dorien F.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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.


Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Kathleen36

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Since forming, La Isla Foundation has been committed to addressing the epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unkown Aetiology (CKDu) in northwest Nicaragua, an epidemic at the fault lines of major global issues. By coordinating and conducting research on the ground, as well as raising awareness around the world about both the epidemic and disease, La Isla Foundation has played a fundamental role in addressing an emerging chronic disease while helping a beleaguered community. As an advocate, I have watched CKDu transition from a relatively unheard of disease to a prime-time news story in under 5 years; as a volunteer, I have witnessed first-hand the positive effect La Isla Foundation has in the local communities and those affected by CKDu; and, as a board member I strived to uphold our commitment to transparency and good governance, ensuring as much of our budget reaches those in direct need as possible.

Board Member

Rating: 5

La Isla Foundation is committed not only to providing relief to the families and communities devastated by Chronic Kidney Disease, but also to understanding the systemic failures that lead to the crisis, and advocating for policy level change to end it once and for all. I have worked with several development organizations and non-profits in Central America, but never have I found one as committed to creating a model for long-term systemic level change as LIF. As a volunteer, I can say that LIF puts volunteers, interns, and students to work in meaningful ways to challenge and expand their skill set as few other organizations can. As a board member, I am proud to say that we hold ourselves to the highest standards of transparency, organization and management at every level. I can attest to the dedication and commitment of each of the staff who work tirelessly for very little compensation to put as much of every dollar raised as possible back into the community. We hope that the lessons we are learning will serve as a model for addressing similar problems in the future.

Tom_36

Volunteer

Rating: 5

While living and working in Leon, Nicaragua I was introduced to the CKDu epidemic while doing a video report with a journalist there. We were both so equally impressed by the dedication and strategy of the La Isla Foundation team that we decided to hand over all of our work to them to use for the cause. A year later I find myself working with LIF on a documentary film to expose the issue. The team we have is like a family and many volunteers and interns leave only to pursue further studies or work directly related to what's happening here.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came to La Isla Foundation as an intern for my senior internship at Temple University. I am a Sport and Recreation Management major and I was excited to use my knowledge to gain more experience with working in community relations and with a Non-Governmental Organization. I go to the community in Chichigalpa three times a week to do sports and arts, computer classes and English lessons with the kids in Guanacastal Sur whose fathers and some mothers are most likely suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease. Aside from my community work I also created and implemented the yoga program for the organization. My supervisors felt confident in me and allowed me to run and coordinate the entire program. To be able to be creative and express myself has never been an issue with LIF. The disease is a very real and heartbreaking thing, but being able to work with amazing people makes the situation easier to cope with. I do not regret doing this experience and I will never forget the memories of not only my staff, but working to help a very important cause.

Steven28

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was so impressed with La Isla Foundation that I joined the board of directors as a volunteer member. The employees work hard, the volunteers are inspired, the cause is righteous, there is little to no waste in this organization. When I met Jason Glaser, I saw his passion and commitment to help the people in this forgotten corner of a forgotten country. The more I learn about La Isla, the more impressed I am. Doing so much for so many with so little. In short, it's what a non-profit should be!

Donor

Rating: 5

I first stumbled across the website for La Isla foundation purely by accident when researching my round the world trip in May 2010, as I wanted to learn some Spanish in Nicaragua and maybe climb a volcano or two. I read about the Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemic they are working to eradicate for the first time on their website and was shocked to read about what is going on there that I gave them a donation through a paypal link on their website. After that I started thinking about how I could raise some more money so I put on an afternoon of bands in my local pub where I live in Suffolk, England. We managed to raise about £1,000 GBP on the day, and, when I actually made it out there 6 months later, I got to see where my money went; they bought some computers for the school in the La Isla community about an hour away from Léon where I got to then go and volunteer at. The kids there are so clever and they all excelled on their computer course- it was amazing to see. It was such an experience to see first-hand the amazing work that is so vitally needed in the community there. I taught English and after school sports and arts club there and just loved hanging out with such clever kids- each and every one of them was such a character. From the minute I set foot in the Foundation's HQ in Léon I was welcomed with open arms into an organisation full of some of the most energetic, friendliest, engaging and inspiring people I have ever met. Every day was a blast there whether I was working in the community, learning Spanish, dancing salsa, going to 'quiz night' at the local bar in Léon, playing 'cerro escondido' (aka hide and seek) with the kids at the school or jamming with a Nica rock-band! I was only going to stay for 4 weeks and I ended up staying for 9 as I made so many friends for life. Had I have had more time I would have stayed longer as it was so hard to leave. La Isla Foundation is now a major part of my life and it changed me forever; knowing the amazing work they are doing and so hard they are working to get to the bottom of the CKDu epidemic and to be a part of it is more inspirational than anything I have ever done before. I would recommend La Isla Foundation to anyone wanting to make a difference; you will be welcomed with open arms.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am an intern with La Isla Foundation doing public relations. It has been an amazing experience. La Isla is doing great work, and I am learning so much, and more than I could have ever hoped to. I joined as an independent study for university and it has been above and beyond what I expected of an internship. This is not just running errands, I have been doing a lot of work, and really made to feel as if I'm making a difference and helping the organization. This is an immensely important cause, and La Isla is working so hard to make changes, and it is so gratifying to see change happening, with the events and the welding school and with other projects. La Isla Foundation is a great nonprofit, and everyone should support them. -Jessica Bucklin, Public Relations Intern