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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.