Vision & GoalsLa Isla Foundation seeks to improve the lives of those affected by CKD and to reverse the rising prevalence of the disease through prevention efforts.Our goals are to:
- Facilitate research to identify the cause of the CKDu epidemic.
- Raise public awareness of this epidemic and create a broad base of international support for intervention that includes consumers, workers, and producers.
- Organize a public health intervention to support affected workers and prevent future generations from becoming ill.
Our work is conducted under three operational pillars
Public HealthOur public health activities include two primary categories:
Medical ResearchWe are working with medical researchers at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine; The National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in León, the Center for Investigation in Health, Labor, and the Environment in León, The National University of Costa Rica-Heredia; University of Colorado at Denver, and many others to find the cause of CKDu.In November of 2012, we attended and presented at the first International Research Workshop on Mesoamerican Nephropathy, where a leading international group of scientists, nephrologists, epidemiologists and policy makers gathered to establish a research priority and funding strategy for CKDu intervention. La Isla Foundation was invited to serve a legal and policy advisory role in this consortium of experts.
Public Health InterventionOnce the disease is more fully understood, we will work with local and international actors to create an effective intervention focused primarily on prevention.
Changing Policy and Ensuring ComplianceWe have gathered a team of local and international legal experts who are investigating the level of corporate compliance with domestic and international labor laws among the local sugar plantations. We are also investigating the role and extent of government enforcement of applicable laws, as we understand that without proper enforcement, laws will not offer intended protections to workers.This study will serve as the foundation of future LIF legal interventions necessary to establish and enforce needed protections. Additionally, we were recently invited to join the Bonsucro roundtable. Bonsucro is the largest certifying body of sustainable sugarcane production in the world. In November of 2012, we were invited to participate in an international conference of Bonsucro members to represent civil society in the debate on responsibility along the sugar supply chain. We will continue to work with Bonsucro to provide independent observation and verification of production practices throughout Central America.We are investigating disconnects that too often exists between corporate social responsibility claims and certification promises. As the push to move regulation out of the hands of democratically elected governments continues it is very important to hold organizations accountable to the promises they make on a website.Finally, policy change must come from grass root movements and the voices of those affected. For that reason community organizing and empowerment initiatives like alternative job training, language training, and worker education all fall under this pillar.
Coordinating Public Relations and MediaCommunicating the impact, scope, and spread of this epidemic is critical to garnering the support needed to end it. We were recently featured on NBC Nightly News, and we previously attracted the attention of Public Radio International, CCTV America, BBC, NPR, Telemundo, and The Center for Public Integrity.Further collaborations with other leading news organizations from the U.K. and France are also underway. We have also begun producing a series of short informational videos which we are releasing monthly. Over the next two years, we will edit these shorts together to create a full-length documentary about the epidemic, in order to foster an ongoing dialogue with the public about what needs to be done, and how you can help.Believing that building up local capacity and supporting local actors is the only way forward while recognizing the need for epidemiologists and other researchers, La Isla Foundation has built alliances with leading occupational and environmental health experts at CISTA of the SALTRA network among many others including the University of London and University of Colorado.When La Isla Foundation first confronted the epidemic, it was believed to be a local phenomenon in Nicaragua. We now know CKDu is found throughout sugarcane producing areas from southern Mexico to Ecuador. A possible parallel epidemic is found among field laborers in Sri Lanka, India and other topical or subtropical countries.
Juan SalgadoCommunity Organizer, Co-Founder
Juan is a past sugarcane cutter with CKDu. He works in the communities coordinating and communicating as needed. He is probably the sweetest grandfather we know.
Ilana WeissDirector of Policy & Public Health
Ilana began working with La Isla Foundation when she was awarded a grant from the Earth Institute at Columbia University in 2008. She’s been focused on finding the solution ever since.
Jose GomezHuman Rights Lawyer
Jose is not your average lawyer. We’re not his average client. And we both love human rights and pollo asado.
Y-vonne HutchinsonDirector of Law and Human Rights
The newest member of the team, Y-Vonne, comes to us after working on human rights issues in Europe and Asia. She’s in charge of all things legal, from the contracts we sign to improving the lives of the people in the communities where we work.
Yheizzi OteroDirector of Tourism
Yheizzi first joined the Foundation as a Tourism Intern through UNAN-Leon. We’re excited she’s now part the team full time. She’s friendly and fun, makes trips-of-a-lifetime, and offers the best housing services in Leon.
Nazarena JarquinDirector of the Language and Cultural School
Naza loves teaching languages and getting students involved in their classes. She speaks Spanish, German, and English. Our Spanish School wouldn’t be the same without her.
Darryl TamDirector of Legal Research and Compliance
Darryl is the in-house genius. Not only does he handle the Legal Research and Compliance department, but he can also fix any technical issue the team comes across.
Katie StarkDirector of Community Development
Katie works in the La Isla community, she knows the people and public health. Even the Nicaraguans in the office are jealous of her proficiency in Spanish.
Tom LaffayMedia Production
Tom is a natural with a camera and his background in political science helps him tell these visual in depth stories. We’re lucky to have him on our side.
Dorien FaberGIS/Database Manager
Dorien makes lists, codes, and more codes. We could not handle all our research data without her wonderful color coding organization.
Cristhian VelasquezCommunity Coordinator
Cristhian is awesome. He works with Juan as a liaison in the communities. He also runs a welding workshop teaching young men skills that will give them employment opportunities away from the cane fields.
CISTA de UNAN-LeónCentro de Investigación en Salud, Trabajo y Ambiente de Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua-León
Recent recipients of an NIH grant, The Research Center for Health, Labor and Environment of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua-Leon is poised to contribute to positive changes in the worksplace environments of the country and the region.
SALTRAPrograma Salud y Trabajo en América Central
SALTRA is a joint effort of the 7 Central American countries with the goal of preventing occupational hazards and reducing poverty through the development of national and regional capacities in health and work.
PAHOPan American Health Organization
The Pan American Health Organization is an international public health agency with 110 years of experience in working to improve health and living standards of the countries of the Americas. It serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization and enjoys international recognition as part of the United Nations.
IRET de UNAEl Instituto Regional de Estudios en Sustancias Tóxicas de Universidad Nacional Costa Rica
Central American Institute for Studies on Toxic Substances contributes to sustainable development and a better quality of life by assessing problems with environment, public health and development, and providing solutions from an eco-systemic perspective.
MINSAL El Salvador
The governing body over public health issues of the Republic of El Salvador, guaranteeing citizens timely, quality health coverage and comprehensive services to contribute to a better quality of life in El Salvador.
University of ColoradoCU Boulder and CU Denver
The University of Colorado Boulder is a one of the nation’s top public research universities. The University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus is the largest research institution in Colorado, serving more than 500,000 patients a year through its hospital and clinical services.
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City is a leader in medical and scientific training and education, biomedical research and patient care.
Fairfood International is a nonprofit organization advocating increased sustainability in the food and beverage industry. Through proactive dialogue with corporate decision makers, Fairfood encourages companies to address social, environmental and economic issues in their supply chains. Established by volunteers in 2002, Fairfood has offices worldwide and is presently in contact with more than 2500 companies in 76 countries.
Birkbeck University of London
Birkbeck is a world-class research and teaching institution, a vibrant centre of academic excellence and London’s only specialist provider of evening higher education.
The Pulsera Project is a nonprofit organization that educates, empowers, and connects young Nicaraguan artisans with U.S. students through the sale of their colorful handwoven pulseras (bracelets) in U.S. schools. Since 2009, over 300 school communities have rallied around a simple idea—that by sharing art, knowledge, and ideas across cultural lines we can make the world a more just and colorful place.
Making markets work for the poor by creating fair and sustainable supply chains.
CEPADCouncil of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua
CEPAD is the Council of Evangelical Churches in Nicaragua, working since 1972 without any discrimination on development programs and emergency response. Our crosscutting, core issues are: biblical reflection, gender, risk management and local capacity building. CEPAD is proud to be a part of the effort to achieve justice for the most vulnerable communities.
Biofuelwatch works to raise awareness of the negative impacts of industrial biofuels and bioenergy on biodiversity, human rights, food sovereignty, climate change, the impoverishment and dispossession of local populations, and water and soil degradation.
Providing support to people who are making real and postive change in our world. The Foundation operates with an emphasis on locating and supporting grass roots organizations that are making a postivie impact on the health and well being of our society, humanity and our planet.
School of Tourism & Hospitality Management at Temple University is a distinguished provider of undergraduate and graduate degrees for the sport, recreation, tourism and hospitality management.