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La Isla Foundation: Saving Lives in Latin America


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Imagine working more than 12 hours in 95 degree weather when you are 15 years old. Now, imagine looking down from within the clouds and watching your mother, brother, and best friend spewing tears as they look upon you dead face in a dense wooden box; you are only 25. In that ten year span, you have worked more hours than most presidents have spent in office, drank more generic Gatorade than most grocery stores supply, and made yourself more susceptible to developing Kidney disease of nontraditional causes.

Chronic Kidney Disease of Nontraditional causes (CKDnT)  has killed about 46% of male deaths in the Nicaraguan city of Chichigalpa. Other countries such as Brazil and Ecuador have started to report such cases as well. These men were sugarcane workers who developed kidney disease and died of complications of CKDnT. Though it is not one hundred percent proven, CKDnT develops because of a combination of too much sugar (from generic Gatorade and munching on sugar cane all-day), too much work (about 12-16 hours of heavy copping, picking, burning, and then lifting), and too much exposure to pesticides (pesticides are used to help in faster bulk burning and to help with harvesting the sugarcane). Do you believe it’s wrong to work under these conditions? Is it fair that companies won’t even admit that there is a problem? How long is your life if you begin working at 15 and die by the age of 25?

That’s what the La Isla Foundations comes in. They conduct ethical research on sugarcane workers and then attempt to persuade legislators in Nicaragua to change labor policies for sugarcane workers. Their CEO and founder, Jason Glaser, was a communications head at major television network before he created his first documentary, Banana Land , and began to learn of the harsh conditions and CKDnT. He decided to begin making a difference.

College students like us can help! We can donate to the La Isla Foundation here and learn more about volunteer opportunities on there website as well. If we love our cake, we should be able to eat it too.

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