PHOTO: the island of widows
Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. La Isla is a community tucked amid vast sugar cane fields. An agrarian dream, it is sprinkled with mango trees and fields of squash. But like many communities in the area, it is also suffering from a silent menace: kidney failure. 40% of the working age population has some level of kidney damage, most of them men. The sugar cane company says its genetics and alcoholism, the community blames pesticide exposure and poor working conditions.
The death and disease have changed the social fabric of the area, now jokingly referred to as “La Isla de las Viudas,” The Island of Widows. Though a humble area, people once built homes and took vacations. Now 80 percent of the community lives on less than $1/day.
In this seeming pastoral paradise, what should be fertile soil is haunting the families of La Isla.