A Little Shade, A Little Water: Saving a Life

by kdesrochers on February 2, 2015 - 8:49am

After a long day’s work, everyone enjoys a break, maybe a nice cool glass of ice water, let’s add in some shade. However, for the hard agriculture workers in places like Nicaragua, having a break as part of one’s job does not exist. Scott Wallace illustrates, in the article “Can Sugarcane Workers Be Saved with Simple Water and Shade,” published by National Geographic News on January 29, 2015, that approximately “half the male population of Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, is suffering from […] an often deadly kidney disease […]. Known as chronic kidney failure”. Though there isn’t one major cause for this disease to develop, some important aspects that are thought to contribute are “dehydration and heat stress, agrochemicals, antibiotics, and genetics”. This epidemic has killed roughly 20 000 men in Central America alone in the past twenty years. Once one contracts the disease, the only choice is to go home, perform a home dialysis, and more than likely die within a year.

In order to reveal the injustice placed on these men by major companies, “photographer and filmmaker, Ed Kashi, has been documenting [this disease and its affects]” and has the intention to use his short film about the sugarcane workers to raise money to produce a full documentary about the problem. Kashi has been working with La Isla Foundation and Solidaridad to highlight the importance of resting, drinking water, and getting into the shade. However, because Nicaragua is a developing country, major companies are able to take advantage of their workers without having to worry about government involvement. Kashi illustrates the difficulty of filming some of the funerals of the men as their families may work for the same company, if they were to be filmed, the company is likely to fire them. The hope for families in situations like such is not only having the documentary raise awareness but having others get involved.

Getting involved does not have to be has hard as one thinks. There is the International Baccalaureate Science Program offered at Champlain Saint Lambert whom raises money every year to take a trip to Nicaragua. Though the trip is not directly related to the sugarcane workers, the science students will go and perform volunteer work. It can be difficult to organize a large group of young adults to go and volunteer their time, however, small acts can make a difference, even summarizing an article, sharing a link on Facebook, Twitter, etc. in order to get the news out in the open. Each of the minor things can induce pressure on governments like the one in Nicaragua for better labor and human rights. If a drink of water and some shade everyday can save lives, why not fight for something so simple? If anyone is interested or wants to know more, the following link will lead to the original article. 


National Geographic can be seen as a reliable source as it has been around since 1888 and is one of the largest nonprofit institutions for science and education in the world.


I am going on a volunteer trip overseas next year, so topic like this one really interests me. Your explanation of the problem and its effects on the workers was really clear and precise. The problem you are describing brings a dilemma since many people agree that things need to be change and the companies who hire those workers are doing really bad things, but on the other hands, many also agree that without those companies, men would not have a job and would not be able to feed their families. The dilemma is to choose between the health of the workers or the health of the rest of the family.