Upon returning from Mexico after working on my To Rise From Rubble earthquake relief project, I was contacted by Nueva Life, a non-profit charity dedicated to the improvement of life in communities suffering from extreme poverty. Nueva Life was heading to work with La Esperanza, a community in La Guajira, Colombia, and home to the Wayuu people, and was interested in bringing me along to capture the stories of the Wayuu.
The Wayuu are the largest indigenous ethnic group known to Colombia who were never subjugated by the Spanish and inhabit the arid Guajira Peninsula which straddles the Venezuela-Colombia border. The Wayuu have been suffered from the worst drought to hit Colombia in over a decade and it has left many of the Wayuu without water for years. The lack of rain has devasted their crops and livestock, and the water the Wayuu have been able to collect from the land is often contaminated and unfit for consumption. This has left the 32 or so families within La Esperanza with no easy access to water.
In December 2016, Nueva life, along with the help of Hyatt Hotels, installed a windmill to pull water from the ground, providing the community with access to clean water, and the ability to once again plant crops. The organization returned the following year to help the community plant an acre of crops and install crop protection fencing. This year, they will return again to build a community center and educational learning space for those in La Esperanza and the surrounding communities to help them become independent and sustainable.
Nueva Life hopes that the stories of the Wayuu and the actions of the volunteers will inspire others from around the world to become involved and help create positive change for those living in the region. But in order for these stories to be told to the world, we need your help. We are looking to raise $3,500 within the next month to cover travel and equipment expenses so that I may join them as a volunteer to help the stories of the Wayuu be brought to life.