When my sisters and I decided to go on this crazy roller coaster of starting a clothing line (Lulo Swimwear), we didn’t know where to start. The only thing we had very clear was that we wanted a Company that somehow, gave back to the community. As things began to fall into place, nothing felt more right then the decision to help out. In the beginning we could only help out in small ways. As we began to grow, we found a non-profit organization that focuses on helping out the Wayuu, an indigenous community located in northern Colombia called La Guajira. They are called Tepichi.
The harsh arid climate and the exploitation of natural resources makes it impossible to cultivate food and find clean sources of drinking water. The deaths of children in La Guajira have increased tremendously in the last 5 years. From the sales Lulo Swiwear made we decided to take a trip out to see for ourselves in April 2016. Although we are from Colombia, we had never been to this part of Colombia. We traveled to the nearest airport of Santa Marta and took a bus for a couple of hours to the nearest town called Maicao. The town is about one hour out to the nearest ranchería (small communities of wayuu people). This is the closest developed city to the wayuu but they lacked some of the essential needs such as running water. On our car ride to the ranchería all we could see was dry and cracked dirt and scattered shrubs. The excitement of meeting aboriginals in their native lands was met with sadness and shame. Shame that I called my self an informed citizen but was oblivious of the condition that children are in because of the greed of others. Without getting into much detail, one of the reasons why many children are currently dying is because of the land exploitation for mining, which is contaminating their only water supply; rivers. Also, the neglect from the country’s government, denying them Access to health care, and extending the lands for more companies to start mining. Ok, I am ranting, but it is a necessity, lots more on this issue on the interweb.
These wayuu folk live in houses made from dirt, and their local school is only composed of 3 things; a board, roof made of hey and of course the desire to learn. During our stay, we installed a 200-gallon container and installed 3 filtration systems that helps purify some of the contaminants caused by the local mining. We also donated powdered milk and multivitamins for the children in the community.
Later in the year we were able to donate Christmas presents for the children of that ranchería. The efforts we made although were small, they made an impact in the lives of the children whom feel forgotten. We have hopes of going back and aiding these kids in what is truly their only hope; education. If you would like to take matters into your own hands, and the harsh truth of these wayuu children touched you, check them out. You also don’t have to go very far to see children suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Go online and search ways to help out children in your community. It is estimated that 1 out of every 5 children in the USA will go to bed hungry. “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love”- Mother Teresa