Years later, in 2010, fate intervened and my partner was offered a job in Colombia. A few weeks after landing in Botoá, I took a trip to La guajira with my little daughter to see for myself the Wayuu crafts that I had read about years before.
In La Guajira I found a fascinating community, however, deeply impoverished. If Colombia was in a fast line to become a developed country, La Guajira had been left behind in the process and in the hurry. I quickly realized that Wayuu women lacked economic power. I knew that if I could empower women to earn a decent balance, I could improve the lives of the entire community. That’s why I set out on a mission to use my skills and experience to help the Wayúu community.
Between 2011 and 2012 I did different socio-anthropological studies visiting and living with different indigenous communities, in different parts of La Guajira. In addition, I studied various manual techniques, not only with the aim of demonstrating the different weaving techniques used by different communities, but also to highlight the ancient meaning of Wayuus designs. It took me about two years to understand their culture and also to be a part of the community and be formally accepted by them in their Ranches.
I understood that the traditional weaving technique needed support or was going to be in danger of extinction and that women should be able to earn a decent living thanks to their crafts. I learned that the community had been exploited; People came to the region to buy shoulder bags in bulk, but they refused to pay a fair price and forced the community to run with deadlines, which compromised the quality of their work. To knit a single shoulder bag, using traditional techniques, it takes a woman between twenty to thirty days, working eight hours a day.
To reach some assistance, in 2013, I created Hilo Sagrado Foundation.
My story shows the capacity of each and every one of us to change the lives of other people for the better, even in a country that is not your own.
Sabrina Prioli, 2015