Life gives life


It was my third visit to the Wayuu community in Uyaraipa from February 12 to 17, 2016. The Wayuu are an American native group of the Guajira Peninsula that is located north of Colombia and northwest Venezuela. The arid Peninsula of La Guajira is subdivided by scattered groups of houses called rancherías that maintain family branches. The Uyaraipa community is one of these branches and, with it, the Sacred Thread Foundation works looking for sustainable progress in the contemporary world for the recovery and forgiveness of its cultural values.

Now I am practically a place. From this visit I had the impression that the wishes and actions for the healthy and sustainable development of the Uyaraipa community are gaining strength. This time the meaning of my presence and collaboration there is lighter and stronger due to the interest shown during these 5 days by many young people. I will only mention Steven (Stephen Filipiak - that has extensive experience cultivating in arid regions of Gambia, Africa, and whose steps I had to continue, observe and record. The Colombian sustainable organization brought it (

There is much to say about this third visit and the many young people present, but I will stick to my task. What I do want to highlight is the feeling of interest and concern for the progress of this project, which in my view, rescues the cultural values ​​and traditions of this part of the world that are gradually fading. From my point of view, the objective is to set the healthy and autonomous position of this community in the face of the demands of a globalized world, for the survival of its valuable culture and environment as part of a nation and the world.

The first days passed with a great meeting of all the representatives of the rancherías of the community of Uyaraipa. The objective of this meeting was to know and obtain a clear vision of the desired type of progress and the different projects necessary for it. The main objectives were revealed. In this way, the investments obtained through the textile work produced by the communities would focus on these objectives. While pieces of guava and coffee were offered to the representatives of the different rancherías present at the meeting and while some were amazed by the large seeds that made it difficult to bite the fruit (although the guava is a typical fruit of Colombia, it is the first time that the eat). Meanwhile, Steven was already taking notes of his future actions that I had to observe and register. He did not understand much of what was discussed at the meeting, but he could defend himself quite well in the foreign language, taking into account the little time he was immersed in him.


Ana María Gutierrez de Organo and Steven examined the existing water sources that the community had at its disposal and its disposal: a windmill that only extracted salt water at low depth (from this water they drink the goats to end a large belly) and a water tank that is half filled by the water truck once a month.


From this analysis arises Steven's first play, an experiment to see the possibilities of desalination of water by evaporating the heat of the sun: a container with salt water from the mill and an empty glass that is located in the center is covered with a piece of plastic that he found in the surroundings, creating a greenhouse effect that would evaporate the water and leave the salt. Placing a small stone in the center of the plastic piece as weight, it would create a conical shape with the piece of plastic. The evaporated water would stick to the plastic and slide down to fall into the empty vessel.

The next day, Steven went to check the water desalinated in the glass. I asked him if his experiment had gone well. He told me that the water had been desalinated, but not enough to use it as drinking water, but to water the plants and crops. I bothered him for the many holes that had the piece of plastic, which supposedly created the greenhouse effect. Steven, with its American sense of humor, tells me: apart from the bug he found in the glass (due to the poor hygiene of the plastic bag), which everything is fine.


We needed to go to the Wayuu families that are part of the project but that live further, to explain the process of organization and development of the project we had in mind. In one of those families, Ana María, Steven and Konrad were surprised by a lonely plant, curiously full of green leaves, which was in the middle of the desert. As we approached her, we were surprised by the way the plant could reach such lush. Next to him hung a bottle of water face down, which dripped the water slowly during the course of hot days, to keep the plant always fresh drinking water, thus achieving its lushness.


Steven would repeat the discovered example the next day, improving it, trying to rescue a weak place hidden behind a fence of dry branches that tried to keep the plant safe from the sun's rays. But what did this mean if the rain had forgotten her for three years? In this case, Steven got rid of the empty plastic bottles that he collected in the garbage scattered around the surroundings. The plastic bottles made small holes and placed them around the plant. Some bottles stood them with pierced holes in the background. These bottles are placed at different depths that release the water slowly during the day. In these bottles, the pond of the cap regulates the amount of water that is released. Other bottles are hung upside down in sticks, dripping as much water as the size of the perforated hole. In this way, the plant would receive water slowly but constantly during heat days.



In order for the community to reach a self -sufficient and sustainable state, they would need to replace cassava, watermelon, pumpkin, melon and corn, as they used to do before it stopped raining. Towards this goal, Stevens step 3 is directed: make compost. In this step, many were present and collaborated. A large metallic garbage bucket was buried in the sand, which the lower lid was missing. The garbage cube would be filled later with a series of layers. Each layer consists of three specific bodies: 1) +- 10 cm of sticks and fine dry leaves (fine for its easy decomposition), 2) +- 3 cm of manure found in the stable of the goats, and 3) +- 2 cm of vegetable coal collected from the fires of the surrounding houses and broken in pieces "as fine as corn". Coal reacts like a sponge when water is thrown, a key reagent in the compost elaboration process. These three bodies form a layer that is repeated to fill the garbage cube. At the upper end, cover it with a transparent plastic could accelerate the compost elaboration process, or if it is exposed, the chickens could feed themselves eating the larvae that grow there, and at the same time, the chickens could join the elaboration process of the compost with its excrements. You have to remove the layers every 2 weeks. After 3 or 4 months, compost should be ready to be used in crops.


That night, feeling the need to expand the concept of the world of communities and wanting to motivate their desire and participation in the projects, an improvised theater was set up to project the Baraka documentary. This film tells, with images and music, the evolution of the earth and the relationship of the human being with its natural environment.


Step 4 runs after seeing Stevens' movements for 4 days, for its humble narrator. With the mission of following the steps of Stevens and record them as proof of the actions that the community must carry out in collaboration with the Foundation, I immediately start following the example of Stevens and repeating step 2.

A month before this visit, Organo was there making his first visit to the community with the company of Lina María Castro. Lina was there that time showing the community how spilled garbage could be reused around the rancherías. One day Lina enters the desert with a group of children. After a couple of hours, they return loading all kinds of plastic bags and empty plastic bottles that collected from the land around the ranchería. Then they filled the bottles with the plastic bags using a piece of broken branch. In this way, they created solid objects that could be used as construction elements such as a brick. With the construction elements that Lina and the children made, they would use them around plants and trees as a kind of outdoor vase.

That time they were able to build one of those outdoor vases around a beautiful tree called Dibidibi, but they did not have the opportunity to fill it. Now it was my chance and the perfect place to put my observations into practice. I would use the components used for a fertilizer layer to fill the outer vase (dried leaves and fine sticks, goat manure and vegetable coal). The outer vase was large enough to plant some chia seeds that someone had brought. The seeds were brought by a vegetarian boy named Francisco. He came on this visit on behalf of another organization. He ate the seeds as a supplementary source of healthy and strong proteins, different from the meat. On the chia seeds planted in the outer vase, it repeated step 2 of Stevens, hanging a bottle that dripped face down and burying others at different depths. In addition, 3 large white rocks of a nearby work were placed for its qualities to maintain the moisture of the drip bottle (drawing 3 - dibidibi).

I felt proud when I finished copying Stevens' example, so I taught him what he had done to give me his opinion. At the same time, a turkey arrived and began to drink water from the bottle that dripped. Steven said: "Life gives life."