Colombia, my home country. I was only fifteen years old when I received the tragic news. I was about to finish school when I was told about a terrible drought and malnutrition in the Northern part of Colombia.
The Northern part of the country has a desert called La Guajira. A desert is that had the most vunerable native populations of Colombia. The native population is called Wayuu.
The Wayuu are very skilled artisans. They make the best of the available resources. This has made them into very skillful craftsmen who knit beautiful and colourful hammocks.
The region is really isolated and they are pretty alienated from the other regions of Colombia. There were no concrete roads. The connectivity was pretty poor as was the economy . This wasn’t a surprise as both were interlinked.
This desert road leads to a beautiful beach. This being proof that nature hide it’s beauty even in the most difficult places.
Yes, I was spell bound by this scenery too. It did help a little in the difficult place. The temperatures were really high. Our task was the most difficult one. Building proper houses for them.
This wasn’t a resort. This is how their houses looked. It might look glamorous and exotic from this angle but it wasn’t.
It didn’t protect them from the harsh weather, nor did it cover them up properly from the rains. They lived like refugees under intense heat.
It wasn’t sufficient. Nor was the food that we were carrying with us. It was meant to last for 5 days and provide us with three meals per day. Meanwhile, the natives just ate one meal a day, that too only if it was a good fishing day.
We started our day with oatmeal and worked from 8 am to 4 pm. This was just with one bottle of water to replenish us when we needed refreshment.
Our food supplies were enough just for us, so it wasn’t fair for us to sit and eat in front of the community who was working with us under the intense heat. We had to wait till we were all by ourselves so that we could eat whatever little food we were carrying with us.
At the end of the day we combined all the food we had and made it into a bigger feast for everyone around us.
All this was tolerable until the third day. On this day we were finishing the roofing, it took a lot of time and effort. We were weak and tired from the first two days of hard labour but this wasn’t rewarded as it suddenly started raining.
This made me really angry, dry heat was essential for the roofing to dry. The rain had ruined all our hardwork. Then I turned around and all my anger melted away. The kids were playing in the rain and the elders were saying their prayers.
One elder native came close to me and spoke in their native tongue. The translator wept a little, then sobered up and told me that they natives were happy for the rain and the water it had given. It was a reward from the gods over the hardwork that the people had done.
The roofing may not have been finished that day because of the rain but the water gained was the bigger reward that we couldn’t give to the natives.
That night, I slept on the floor and the hammock had started giving me back problems. The night was really pleasant. I had a good sleep.
I woke up the next morning all refreshed and revived, I could put in more effort and complete the given task, so could the rest of us. We couldn’t finish more than three homes and had to head back home as we were short on supplies.
The journey back was really quiet. We all had a lot on our mind. We were slowly thinking and processing the privileges that we had.
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Author: The Brown Nomad
Also published on Medium.