From Wayuu, to me
Posted on March 27 2016
Introducing our new range of Mochilas Wayuu, made in Guajira, one of Colombia's largest states, located in the very north of South America and facing the Caribbean sea and Venezuela. La Guajira is home to various indigenous groups populated throughout the only desert in Colombia. The largest of these indigenous groups, the Wayuu tribe, consists of 24 clans and more than 145 thousand natives. Like all of our Azuaya products our wayuu bags are made by women (however the men do help make the straps).
Even though Colombia has developed over the past 15 years, the Wayuu families have to face challenges due to the lack of such resources. Most families only meet their bare needs, sometimes with no water, good nutrition and living against the force of strong winds and high temperatures. In addition to the lack of resources, there is also a lack of opportunities, which is why we are determined to continue working closely with the tribes. Our ultimate goal as with our other communities is empowerment through work and eradicating situations where children have to walk an estimated 4 hours just to bring home resources such as water, such as with the Wayuu.
However, the harsh environment and poverty has not stopped the Wayuu women from producing some of the most beautiful bags in Latin America. These women, like those in our other communities are inspirational. They work long hours to hand produce these beautiful, vibrant bags, while continuing to look after their children and families. It is the mother’s responsibility to educate the Wayuu girls and hand down the complex skill of making the bags, as well as the traditional culture and way of life. Even with the extra work the women have to do in the tribe. It is hard not to catch their infectious smiles, they are always happy, they don’t complain, they just get on with life. They believe in a different type of happiness, happiness through family and dance, rather than through material possesions.
The particular skill of the Wayuu women is weaving and crocheting. When visiting the country last August I saw the incredible Mochila bags, belts and bracelets that these women make by hand, all in wonderful colours and bold patterns - the patterns are called ‘kanas’ and each community has its own kanas inspired by the natural world where they live. The men also help make the straps, called ‘gaza’ and bracelets, whilst also tending to animals. Please join us in supporting the Wayuu people.