Penny Karma update! How 5$ brought joy to indigenous Wayuu children
Although our departure from Santa Marta, Colombia came just as we’d sent our first sum of donations to Guatemala, our destination called for Penny Karma. From what we’d read, Punta Gallinas was a surreal headland at the most northern tip of the entire continent. The blogs we’d scoured for travel tips were full of awed accounts of a lawless paradise where the desert meets the Caribbean Sea. Situated on the tip of the Guijiara Peninsula, this area can only be defined as remote. It took 2 days worth of buses, vans, 4×4 trucks, and boats to reach this isolated desert community. The voyage there was spent shoulder to shoulder with locals, hitching the same ride North. Sometimes this entails a 4 hour ride on the back of a pick up truck stuffed with 2 dozen bags of cement, 55 gallon drums, huge sacks of sugar, and about 10 Wayuu women and children under the hot desert sun. We handed out our first few gifts on the roughest stretch of desert road to three wide-eyed Wayuu kids who passed the stickers between themselves glancing up at us and their parents as we bounced down the dusty unpaved road.
The people who call Punta Gallinas home are Wayuu Indians, a resilient group of natives who refused to give way to Spanish colonization and who to this day are well known for their strength. Prior research enlightened us to how separated from the entire world the inhabitants are. Our Lonely Planet guide suggested bringing candy for the kids that sometimes set up friendly road blocks for candy tariffs. Thinking about what life must be like being that distant from modern life, Elissa thought it would be fitting to bring a bunch of toys, stickers, and pencils for the kids to enjoy. When we finally arrived, we saw just how isolated their existence truly is from the rest of the world. Electricity is only available if families have enough money to buy gasoline for their generators, and running water is nonexistent. The blazing hot sun makes life stand still by midday, minus the goats, cows, and pigs all scrounging for the little food around. After returning from early morning fishing trips, Wayuu families spend their time preparing food and hiding from the sun in their hammock strewn homes.
5 dollars bought us about a dozen pencils, a few dozen stickers, bracelets, toy trucks, and lots of smiles. Although most of them seemed to understand very little Spanish their gratitude was easily read on their little faces and watching them play. I think it was fair to say that by giving we were just as much on the receiving end too. We spent several days exploring the area and making new little friends. We got to show them how cameras work and enjoyed soccer matches way past sunsets and into the twilight in the warm desert nights. We want to thank all who have donated to this project again for helping us bring some joy along our journey. Please consider making a small donation to keep this project alive by clicking on the donate button below.