Dozens of Wayúu indigenous families in La Guarija, in the northern part of Colombia, received food baskets, thanks to an initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Colombia.
The Wayúu families have been forced to follow quarantine guidelines because of the coronavirus pandemic, and many have not been able to work and earn money for food. Almost 100 of the neediest families were selected recently and adopted for several weeks to receive food aid.
“The needs in the indigenous communities are very relevant,” said Eliezer Taboada, district pastor of the Maicao district in La Guajira department. “Many of the people sell handmade coal, but since the police restricted their mobility, they have not been able to work.”
Taboada, who also oversees the work of the church in the Paraguachón municipal district near the Venezuela border, said that many there have been harshly affected as well. “Their economy depends solely on the sale of goods on the Colombia-Venezuela border, and since it’s been closed since March 14 due to the coronavirus, there is a serious economic crisis, and more so with the basic needs increasing,” he explained.
As the situation worsened, church leaders pleaded for donations, so they were able to assist the Wayúu families with rice, beans, lentils, flour, eggs, pasta, milk, salt, and oil. The department of La Guajira has a Wayúu community of more than 270,400.
The groceries were distributed in April and May by ADRA Colombia, in collaboration with the Samaritan Foundation, and members who have donated their resources to help the Wayúu community, church leaders said.
So far, church leaders have distributed 220 grocery bags in the municipal district of Maicao as part of the designated 92 families selected in La Guajira.
“One day, I was visiting families in the Pupuren ranch, and my heart just broke to see so many people who had not eaten their lunch yet,” Taboada said. “Thanks to God and the heart of so many church members, we have been able to deliver food to many needy Wayúu families, helping them with their basic needs for weeks.”
Cecilia Uriana Epiayu was among those in the Wayúu community who received food. “I thank God and the church for remembering us. God has been so good, and we have been able to have food at home,” Uriana said.
Taboada thanked all those who joined the project to assist the Wayúu communities during the past two months.
“It’s little what we do, but it has great meaning for them,” Taboada said. “We are very happy to be able to work for the Lord and take the message of hope to every person by satisfying their basic needs.”
Plans are in place to continue helping more needy families who are struggling during the quarantine regulations in the Wayúu communities. “We have spoken to government entities and the mayor’s office to join our project with donated food items to continue benefiting needy families,” Taboada said.