Juliana Ramirez is the architect engaged by Ibu to address the needs of Chefa's community, living for a time with the Wayuu to do so. Out of a deep kind of listening, she began to envision the needed workspace for women as well as an adjacent space for their children's school. Today, Juliana has come to tell us about the walled compound you made possible—four structures made with native materials and traditional techniques and the labor of the community itself. Her commitment to serving indigenous groups is strong, pure… and contagious.
Chefa, whose full name is Josefa Barliza Ipuana, now pours out her dreams before us. She hopes to go to law school, to develop the educational center for Wayuu children, to build of these Ibu-funded spaces a house of possibility. As her speech catches fire, Chefa tells us of walking two hours to catch a bus to attend classes and pursue her plans. The group of 14 Ibu allies listens, rapt, leaning into her world. In that moment, I want to do anything, or everything, to clear the path for this woman walking into her dreams. So does everyone else sitting there in the pool of her light.
We make of ourselves a circle around Chefa, hands reaching her like the spiral she painted on Betsy's face, like the sun on her traditional dress—and there I feel compelled to make a promise, with my full heart, to stay with her. Though we have built the workspace and school, though the training of new techniques is well under way, still I want to say—we are not leaving you now. We are only beginning.Your two-hour walk through the desert to catch a bus for school—that is a path of passion and we want to walk it with you.
Chefa feels her light reflected back to her, humbled by the love in the room. She wraps handwoven bracelets around each of our wrists. We plot caftans made by her community in a newly-learned technique. The next day, she returned to her community with the energy of allies—energy to carry on through enormous challenges. She gave us the gift of her presence for one afternoon, and we are now particles of the same light.
I'm just returning from a week exploring the indigenous brilliance of Colombia on our Fringe Road Adventure, meeting women of diverse communities who are changing their world with the skills of their own hands. This is just the beginning of that story—I will follow with reports over the next few weeks. There is so much to tell.
Much happened in seven rich days—possible only because of the stunning hospitality of our hosts, Juan Pablo Gomez and Juan Sebastián Rivera of El Dorado Edit. These are collaborators whose goodness goes far beyond that of colleagues—no, their goodness comes from the heart as friends, co-builders of a new world. The Juans, as we fondly call them, stayed with us throughout the trip, introducing us to their stunning assortment of friends, their incredible new showroom representing artisans at their craft, and to the artisans themselves.
I am writing this on the plane home, feeling from this height something of the two-way bridge Ibu is building between worlds. I can only say to all who hosted us in your beautiful country, in your gracious homes, unveiling your rich and poignant lives—to JP, Sebastian, Yasmin, Mercedes, Mariana, Juliana, Chefa, Amalisa, Juan Manuel—I am so far beyond simple words of gratitude. I am changed. I am profoundly shaped by your love and hope and light. I am descending into home on the other end of this slender bridge, stronger for the joy of this path we walk together. More sure than ever that we must travel this way together, spiraling forward toward the same bright sun.
All the best,