The Wayuu People

Present day La Guajira is suffering from an extreme scarcity of non-contaiminated water.

The Wayúu People

The Wayúu are one of Colombia’s most unique and largest indigenous populations, living in the north of Colombia, in an area encompassed by the La Guajira desert, the country’s largest. The Wayúu have gained notoriety for never having been conquered by the Spanish. The people, dispersed throughout this enormous region, consist of scattered clans surviving in the relentless environment. The actual size of the population throughout the area of La Guajira is not well known but is speculated to be in the hundreds of thousands. iHelp is excited to work with the people of this tenacious culture who face unique troubles in the harsh desert atmosphere.

Daily life for The Wayúu involves some of the most extreme poverty, thirst, drought, environmental degradation, and malnutrition in Latin American history, as well as a severe migration flow. Despite their hardships, the Wayúu remains a humble culture, full of unique attributes in their food, dancing, music, and art.

iHelp's La Guajira Región Medical outreach trip November, 2022

Our Impact

Through team focused efforts with other local nonprofits, and direct communication with community leaders, we plan to employ efficient, targeted, and long term-sustainable solutions within the communities in this region. We hope to continually work with the communities and non-profits to build and enhance existing infrastructure, medical operations, educational systems, and to improve access to water and nutrition. We plan to implement community growth projects and provide health and wellness through mobile medical clinics, food drives, fixing wells, establishing renewable energy, and creating community gardens. Our marketplace permits local businesses to reach the international market and bolster economic activity within the communities. Our goal is to work with local non-profits and the Wayúu indigenous communities to help build a sustainable community that can work together to help address the social disparities they face.

Our Plans

The Wayúu people have a poverty rate of 84%, a stark contrast when compared to the 14.4% poverty rate of the United States (February 2022). With poverty often comes malnutrition, the leading cause of death among the Wayúu children.   It is estimated that malnutrition claims the life of 1 in 10 children under the age of five. Most of these deaths go unreported as they occur in homes rather than distant hospitals. The Wayúu have been termed “forgotten in the dust.” As many as 5,000 Wayúu children have died in the past decade from malnutrition and lack of basic medical care.

Malnutrition in this area is further compounded by a desertification by foreign industry mining for coal and weather patterns that together diminish clean water in the area. Wells are almost all dry, and ones with water are left severely contaminated. All this has contributed to La Guajira’s environmental agency, Corpoguajira, to report that 75% of La Guajira families suffer from food insecurity.
The issues of the region are even more augmented with the recent influx of migrants seeking refuge from an unstable Venezuela, representing the largest migration of people in history besides to the Holocaust. Many women and children, who are exposed to abuse, neglect, and victimization do not reach major cities due to lack of money and live in informal settlements or on the streets with no guarantee of protection, jobs, education, or food security. Government programs for both the Wayuu and foreign migrants are often impeded by corruption and slow progress. By donating and volunteering in organizations such as iHelp, relief can bypass government and go to the people directly who need it the most.

Malnutrition and disease due to water scarcity and inadequate sanitation are perhaps the biggest threats to individuals and public health throughout the region of La Guajira. Working with Atix Fundación and other local organizations, we plan to repair and rebuild existing wells, construct new wells, and improve sanitation processes within the communities. Increasing access to water will help directly address the rampant dehydration malnutrition that threatens the inhabitants of this region, which sits at 6 times the national Colombian average and claims the life of 1 in 10 children born in Wayúu communities.

iHelp also aims to implement innovative farming and food production methods using hydroponic technologies to help the communities in this region improve the efficiency of food production during periods of water scarcity. The La Guajira region is very unique, with its hot and arid desert climate presenting unique challenges to implementing hydroponic technology. To accomplish this long term goal, we will be working with local experts from Colombian Universities and Fundación Madrid Campestre to design, build, and test innovative approaches to this technology that is specifically designed for the challenges of the La Guajira region.

In the community of Sichichon, two deteriorating 5 by 6 meter rooms serve as the sole learning environments for over 100 students. In the community of Kalouyachon, no such structures exist for their youth.

Kalouyachon School
This structure provides storage for educational supplies while students study outdoors.

iHelp is committed to improving the learning conditions in these areas by building new structures for the communities, improving access to the internet, and collaborating with community leaders to further address the unique needs of each population. Collaboration with Colombian nonprofits, enable us to mobilize a large volunteer force to help us with these efforts. We are exploring options that utilize locally sourced and recycled materials to introduce building methods that are both renewable and economically responsible, fulfilling our pledge of creating a significant and sustainable impact.

During the dry season, wells dry up further, and communities rely on generators to pump water up from deeper wells that reach the receding water table. While engaging in dental procedures during our joint medical outreach operation, the dental equipment continually consumed all available power on their power grid. Lights flickered on and off throughout the village while the dentist carried on providing dental procedures using headlamps.

iHelp plans to improve access to power sources by installing solar panels, turning the harsh desert sun into a positive force. In Kalouyachón, we are actively obtaining parts and funding to repair a wind generator that has fallen out of commission. In its absence, survival through the dry seasons has become increasingly more difficult as water cannot be pumped up from the water table. iHelp is also committed to providing safety net power sources such as fossil fuel generators in the event renewable power sources suffer malfunction or damage.

The Wayúu are renowned for their craftsmanship. Knowledge of their crafts and works of arts is mastered and passed down over the generations. One way in which iHelp hopes to address its mission in La Guajira, is by offering and allowing individuals in the Sichichon and Kalouyachón communities to sell their products on the global market.

Understanding and appreciating these crafts helps bring more attention to the cultures in which they belong and to the plight they face. Sales and pre-orders of items directly allow the craftsmen and women to provide for themselves and expand their own market, and in turn bolsters their local economies. This will help provide more opportunities and enhance economic mobility of individuals in these communities.

Profits from each item goes directly to the artisans and their community. Funds helps us  to pursue our mission in the community in the ways highlighted above. Learn about the amazing and beautiful items crafted by the Wayúu below that we offer. Visit our marketplace

Where you can preorder these handmade items to support the people and our mission in the region. With your purchase, you can help support our mission to create self-sustainable impacts in these communities today, and own a truly original, hand-made piece of art directly from the Wayúu.

Recent Updates

School Construction

In December 2023, significant strides have been made in the development of the new schools for the community.


It was incredible to see the whole community coke together to construct the schools, with children even helping to side the building and hand drill holes needed.


We have a documentary video being put together of the project and the community, which I will try to get you when completed.


School 1

School 1 is nearly complete, featuring the frame, roof, and partial siding. It awaits the rest of the siding, the concrete foundation with tile flooring.

The stick-like material seen on the roof and siding is dried cactus, a traditional building material cherished for its ability to provide shade and maintain a cool environment in the sun. It’s a luxury material they reserve only for school construction due to its expense.


School 2

School 2 has its frame erected and is progressing with the roof.

Agricultural Needs

During our time in the community, we delved deeper into their needs, and better understood the community. It was really incredible to see and understand how connected and close the community really was.


They showcased their agriculture section, cultivating Yucca, beans, and watermelon. The picture below illustrates only ⅕ of their field actively producing food, as water pressure limitations hinder their ability to irrigate the remaining area. This hurdle has them in need of either a water pump or a taller water tower.

In the future, in addition to helping them build a taller water tower, we hope our hydroponics tower will be able to help them more efficiently cultivate food, and enable them to cultivate more vitamin rich vegetables.

During the months of September, October, and January, the small lake/pond serves as their sole water source. It also serves as a place for bathing and sustaining animals outside of those months. We would love to be able to help restore their deeper wells in the future, or dig new ones so they do not have to rely on unsanitary water. The wind generator you see is connected to a deeper well, but the wind generator has not worked in several years.

Integrating the Wayuu Into The 21st Century

The department of La Guajira is home to hundreds of Wayuu communities that have been stagnant in the development of the modern world. However, at Átix Foundation, we are aware of the importance of educating children in new technologies, providing useful tools for their future and for the development of their paths as professionals.

Kalowyachon is a community located in the jurisdiction of Manaure, where until a few months ago, there was no internet service. Now, our mission is to provide a classroom so that more than 100 children attending that school can receive an education as a foundation for the continuity of their schooling. We also aim to promote research and reading through digital platforms that contribute knowledge to the community.

The project involves implementing a classroom at the school in Kalowyachon, in La Guajira (Colombia), so that children from preschool to fifth grade can attend weekly classes and development of new technologies taught by a Wayuu teacher.

iHelp plans to continue its relationship with the local Colombian nonprofit Atix Fundación, with whom we joined to conduct a medical outreach trip recently. We will continue to provide resources to Atix Fundacion and others, to expand and facilitate a mobile medical clinic, food drive efforts, educational advancements, infrastructure innovations such as clean water initiatives, and to boost local economic activity.

The Atix Foundation is a group of volunteers with over 10 years of experience working for the most vulnerable communities in Colombia. Currently, their focus is on combating hunger, malnutrition, and lack of education in Wayuu communities, located in the northern region of the country, in the department of La Guajira, which have been neglected by the State for years. Their projects focus on children and they constantly conduct medical and educational brigades, ensuring the well-being of over 300 children. They also work on providing water and food supplies to the community. At Átix, they are united by willingness and are committed to transforming a different and egalitarian country.