Life is not easy for the over 4 million Internally Displaced People (IDP) of Colombia, but life is even more difficult if you happen to be an indigenous woman. In a country engaged in a 40-year drug war, violence is widespread and opportunities beyond the drug trade are few.
Opitagua, one of Global Goods Partners’ Community-Based Organizations, is making a difference in the lives of the people of Neiva by providing training in a sustainable and alternative livelihood. Neiva is a city of 400,000 with a large community of refugees. Opitagua provides training in handicraft production as well as in merchandising, commission, sales and other business skills, so that the work can expand to help even more families. The materials used for the crafts are purchased locally, thereby supporting enterprise in the community.
The artisans of Opitagua use the tagua seed to create jewelry and various other crafts. Tagua is a nut that comes from a type of palm tree found in South and Central America. Tagua is generally harvested once it has fallen off the tree and after animals have consumed its edible exterior. When polished, this white, carve-able nut makes a foolproof, sustainable substitute for ivory.
For the women of Opitagua one thing is for sure, when you plant a tagua seed, opportunity grows.
Get to know the women of Opitagua and their alpaca artistry: