Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tumaco and Illegal Aliens

Adriana Guiand, on the right, is the Colombian director for the International Relief and Development (IRD) a large US-based organization that has a major humanitarian project which the Church is supporting in Tumaco, a very poor city in south western Colombia near the Ecuadoran border. In Colombia, internally displaced persons (called Desplazados here) -- people driven off their property and out of their homes -- is a big problem. About 10% of the population of Colombia is desplazado. The photo shows a view of the Pacific ocean from a restaurant where we ate lunch. Adriana is talking with one of her Tumaco staff. The shrimp we had was the best we had ever eaten.

Our first stop was at a fish processing plant. The women in the picture above are all desplazados that IRD placed in the plant. They peel shrimp 6 days a week; eight hours a day.

The shrimp is processed; quick frozen and the above picture shows the finished product before it is packaged.

The plant also receives other catches of fish. In this photo, is a boat of fresh fish and the men are about to walk up the slippery steps with their catch.

Our next stop was to see where some of these desplazados live. They have to build these houses above the ground as water comes up every evening at high tide.

Two children that reside in the village. IRD weighs and measures these children when they arrive in Tumaco. As you can see these children are very malnourished.

A woman that lives in the village is explaining to us about the water she gets from the well. They use the water to drink but I am uncertain how clean it is. IRD provides water purification tablets with a grant from the US state department.

The second day of our trip we went to a food distribution held in front of the IRD offices. The photo shows the people that are there for their second months food. IRD provides food for them during the two months it takes the government to process their papers. The food consists of rice beans and cooking oil donated by the Church. It is at the first distribution that these people are given hygiene kits, newborn kits and school kits also donated by the church.
I love this photograph. The children who have come with their mothers to get the donated food are playing with toys that have been donated by the church. Each child gets to take one home.

This photo shows the bags that have been prepared for distribution. Each woman gets enough in her bag for her own family for a month so the size and amounts vary.

IRD tries to make this a happy occasion and always invites a group to perform for the desplazados. These kids are all from displaced families that a foundation supports that teaches music to children of displaced persons in their school. They asked us if we knew President Obama among many other questions. Carolyn always enjoys interacting with the kids.

At the airport as we were leaving Tumaco, it was brought to our attention that we were in the country illegally. Our visas had expired. Not good. This situation was resolved last week as Royal and Carolyn along with another senior couple and two elders flew to Pasto, Colombia, a town two hours from the border. For the next three days, we stood in long lines in Colombia and Ecuador but when we left we were legal again. The photo is of us and Hermana Morgan crossing the border from Colombia to Ecuador.

The elders crossing the border.

A common sight everywhere you go in Colombia is people selling things along the road. This young boy was running down the road selling fruit as we travelled back to Pasto. He is the youngest person I have seen doing this selling.

We passed several of these buses on our trip from the border. Inside the bus is filled with people who crossed the border from Ecuador into Colombia. On top of the bus is all their belongings. I am not sure what the job of the two men were. Perhaps to make sure the stuff didn't fall out.


  1. Wow!! What an adventure!! These are amazing pictures. I am very pleased you are legal now, how very scary!! We all love you and are so proud of you. Love, kristy

  2. At first I thought you rode on that bus!!! I was going to be impressed. The pictures from Tomaco are amazing. I also love the picture of the kids on the blanket with the toys donated from thr church. How blessed you are to be part of this work. Cant wait to get you home and hear ALL of the stories. Love you both. Julie

  3. This looks like such fulfilling work. I can't wait for the day we can do something similar. I am sure you are hot and tired and sometimes homesick but you are helping so many people. And inspiring us at home.

    Love you...Amy

  4. Fascinating photo essay. Really brings home the reality of the desperate poverty so many live in. It makes me so sad that so many of these little kids will never know anything different. You are providing a very important witness accounting in addition to the amazing service you are performing.

    Much love,


  5. You're getting so good at documenting everything with photos and word. I love the idea of plastic gloves for eating chicken. (Hilma)