Wayuu communities like La Complete are struggling to survive on diminishing supplies of clean water.
La Guajira, Colombia
La Completa Village
Luis Ipuana and his wife Monica live in La Complete village, about 5 km away from the biggest coalmine in the world.
El Cerrejón mine is located in La Guajira, home to the Wayuu people, Colombia's largest indiginous population.
A monument to the coal industry in the town of Albania, near El Cerrejón mine.
We load up on water before heading to Ranchería La Completa, where water is scarce.
Goat meat is a central part of Wayuu diet. Most families have lost their own herds to the drought.
Luis Ipuana is an outspoken critic of the impacts of El Cerrejón on local life.
"The mine has not brought a single benefit to Wayuu people. To the contrary; El Cerrejón has devastated our environment, our culture and our society"- Luis
Luis and his wife Monica met and fell in love through their shared work as activists protesting El Cerrejón mine operations.
Luis says speaking Wayuu language is a crucial key to maintaining Wayuu culture, especially with younger generations.
Adriana's first language is 'Wayuunike', or Wayuu language.
Aurora prepares a meal in Luis and Monica's kitchen.
Rice cooks over coals.
Goat meat, plantain and yucca on the grill.
Monic, a talented self-taught photographer, borrowed my camera to take several shots around the property, including this one.
The kitchen has an open construction for ventilation.
A traditional Wayuu meal; goat, rice and plantain.
Monica's relative Aurora takes a moment to rest after cooking, in La Complete village near El Cerrajon coal mine.
Keydi Fernandez, 18 years old.
Luis and Monica share home brewed coffee.
Many Wayuu youth are uncertain about their future in the region, especially if the drought continues.
"Wayuu life has changed 200% since the arrival of El Cerrejón 3 decades ago. Changed negatively, completely." -Luis I
Teens from La Completa often hang out together at Luis and Monica's home.
Bottle caps serve as checkers.
El Cerrejón trasports coal on tracks that pass just beyond the shack in the distance. Luis says coal dust from the open train cars pollute the air. Respiratory health problems are on the rise.
Youth and the elderly are especially vulnerable to lung infections.
Monica holds Adriana. Monica lost her only child, a baby born prematurely who only survived a couple of days, to a severe lung infection.
Chicha- a warm, corn porridge- is a staple part of traditional Wayuu diet, and the first food introduced to Wayuu infants. Dr Illiana, a local pediatrician, says that many of her young patients suffer recurring diarrhea, from drinking Chicha brewed with contaminated water.
Adriana plays near the washing basin.
Luis and Monica spend most of their time at home outside, in the shade.
22 year-old Deiber Ipuana is a frequent guest at Luis's home.
"Wayuu can't survive anymore by farming or raising goats; there isn't enough water. We've seen a rise in prostitution and drug trafficking among our Wayuu youth". -Luis I.
Wayuu homes are constructed with wood, bark, clay and mud. Water scarcity in La Guajira is a barrier to construction and maintenance of homes.
Aurora's daughter, 3 year-old Adriani, is the youngest of 9 children.
Most well pumps in the region are operated by windmill. Some days there is water; some days there isn't.
This faucet used to run water from the village well but is now dry.
Wayuu Rancherias have watering holes called 'Huawai' near community wells, where animals drink, and people bathe and do their washing.
Many Huawais have dried up in recent drought years. Others have grown stagnant and contaminated with pesticides and bacteria.
Dr. Spencer, a local pediatrician, says Wayuu children suffer many skin conditions resulting from contact with dirty huawai water.
Laundry day at the well.
La Completa villagers visit at the central well, while they wait for water to flow and buckets to fill.
People travel to the village well by foot, car, or burros, to fill water containers for daily household use.
Luis said the day before this one, they couldn't get a drop of water from the well.
"Our Wayuu communities are suffering from thirst, while El Cerrejón mine uses more than 300 million liters of water a day" -Luis I
16 year-old Luis Uriana waits for a slow trickle from the well to fill his bucket.
Seeking and gathering water can take hours each day.