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Maicao is a town of around 120,000, found on the Atlantic Coast of Colombia in the Guajira – virtually on the border with Venezuela. It’s a very dusty place indeed due to being situated in the desert. It’s well known for contraband being shipped across the border from Venezuela, thus, avoiding customs and tax control. Electrical goods and petroleum are bought at vastly reduced prices.

The narcotic trade thrives in Maicao and surrounding area. Most men carry firearms for their own protection and killings are a common occurrence. Commercial premises are generally closed before 5pmand there’s little activity on the streets after dark, due to the dangerous nature of the town. Traders from the Middle-East have settled there and one of the largest Mosques in Latin America is situated in the town serving the Muslim community.

The majority of the population  live a very frugal existence. The housing is basic with little in the way of sanitation. Running water is a luxury and when the supply is functioning the water is so polluted that it causes stomach and skin infections.

Esther Silva is a psychologist living in Maicao. She had a heart-felt desire to help the poverty-stricken children she saw all around her. In 2002, Esther and David Taylor began a community based project situated in a local church with around 50 children attending. Then not long after Oasis of Hope Charity purchased a piece of land and constructed a building now known as the Wayuu Center.

The Wayuu Center serves the local community and around 150 children of preschool age attend the project. The children arrive early where a dedicated staff teach them educational basics, plus other values like the importance of hygiene etc. Lunch is prepared at noon and later the children take a nap. The day is finished off with more lessons and play time before the parents arrive for the children at 3pm.