In 2012, Cloudhead partnered with the Franklin Institute of English in Salta to create art, foster cultural awareness and raise donations for the Wichi communities of Hickmann. This is what happened to those donations.
Many people feel donations are an easy way to avoid really helping. You give an old shirt you don’t need and that eases your guilt that you’re not doing more. We disagree. Sure, if you donate a raggedy pair of underwear or an old stained shirt, then your donation doesn’t mean too much. If, however, you give items in good condition, then your donation not only goes to someone who can use it, you’re sharing resources and recycling goods in a way that benefits everyone.
The Franklin community donated beautiful things, things of value. Clothing, shoes, toys, school and art supplies. We received so much, it took a full day of sorting and separating before our trip to Hickmann. Franklin’s families gave that which had value. They gave as they would to a family member or a friend.
Even those most critical of donation used goods cannot deny that books, art supplies and school supplies benefit any community. Simon, one of the leaders of the Hickmann community, requested school supplies on one of our earlier visits. We were happy that Franklin helped us fill this need. This atlas is favorite offering.
Few children in the Wichi community wear shoes. It’s an reflex for those of us who live in cities to immediately think “Oh, poor them! They don’t even have shoes.” The reality, though, is many do have shoes. They choose not to wear them. Last year, when we visited Mision Chaqueña, a nearby community with significantly more wealth than the Hickmann communities, I saw bags of shoes hanging in people’s houses. Meanwhile, the children and many adults ran barefoot on unpaved ground.
In truth, what child wants to be confined by shoes? This is Lila in our kitchen. We both went barefoot all day long as it was hot, and we were home sorting donations.
That doll at the corner of the photo is another of the donations that made me wonder. There were two just like it. You wind the back and one plays It’s A Small World. The other, a lullaby. You should have seen the uproar when these dolls appeared in Hickmann. The kids absolutely loved them.
Donations sorted, cleaned and packed into the car ready for the four-hour trip up to Hickmann. There’s no room for Mani, the yellow dog, with all the bags and boxes. Pipa doesn’t care. She hates riding in the car. We’re ready to go!
On the road we go. It’s reaches almost 45 C in the Chaco Salteño, and the heat rising from the road reflects the blue sky to create this illusion. Not far beyond this, we ran into a dead cow covered in vultures. It was not the first I’ve seen in these parts.
Simon unlocks the community comedor to get a table. The comedor holds food that feeds all the kids from the mission on weekdays. We visited on a Sunday. The table usually used for meals will hold the donations as Simon and the other village leaders hand them out.
Sergio, one of Simon’s grandsons, holds the atlas. Noah is on the right side of the photo holding maps, notebooks and magazines.
A group of boys reading. Notice the t-shirt? That’s not one we donated. Somehow lots of American t-shirts end up here in Salta, not just at the Wichi village but in flea markets all over.
The table, bags and boxes now empty after handing out donations. It’s the hottest time of the day, but it’s bearable under the shade of the comedor’s tin roof. Soon, Simon will give us a tour of the gardens.
Thank you to everyone at Franklin Institute for being part of Wichi/H20. Your donations will help clothe and educate the children you see in these photos. Everyone at Cloudhead appreciates your generosity.