Ana Maria Piedrahita is the founder of Sapia artisan group in Bogota, Colombia. The Colombian climate yields sweet and plentiful oranges. It’s not uncommon to find vendors at every street corner, squeezing fresh juice to sell. There are so many orange peels that the vendors actually need to pay to dispose of them.
Ana Maria saw this as an opportunity. During her travels to Uruguay some years ago, she saw a box made from orange peels. This inspired her to collect unwanted peels which could be fashioned into any number of items including playful jewelry and festive figurines.
Because orange peels wither quickly, artisans have only 24 hours to work with them, so production schedules are important. Once the peels are gathered, they can be cut into shape, formed over molds and dried in a kiln. The dehydrating process preserves the peel and permanently fixes the shape.
…creating jobs so people can earn the money they need and feel more fulfilled
Ana values the fact that neither Sapia nor Ten Thousand Villages are charity organizations. Instead, Sapia supports local workshops while Ten Thousand Villages provides enough product orders so that artisans can earn a stable income.
The innovative spirits of people like Ana Maria improve the lives of those around her. Always smiling, Ana Maria recognizes the importance of friendship and dignity. Where other organizations might provide a handout, Sapia establishes a more permanent solution to unemployment: solving the issues that citizens of impoverished neighborhoods face daily by creating jobs so that people can earn the money they need and feel more fulfilled.