The Tale of a Hebu / A Message from our Artisan Partners in Colombia

The Tale of a Hebu - Magno Caterino

Dear Ibu Allies,

My name is Magno Caterino and I am a craftsman by profession. I have studied in other countries, but returned to my homeland of Colombia to practice my craft and help other artisans throughout the country to recognize their potential. Over the past 30 years, I have seen how public order, social, and security issues have affected my artisan friends and I have tried to support them with my own resources and by connecting them with organizations like Ibu to alleviate their situation a little.

I have dedicated myself to traveling around Colombia, where I met many of the communities with whom I work today. I have lived with some of them for a period of months, or even years, following my desire to know my roots and delve into their cultures to learn more. In each community, I observed that through weaving, the elder women transmit the cultural legacy, meaning, and history behind each symbol. This knowledge is shared with the youngest members of the community; their way of life is really an example of collaborative work. They support each other because they understand that working together is what leads them to keep their community together.

Colombian artisans

In these indigenous communities, they fight for their artistic and cultural legacy. Their resilience to remain relevant is great, and their efforts are strong to achieve economic, social, and political recognition within a government that keeps them marginalized. They must struggle to claim their rights to land, to live a dignified life, to manage their own education, and to keep their cultural traditions alive.

We collaborate with more than 600 female heads of households who have benefited from the projects we have carried out through our Finatur Colombia Foundation. The foundation works with indigenous communities to encourage and preserve their traditions—all are innate leaders and examples of resilience and community work. These communities face the challenge of earning a living from their crafts—economic support is not very favorable for them, because their handmade work is not valued by many. The road is long, and we continue to seek the support of global allies to elevate these cultures internationally.

We have wonderful allies like Ibu with whom we have developed interesting projects for the communities of the Caribbean region such as the Zenú, Wayuú, Wounaan, and Emberá. I work regularly with Ibu’s fashion director, Marisa, to exchange design ideas, choose color palettes, and organize logistics and payment for the artisan’s work—everything runs harmoniously. It’s always wonderful to see the Ibu team in person, and we look forward to attending IFAM each summer in Santa Fe where we can reconnect with Susan, and this year saw Hannah as well. We speak the same language of advocacy for the women artisans, despite our different native tongues, and it’s always an emotional reunion. 

Zenu artisans

Supplies for Zenú artisans; Ibu Foundation Director Hannah Blatt with Magno and Sandra Henao, Finatur artisan educator, at their 2022 IFAM booth; Zenú artisans weaving IBU mantra cuffs. 

The Ibu Foundation has provided funds to supply Zenú artisans with tools, food and masks during the worst of the pandemic, and communication equipment such as cell phones to make it easier for us to keep in contact and assist in the marketing of products through social networks. Thanks to these ties of support, the community has improved its quality of life and has worked to help other communities with difficulties during the pandemic.

Your support in making our work visible is truly significant for us and for the communities we support. When we reach communities with food, resources, and elements that improve their quality of life and assist them in preserving their craft, we are met with happiness and gratitude. To be a part of this is exciting, and our appreciation is infinite.

Magno Caterino Mahecha Lopez
Founder, Finatur Design & Finatur Colombia Foundation