At the beginning raindrops were almost like in rythm with her voice and later with her tears and those blue eyes so rare in this country. Her hands were grabbing something as if that was precious. Later I knew it was. Part of her most precious dream was hanging there in those little hands and nails were being carried in a very special way. Relax and in a very practical sense this petite woman did not appear to be the most powerful woman of the rural area where she grew up and where she had lived most of her 47 years old.

Among six brothers she is in the middle of all of them and she is literally the center of a family a long time ago splitted after a disfunctional marriage. Married young as a way to get out of her mother´s responsabilities she has three kids 26, 25 and 23, and she is now a widow by the violence of Colombia. She finished high school but she wishes the most to have had the chance to have gone to university to study political sciences or forense medicine. This two careers might not have any connection you know, she says, but they have. When I look people into their eyes and see how deeply they need to get help I know that if they do not get any of the help they ask for they might get killed or died in an attempt to survive. And if they died I need to know why. ¿What have happened? ¿Who did not do their job? ¿Why they did not do it if life is so valuable?

She does not have incomes as most of her work is for local community which is mainly peasants. Her community works started since she was very young as she learned it from her grandmother Ema and from her father Jaime who was the inspector of her township Santa Elena. She knew they both were into politics and being young she asked them both to help the poorest and helpless to find a fair life. But sometimes help did not arrived and even though she did not blame her father or her grandmother she decided to help them by her self going to the government building and finding new ways to find the best for her community. She did not wait. She did not know how as she thought she did not study for that but she find a way in her soul and in her wisdom to go and to look for what rural people need it so bad. Opportunities, equity, education, health, employment, food but mainly dignity, self respect, pride of what they have been their whole lifes and all the people needs this to continue that way: growers.

Neighbors of a major and very famous city Medellín and one of the five townships of this huge municipality, Santa Elena has been a very important land not only for the municipality of Medellín but to the other 14 ones very close to the territory. People here growns corn, potatos, lettuce, a huge diversity of vegetables and fruits as strawberries, blackberries, ochuvas, and also a tremendous variety of flowers but mainly this area is a big protected area named Arví which gives pure water and oxigen to the municipalities around. Families here are national heritage as most of them are Silleteros, a special flowers carriers which she considers with growers as the most vulnerable people in this territory. She seeks everywhere to find for them new opportunities in their markets and also she develops projects to involved this community. Today as the President of one the 16 Community Action Boards of this township she works seven days a week even without being paid as this organizations barely have the resources to develop their own projects. Now and for three years she has been one of the seven town councilor of Santa Elena being elected for popular vote with vow to the mayor of the municipality. Claudia Tapias without a proper study goes for her dreams and ask for people ´s need with out doubt. Her words are strong and she asks direct to the Mayor or his secretaries what she consider to be the most important things for her people: fair market.

She has done more than any other one for this land and she does not even know it or she is aware of it. She is focus in people´s life and she does not give importance to things which might not lead her to people dreams. Her priorities are ones many people do not even consider ever. So she knows challenges will be always an issue for her. As a passionate woman she believes now in her dreams as she does not remember as a kid to have dreams or to be allow it to have them. She basically learned to do everything since then for her brothers, older or youngers and then for everybody without asking anything in return. And she continues that way. Her heart is big and she could give her own food for someone who might need it.

Living a day by day life with so little she does not expect much. She is willing to have a house where to share her life with her sons and her grandaughter Sofia who is the center of her life. She has dreams, 100 bricks, a toilette, a sink and 10 huge glasses stored at his father´s house where she now lives with his father, a brother who became a beggar and used to lives in the streets, with her three sons and her partner Edwin who is 17 years old younger than she is. With so little one day she might have the house of her dreams where to live with her family and where she will be able to prepare them the delicious food she knows how to cook with so much love. The principal ingredient of her life.


Dearest Martha,

The woman you interviewed is so inspiring and hard worker. as she started helping her community at younger age up to now at this age that very impressive. just as a suggestion if you can put some statistics of the work she did would be great also if you can put some direct quotes from her.

I really enjoyed reading your work well done dear.


Sister, your woman is one among few who realized that wealth, or lack of it, is not a hindrance to anything you want to achieve. You're right ... it's love! Your time, your effort, or just your presence among those in need spells a great big difference! ... All the best, Martha ...

Always, Emie Zozobrado

Martha, It was such a pleasure to read your story. You painted an amazing vision in my mind of the woman you focused our article on. Your descriptiveness and turn of phrase gave me a really strong base and an intimate feeling for your world. Thank you! Jocelyn