Jenifer Colpas: A Hero To Many Colombians

Photo by CNN

Jenifer Colpas grew up in Barranquilla, Colombia, and for most of her life, she was sheltered from the poverty that surrounded her. It wasn’t until she moved to India after college for a job in information technology that she became aware of social inequalities.
Something inside her woke up, and she decided to do something about it. So, she changed career paths and returned to Colombia. This time, she settled in Cartagena and started volunteering with community organizations that help the poor.

The Birth of Tierra Grata

She truly felt for the people who didn’t even have access to essential services, such as clean drinking water, electricity, or indoor plumbing. Volunteering wasn’t enough, so Jenifer co-founded Tierra Grata in 2015.
Tierra Grata has grown tremendously, and it’s a non-profit organization dedicated to providing access to clean water, electricity, solar-powered lights, eco-toilets, and showers to rural communities all over Colombia. At first, they had no idea what they were doing, but they were committed and determined.
Today, Jenifer and her team of like-minded people serve 35 communities, and they have successfully improved the quality of life of over 10,000 people in need. This is why she’s considered a hero to many people in Colombia.


What Tierra Grata Does

Tierra Grata works mainly with diverse communities of farmers, indigenous people, and other displaced people. Colombia has the highest internal-displaced population, so rural communities have fallen victim to paramilitary groups, such as the FARC. The communities Jenifer works with have spent so much time in conflict zones that they have been forgotten. They are invisible, not only for the government but also for Colombians. They are challenging to reach because they live in remote areas, so no one ever goes to them, and they don’t have essential services.  “Something inside me (was) saying, ‘You need to do something about it,'” Colpas told CNN.  “I felt very saddened to see that people were living without the most basic things,” she said. “People don’t have clean drinking water, indoor plumbing, electricity.”

It’s essential for Jenifer to work with women, so Tierra Grata empowers them and helps them find a role in their communities to become social leaders and problem-solvers. The leaders of the community also play different roles for the organization.
The main one is that they are the first point of contact, so if something needs to be done or there’s an issue with any of the families, they are the primary contact for Tierra Grata. They also help Jenifer’s team with the installation process, and they are trained.

Jenifer’s Life Mission

With her organization, Jenifer’s life mission is clear. She wants to provide the disadvantaged with coverage of basic needs to dream of more than just survival. All these people have stories, desires, and the inner power to achieve their goals. Their suffering hasn’t affected that. So, if she had to define these people in one word, it would be resilience. That’s precisely what inspires her to help them and make a change in their lives. Every time she talks to them, she knows she is doing the right thing, and they motivate her to do more and go further because they are worth it.

“We are working with women because, for us, it’s very important to empower them and to re-signify their role inside the community. So they will be not just social leaders, but also problem-solvers. The leaders have different roles. One is that they are our main partners within the community. They are the first contact in case there is something we need to fix. If something happens with any of the families, they are our main contact. They are the ones that are working on the solutions in the long term,” she said.
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