An Afro-Ecuadorian Artist Collective in Sua

Today I’m handing the mic over to this organization that got in touch with me a few weeks ago about raising money for a community center project on Ecuador’s northern coast. I went up there myself to see what it’s all about, and will keep you updated as to my own articles about it, but for now, here’s their press release along with some of my own photos. Thanks to Julia and Maryanne for everything!
Holes in the roof
Holes in the roof
Santa Barbara based entrepreneur, Julia Chiriboga, has always had a passion to help, which lead her to create The Heartful Giving Project. This project supports international folk art by providing a Community Art Center where local artisans can practice and teach their skills. Their first project will take place in Súa, Ecuador and will begin to raise funds June 10th on the crowd-funding site Crowdismo. Súa is a small pueblo in the coastal province of Esmeraldas. In 2007 a group of 17 local artisans came together to create a formal association, “Manglares de Súa.” They set out to construct a communal center for the production of handicrafts to sell to the public.
At that time, a little fundraising was done to raise money and a crude pavilion was built as a starting point. The roof is made from banana leaves that do not protect against the rain, the floor is dirt and dangerously uneven, the walls are thin bamboo that allow in the  weather and there exists no running water or electricity. However, the facility is in place and with a little attention it can become the Arts Community Center it is intended to be.
This project is vital not only to this small community but to the preservation of the cultural heritage of the coastal Afro-Ecuadorian community. The art forms that the artisans produce in this crude cabaña are unique even to the coastal region. It is rare to find someone who carries on the tradition of handcrafted Marimbas, baskets made from the Palmera leaves and jewelry from the much sought after spondylus shell particular to Ecuador. This under developed area will benefit from the increased tourism an arts reputation would attract.
Some of the guys
Project Director Julia Chiriboga has a vision of turning The Heartful Giving Project into a certified non-profit, with which she will fund similar projects around the world. With the help of a small team of photographers, journalists and videographers, they will film and document each project, telling stories of struggle, triumph, traditions and culture. To learn more, visit

7 thoughts on “An Afro-Ecuadorian Artist Collective in Sua”

  1. I’m finally going through my old emails. This is a great project Banita. It makes me want to me to go to Esmeralda more so.


    1. No problem! My editor’s sending the finished photo essay to a campaign rep; if they pick it up it will mean lots more social media presence for the guys in Sua and you in HGP of course. I’ll let know once I’ve got an update.

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