Uruguay: Dora Ignacia Paiva da Silva

My life is to work so that people will not be afraid to have hope.

— Dora Ignacia Paiva da Silva

Dora Paiva has worked on many different projects; constructing houses, making rag dolls, planting trees and organizing weaving workshops to make artisan products by hand and on the loom using rustic wool. For decades, she has been working on activities to aid social development. Her work has been unified by one aim: to teach her people to have hope.

“I planted seedlings and, today, I can see how big the plants are.” Dora Paiva is now 73 years old and has seen many things grow during her lifetime. When she came to the neighborhood of La Tablada, in the administrative district of Salto, in the countryside of Uruguay, she found a place inhabited by people filled with a great fear. They were on the point of being evicted from their homes. They were living in extremely poor shacks, which they had lifted to provide themselves with shelter, in order to survive. Dora organized them and they fought their first fight together: to stay in their homes. “We were able to prove that their plots of land could not be expropriated.” Later on, they fought and won their second battle, the battle for solidarity: “We managed to get the bishop to pay three architects to draw up plans, and we began to build solid houses. Everyone helped to build everyone else's house. All the arms became one.” And Dora Paiva saw in La Tablada how the people's dignity grew as their houses took shape. From 1964 until 1976, Dora took her social work to the rural areas. Later, when she returned to Montevideo, she put all her determination into projects for the creation of work opportunities: “We promoted textile works. We made dolls from maize leaves. We made a variety of utilitarian and decorative artisan products. We wove by hand and on the loom with rustic wool.” But above all, Dora Paiva saw how something very special grew in her people: hope.

Housing Cooperative of La Tablada