I had a wonderful time both weeks - the medical clinic and the gardening, both. The indigenous families that we worked with were so welcoming and generous. They were patiend with us when there was a wait for docs or dentists in the clinic. We learned to send entire families to the docs at the same time; it was a helpful way to keep all informed.
For the gardening experience, it was great to work side by side with the local families. The
local women dug the holes for our many, many trees after their husbands machelied the brush in the area. Matias, the local expert, placed the trees where they needed to go and we planted them - a regular assembly line!
What a beautiful place we worked in for two days!. There was a sulpher springs and a cave area where the formations were gorgeous. The stream was full of bright orange clay with springs appearing in many areas nearby. Water, water, water...
This area is considered old and sacred by the indigenous families we know. They have just
been able recently to access it again after a government agency moved in. Exciting for them.
This foundation is one of the most caring and passionate non-profits I have ever worked with. They really allow you to see exactly what they do in the communities and give the opportunity to be hands-on with them! This is definitely a non-profit I could see myself working with for a very long time. The people are so nice and you can feel their genuine spirits. This foundation will open your eyes and humble you! I am so happy that I was able to share my experience in Ecuador with them! I didn't want to leave.
The Tandana Foundation in Ecuador facilitated an experience that I will always remember! UC to Ecuador 2016!
Everyone who works for this organization is amazing. They did an absolutely fantastic job coordinating volunteer opportunities for our group!
After taking early retirement last year, I signed up for two weeks on a medical service trip to highland Ecuador with the Tandana Foundation last month. This exceptional organization has been active in the northern sierra of Ecuador for much of the last decade, establishing ongoing partnerships with a number of indigenous villages and contributing to efforts identified by the local communities such as healthcare, education, small business development and horticulture. The other volunteer participants had very diverse backgrounds and interests, came from many different states and provinces, of all ages, and all came with a desire to be of service to others and to learn and to share. Rarely in a rather long life have I met such fine people who have become great friends so quickly as we shared such intense and rewarding experiences together. This group cohesion was only possible due to the long experience and constant efforts of the Tandana leadership and staff to provide the necessary support and logistics, while making these trips exciting and fun for the participants. The TF is extremely skilled at finding and developing exceptional staff to fulfill their stated mission, to make the experience safe and enjoyable for all the volunteers, and to foster deeper cultural awareness between the local communities and those who sign up for these trips.
Each morning we took a chartered bus to a village higher in the Andean highlands, where our volunteer group- both lay and medical providers- set up in the local school or community center. The physicians, PA, and dentists provided free medical and dental care to children and adults, some of whom needed to be referred to local facilities or were followed up later by TF staff. Our group also recorded vital signs, performed basic lab tests, did vision screening, provided reading glasses, and our mobile pharmacy provided medications prescribed by the PAs and physicians. We ate very well, had a wonderful place to stay in Otavalo, and the volunteers had opportunities for activities later in the day such as visits to a master weaver, a local shaman, a cooking school, a maker of musical instruments, and outings to see waterfalls and hike around alpine lakes. The first week our group had a great time one night dancing in costume in an annual parade in a local village. The second week we went on a boat tour around a beautiful reed-fringed lake at the foot of Imbabura volcano.
Before signing up for this trip, I had heard glowing reports from several physician and PA colleagues who had been Tandana volunteers in the past. They described the trips in terms such as "an experience that will change your life", "this will remind you why you went into medicine in the first place", "I came back from this trip a better person, with more compassion, than when I left". I found all of these reactions to be accurate and true to my own experience. You will know that your money was very well spent, that you will never forget the people you met and the people you worked with, and that you have seen firsthand some of the best work that we can do for each other in this world.
I am three days back from a health care volunteer trip to Ecuador with the Tandana Foundation. I am still trying to figure out why they are thanking us so much for our services when I feel it was I who was on the receiving end of this remarkable experience, the opportunity to be introduced to the indigenous people of the Ecuadorian Andes and their culture in a very unique and personal way. The Tandana staff were a delightful, exemplary group of young people, smart, organized, caring and fun, who every day went out of their way to make sure that the volunteers were well taken care of and that every day we were treated to additional educational programs, field trips and excellent meals! Our lodgings were beautiful and cozy with wonderful hospitality. I would recommend a trip with the Tandana Foundation to anyone with a sense of adventure wanting to make a difference in the world, community by community.
Tandana Foundation really excels in their attention to the volunteers that participate with them. They went the extra mile to assure our comfort, safety, enjoyment, and knowledge for the 7 day volunteer vacation I was part of based out of Otavalo, Ecuador. Their interns and long term volunteers were some of the most capable and professional I could have ever thought would be available to us for the projects. Tandana's focus on doing what the communities need and want to have happen vs. what outsiders think should happen is the true key making volunteer projects successful long term for all those involved.
I joined Tandana with 14 other like minded volunteers for a week of "Volunteer Garden vacation" in Ecuador. It was truly the most gratifying experience. We planted, worked in the school garden, taught composting to happy, bright eyed school kids. We cooked, ate, and worked with the locals, we were not just tourist clicking photos but participated and that is what made a big difference and the Tandana staff made it happen. The staff took care of our every need, we stayed in modern hotels, fed us well and were the nicest group of smart young people.
I wish Tandana founder Ann Taft, Director Hope Taft and staff all the best and thank-you for giving me a chance to give back.- Shyamala -Hope to participate again.