Tandana Foundation is unusual in that it takes the volunteer off the beater path, and combines community service with cultural knowledge and vacation activities. It believes that creating relationships over its 11 years of service in a small area in Ecuador and Mali is more important that working in a large number of countries. I like to say it is a mile deep and a inch wide in its service area and activities instead of a inch deep and a mile wide as most programs. This approach gives the volunteer a true sense of the country, the culture and the people you work with. You get a deeper understanding of why things are the way they are from knowledgeable staff and learn to appreciate another culture as well as your own.
The Tandana Foundation is a very well run non profit organization with programs in Highland Ecuador and the Dogon country of Mali West Africa. All volunteer work vacations are organized by Tandana's founder, Anna Taft. participants reap the benefit of her many years of working and living in these areas of the world because her friends become your friends and you are no longer a tourist in a foreign country , but a friend lending a hand to friends who what to better their communities. Besides volunteer vacations, Tandana funds scholarships for indigenous high school students and small community grants for locally generated needs. You should add your helping hand to theirs and go on a cultural safari for a very meaningful vacation.
Working with Tandana was one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences of my life. This foundation truly does important work, and the people that comprise this organization are some of the most genuine and compassionate people in the world. Before meeting them, I was not sure what we would be working on, but once we landed and were greeted at the airport by their smiling faces, I knew we were in good hands. If you have the opportunity to work with these amazing humans, do it.
Tandana Foundation approaches service by working WITH communities and allowing an exchange of service that imbues the entire experience with dignity and richness. We worked, danced, ate, baked, and played with members of the community in the Kichwa Otavalo tradition of rondi rondi (I give, you give).
The trust and love the Tandana staff have earned through their sensitive work is apparent. As we walked the streets of Otavalo, many people greeted them with obvious affection. We were warmly welcomed in the community in which we worked; it was obvious that the relationship between the community and Tandana was a long and loving one.
They are masters of logistics. The Ecuador trip I participated in was perfect: the work itself, transportation, food, lodging, recreation and education were excellent and perfectly executed.
The Tandana team worked beautifully with each other and integrated with our group in a way that enriched the experience; we created what I'm sure will be lifelong friendships.
Tandana has set the bar high for what service-learning can and should be. Their commitment to sustainable and community-based projects was what drew us to them initially, but our group's experience in Ecuador was far richer than we could have imagined. We worked and lived in intimate connection with a community whose trust in and respect for Tandana was reassuring; the staff's close connection and relationships with the community members helped us easily quickly establish connections with our hosts. Their knowledge of the cultures and communities in the areas enriched our trip. Their professionalism and passion really helped our group of students bond with the community and each other in ways we never could have foreseen. Highly recommend organizing a trip with them!
If you are looking for a non-profit to support or participate in...this is definitely one of the best. It is certainly the best I have ever experienced. Tandana Foundation is organized and managed by a group of people who are dedicated to developing lasting, authentic relationships with the indigenous people and volunteers. They are committed to meeting the needs of all to thrive and become more as individuals and as community members. If you go... I can assure you that you will have a life-changing experience.
Tandana grew organically through needs expressed and determined by the community. Focused in one region in Ecuador and solidly based on personal relationship, their commitment is to work with and along side the community from conception to completion. As a volunteer you will experience multiple facets of development, program design and delivery, cultural exchange, and a profound connection with the community in which you live and work. As a former, long-term volunteer, Tandana volunteer mentor, and a contracted program leader for the Foundation, I've witnessed the ever deepening relationship with the communities and reciprocal impact of their programs and projects.
Tandana is an amazing organization. I went on a week long trip to Ecuador with them. They truly meet the medical needs of the people they visit (who otherwise wouldn't be able to get to the city to receive medical care). If they find a person with a medical issue, they have a person in Ecuador who gets this patient to a local doctor and medicine in an ongoing treatment, instead of only being seen every 6 months when the medical volunteers come to the villages.
Tandana really cares about the people in the villages that they visit.
I have worked with the Tandana Foundation in Ecuador for several years. They have helped us put together great programs filled with cross-cultural learning and exchanges with our university students. The staff are incredibly dedicated, thoughtful, friendly, and committed to the local communities. I love working with them every year!
Each trip I go on to Ecuador with the Tandana Foundation , whether it is for a Health Care Volunteer Vacation or Gardening Volunteer Vacation, I always come back to the United States feeling enriched by the experience. Each one is different because the mix of volunteers and communities and projects are different, but each strengthens the international friendships we are making, deepens my admiration of the staff Tandana employs, and promotes sustainability at all levels. Individuals gain skills they would not have otherwise, communities realize long held dreams of infrastructure, and everyone is invested in the projects and positive results. Tandana teaches everyone how to fish. From a volunteer traveler point of view, the accommodations are excellent, the care that staff give you is remarkable, and the language, money, electricity, food, present no barrier to offering a helping hand to local people and really getting to know their culture.
I have participated in several of the Tandana Foundation's volunteer programs in Ecuador and can't say enough positive things about this organization. What impressed me most is the way that every project Tandana does is rooted in true collaboration with local communities. Volunteers, staff, and community members come together to not only complete a project, but also to share and learn from each other. Every trip I went on with the Tandana Foundation has made me a better person and the memories will stay with me for a lifetime.
I've been involved specifically with the medical trips to Ecuador with Tandana for the past 5 years and have been impressed with their overall organization, efficiency and continuous forward momentum for improvement. Despite it's relatively small size, it has made a massive and positive impact on the communities that it works with. As a medical provider who has worked with other international non-profits, it was (and continues to be) refreshing to not feel like I was being asked to work crazy long days in poor conditions without ever getting to know the surrounding community. It makes for a more rounded experience to not only provide medical care for a group of people, but to learn about their culture and customs. In addition, the staff that remains in Ecuador year round provides follow-up and ensures continuity of care after the volunteers leave. It's truly a wonderful organization to work with.
The Tandana Foundation takes care to connect program participants to meaningful and mutually beneficial efforts in the communities it serves.
A Foundation run by very enthusiastic individuals who have a passion for selfless service. Their integrity is incomparable, every dollar goes towards their mission of service. The philosophy of " teach how to fish " is very highly commendable.
The Medical Missions to remote villages in the Andes to serve the Native American population is very satisfying, I feel very proud of it.
I've been involved with Tandana since 2008. I cannot think of a better group of people to do this important work with. I was so inspired after my first trip that I've returned year after year forming long lasting friendships with folks in both Ecuador and Mali. I believe in what Tandana stands for and I've been inspired and have grown as a person (and professional) during my time involved with this foundation.
I have known the founder of the Tandana Foundation since high school, and you could not ask for someone with more integrity and kindness than Anna. As a result, the Tandana Foundation has the same values and has been able to win the trust of its partners in the communities. Tandana is built on long-term relationships and mutual respect, and so the volunteer vacations feel totally different than other international volunteer trips. Rather than being touristy or self-congratulatory, these trips invite volunteers to engage with and learn from the friends that Tandana has in the US, Ecuador, and Mali. I strongly endorse this organization.
On every Tandana program, both participants and staff members receive a positive cross-cultural service and community building experience. The community members that we engage with and the projects that we support are incredible! I am so grateful that the Tandana Foundation exists in the world.
Going in as volunteer with the Tandana Foundation, you think that its just an internship that will give you experience for the future. What you don't realize is the kind of experience you are going to gain. Working with Tandana has been life changing for me. I have not only been able to live with and learn from a community in rural Ecuador, but I've been able to become a part of it. Between the family you live with and become a part of, to the support and love you get from the staff on a daily basis, you could not have asked for a better work and living environment. Every day, I learn something new, and every day I appreciate more and more everything this foundation has to offer.
Tandana is an incredible organization that works closely with those it serves to deliver sustainable programming and impressive results. As a volunteer with Tandana, you'll make friends, work on projects that are driven by the local community and get a whole new perspective of the world. Tandana staff have diverse backgrounds but are driven by a dedication and love for what they do!
I worked with the foundation for a week. I went in with many misgivings about what we would be doing and misconceptions about the nature of the foundation, and I couldn't have been more wrong. The foundation does good work educating participants and helping people to break down stereotypes, both in the communities they work in and in the communities they take participants from.