I said 'yes' in 2015 to chaperoning an environmental cultural experience to Ecuador, although I have never been to South America or speak Spanish. I now have lifelong friends with MC Silva and the Taft's, along with special shared memories with the group members. I returned in 2016 and am going again in June 2018. I take high school students and adults to experience the simple, giving, colorful culture of the indigenous peoples around Otavalo, as well as provide an environmental service that is desired by the indigenous group. I have helped build a seedling table at their tree nursery, put up a barbed wire fence, plant native species and build the foundation of the school's gazebo. I feel pride in my accomplishment (without electric tools!) and happy that I can help others.
September of 2019 was the second time my husband and I participated with the Tandana Healthcare Vounteer Venture. We returned, because our first visit in 2016 fullfilled our expection of service through our medical and dental knowledge and our love of travel. What we hadn't anticipated was the level of understanding and appreciation we would gain as we worked with the Foundation and the Ecuadorian people. The Tandana Foundation has a respect and love of Ecuador that all of the volunteers share by the time we are boarding our planes home. The memories that I hold dear are the the smiles and laughter of the children playing in the communities while they waited their turn with the doctors and the dental team. Throughout the week it was a delight to have someone come forward to thank me with a smile and sometimes a handshake. The hardworking people of Ecuador and the opportunities offered by the dedicated people of the Tandana Foundation are resulting in healthier communities, and the educating of their children. With good health and an education they have the tools to continue the work in their country that the Tandana Foundation has begun.
I first served as a Tandana volunteer in 2016. I worked as an English and Theatre teacher as part of their special summer school program just outside of Otavalo. I was immediately impressed with the commitment of staff and the organization itself. Tandana is designed to help Ecuador help itself.
The curriculum emphasized STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), but I was encouraged to teach theatre skills so that the students would have the confidence to succeed in their regular schools and later on in college. For one core group, I transformed an Ecuadorian folktale into a play that relates to our modern times. The students then performed this play in Spanish for the whole community.
The audience was so appreciative and the student actors so proud that one Ecuadorian board member came up afterwards and said to me. "Welcome to the Tandana family."
This summer will be my fourth visit. Each year Tandana has challenged me to challenge myself. Enthusiasm is contagious, and the students motivate me as I try to motivate them. Mutual respect abounds, and the landscape inspires. I cannot imagine a more rewarding experience for everyone involved.
In April 2016 I was asked to join Tandana on a Healthcare Volunteer trip. It was such an amazing experience that I said yes again in March of 2019.
This organization not only goes into the communities of Otavalo and provide medical, dental and vision needs to their people and provide follow up care, but they also do service work within them as well.
Tandana has volunteers from across the United States, Canada and Ecuador (high schools, colleges/universities and organizations) that come down and help plant gardens, build water trenches, paint school buildings and teach English to the children to name a few.
The staff of Tandana are very supportive and hands on. They are working side by side with you through the whole program. They are there to answer your questions and help you obtain a better understanding of the culture with more intimate experiences through evening adventures and dinners.
I would wholeheartedly recommend Tandana’s volunteer vacations.
I had the incredible opportunity to spend a summer working with Tandana through their Summer Internship program last year. I was able to live with an amazingly generous host family while spending my time teaching English and elective classes. When I wasn't working, I was able to spend time playing with my host siblings, learning how to harvest crops with my host dad, or exploring the market with my host mom as she explained traditional recipes. Tandana is truly integrated into the community it intends to serve, always asking what is needed before it assumes what is wanted. I was able to witness how the children and families genuinely enjoy the classes offered, and how the voices of the community always dictated how and which serviced were prioritized and provided. I would absolutely recommend Tandana to my friends and peers, and anyone ready and willing to try guinea pig!!
Wow. What an incredible week for the entire Tandana staff and Health Care Volunteer Ventures team in Ecuador.
Five action-packed days. Five incredible communities. Hundreds of lives touched.
Patients who received medical care: 222
Patients who received dental care: 257
Pediatric check-ups: 257
Pharmacy orders made: 387
Total referrals: 85
Total patients seen: 672
My name if Matt Graves and I am 23-year old business school graduate from Canada. I’m thrilled to share my recap and final thoughts on my time spent with the Tandana Foundation’s Health Care Volunteer Venture (HCVV).
This past week, more than 20 volunteers from Canada, the United States, and Ecuador, joined the Tandana team to provide much needed medical and dental care to the rural Ecuadorian communities of Minas Chupa, Tangali, Panecillo, Urkusiki, and Cutambi.
The week began on Sunday, March 24th with an orientation for the group of volunteers to get to know each other and practice their roles within Tandana’s mobile healthcare system that is brought to each community.
Depending on each person’s professional background, experience, and preference, each member of the HCVV team was assigned a role between:
- Providers (Physicians & Dentists)
- Provider Assistants
- Medical Scribes
- Vitals Attendants
- Intake Attendants
- Pediatric Attendants
While staying at the beautiful Casa Latitud hotel throughout the week, the HCVV team traveled by bus every morning to one of the five destination communities. Upon arrival, the team would setup the necessary stations to prepare for the first wave of children and adults from around the community who were ready to be seen.
Children get a short break from school and are brought by their teachers to receive medical and dental check-ups. Every adults from the community is encouraged to receive health and dental care at no cost from our team of physicians and dentists.
The communities graciously provided the volunteers an amazing lunch part way through each of the days. It was incredible to witness the strength of the communities’ relationship with the Tandana Foundation – a product of more than 12 years of grassroots efforts working with the same individuals and families, in this specific same region of Ecuador.
What impressed me the most throughout the week, was witnessing the depth of care that Tandana provides to the communities – not only during the HCVV program itself, but afterwards as well.
Tandana’s patient follow-up program ensures that all patients who are referred to a specialist for additional care are supported by the Tandana team as they navigate the cumbersome national health care system of Ecuador.
Monetary donations received by the Tandana foundation are often put directly towards critical health care costs that come up during the follow-on care provided by specialists at Ecuador’s hospitals.
Being able to witness first-hand the operational-side of an NGO like Tandana was eye-opening. So much was accomplished in one short week, with a small group of people, and minimal funding.
This is truly an organization that makes the most of every single resource to deeply impact the lives of hundreds of Ecuadorian community members – and an extended period (12 years and counting).
Thank you to the Tandana Foundation for the opportunity to immerse myself in a beautiful new culture, and help provide care to some amazing people who I will definitely be seeing again soon in a future HCVV.
I plan to share my experiences with all of my family and friends back home so that they know about the wonderful work this organization is doing. I know they will be eager to be a part of something this special as well. Until next time!
This nonprofit organization is fantastic and both my husband and I had one of the best experiences of our life while on a trip to Ecuador with this group. The organization was incredible but did not feel impersonal, the work was hard but felt very rewarding, the surroundings were beautiful and rustic but we also had every comfort that we needed, the schedule was full but there were a lot of interesting and unique experiences, the staff was trained and efficient but also very fun and friendly. In all, it was perfect and I would like other people to have the same incredible experience that we did.
I had the most wonderful experience with the Tandana Foundation. I visited as an undergraduate student with a group from my University. We served in the most stunning community in the Otavalo region where the food was delicious, the people were beyond welcoming, and the atmosphere was enlightening. I couldn't recommend more going on a trip with this organization. Their model of community engagement keeps the community's needs at the center of the trip and cultivates a spirit of cultural exchange between the two groups. I had difficulty leaving at the end of the week due to the strong bonds I had made with my group and with the community. I hope to return to Montilon Chupa and Ecuador at some point, hopefully with Tandana!
I attended a cultural exchange/volunteer vacation that was hosted by this organization in coordination with the Ohio Master Gardener Volunteers. I could not have been more impressed with the foundation's personnel and with the relationships they have with members of the indigenous communities in Imbabura province. The tour was extremely well organized and run. But it was the intimate knowledge, the care, and the delight in the communities and people demonstrated by our Tandana guides that impressed. It seemed obvious that the connections between the foundation and the communities is founded on many years of collaboration and respect. It did feel like visiting extended family where we were welcomed as guests, not tourists or do-gooders. Well Done .
From the first moment of hearing about the Ohio Master Gardeners' trip to Ecuador, I was excited. I love to work outside, gardening and planting, and I love to work collaboratively with others, so I knew it would be a great trip. However, from Day 1 through Day 7, my expectations were exceeded thanks to the awesome organization and knowledge of Tandana staff. Not only did we have the opportunity to plant trees, weed gardens, and plant herbs, every afternoon Tandana staff had planned some outing through which we learned more about Ecuadorian culture. This was not a "visit a museum" experience of the culture. This was IN the communities meeting with people who were seemingly eager to share their lives with us.We learned bits of the language, of the food and cooking, of the music, and got to spend time with families in their homes. We had the opportunity to hike through the Polylepsis Forest that grows next to frailejones... the only place in the world that these two ecosystems exist side-by-side. We had great food and very comfortable accomodations. I really cannot think how this could be better. Thanks to Tandana for creating such a wonderful opportunity for us all!
I volunteered in Otavalo, Ecuador with master gardeners from Ohio. The Tandana members were very organized and kept our group on task, as well as providing us information on Tandana's accomplishments in the region.
Everyone in our group shared the same life-altering experiences during our week long trip. Tandana arranged for us to meet many different people in villages in and around Otavalo. I believe most had received Tandana's help and were very grateful/successful of course. The impact was huge for me to actually meet these people, rather than reading about it from the comfort of my living room. We really experienced their true culture during our stay.
I recently had a wonderful visit to Ecuador with Tandana. It was amazing! We helped plant over 160 native trees at a weather station to help with climate change; visited a local family to assist in preparing a wonderful local soup; and had an opportunity to learn about Kichwa healing customs. This was only part of the cultural adventure we had the privilege to experience.
I have been working with The Tandana Foundation for two years as an independent contractor and have also traveled to Ecuador to participate in volunteer activities with members of their staff and board. I have many years of experience working with nonprofit organizations that provide services to populations in low-income countries and can honestly say that the Tandana Foundation is one of the most authentic and collaborative organizations with which I have come into contact. From executive leadership to the board of directors and staff on the ground, all have the best interest in mind for the populations that they endeavor to assist in Ecuador and Mali. This genuine concern drives all organizational decisions and trickles down to everyone in their sphere of influence including donors, student and adult volunteers, school personnel, and collaborators in-country. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with The Tandana Foundation and can't give it a high enough rating!
Working with Tandana and the many local Ecuadorians as a volunteer was the most enjoyable and fulfilling trip I have had in my life. My husband and I have traveled the world and this by far was the best adventure of them all.
The indigenous people we interacted with during the medical week were so
incredibly benefited by our care and they even made us lunch! The gardening week we enjoyed the wonderful out of doors while working side by side with the local families who regularly get together to work and improve their community.
This volunteer experience is a great way to use your skills to benefit others and
give yourself a great ,positive and highly enjoyable experience.
Tandana combines the best of what it means to have meaningful relationships and sustainable projects. Through my time as a volunteer in a recent gardening trip to Ecuador, I saw that through interactions and deep friendships with people within the community, Tandana shaped the environment and the community positively. I have the privilege to be part of this amazing team this September as Horticulture/Environmental intern and I cannot wait to see how I can change Tandana and how Tandana can change me.
I’m on the board of Tandana, and I took a trip with Tandana on one of their healthcare volunteer vacations in Ecuador. The trip was incredible because Tandana has long-term relationships with local communities, so we were welcomed as friends of friends. I would strongly recommend taking a trip with Tandana!
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.
Several years ago my Wife and I participated in a two week Tandana program to bring health services to those communities in the Ecuadorean mountains who requested those services. We brought medical, vision and dental supplies, medicines, eyeglasses and professional Doctors and Dentists. The mutual appreciation of and respect for each other was special. This was not "fancy" Americans telling the poor and needy how to take care of themselves but rather the proud Ecuadorean communities taking control of the life services their residents requested and sharing their culture. We came away very appreciative of that experience.
Because I believe in the manner in which Tandana respects their Ecuadorean and Mali friends and the resultant value both bring together, I have now joined Tandana's Board to help assure that the exceptional Mission of Tandana continues.
Tandana Foundation is an amazing organization. Their connections and caring for others in different parts of our world generates friendships and respect. I truly appreciate how village needs are determined by Tandana through open communication with the villagers. I have witnessed the great appreciation recipients of Tandana’s goodwill express and the significant value meeting needs benefits both individuals and communities with improved relationships, health, education and encouragement to grow and develop.
I experienced some of the Tandana efforts in Mali, West Africa. We built the first cotton bank stone building for women, planted school gardens and saw wells and latrines constructed for villages, ate fruit from an orchard planted by Tandana volunteers and learned about food and cotton preparation traditions of villagers.
Tandana provides exceptional opportunities for volunteers to experience the different cultures in Africa and Ecuador while working, learning and playing side by side with the local people young and old.
I run a nonprofit based in Southern California, and for the last few summers we've brought 30-35 students to Ecuador through a partnership with Tandana. Every year they exceed our expectations. They are incredibly gifted at weaving educational, cross-cultural experiences. The staff are always incredibly thoughtful and knowledgeable. I highly recommend the Tandana Foundation for anyone looking to really connect with another culture in an authentic and responsible way.
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.