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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Tandana Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Community & Neighborhood Development, Economic Development, Education, International, International Cultural Exchange, International Exchange, Preschools, Scholarships, Scholarships & Student Financial Aid

Mission: To empower individuals of various cultural backgrounds with an increased awareness of the world, other cultures, themselves, and an expanded sense of their possibilities; To promote positive, caring interactions between people of different backgrounds and encourage consideration and lessening of global inequalities; To promote respect and responsibility toward one's self, all people, and the Earth.

Results: The Tandana Foundation received 501(c)(3) status in 2006 and has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments in the over 10 years in which it has been working in Ecuador and Mali. The Health Care Volunteer Vacations have seen and treated over 8000 patients. In Ecuador, 26 rural communities and in Mali, 35 different communities have received benefits from Tandana programs and services. Over 1,600 North American volunteers have visited Ecuador and contributed positively. Over 3000 native trees have been planted. Most importantly, these same rural communities still welcome Tandana staff and volunteers with open arms and enjoy collaborating with Tandana and its programs.

Geographic areas served: Otavalo Canton, Ecuador & Bandiagara Circle, Mali

Programs: The Tandana Foundation coordinates volunteer programs in Ecuador, which allow North Americans to volunteer their services to help in 25 rural communities in Ecuador, while learning about the local culture. These programs are focused on health care, agriculture, the environment, and providing intercultural homestay opportunities. Our long-term volunteer, internship and fellowship programs also allow North Americans to spend 2-12 months at a time in Ecuador and to provide English classes at elementary schools, assistance at rural health centers, assistance at a native tree nursery, IT support, and more. The Tandana Foundation provides funding for community initiatives in Mali with projects such as a water tower and irrigation system for community gardens, literacy classes, carpentry training, training of women's Savings for Change groups, and assistance and training for an eight-village association that has formed to protect the forests and promote soil conservation. Through our Ecuador programs, we have provided funding for community projects, including: additions to the school buildings, improvements to a community center and soccer field, a fence for a school, a new greenhouse for the UCINQUI native tree nursery, vacation courses for secondary students, and reforestation projects using native species. Currently The Tandana Foundation provides scholarships for up to 100 rural Ecuadorian students, which allow them to attend secondary school, and for up to 25 rural Ecuadorian students to attend university. We provide books, supplies, uniforms, transportation costs, and other fees.

Community Stories

61 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 JennButler

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1 Shelley Kawamura

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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!

1 Kelly M.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

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!

Previous Stories
2

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

1

Board Member

Rating: 4

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.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

2 Ken G.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

2 Morgan B.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

5 nancymyerholtz

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

3 Heidi B.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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!

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Tandana Foundation takes care to connect program participants to meaningful and mutually beneficial efforts in the communities it serves.