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2020 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

85 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 Ecuador Elizabeth

Donor

Rating: 5

My husband and I live in Ecuador and have been able to observe - and participate in - the work they do here. The relationship always comes first with Tandana. They get to know the people of the communities and the needs those communities identify for themselves. Volunteers from around the world and in-country staff work WITH the people of the community to address those needs. The result is not only an improved quality of life for the local people but a deep connection and respect between people who would never have otherwise met. The positive ripple effects of that kind of intercultural exchange are hard to quantify but easy to see. We are proud to support and participate in the work Tandana does -- and to give them our highest recommendation.

1 Audrey L.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to intern with Tandana in Ecuador under their Patient Follow-Up program. The chance to work for an organization whose actions are guided by their organic and genuine values both refreshed and challenged me in a wonderful way. Looking back on my time in Panecillo, I feel peace as I recall the kindness I was shown and the time I spent outside in the mountains.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned as the IT Specialist for Tandana in the Winter of 2016. Since then, I have stayed on board to help them with any tech needs or questions that they may have. They are an extremely kind and hard-working group of professionals who work WITH the locals in the areas that they visit to bring about improvements and services that the local community leaders deem most vital.

When working with Tandana, I felt not only welcomed into a family of kind-hearted and intelligent individuals but also that my efforts in aiding them were creating real change for the communities that we worked in. I developed genuine, long-lasting relationships with the people that I met both from the states and from the communities that I visited/volunteered in. I can't state enough how unique Tandana is in their approach to find out what people need from their own mouths and how satisfying it is to work WITH the people you visit doing work that's valuable to them.

I learned a lot from just a short time working with Tandana and I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a volunteer experience that is packed with fun, "type 2" fun (not fun at the moment but fun looking back), and the development of genuine relationships with kind people from all over the world.

2 Suzy P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Tandana foundation does remarkable work near the village in which I live in the highlands of Ecuador. I recently had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer with them and then a later opportunity to work as a professional medical interpreter with one of their medical delegations. I am impressed with their organization, with their connection with the communities they serve, with the listening stance they employ, so that community leaders and participants are heard. I’ve worked with many volunteer “mission“ trips, student groups, and faculty development delegations to developing countries. Tandana is different because of the consistent follow-up that they give to the patients into the communities. They recently worked to help bring water to a small village, following the leader ship of the local people. I cannot say enough good about this organization. They are worthy of support.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have helped The Tandana Foundation with online graphic design resources for a few years. The organization is relentless in their desire to help communities in Mali and Ecuador on several fronts. They roll up their sleeves and help in the areas of healthcare, education, income generation, water resources, women's rights and community infrastructure. They break through barriers of un-trusting locals by meeting them at their level and building trust with tangible results.

2 eudora2306

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My thank you to the Tandana Foundation for making available the opportunity to visit Ecuador, early February 2020. I was one of 16 master gardener volunteers who traveled from Ohio to work on a project at an agricultural high school. The project began with a group of strangers receiving a seemingly overwhelming assignment. The completion of the project resulted in the beautiful landscaping of the schools' entry road with almost 400 plants. We shared lunches as shy students and volunteers alike were exposed to each others smiles, studies, culture, foods, families and communities.
The itinerary was well rounded. Each day was different and packed with exhilarating experiences that allowed intimate insight into the lives of an indigenous people. The group of 16 strangers that started the week ended up as friends. Each days work and activity somehow fostered a cohesion. We looked out for each other and tried to ensure each person was successful and comfortable at whatever job and task was at hand. Thank you Charlotte, Sarah, Nicole, and MaJo for your care. This trip was the best!

2 DeniseBees

Advisor

Rating: 5

We partnered with Tandana for a gardening service-learning adventure and had the best experience ever. The project with local groups were well organized and of value to the community. The attention to detail for every aspect of the experience - travel, food, lodging, cultural experiences and work experiences were beyond expectations.

I would personally recommend working with and supporting Tandana.

Best regards,


Denise Johnson
Program Manager Master Gardener Volunteer Program
Ohio State University

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I do not have the words to adequately express the wonderful experience I had this past week in Ecuador with Ohio Master Gardener Volunteers and Tandana. Maria Jose (Majo), Charlotte, Nicole and Sara went over and above all expectations to ensure that our experience was culturally rich, and fun. We worked hard and played hard and were sooo well fed. The hotel was very nice as well as convenient to markets, etc. All who served us were so willing to please, sweet and friendly.
And on top of all the planning, those girls ordered the most remarkable weather ever! Thanks so much! :-)

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently returned form Ecuador with a group Master Gardener Volunteers from Ohio. A wonderful experience of learning from and working with indigenous people in rural communities. Yes, our group volunteered but I took much more away than I expected. I will not forget this trip as long as I live.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A friend encouraged me to participate in the Tandana Health Care Volunteer Venture trip. With no medical background, I was a bit skeptical of my qualifications for such a program. I did some research about the Tandana Foundation and was impressed with their work in the Otavalo region of Ecuador and their “bottom up” process of discernment about activities to sponsor. They take direction from the communities and leaders in the area to determine what their mission and actions in the area should be.

I decided to take up the challenge from my friend and participate in the Health Care Volunteer Venture in the spring of 2019. The Health Care Venture involves helping at medical clinics in villages in the region of Otavalo. Each day, we travel to a different village, set up a very well organized mobile clinic in a village school or community building and serve individuals and families from the nearby area. Our team included health care providers, a pharmacist and people like me who helped with basic tasks and organization to make the program run smoothly each day. We had wonderful opportunities to interact with the residents as well as other Tandana volunteers from Ecuador and, of course, our team of volunteers for that particular week.

After our clinic work each morning, we returned to Otavalo and, most days, had an educational or social activity provided for us by the Tandana staff. So the volunteer week was one of service but also one of learning and experiencing another culture and bonding with new friends.

We were always well cared for in terms of food, lovely accommodations, travel and support from the staff. I am returning in the spring of 2020 and looking forward to more service and more experiences in this interesting and lovely area of Ecuador

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was member of a delegation of 9 students and 2 teachers from Purcell Marian High School in Cincinnati that spent a week helping the 45 families of Agualongo install a drainage system for the community soccer field and perform road maintenance. We worked side-by-side with the children, moms, dads, and grandparents to complete the projects they had identified for their community. It was an experience that changed the lives of our students. The Tandana Staff was great to work with; they provided an orientation that introduced us to the culture, traditions and history of our host community and connected us with families who welcomed us into their homes. When the Boeing 737 Max was grounded, the Tandana Staff did not "skip a beat" in arranging housing, meals and activities for the extra 3 days. A year later students express a desire to return to spend time with their Ecuadorian brothers and sisters.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been fortunate to participate in two Health Care Volunteer Ventures (HCVV) with The Tandana Foundation and will soon be departing for my third - as you might imagine, I am very enthusiastic about this international volunteer opportunity.

I learned about Tandana and HCVV somewhat accidentally, in conversation with a fellow poll worker one election day. In spite of no medical background and no Spanish language skills, I was encouraged to check out the web site and consider volunteering. I was impressed with what I learned on the site and took a leap of faith and signed up. I'm so glad I did!

I've met wonderful people - staff and volunteers, both here in the US and in Ecuador - gained some knowledge of another culture, and found a warm and welcoming non-profit working to build relationships with and support the goals of local communities.

If you are looking for a combination of service and international travel I encourage you to check out the opportunities available with The Tandana Foundation.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

About a year ago, after a brief visit that was supported and coordinated by the Tandana Foundation, I felt that as a psychologist I could give back to the Otavalo, Ecuador community in a potentially meaningful way. I proposed my idea to one of the Tandana coordinators who immediately got to work helping me plan a project.

I have just returned from three weeks working, learning, and presenting in the school, La Joya in Otavalo. Every aspect of my time there was supported by Tandana. They hooked me up with an interpreter, arranged accommodations with families, checked in regularly to make sure all was going well, and even arranged a doctor visit when I was briefly ill. I truly cannot imagine a better experience.

I highly recommend this Foundation for donations, trips, group projects, or just to learn about a great nonprofit of the world.

Bravo Tandana!!

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

1 Dianne Woodburn G.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5


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.


1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1 Meera Lynn D.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!!

1 Matt G.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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)
- Pharmacists
- Provider Assistants
- Translators
- 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!

1 Swati Sisodia B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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 .

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

2 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.

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.

2

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.

4

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.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

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.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

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!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1 Melody C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My week working with the Tandana Foundation at Guachinguero helped reveal to me the beautiful nature of humankind, re-instilling a hope for mutual existence of all humans if we allow our minds to expand and find common ground.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Organized, money gets put to good use. Went to Ecuador with them.
-Omar

1 Janet153

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1 Jazmine2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1 Robert189

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Tandana Foundation in Ecuador facilitated an experience that I will always remember! UC to Ecuador 2016!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Tandana was far more than what I expected. It was an incredible experience, and I can't wait to participate again!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Everyone who works for this organization is amazing. They did an absolutely fantastic job coordinating volunteer opportunities for our group!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went on a service trip through Northeastern University to work with Tandana in Otavolo, Ecuador. Anna and her team were incredibly helpful and considerate with volunteers and community members. The organization does great things by providing whatever service the community needs most and by facilitating genuine connection between volunteers and community members.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had a life-changing experience on my trip to Ecuador through Tandana. I participated in a course that traveled abroad spring break to teach English in primary schools in Otavalo with my class. My experience was filled with cultural excursions, native interactions, and full immersion in the beautiful country. The Tandana staff was extremely personable and welcoming and I had an amazing time on my spring break alternative trip.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A wonderful trip with awesome guides and lovely people. We were given excellent previews of the languages and what to expect in each village. Safe and culturally educational. We were able to travel to views that no average tourist would ever see. We were able to help several villages with needed reforestation efforts. We had good quality time teaching school children in beautiful highland Ecuador.
Our meals and accommodations were super.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A few years ago I had an internship with Tandana for 9 months. Prior to that experience and after I have worked with 6 other NGO's in Latin America and the Caribbean but I would have to say Tandana does the best job of achieving its goal-- to create and nurture real and responsible relationships among people of different cultures. I typically like to spend a decent amount of time in any foreign place I visit because I feel you get more out of the experience if you really get to know a place rather than pass through on a quick visit. Somehow this doesn't seem to hold true with Tandana as they are able to provide volunteers with an incredible, authentic experience in no more than a week. I've never seen anything like it.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Working with The Tandana Foundation has given me an even deeper appreciation for the country of Ecuador. People's lives get changed for the better and the results are amazing. Not only the local villagers lives change but the volunteers and coordinators that are responsible for the work being done always leave with a profound experience and a different outlook on life. May The Tandana Foundation continue to grow and prosper in Ecuador and Mali!