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