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The Tandana Foundation

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Volunteering Oportunities

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

95 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

3 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.

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!

2 Mike94

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I can't say enough about the great work that Tandana does. I have volunteered twice on medical volunteer vacations in Ecuador, and would do so again if the opportunity arises. The volunteer teams that I was a part of included both medical and non-medical volunteers, and as a non-medically trained volunteer myself I was able to participate as a team member and contribute to the project in important ways, and Tandana always takes great care of its volunteers. Seeing people in rural Andean communities receive medical treatment was a deeply rewarding experience, as was the opportunity to immerse myself in Ecuadorean culture. Tandana has roots in the communities where it works, which includes its founder as well as various past and present interns who join in on the projects, and as a result it has strong relationship with the people of the community. I would very much like to participate in another volunteer project in the future.

1 Movika J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Tandana works with people on such a level that both the volunteers and community members are left with a good understanding of how human compassion spans all people.

1 Susan252

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have read the privilege of doing Public Relations volunteer work for The Tandana Foundation for four years now. I can't say enough about how enjoyable has been. Tandana's Executive Director and staff are completely committed to the Foundation's mission. Their sense of commitment is very contagious and has spread to all the volunteers including myself. Tandana's staff is also extremely appreciative of all the work the volunteers perform. Even if I am only completing a small task for them, they always so grateful for my work. They really make them feel as if I am truly making a difference. The appreciation also makes me feel valued, which is something I think that is lacking in a lot of the for-profit and nonprofit world today. I have often said that I started volunteering for Tandana because it provided me with an opportunity to use my public relations skills, however, I will stay working with Tandana for life because of the people who are in charge.

In my wall as Public Relations Specialist I frequently interview people who have traveled with Tandana on their Volunteer Vacations or group service projects. All the volunteers come back from their experience with Tandana truly inspired. It is also worth noting that many of the people volunteer with Tandana more than once. Tandana creates wonderful relationships between the volunteers and the people they help

1 William35

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was blessed with first hand experience in observing and participating in the work Tandana has done in Mali (prior to outbreak of civil war). In short, this organization seeks to involve everyday folks of interacting cultures in providing the lesson of "how to fish" in a sustainable manner, rather than "checkbook charity" providing fish for a day. What pride the residents in Mali displayed accomplishing great things on their own!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our group of Master Gardeners from the state of Ohio teamed up with Tandana in Otavalo, Ecuador. We spent 7 days - worked on a tree farm/nursery(vivero) , planted trees with local school children(at their school); harvested tree seedlings @10,000 ft. above sea level in the highlands & transplanted saplings.
Tandana offered many interesting side trips, so we additionally were immersed in the culture of Ecuador.
The tandana team members were well-prepared, thorough & very kind. The Tandana philosophy of cross cultural/mutual respect was exemplified by them all - and we were the beneficiaries-how wonderful!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A truly rewarding experience, traveling to Ecuador, working in the tree nursery, planting trees with the school children from the town of Quichinche and all the other wonderful activities we were able to accomplish during the week. It was the perfect blend of working and sight-seeing!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is so muck better than simply being a tourist. We worked side by side with the indigenous people of Ecuador, visited their homes, ate their food, etc. I feel the work we did (planting 240 trees) made Ecuador a better place.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Crossing paths with The Tandana Foundation truly has been life changing. I volunteered as a healthcare provider four years ago in highland Ecuador and never would have imagined prior to my first trip, that this will be my fifth year returning to Ecuador to volunteer and continue to provide care to this indigenous population..I became hooked! I love the relationships formed, it is truly a connection to the land and to its people..Anna Taft has become such a part of these communities, laying a strong foundation so that all volunteers who join are essentially welcomed into these communities as family. I have just returned from a Tandana volunteer vacation to Mali- I was so inspired by our work in Ecuador that I had to explore the work being done in Mali as well- We built a grain bank in the village of Sal Dimi, and a latrine in another small village. We sat in on the first women's literacy class taking place in the village of Kansongho (amazing!), we formed friendships and became fully immersed in the culture of Mali's Dogon region while providing aid for truly sustainable projects..and most importantly we worked WITH the community in the finishing of such projects, truly a collective effort- allowing us to weave lasting friendships. The appreciation and welcome we received from these communities was like none other Ive ever experienced! TERRIFIC ORGANIZATION.

2 Sophie S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went with my 8th grade class to Ecuador and it was the most eye opening experience I have ever had so far! We did community service with a small Andean community called Padre Chupa and so much more. The kids and people are amazing, Tandana was so much more than helpful. Natalie is amazing! She translated when our meager Spanish skills were insufficient, she was just a joy to have with us. Tandana helped get us food, and pretty much planned teh entire trip. Thanks So much!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with Tandana was awesome! The accommodations were great and there was a great mix between tradition Ecuadorian food and other more "familiar" types to our US group. We travelled to Ecuador on an Alternative Spring Break trip from Northeastern University in Boston for a one week service project. Tandana did very good planning before hand and were ready to put us to work! Our group really felt welcome into the community and its very rewarding knowing that our filtration system will be in the village for a long time to come!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with Tandana Foundation was truly life changing. I visited Otavalo with a group of college students as part of an alternative spring break. During the week, we had the opportunity to work with members of the community to build a water filtration system to improve the quality of water in the community. I can honestly not give one shred of negative feedback... Not only were the people in the community and organization welcoming, friendly, caring, and enthusiastic--they were hardworking and an inspiration to the students. Tandana Foundation perfectly balanced teaching us about the cultural aspects of the community and Otavalo, Ecuador while making sure we got down to business and did work. When my group left, I could tell how valued our work was to the community.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Tandana was amazing. The staff, community, Ecuador in general – everyone is so friendly and willing to help you whenever you need it. Five staff members from Tandana were available for our group, but we mostly had three staff personnel with us at all time. I miss them dearly, and I am sure when you meet them too, you will, as well! It was fascinating learning how Tandana got started in such a quick amount of time (less than 10 years ago). All the people you will meet on the trip have fascinating stories, so make sure to listen and ask questions. It will make your experience that much better. Everyone has the best intentions in Ecuador, and it was comforting knowing we were leaving with having met the best of people in the world; it was nice knowing that we could keep in touch with almost everyone we met via Facebook group (Tandana FB group) and Tandana’s website. Furthermore, Tandana was so helpful and accommodating, not to mention that they were extremely quick with e-mailing us back. Tandana was reassuring when we were planning our trip, and always listened to/tried to process our requests. It was also helpful to know they have had thousands of previous volunteers. Tandana also has other opportunities available through them, so students may wish to return to Tandana for a Co-op or vacation in the future (they have healthcare volunteer vacations, in addition to water infiltration/Public Health initiatives we partook in). The trip doesn’t have to end after your service with Tandana. We told them we love them and they said they would be more than willing to have us back. They have plenty of work to keep us busy, and a community is always in need. The indigenous people of Ecuador are very inspirational, and everyone should have the opportunity to work with them. A fantastic opportunity for anyone, for sure.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I feel that Tandana is very organized and accomodating to volunteers. They are flexible in working with concerns, needs and interests with each volunteer while still meeting the needs of the communities they serve. At the same time they provided opportunity for local, cultural and personal interaction. One personal example is that I was the only first time volunteer to stay for both weeks of their March trip and therefore had free time on the day others were leaving or arriving. They made special arrangements so that I could go on an activity of my interest with a guide on the day between groups.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Tandana Foundation's work in Ecuador is an important contribution and an inspiration to the disadvantaged of Quichinche and La Banda communities of Imbabura, and beyond. I am in awe of Director Anna Taft's infectious devotion and commitment. Tandana's remarkable volunteers embellish their tenacity with humor, charm and great spirit. They are of The New World and am so glad to be a small part of it.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In February 2009 I spent about 10 days with the Tandana Foundation in Mali. I had found this small charity looking through the entries of idealist.com trying to find an organisation I could do some voluntary work with rather than visit Mali just as a tourist. The Tandana Foundation offered exactly what I had been looking for. They are a small american charity, which is run by its founder a young woman called Anna Taft, who works with one village in Mali and another in South America. The journey with this small and very motivated group was truely amazing. The village we travelled to is called Kansongho, which is on the plateau of the Pays Dogon. Anna had helped to finance the rebuilding of their well and the village had put on a festival in honour of the Foundation. We had a huge welcome when we arrived, with a big crowd of the villagers walking with us chanting and playing drums. Ancient flint lock rifles were set off and I was fearing for my ears, it was that loud. A few days later we were shown, how they make the gun powder from raw ingredients. In fact most things are done from scratch. A huge amount of work goes into almost everything they do, from cooking to building. One day I observerd the couscous being made for a lunch time meal. I did not see the part when the millet is ground/pounded to the right consistency, but I saw the process of steaming it three times and always stirring it inbetween to keep it fluffy. All this is done in big amounts for many, many people on open fires, very hot work using big clay pots and wide enamel pans. All the women are physically very strong from carrying water and pounding millet every day. Our group had a go at all the different tasks that are done by the women each day and we noticed how quickly our strength faded in comparison. We carried water from the well, which is a few hundred meters. We carried stones that had already been cut in preparation for the building work from an area outside the village. We howed millet plants in preparation of the gathering of the stalks for animal feed and fire wood and to prepare the ground for the next sowing. We carried stones to build retaining walls that help keep the water and the top soil in the fields during the rains. A group of us went further afield to collect fire wood. The stones we moved for the construction of the grain bank were further cut with very simple tools by eye to exact sizes and a beautiful building was being constructed dry with these stones with great skill. We only looked on. The inside of the building was covered with banco, softish clay that was thrown onto the walls. We were able to help with this. In the evening there was dancing and during the day we arrived they did some special mask dances and the children did some theatrical skids fo us, the women a symbolic ceremony. We visited people in their homes and saw women spinning, men weaving and other types of textile work. We spent a truely wonderful week with the villagers. An experience I would not want to miss.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been on two 'service vacations' with the Tandana foundation. I don't like the fact they call it a vacation. It's true that our accomadations were very comfortable, our food was also excellent. (I have gone on other medical missions, and slept on cots in warehouses...frankly I'm over that.) I am a physician and I can tell you I worked hard! We did usually have a few free hours in the afternoon, and usually went on hikes in the mountains. Anna, the director of Tanadana, is a phenomenal woman. Her main priority is bringing excellent healthcare to the indiginous people of Ecuador, and she accomplishes this through an unusual sensitivity of the native people, along with a lot of hard work. We saw a wide variety of patients, lots with chronic problems like arthritis and hypertension. We were usually able to give them enough medication to last them until the next Tandana visit to their villiage. These patients are a delight to treat, they are grateful for whatever we can do for them. They are also open to education, and non-medicinal suggestions.

1 AkiliDada

Donor

Rating: 5

I think that this is one of the most respectful non profits working in 'developing' countries! They work in solidarity with local communities.