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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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!
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!
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.