Flourishing results: Updates on the Olouguelemo Association’s environmental work in Mali

As the village-run Olouguelemo Association’s environmental protection efforts continue, the positive effects of their work thus far are becoming more apparent across the Wadouba Township in Mali. From the restored forests in the protected areas to stone contour lines successfully protecting against erosion and new ponds and wells increasing access to water, villagers are recognizing and appreciating the association’s projects, which are supported by The Tandana Foundation.

Below, read three updates on the impact and success of the Olouguelemo Association’s environmental work.

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Thanks to her education, Hawa is an example for other women in her village to follow

During the global celebration of The Tandana Foundation’s 15th anniversary, several inspiring individuals involved in the organization’s programs were invited to share their stories with the hundreds of virtual attendees in the audience. The following is the transcript of the speech given by Hawa Yalcouyé, coordinator of the new Dr. Ash B. Varma M.D. scholarship program in Mali.

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Tandana’s Founding Director facilitates enriching course on climate change in the Sahel for Whitman College students

For many years, The Tandana Foundation has witnessed the impact of climate change in the Bandiagara District of Mali: increased deforestation and desertification that contributes to food insecurity and the need for new water resources. As a result, the organization helped launch, and now supports the village-run Olouguelemo Environmental Association, which continues to grow (now 24 villages) and carries out many important and highly successful environmental conservation projects in the region.

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Two perspectives: The student and teacher experience of Tandana’s ESL program

The remote English as a Second Language (ESL) internship offered by The Tandana Foundation is a way to connect university students in the organization’s scholarship program in Ecuador with interns who want to teach English. Interns and students are paired based on their availability and meet once or twice a week for about an hour. Together, they work together to decide what material they would like to learn and practice and the class is tailored to their shared interests and needs. 

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Paying-it-forward: Tandana Donors share what motivated them to contribute to the Sal Health Center’s equipment costs

Mike and Gail Lavey always recognized the importance of having access to healthcare, but it was not until Mike nearly died in a car accident after being hit by a drunk driver that the issue really came into the forefront of their minds.

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About the Cutambi community and how Tandana supported the construction of its community center

The following narrative about the Cutambi community in Ecuador and the construction of a community center there was shared by Fausto Montalvo, the community’s president, and Fabiola Matango, a community member.

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A letter of thanks from a Tandana Scholarship student motivated to teach others in her family and community

Dear Tandana Foundation:

Best regards to all who participate in this beautiful foundation. You do not understand how grateful I am right now, and I will always be proud to have been part of The Tandana Foundation and its scholarship program.

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Celebrating 15 Years of Intercultural Friendship: Nayeli’s Story of Healing

In recognition of The Tandana Foundation’s 15th anniversary, we are creating 15 videos featuring cherished members of the organization’s global family. Published in a series of 15 posts on this blog, these videos will highlight key aspects of Tandana’s philosophy, community partnerships, and impactful work that has been done, along with projects still in progress. The videos will serve as a meaningful way to reflect back on what has been accomplished in 15 years as well as provide insight into the Tandana’s future in the next 15 years. 

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American and Ecuadorian students work together to raise money for music and art supplies for a school in Ecuador

After participating in a virtual exchange program organized by The Tandana Foundation, students from Sharon High School in Massachusetts in the United States were motivated to launch a months-long fundraising effort for and with their new friends at the Jaime Roldos Aguilera Intercultural Bilingual school in Urkusiki, Ecuador.

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Behind the scenes: Tandana’s Ecuador accountant’s work through the pandemic

As our commitment as a foundation is to help scholarship students, we have been opening the doors of the office so that students can come and use The Tandana Foundation’s internet and computers to do their homework.

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A small needle that sews great fabrics: the success of the women indigo dyers of Sol Djeninke

Indigo dyeing is a major source of income for women in rural Mali. The Tandana Foundation has helped several villages create indigo banks to manage a revolving fund for the materials they use, similar to the cotton banks the organization has supported in other villages. The newest indigo bank is in Sol Djeninke. When it started, the leadership committee of the Sol Djeninke indigo bank participated in a workshop to learn how to manage their bank and also how to dye safely using both natural and chemical dyes. Tandana also provided the women with their equipment and supplies to get the new indigo bank up and running.  Recently they held their first annual meeting to reimburse the cost of the materials they used and evaluate the first campaign.   

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Celebrating 15 Years of Intercultural Friendship: Happy Birthday, Tandana!

In recognition of The Tandana Foundation’s 15th anniversary, we are creating 15 videos featuring cherished members of the organization’s global family. Published in a series of 15 posts on this blog, these videos will highlight key aspects of Tandana’s philosophy, community partnerships, and impactful work that has been done, along with projects still in progress. The videos will serve as a meaningful way to reflect back on what has been accomplished in 15 years as well as provide insight into the Tandana’s future in the next 15 years. 

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Construction complete: Sal Health Center to provide needed medical care to thousands of people in Mali

Approximately 9,000 residents in and around the Sal Sector of Wadouba Township in Mali will soon have access to local basic health care services thanks to the construction of a new health center. The construction of the Sal Health Center represents the largest building project that The Tandana Foundation has supported in the Bandiagara District of Mali, and the need for the center was clear.

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Visual evidence of the impact of the Olouguelemo Environmental Association’s work

The Olouguelemo Environmental Association has grown to include 24 villages in Wadouba Township who work together on many initiatives to protect the environment and promote food security. One of their important efforts involves teaching how to use stone contour lines to prevent soil erosion and check runoff so that water soaks into the soil. They have built more than 10,000 meters worth of erosion control features. During the current rainy season, the effects of these contour lines are visually clear.

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The Tandana Foundation Celebrates 15 Years of Weaving Intercultural Friendships and Strengthening Communities

This year marks the 15th anniversary of The Tandana Foundation, an international nonprofit that partners with rural communities in Ecuador and Mali to foster strong intercultural relationships and support local initiatives. As Tandana has grown since its founding in 2006, the organization has continued to increase its global impact and strengthen its community partnerships in both countries.

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The significance and success of the Saredina school garden

Thanks to a grant from the All People Be Happy Foundation, The Tandana Foundation was able to support the elementary school in Saredina in creating a school garden in 2020. The school garden provides many benefits: the garden allows students to earn an income that they can use to purchase school and first aid supplies; enriches students’ educational experience and nutrition; and builds market gardening and project management capacities among students and teachers. In addition, the garden will also improve access to education for students from rural communities.

Below, hear from staff and students from Saredina Elementary School and community members about how the school garden is positively impacting learning and working experiences and the village as a whole.

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Why volunteering for Tandana is one of the most rewarding things I do

Everyone has their own reasons for volunteering their time to help others and organizations or causes they care about. For me, I volunteer for The Tandana Foundation because supporting the organization fills me with incredible amounts of pride and happiness on a daily basis.

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The play must go on: Tandana Summer School’s theatre instructor chronicles an unforgettable experience to put on the annual production this year

For the past six years, Tandana Summer School students in the theatre course taught by Hank Fincken have put on a play as a fun way to practice their understanding of drama skills they were introduced to throughout the summer. This summer, the course – and the play – were conducted virtually. In a series of Facebook posts, Fincken provided status reports of their work to make the play a success, including the challenges posed by Zoom and what he and the students learned from the experience. As he tells students, “Theatre is a team sport that needs no losers.”

At the end, be sure to check out the play that Fincken and the students performed. It was performed in Spanish and has English subtitles.

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Creating a better educational experience in Mali

Last year, furniture built by participants in the Kansongo carpenters workshop – a program supported by The Tandana Foundation – was delivered to the school in Andjine, Mali, via moto-tricycle. The special delivery was made possible thanks to the Bellbrook United Methodist Church, which helped fund both the tricycle and the furniture. Below, one Andjine villager talks about how important it was to find assistance acquiring the furniture.

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Aaron DiMartino: the man quietly leading Tandana by ensuring everything goes right

The mission has always been at the heart of each and every role Aaron DiMartino, who is entering his sixth year as operations director of The Tandana Foundation, has held.

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Celebrating 15 Years of Intercultural Friendship: Environmental Programs

In recognition of The Tandana Foundation’s 15th anniversary, we are creating 15 videos featuring cherished members of the organization’s global family. Published in a series of 15 posts on this blog, these videos will highlight key aspects of Tandana’s philosophy, community partnerships, and impactful work that has been done, along with projects still in progress. The videos will serve as a meaningful way to reflect back on what has been accomplished in 15 years as well as provide insight into the Tandana’s future in the next 15 years. 

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Overcoming water crises with a new well in Wana

The village of Wana in Mali used to rely on an old well for all its water needs – from drinking water to cleaning and providing water for animals.  It was 2 km from the village, so they had to walk a significant distance to get water. In times of water shortages, when the well ran dry, the women had to travel much longer distances in order to obtain water for drinking. The village asked The Tandana Foundation to help with their water challenges by building a new well. In the following post, three villagers discuss the benefits of the new well, along with the training they received on how to maintain it and keep it clean.

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National Nonprofit Day Q&A with Tandana’s board president

In recognition of National Nonprofit Day on Aug. 17, Hope Taft, president of The Tandana Foundation’s Board of Trustees, shared her thoughts on a variety of topics related to her involvement in the social impact sector, the challenges facing nonprofits today, and what makes Tandana different from other organizations.

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The impact of knowing that someone cares

Like the rest of the world, university student and Tandana scholarship recipient Jhanina Orbes’ life was changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the following letter, Orbes describes how, as she adjusted to online classes, she also learned to appreciate other aspects of her life more, including spending time with family and having the support of a Tandana donor to help her continue her studies.

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Celebrating 15 Years of Intercultural Friendship: Confronting COVID-19

In recognition of The Tandana Foundation’s 15th anniversary, we are creating 15 videos featuring cherished members of the organization’s global family. Published in a series of 15 posts on this blog, these videos will highlight key aspects of Tandana’s philosophy, community partnerships, and impactful work that has been done, along with projects still in progress. The videos will serve as a meaningful way to reflect back on what has been accomplished in 15 years as well as provide insight into the Tandana’s future in the next 15 years. 

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The importance of the Gualapuro water project to its residents

For more than two decades the community members of Gualapuro, Ecuador, lacked access to clean drinking water. Without safe water in their community, many residents developed illnesses and had to buy drinking water elsewhere. However, the Gualapuro community never gave up on their dream of clean water. Finally, in December of 2020, the dream of safe drinking water came true upon the completion of a years-long project they worked on in partnership with The Tandana Foundation. In the following blog, four community members share their experiences before and after having clean water. At the end of the post, there is a video featuring many of the people involved in the Gualapuro water project.

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Changing minds and transforming lives through the Savings for Change, literacy, and leadership programs

Thousands of women have participated in the Savings for Change, literacy, and leadership programs, which are organized by The Tandana Foundation in partnership with villages across Bandiagara District, Mali. Whether it is contributing to savings funds, learning how to read and write, or exploring how to be a female leader, not everyone in the villages has immediately recognized the importance of having these programs available to women. Below, three women provide commentary on how the success of the participants is changing the way people think about the programs.

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A look inside Tandana’s virtual ESL program

Learning a new language can be difficult for anyone. There are so many new words to learn and conjugations to memorize. Nevertheless, everyone in Tandana’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program this school year managed to learn and teach one another about their different languages and cultures.

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Ash Varma: A passionate Tandana supporter and patron of education

The Tandana Foundation is immensely grateful to the many individuals who support its efforts in a myriad of ways. The following post tells the story of Dr. Ash B. Varma, M.D., one of Tandana’s earliest supporters, who has given his time, ideas, and financial resources to assist the organization in achieving its goals in Ecuador and Mali. Education is a topic Ash is passionate about. His contributions include supporting the creation of a new scholarship program to help more students pursue educational opportunities and setting up an endowment to help fund an existing scholarship program.

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Celebrating 15 Years of Intercultural Friendship: Water

In recognition of The Tandana Foundation’s 15th anniversary, we are creating 15 videos featuring cherished members of the organization’s global family. Published in a series of 15 posts on this blog, these videos will highlight key aspects of Tandana’s philosophy, community partnerships, and impactful work that has been done, along with projects still in progress. The videos will serve as a meaningful way to reflect back on what has been accomplished in 15 years as well as provide insight into the Tandana’s future in the next 15 years. 

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Three perspectives on the Olouguelemo Association’s recent projects

Members of the 24 villages where the Olouguelemo Association operates in Mali are recognizing the successful work being done by the association. With support and guidance from The Tandana Foundation, the village-run organization continues to make progress on its environmental conservation projects, including reforestation, erosion control, and forest protection. The following post contains three commentaries from village residents about these efforts.

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Looking back on 23 years of special connections

As The Tandana Foundation approaches its 15th anniversary, I’m taking a look back at the experience that planted the seeds for its creation so long ago—my first visit to Ecuador in 1998. Twenty-three years ago, I traveled to Otavalo as a volunteer with Global Routes and spent four months in the community of Panecillo. Many of the people I met then have become important members and partners of Tandana, while experiences with community work then led to future projects that Tandana has been involved in with many communities. And, I was introduced to some traditions that I continue to enjoy. In honor of this anniversary, I decided to pull out some photos from that time and reflect on how those special connections have developed over the years.

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Ninari Chimba: activist and role model

Through its partnerships with communities in Ecuador and Mali, The Tandana Foundation has learned about many inspiring individuals who are also working to make a positive difference in the places they live. The following blog post tells the story of one of those individuals: Ninari Chimba, an activist for the advancement of LGBT rights and environmental protection.

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Celebrating 15 Years of Intercultural Friendship: The Opportunity of Education

In recognition of The Tandana Foundation’s 15th anniversary, we are creating 15 videos featuring cherished members of the organization’s global family. Published in a series of 15 posts on this blog, these videos will highlight key aspects of Tandana’s philosophy, community partnerships, and impactful work that has been done, along with projects still in progress. The videos will serve as a meaningful way to reflect back on what has been accomplished in 15 years as well as provide insight into the Tandana’s future in the next 15 years. 

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How friendship saves cultures

Despite the pandemic restricting the ability to see one another in person, students at Sharon High School in Massachusetts in the United States and the Jaime Roldos Aguilera Intercultural Bilingual school in Urkusiki, Ecuador, have still become friends – sharing their cultures, favorite activities, and pets with one another by sending each other videos and participating in regular Zoom calls.

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