Halloween beneath the shadow of Tayta Imbabura, the night a werewolf howled at an Andean moon

My body, still accustomed to a lifetime of changing seasons, told me that it was autumn and that Halloween was approaching. I wouldn’t have realized that just by looking out the window from my Ecuadorian host family’s home. Here you don’t experience the four distinct seasons as we are accustomed to in many parts of the U.S. In Ecuador, you have the rainy season and the dry season. Continue reading “Halloween beneath the shadow of Tayta Imbabura, the night a werewolf howled at an Andean moon”

Tandana wins Nonprofit Eclipse Integrity Award for outstanding ethics in community service

The Better Business Bureau of Greater Dayton has selected The Tandana Foundation as the winner of its 2020 Nonprofit Eclipse Integrity Award, which is its highest honor for ethics, honesty, and integrity. Continue reading “Tandana wins Nonprofit Eclipse Integrity Award for outstanding ethics in community service”

An award-winning field through use of the Olouguèlemo Association’s erosion control tactics

The village-run Olouguèlemo Association continues to train villages around the township of Wadouba in Mali on best practices to prevent erosion. In the following, one of the many individuals to receive this training credits his recent recognition for “best field with the most number of trees” in Wadouba to the erosion prevention practices taught by the association. Continue reading “An award-winning field through use of the Olouguèlemo Association’s erosion control tactics”

Tandana’s community project coordinator in Ecuador shares a joyous story

Hello Everyone!

I am Vicente Pazmiño, The Tandana Foundation’s community project coordinator in Ecuador. I live in the El Panecillo community in the San José de Quichinche parish, from where our beloved Foundation operates.

Over many years of collaborating with the Foundation, we have completed many projects that benefit the parish’s many communities, and today I’d like to tell you a brief story about a project that brought me a lot of joy. Continue reading “Tandana’s community project coordinator in Ecuador shares a joyous story”

Independence through education and determination

Cristina Fuerez and her younger sister Margarita were born and raised in a traditional, mudbrick cabin on a small farm near the village of Panecillo, Ecuador. Small and dark, having only a single room without windows, plumbing or electricity, the house still stands high on a sloping parcel of hillside that their paternal grandfather managed to secure, in a two-year legal struggle. In the 1960´s, he was forced to walk the seventy miles to Quito several times to obtain the necessary legal papers, when Ecuador finally abolished sharecropping serfdom, known as huasipungo. Many of his indigenous neighbors didn’t manage it and lost the land they had occupied for generations. That grandfather’s spirited defense of his rights, despite obstacles, lives on in his granddaughters. Continue reading “Independence through education and determination”

Tandana helps provide emergency COVID-19 support in Ningari

This summer, several communities that The Tandana Foundation partners with in Segue-Iré, Mali approached the organization for emergency support related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19, after numerous deaths and several positive cases were confirmed. The following is a report written about how Tandana and the communities worked together to successfully respond to the situation. Continue reading “Tandana helps provide emergency COVID-19 support in Ningari”

A united front: Tandana’s health care support through COVID-19 in Ecuador

Like in the rest of the world, the threat of COVID-19 has changed the lives of many people in the communities of the Quichinche Parish in Otavalo, Ecuador.

From the close communication carried by The Tandana Foundation, directed by Virginia Sánchez (Patient Followup Coordinator), with the staff of the Quichinche and Gualsaqui health centers, it has been possible to identify the most relevant challenges in order to work in favor of the communities. Virginia affirms that, “What has changed is the way we are working. We haven’t stopped; we are still keeping an eye on the patients.” Continue reading “A united front: Tandana’s health care support through COVID-19 in Ecuador”

Two personal stories illustrate the value of community

By committing to create and nurture intercultural relationships, Tandana recognizes the value of community as a major driving factor of our work.

In Ecuador, the stories of two members of Tandana’s staff exemplify the way in which experiencing community -whether new or familiar- provides an incomparable opportunity for growth. Continue reading “Two personal stories illustrate the value of community”

The impact of Tandana’s COVID-19 response in Mali

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, The Tandana Foundation has been supporting our community partners in Mali through conducting education about prevention measures, assembling and distributing hand-washing stations, and providing supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to a hospital and local health centers. Members of the Tandana team have also recorded a radio broadcast with public health information that has aired across the Bandiagara District. Below three community leaders share the impact of this work and express their gratitude for the foundation’s support. Continue reading “The impact of Tandana’s COVID-19 response in Mali”

Building community through music and public service

Time spent in the Andes always brings home to the traveler the importance that traditional music enjoys there. In indigenous homes and communities, making music together and dancing is thought of as completely natural, with everyone participating at their own level of skill. Neither praise nor criticism is handed out for what is thought of as something as normal to a shared life as eating and talking. Two young men who have been supported by Tandana take that impulse to sharing even further, both playing traditional instruments in a band that has recorded professionally and performs at indigenous ceremonies and celebrations, while also serving in responsible positions within community government. Continue reading “Building community through music and public service”

Birthdays mean special celebrations with Tandana!

No matter how people like to celebrate their birthdays, it’s always nice to be recognized on the day you were born. Since coming to The Tandana Foundation, in January 2019, I have been able to celebrate many birthdays with my coworkers, host family, and friends in Ecuador. Continue reading “Birthdays mean special celebrations with Tandana!”

The translators behind the Tandana blog

There is a special network behind each story that is published on this blog. Since each blog is published in English, French, and Spanish, every story needs to be translated from its original language into the other languages. To do that, The Tandana Foundation is thankful for the help of many dedicated individuals from around the world who volunteer their time and skills in translation. Continue reading “The translators behind the Tandana blog”

Tandana’s founder receives this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award from The Wellington School

In recognition of the impact of her international service efforts and her impact on the school, Anna Taft, founder of The Tandana Foundation, was recently honored with the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award by The Wellington School in Columbus, Ohio. Taft, who graduated from Wellington in 1997, was the fifth member of the school’s alumni to earn the award. Continue reading “Tandana’s founder receives this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award from The Wellington School”

A safe well, and a new world of partnership

Work has recently been completed on the Komberou Well project in Mali, and it is now providing clean, reliable water to the 800 residents of Komberou. The residents of Komberou were responsible for breaking and transporting the four loads of stones, sand, and gravel to the construction site that were needed to complete the work on the well, and they also worked with a contractor to do the repairs. The Tandana Foundation then trained a management committee of five village-elected members to ensure the well’s ongoing maintenance and good management. Below, an elder of Komberou shares a story about the well’s history and expresses his gratitude for the new partnership that has been formed between his village and Tandana. Continue reading “A safe well, and a new world of partnership”

A reminder that our power as humans lies in our relationships


It’s no secret that the life of a college student is hectic. This year, especially, I have become caught up in the hamster wheel of success and looking towards what is next. It seems like there are always essay deadlines and group project meetings. My Google calendar is filled with notifications and obligations. I have found myself asking, does my full schedule reflect how full my life is? Continue reading “A reminder that our power as humans lies in our relationships”

A look at the multiple phases of the community projects volunteers work on

The highlight of any Tandana volunteer venture is the community project. This is a project proposed by community members and then paired with an upcoming volunteer group that will best be able to contribute. As a Program Coordinator for The Tandana Foundation, it is one of my responsibilities to facilitate and organize the logistics of working on a project with community members and volunteers. We like to be upfront about what the expectations are for what a group can realistically accomplish during their stay. Continue reading “A look at the multiple phases of the community projects volunteers work on”

Newfound confidence and abilities

The Tandana Foundation organizes and supports a number of women’s programs in the Bandiagara District of Mali, including literacy, numeracy, and leadership courses and income-generating activities. The following blog contains a recent update from a literacy and leadership student who shares a story of what she was able to accomplish through participating in the courses. Continue reading “Newfound confidence and abilities”

Tandana’s Theory of Change based on its experience and history of positive outcomes

Many organizations use Theories of Change to map out the series of steps and interventions that lead to their long-term goals and desired social changes. Typically, a Theory of Change is based on causal linkages and informed by instrumental logic. It is often associated with the attempt to control human affairs as though we were making something. The temptation to bring the mode of fabrication, or “making,” to human affairs is perennial, because of frustration with the unpredictability, irreversibility, and anonymity of action; however, if instrumental logic controls what we do, we are obliged to accept any means to given ends, the justification of violence, the loss of meaningfulness, and inevitable failure, because the actual course of events is bound to be full of the unexpected. Continue reading “Tandana’s Theory of Change based on its experience and history of positive outcomes”

Ecuador experience an honor for volunteer gardeners

Earlier this year, The Tandana Foundation hosted a group of members from the Ohio Master Gardener Volunteers program. Pam Bennett, the Ohio State Master Gardener Program Director, wrote about about her experience on the trip in the Dayton Daily News. Her article is below. Continue reading “Ecuador experience an honor for volunteer gardeners”

Medical care from the heart that never gives up

When you live in the high Andes of Ecuador at an altitude of 9,000 feet, where your eyes are subjected to intense solar rays, cold winds blowing off the peaks, and the thick volcanic dust that that for thousands of years has grown the staple foods of corn and potatoes, a film can begin to grow over the eyes, rather like a cataract, severely diminishing your vision. Luz Maria Campos and her husband, Luis, began to realize that something was not right with her eyes, although they didn’t understand exactly what was wrong. Continue reading “Medical care from the heart that never gives up”

Its not work, it’s a lifestyle

I had been walking among indigenous communities and people of many different hues for some years when one day, on the slopes of the Tayta Imbabura, I crossed paths with a Yachak of the Kichwa Otavalo nationality who told me: “You have to plant seeds, wherever you step, wherever you go. You have to plant seeds. Always leave something of you wherever you go, and let others plant seeds in you wherever you go.” Continue reading “Its not work, it’s a lifestyle”

Two Olouguelemo members from different villages share the association’s progress in its environmental protection efforts

Now 19 villages strong, the Olouguelemo Environmental Association continues to implement conservation and restoration projects throughout the Wadouba Township of Mali. The Tandana Foundation supports this village-run association by providing resources and teaching best practice techniques. Below, two members from different villages talk about the successful outcomes of their work so far. Continue reading “Two Olouguelemo members from different villages share the association’s progress in its environmental protection efforts”

From hacienda to commune to cooperating farm families

Jose Sanchez is an indigenous farmer who grew up working in the fields of a newly formed commune and was optimistically helping organize the former share-croppers that had been liberated from huasipungo, ‘serfdom,’ in the 1960’s. He lives in Cotacachi, a town of 8,000 located a few miles from Otavalo, and with his wife maintains and manages (at a low salary) a beautiful guest house owned by an absentee landlord long resettled in Quito. His mother is still the owner of a small cornfield in the lands of the former hacienda, but it is not mechanized and doesn’t produce much crops or income. The net result of the ‘liberation’ of the sharecroppers is that they, as before the 1960’s, do all the work and yet remain quite poor. Continue reading “From hacienda to commune to cooperating farm families”

I learn to become more human while working to benefit others

My name is Veronica Pazmiño and, for around five years, I’ve been in charge of the scholarship program for The Tandana Foundation. Tandana for me is an opportunity, because I’m not just working with students, also, I’m supporting families, communities, and creating strong relationship with communities around Quichinche Parish in Ecuador. Continue reading “I learn to become more human while working to benefit others”

Tandana needs your help to support its community partners through the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading quickly throughout the world, affecting all of us in different ways. It landed quickly in Ecuador, started spreading, and is now on the doorstep of the communities The Tandana Foundation partners with. In Mali, it arrived later, but now, with a growing number of recorded cases, sharing information about the disease is urgent. Continue reading “Tandana needs your help to support its community partners through the COVID-19 pandemic”

Quichinche Hopers: Women Lawyers and Justice in Northern Ecuador

Hope Taft, former first lady of the State of Ohio and now President of The Tandana Foundation, believes in the possibility of changing society and people’s lives for the better. Her letterhead prominently features the phrase “Ohio Hoper.” Gladys Perugachi, an indigenous woman in the Kichwa-speaking region of Ecuador, is a kindred spirit, committed to a more just society, which in that country has been very slowly becoming a hard-fought reality. Continue reading “Quichinche Hopers: Women Lawyers and Justice in Northern Ecuador”

The value of others’ different experiences, appreciating life outside our own city bubble

I had the opportunity to experience a trip facilitated by The Tandana Foundation to the community of Gualapuro, Ecuador, for my first spring break of college as part of the Northeastern University Alliance for Civically Engaged Students (ACES). I was stoked to experience a new culture and meet new people, but in preparing for traveling something continued to bother me. Continue reading “The value of others’ different experiences, appreciating life outside our own city bubble”

Grain banks help villages become self-reliant

In Mali’s Bandiagara District, food security is a major concern. Community members work hard, farming millet, peanuts, sorghum, cowpeas, and other crops, and yet decreasing rainfall and increasing pest problems have caused harvests to diminish. In most years, most families cannot harvest enough food to last them through the year until the next harvest. Cash income is very difficult to come by in the villages, so young people must then go to the cities to look for work and send money home so their families can purchase food.  The shortage is most acute during the rainy season– the busy agricultural period when they need the calories the most in order to work hard and also the time of year when the market price of grain is highest.  Continue reading “Grain banks help villages become self-reliant”

Tandana to offer Virtual Ventures to Ecuador and Mali in April

With travel and social distancing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Tandana Foundation is launching a free series of Virtual Venture trips to Ecuador and Mali this April. Each one-hour video conference will have a different topic and provide participants with the opportunity to talk with Tandana’s staff and friends from its partner communities, watch videos, and hear about recent work the organization is doing in the countries. Continue reading “Tandana to offer Virtual Ventures to Ecuador and Mali in April”

Two patients’ stories from participating in Tandana’s Patient Follow Up Program

If patients require additional care or larger medical procedures, such as surgery, after visiting one of the health care clinics organized by The Tandana Foundation in rural Ecuador, they enter the organization’s Patient Follow Up Program. Through this program, Tandana’s Patient Follow Up Coordinator Virginia Sanchez helps patients obtain such care by helping them navigate the public health system and advocating for them. In the following videos, two patients in the program share their experiences and gratitude in receiving their needed medical care. Continue reading “Two patients’ stories from participating in Tandana’s Patient Follow Up Program”

What I’ve learned about creating beneficial volunteer programs

Intercultural volunteer programs are an integral part of The Tandana Foundation’s work and serve our mission of supporting the achievement of community goals and addressing global inequalities through caring intercultural relationships that embody mutual respect and responsibility. In the blogosphere, on college campuses, and increasingly in the press, critics of transnational volunteering claim that such programs can be detrimental to host communities or at least less positive than they seem. Some of the criticisms are valid to the extent that they apply to some programs that are irresponsibly conceived. Others misunderstand the purpose and miss the great value of intercultural volunteer programs that are organized well. Continue reading “What I’ve learned about creating beneficial volunteer programs”

This scholarship student is already achieving great accomplishments while still in school

Ahyni Shayarina Oyagata Torres is a hard-worker, president of her school’s student council, and the recipient of a Tandana scholarship. In the following letter, she shares her story and how the scholarship has impacted the lives of herself and her family. Continue reading “This scholarship student is already achieving great accomplishments while still in school”

Recent updates from the women’s enterprises in Mali

Last year, The Tandana Foundation funded six women’s associations’ business proposals in the Bandiagara District of Mali. These women’s enterprises are now starting income-generating activities, including making nutritional seasoning balls out of néré seeds, raising sheep, transforming cotton into cloth and indigo dyeing. Below two women talk about their income-generating activities. Continue reading “Recent updates from the women’s enterprises in Mali”

Safe drinking water: ‘Something magical for our children’

Gualapuro is just five minutes from the Otavalo, city limits, a city of 32,500 in Ecuador, but it has never had clean drinking water. This indigenous community of about 350 people has a natural spring on its lands at the bottom of a cliff, a water source that is the clearest and cleanest in the canton. Since it is below the community, however, it would require pumping to get it up to the homes. So, instead of drinking pure, health-giving water, through countless generations the community has relied on the runoff from a swampy pasture near the town. Continue reading “Safe drinking water: ‘Something magical for our children’”