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 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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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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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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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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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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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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A scholarship student successfully tackles a challenging semester of remote learning

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schooling in Ecuador switched to virtual formats. Students like Amauta Condorazo Quilumbango Espinosa, a Tandana Foundation scholarship recipient, had to adapt to this new way of learning. In the following letter, Amauta describes a recent semester at his university, including the courses he took and how he took advantage of extra free time to give back and help Tandana.

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A strong family committed to higher education and changing lives

When their youngest son, David, was five, the Cachimuel family moved to the Cotama indigenous community just outside of Otavalo. He played baseball and soccer with friends and swam in the nearby river.  The river – at that time crystal clear, but now seriously polluted by a factory – flows out of San Pablo Lake and cascades over the spectacular ritual falls at the famous craft village of Peguche. He attended a Catholic elementary school in Otavalo, learning from excellent secular teachers and attending mass on Sundays.  There was tension in the family, but shared affection remained strong. It was a happy childhood and a firm foundation for a thoughtful life, one centered on learning how to teach others to deal with the circumstances into which they are born.  Now 28, David has just completed a job in social work, counseling young people to continue their schooling; now he is looking for another job, working in a human resources department for a town or an indigenous community.

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Healthcare in Otavalo Canton, Ecuador

As a public health professional, I have always been interested in health care systems in Latin America, specifically with a focus on health disparities.

I have volunteered most of my life, while working full-time. I enjoy volunteering and have done so for many years. I had stopped for a while to reflect on my next opportunity, what I wanted to do next. Recently I came across The Tandana Foundation website and read about what they do and their mission. When I talked with Maria Jose, (the Ecuador Program Manager) I thought this was perfect for me as I would get a first-hand view of health care in Otavalo, the available resources, and types of care that the community receives.

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A dream come true: clean water in the community of Gualapuro

After many decades, clean water finally arrived in the community of Gualapuro, Ecuador. The following blog describes the long-time efforts to bring water to this community, including the partnership with The Tandana Foundation.

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A dream come true through education

The following letter was written by Segundo Remache, a recent college graduate who received a scholarship from The Tandana Foundation. In the letter, he shares his thanks for the support he received, the important research he did as part of his thesis, and what he is able to do now after graduation. Since he wrote the letter, his thesis was officially approved. Congrats, Segundo!

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Looking back on my unforgettable volunteer trip with Tandana – two years later

In 2019, Emily Piwowarski participated in a volunteer trip to Ecuador organized by The Tandana Foundation with her high school classmates from Arendell Parrott Academy. Now a sophomore studying chemistry and marine science at North Carolina State University, she took time to reflect on her memorable experience with Tandana in Ecuador.

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Celebrating 15 Years of Intercultural Friendship: Climbing Together

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. 

Continue reading “Celebrating 15 Years of Intercultural Friendship: Climbing Together”

Belén and the Medical Clinics

Playing with cousins and neighborhood friends in the town river, a player on several basketball teams, her high school’s best chemistry student, and a traditionally clad member of an Andean dance troupe, María Belén Cachimuel’s early years suggested that she would use her many talents to become a versatile woman with a clear role in her community. She began by helping her family to make and sell crafts in the Plaza des Ponchos, a famous local handicrafts market.  At thirty, recently graduated from law school and learning the practical side of her profession on the job, she is fully living up to expectations.  Her long-term goal, though, was decisively shaped by the time she spent volunteering for Tandana’s twice-a-year medical clinics for underserved people in outlying indigenous communities around Otavalo, Ecuador.  

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How faith, family, and funding opens doors

Mónica López is a young woman with a strong faith in God, as evidenced by the t-shirt she wore to our interview, featuring a representation of the Lion of Judah. Like the Lion, her faith has given her the strength and determination needed to succeed. The following is Monica’s story, told in her own words, and excerpted from the interview.

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Tandana changes Nayeli’s life

Nayeli Anrango, a member of the Panecillo community, received medical care through Tandana’s mobile clinics in October 2018 after experiencing several epileptic episodes that caused seizures, falls, and loss of consciousness. According to the doctor that saw her, this was a case of child epilepsy and she needed to see a neurologist.

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Northern Ecuador: Clean water or the Plastic City?

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Part 1

After five weeks dedicated to getting to know the situation of the indigenous people north of Quito, and the ways they are working with government or foundations to strengthen the current situation of their traditional communities, we are finding that getting or retaining a supply of clean water is often crucially important.  The village of Gualapuro, and its 30-year struggle for this human right (which is now coming to a successful end thanks to fundraising efforts by their neighbors and to the Tandana Foundation) stands out in our minds. 

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Bringing global perspectives and multiple forms of knowledge to higher education

Thanks to sponsorship by the O’Donnell Visiting Educator Program and the Center for Global Studies at Whitman College, Associate Professor of Biology Leena Knight and Founding Director of The Tandana Foundation, Anna Taft (Whitman ‘02), organized a course titled Health in Ecuador and Mali: Pandemic, Race, Culture that took place remotely this fall for Whitman College students.

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It was a success: Tandana’s first virtual summer school in Ecuador

To continue to support education in Ecuador, The Tandana Foundation worked especially hard this year to offer its annual summer school program despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Tandana’s program coordinator conducts important research into supporting Latinx college students study abroad

As part of her master’s in international education, Nicole Melendez, one of The Tandana Foundation’s program coordinators in Ecuador, completed a research project called “Supporting Latinx College Students Study Abroad.” Melendez specifically looked at U.S. students who identify as Latinx who are studying at post-secondary institutions across America.

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Inside Tandana’s Virtual Host Family Program

To continue making and fostering global connections through their work, The Tandana Foundation adapted its ESL (English as a second language) and storytelling internship positions in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure the community’s and the interns’ well-being this summer, Tandana hired Mallory Woods from Pennsylvania and Hannah Nivar from New Jersey as ESL interns, and myself, Nadyieli González Ortiz from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, as a Storytelling intern, to join the organization’s team in Ecuador remotely.

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On the fruits of intercultural friendship: a story of Northeastern students in the Gualapuro community

As part of the Northeastern University Alliance of Civically Engaged Students (NU|ACES), a group of students visited the community of Gualapuro, Ecuador for a week-long service trip with The Tandana Foundation. I spoke with many members of the group about their experience on the trip and how the trip inspired them to launch several different fundraising efforts to benefit the community after returning. Continue reading “On the fruits of intercultural friendship: a story of Northeastern students in the Gualapuro community”

High hopes: one man’s determination to overcome the obstacles before him

You stand behind Jaime Muenala’s cement farm house in the majestic foothills of volcanic Mt. Imbabura in northern Ecuador, gazing in awe down the clifflike trail to the green terrace below, and then you find yourself asking the obvious: “Do you go up and down THAT to get to your fields?” Jaime smiles slightly and says, “Si.” In fact, daily. And not just when farming. Continue reading “High hopes: one man’s determination to overcome the obstacles before him”

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’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”

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”