A standing ovation: Tandana’s Summer School returns in-person to great success this year

After being held virtually for two years, The Tandana Foundation’s Summer School program in Ecuador returned to in-person instruction this year. Among those happiest to be back in-person was Hank Fincken, who has taught a theatre course to students during seven iterations of Tandana’s Summer School.

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The need for a school in the village of Dani

The village of Dani in the Bandiagara District of Mali has 240 students spanning six grade levels and three teachers assigned to deliver their education; however, there is no elementary school for the students and teachers in Dani. As a result, the teachers have to find space wherever they can to conduct their classes and educate their students outside a classroom environment.

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Hear from six more Dr. Ash B. Varma, M.D. Scholarship students

Last year, The Tandana Foundation welcomed 18 motivated and inspiring students into its first cohort of students in the Dr. Ash B. Varma, M.D. Scholarship Program in Mali. Made possible by a generous gift from Dr. Ash B. Varma, M.D., the new scholarship program helps students from rural Mali learn professions that are very needed in the rural communities, such as healthcare and agrofrestry.

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When you support a woman to be a teacher, you support much more

The school in Andjine, Mali has three teachers assigned by the government, but the number of students in first through sixth grades at the school keeps growing. Salimata Karembe, who is from Andjine and trained as a teacher, began volunteering to help the school. Now, she is contracted as a local teacher for the third and fourth grades. The Tandana Foundation covers half of Salimata’s salary, while the parents pay the other half, so that she can continue at the school. Salimata also participated in Tandana’s women’s literacy and leadership programs and is a great role model for the students.

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A scholarship recipient who is determined to be a prestigious businesswoman

My full name is Cindy Belen Perugachi Sinchico, and I am from the community of Yambiro. I am studying advertising at the Tecnica del Norte University in Ibarra. I am 19 years old, and I am of indigenous nationality (Kichwa). With all my heart I hope that you and your whole family are doing very well, and also that all your dreams and goals become possible because with the help of God everything is possible.

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A creative scholarship student reflects on the 2021 school year

Hello everyone, I am happy to say hello in this new year. I want to say that I have been studying virtually for three semesters, that is, since the pandemic began. It has not been easy at all, but I have gotten used to it. In 2021, I finished one semester in April and started a new one in June.

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Grateful: Making my dream come true thanks to a Tandana scholarship

My name is Fernando Javier Lascano Trujillo. I was born in the community of Gualsaqui, which belongs to the Quichinche Parish in Ecuador, where nature, animals, and the unique landscapes make each of us live deeply grateful to the Pachamama (Mother Earth).

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Hear from the first Dr. Ash B. Varma, M.D. Scholarship students in Mali

The Tandana Foundation recently welcomed 18 motivated and inspiring students into its first cohort of students in the Dr. Ash B. Varma, M.D. Scholarship Program in Mali. Made possible by a generous gift from Dr. Ash B. Varma, M.D., the new scholarship program helps students from rural Mali learn professions that are very needed in the rural communities, such as healthcare and agrofrestry.

Continue reading “Hear from the first Dr. Ash B. Varma, M.D. Scholarship students in Mali”

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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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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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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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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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: 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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Overcoming traditional barriers – and a pandemic – to gain literacy, numeracy, and leadership skills

In 2020, 225 out of 294 women earned passing scores on their final exams in the literacy courses organized by The Tandana Foundation in Mali. At 76.5%, this number is slightly lower than the original goal of 80%, but it is still quite impressive considering that the women missed two months of classes due to the pandemic. Despite the challenges of the last year, both the students and teachers rallied to make the classes as successful as possible. In addition, 80 of the best students are now participating in women’s leadership workshops in 2021.

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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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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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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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

A job teaching others, and learning so much in return

The Tommo So literacy, numeracy, and leadership classes organized by The Tandana Foundation have trained more than 1,400 women in rural Mali and impacted thousands of more lives. Besides empowering and changing the lives of the students in the classes, the program has also created new and transformative jobs as instructors for other community members and even previous students themselves. One instructor, Hama Kansaye, describes what he has learned as a result of being trained as an instructor, and how the role has impacted his life below. Continue reading “A job teaching others, and learning so much in return”

Summer school makes learning fun

The Tandana Foundation puts on a summer school program for secondary school students in Panecillo, Ecuador, every year. During summer school, the students learn English and other subjects through a variety of classes and activities that are part of the program. Continue reading “Summer school makes learning fun”

Tommo So – a language of unimaginable value

A language is an important part of any culture, along with the identity of its people. The ability to speak, read, and write allows a community to communicate with one another and conduct business and everyday transactions. Despite being told otherwise, Sophie Sorgho learned that Tommo So, a language spoken by the Dogon people of Mali, has great value thanks to her participation in literacy classes organized by The Tandana Foundation in her village. In the following, Sophie shares her story. Continue reading “Tommo So – a language of unimaginable value”

The importance of literacy for using cellphones

Cellphones are an important means of communication for many people around the world, but being able to use them requires the ability to read what is displayed on the screens. In a recent conversation, one prospective student speaks with Kessia Kouriba, a literacy teacher for The Tandana Foundation in Mali, about her desire to take the Tommo So literacy classes in order to be able to operate her phone.  Continue reading “The importance of literacy for using cellphones”

A top student shares his big goal and past accomplishments

Tandana scholarship student Yarick Santiago Méndez Fueres has a big goal – earn a spot in a student exchange program in the U.S. As he describes in the following blog, he feels capable of achieving anything he sets his mind to, as he’s already achieved many academic accomplishments this past year. Yarick is a great example of how scholarships can assist motivated students to pursue their educational dreams. Since he wrote this letter, Yarick earned an internship in Montana, where he is working on the logistics of perishable products with a dairy and produce company.

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Finishing school, even with a baby

The Tandana Foundation’s student mothers program helps girls from rural villages in the Bandiagara District of Mali attend middle school, even if they become mothers. To go to schools in the city, girls must find families to host them, but if they get pregnant, the families usually send them back to their villages and they have to drop out of school. Through this program, Tandana trains families to explain that they can still host the students even if they are young mothers. In addition, it also provides food and basic medical supplies for the babies, so they are not an additional cost to the families. Tandana currently supports 10 student mothers, assisting them in staying in school despite the challenges of motherhood. Below one of these student mothers, Mariam Doumbo, shares the many benefits this program has offered her.
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Evaluating the success of our women’s program in Mali

The Women’s Literacy, Leadership, and Enterprise (formerly known as the Women LEAP program,) which was launched by the Tandana Foundation with support from Dining for Women, has been highly successful. The project’s goal is to promote women’s economic independence and participation in local decision-making in the Bandiagara District of Mali by improving their literacy, numeracy, and association management, democratic governance, and leadership skills. Continue reading “Evaluating the success of our women’s program in Mali”