In Mali, women are thriving as community leaders and entrepreneurs after participating in important Tandana-supported programs

Women across many villages in rural Mali have become powerful community leaders and successful businesswomen following the leadership and governance training in the workshops organized by The Tandana Foundation. While they learn skills to be community and business leaders, they are  also increasing their confidence, independence, success in economic activities, and recognition as agents of local decision-making. Many of them have also joined the women’s associations supported by Tandana to conduct their income-generating activities.

Four inspiring participants of the leadership workshops share their personal stories below.

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A scholarship student advances her learning – and helps others learn too

Lady Pazmiño, a university student who received a scholarship from The Tandana Foundation, wrote the following letter. In the letter, Lady describes what she accomplished during a semester last year, including an impactful new role she took on as a teacher for children with learning disabilities, and shares her thanks for the support of her academic journey.

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A new grain bank promises to supply millet between the harvests in Nounou

In many villages across the Bandiagara Township of Mali, it has become impossible to harvest enough millet to last through the year. During the difficult rainy season, many families have run out of their own harvest, just when they need the most calories for hard work cultivating the next crop. Village residents have to travel long distances to purchase grain at exorbitant prices. To overcome these difficulties, the Nounou community has long-desired a grain bank, and they recently partnered with The Tandana Foundation to open one. Below, hear about the need and benefit of the new grain bank from Dene Tapily, who is a member of its leadership committee.

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Celebrating 15 Years of Intercultural Friendship: Friendship is a Journey 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. 

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Hear about the ‘perfect harmony’ and success from the Komberou women’s association

The Tandana Foundation has supported the creation of many women’s associations to support women with their income-generating activities throughout the Bandiagara District of Mali. Below, hear from one participant from Komberou about how successful their association has been compared to other associations that have been started in her village but lack the oversight and camaraderie found in the Tandana-organized groups.

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Disrupting injustice through Tandana’s women’s literacy classes in Mali

The positive results of the literacy, numeracy, and women’s leadership courses supported by the Tandana Foundation continue to spread across the Bandiagara District of Mali as more and more women participate in the programming. Below, hear from one participant about the benefits she has experienced and how her knowledge allowed her to stop an injustice.

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Forming multicultural friendships between North American and Ecuadorian students

To say that connecting with the students at the Ulpiano Navarro School in Quichinche, Ecuador, was a privilege would be an understatement. The experience taught us sophomores at Sharon High School to look at life from a new perspective and pave a path of awareness about the people in this diverse world.

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All about the new “mural of my dreams” at the La Joya Special Education School

In November 2021, Tandana finished creating a mural with and for the students at the La Joya Special Education School in Otavalo, Ecuador.

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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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What we learned about tukti: the endangered Andean Walnut traditionally valued by Kichwa communities

Ecuador is home to an incredible diversity of plants, with about 17,000 species distributed between the Pacific coast, the Amazon, and the Andean mountains. The Andes region is the most diverse of the country and is precisely where the Quichinche parish, home to the partner communities of the Tandana Foundation, is located. One of the most iconic species from this area – and of all the Ecuadorian Andean region – is the Andean walnut locally known as tukti (in Kichwa), nogal or cedro negro (in Spanish) or Juglans neotropica (scientific name). Tukti is a slow-growth, broadleaf tree that can reach up to 30 meters in height. It can be found throughout the Andes in Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Bolivia where it inhabits forest between 1,400 meters and 2,200 meters of altitude.

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Exploring cultural similarities and differences through food                            

Traveling to another country is always a special experience because it means discovering a new place with its own culture, its art and its traditional dishes. Local gastronomy is an integral part of a journey of discovery and can easily reveal the habits and customs of a society. But even if you choose to eat in the best restaurants abroad, deep down you will still miss the authentic approach to the local food culture.

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The important work accomplished through the Community Health and Well-being Program in 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to change the planning in the Community Health and Well-being program, since the mobile medical clinics in the communities have been canceled. In no way can we think that for this reason the cases of diseases have decreased; it is quite the opposite. They have increased because people in the communities do not seek timely medical help due to the fear of becoming infected (by the coronavirus).

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Tandana receives $13,000 in grant funding and donations for its Community Health and Well-being Program

The Tandana Foundation recently received a $3,000 grant from the Altrusa International Foundation Inc. – an organization committed to improve the economic well-being and quality of life through the foundation’s commitment to community service and literacy – for its Community Health and Well-being Program in Ecuador. Along with the Altrusa grant, Tandana also received a $5,000 donation from the Mancos United Methodist Church in Colorado and $5,000 from Dr. Tom Scott for this program.

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Good news on the indigo dyeing business in Goundoly Djeninke

With support from The Tandana Foundation, the women dyers from the village of Goundoly Djeninke in Mali continue to grow their business, selling dyed cloths and carrying on an important part of their tradition. In the following blog, hear two different perspectives on the benefits the indigo dyeing association has brought to the village.

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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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The need behind the Olougelemo Association’s environmental work and what it has been able to accomplish so far

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 Ousmane Tembiné, administrative secretary of the Olouguelèmo Association in Mali.

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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.

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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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