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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A stove that saves money and the environment

One of the Olouguelemo Association’s environmental initiatives was to start the local production and distribution of efficient cookstoves, to decrease the need for firewood and trees being cut down. The association, with support from the Tandana Foundation, began offering training sessions for representatives from each of the member villages to teach them how to make two kinds of cookstoves. They are now fabricating those stoves for sale in their villages, and over 175 stoves have been sold. In the following, an owner of one of the association’s cookstoves describes the benefits she has experienced from her new cooking device.

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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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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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Dogon dancing: an unforgettable experience

On April 10, The Tandana Foundation will be hosting a virtual venture exploring Dogon dancing and drumming in the Bandiagara district of Mali. Carol Peddie, Kelly McCosh, and Marilyn and Jack Krueger had the chance to experience the warm embrace of Dogon culture firsthand during Tandana’s 2012 trip to visit the villages of Kansongo and Sal-Dimi in Mali. Here we share remembrances of that trip from both our volunteers and local residents Moussa Tembiné of Kansongo, Housseyni Pamateck of Sal-Dimi, and Ada Kanambaye of Sal-Dimi.

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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. 

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Moussa’s trip to the United States of America: Part 2

Last fall, two members of The Tandana Foundation’s team in Mali – Moussa Tembine and Housseyni Pamateck – visited the United States on a multifaceted, cross-country trip. While in the U.S., they co-taught a college class, met with Tandana and local community stakeholders, and attended several of the organization’s events. Along the way, they shared the work in Mali as well as the country’s culture. This is part two of Moussa’s story about their trip and what he learned from his time in the United States.

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A village leader explains how Tandana’s approach is different, and why that’s important

From experience, villagers around the Bandiagara District of Mali have observed how non-profit organizations conduct development work. They have seen which approaches have been successful and which have not. In the following, one young leader explains how The Tandana Foundation’s approach – based on mutual respect, partnership, and community responsibility – has been successful in empowering villagers and bringing them together.

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The early success of the women’s enterprises in Mali

In 2019, 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 four women talk about the progress they have made with their income-generating activities.

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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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