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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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”
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”
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”
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.
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. Continue reading “Finishing school, even with a baby”
As a fun project, students enrolled in the Tandana Foundation’s summer school created a video sharing their classroom experiences. The video showcases the students’ personalities, along with what they learned in the English classes, as they switch back and forth from Spanish to English. In the following blog post, Hank Fincken, who led the students in the making of the video, provides behind-the-scenes insight into its creation.Continue reading “We began at zero”
Students who receive scholarships from the Tandana Foundation each have their own story on how this financial aid is impacting their lives today and for years to come. One of these students, Alex Francisco Quilumbango Perugachi, shares his story of how scholarships have motivated him and his siblings to try harder in school and gain knowledge to be successful in their future careers. Continue reading “More motivation to reach my dreams”
In rural Mali, the Tommo So literacy and numeracy classes, along with the recently launched leadership workshops, which are made possible thanks to the support from Dining for Women, continue to have extremely positive impacts on the women who participate in them. Below, three women share their stories of how these programs, which have been established in many villages by the Tandana Foundation, have changed their lives for the better and have assisted them in becoming community leaders.Continue reading “‘Long live the Tandana Foundation’”
Through the generous support of its donors, providing scholarships is one important way the Tandana Foundation assists promising students in pursuing their educational aspirations. Each student’s story is unique, along with their future career goals. In the following, Sisa Pacari Fuerez López recounts her family’s struggles to pay for the children’s schooling, and shares how Tandana’s scholarship has helped ease their financial burden and enabled Sisa and her siblings to continue advancing in their education. Continue reading “Easing the financial burden of education”
After women in the village of Kansongho told the Tandana Foundation that they would like to learn literacy and numeracy skills, so that they could keep records for their businesses and be independent in the marketplace, Tandana began the Tommo So literacy program in 2012. When women in neighboring villages saw what women in Kansongho were learning, they too, asked to participate, and that demand has continued to spread. To date, Tandana has provided classes to 1,117 women in 29 villages thanks to support from Dining for Women. In 2018, the foundation added women’s leadership workshops for former literacy students from each village to its offerings and supported these leaders in creating official women’s associations. Each new association was invited to submit a proposal for an income-generating enterprise, and the ten best proposals were selected to receive funding. The following letter was written by Assatou Goudienkile, on behalf of the women from the village of Nounou, explaining how their participation in the literacy and women’s leadership programs has helped them become self-reliant.Continue reading “‘We see clearly, we hear, we walk’”
My name is Joseph White and I’m a student going into my fourth year at the University of Cincinnati. I’m majoring in Psychology and minoring in Africana Studies and Sociology. I’m the first in my family to attend college, so a lot of my time at the university has been spent building a network of people that are already doing the things that I want to do. My success begins on a small scale. A college education is not the standard in my family. Continue reading “Language barriers and Tandana”
My name is Gladys Estefania Torres Imba. I am 20 years old and I live with my parents and my three brothers, 3 kilometers from the city of Otavalo, in the community of Panecillo. I am the only daughter in my family . My father is a bricklayer and my mother is a housewife. She did not have the opportunity to go to school, and my father only went to school until third grade, which is why he works in that profession. However, they have worked hard so that my brothers and I can receive an education. All my brothers are studying at school. One of my brothers receives a scholarship from the Tandana Foundation, just like me. Being the only daughter, I am the first in the family that is going forward with university studies.
Elé is from the village of Dianweli, about 7 km from Yarou-Plateau. He attended secondary school in Bourgouma, 3 km from his village. He is certified with a technician’s diploma (BT) from the professional school of Kayes in western Mali.