Transformation and truth: My Ecuadorian cultural travel adventure

Picture yourself at the El Lechero Viewpoint embraced by volcanoes: Father Imbabura on the one side and Mother Cotacachi on the other, overlooking the city of Otavalo and San Pablo Lake.

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Learn about the blooming school gardens in Saredina and Ondogou

The Tandana Foundation helped support the creation of school gardens in the rural communities of Saredina and Ondogou, Mali in late December 2020. Both gardens have been highly successful, bearing many fruits and vegetables that are providing nourishment to the students while also allowing them to earn money for school supplies and teaching them about gardening.

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The abundance of the Tegou school garden

The Tandana Foundation helped support the village in creating a garden at the school in Tegou, Mali. Students at the school are tending the garden, and it is already producing a variety of fruits and vegetables, including manioc – an important source of carbohydrates.

Below, hear from several of those involved in the Tegou school about how the garden is not only providing the students with nutritious food, but also teaching valuable lessons and generating income to purchase needed school supplies.

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The thrill of visiting the Gualapuro water project in person

I recently returned from my first visit to Ecuador. I had the opportunity to be a member of The Tandana Foundation Gardening Volunteer Venture. I am thankful I made the trip. The week provided many memorable moments, none of which exceeded the “special visit” arranged by Founding Director Anna for me to visit the community of Gualapuro.

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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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Ecuador experience an honor for volunteer gardeners

Earlier this year, The Tandana Foundation hosted a group of members from the Ohio Master Gardener Volunteers program. Pam Bennett, the Ohio State Master Gardener Program Director, wrote about about her experience on the trip in the Dayton Daily News. Her article is below. Continue reading “Ecuador experience an honor for volunteer gardeners”

A creative chronicle of a volunteer’s trip to Ecuador

During a Tandana Foundation volunteer trip with the Ohio Masters Gardener group last year, Ed Gasbarre kept a journal chronicling what he did each day. From helping out on a farm to visiting with school children, and sampling the local cuisine, Ed creatively documented each experience with photos and drawings alongside his written description. Read excerpts from his journal below. Continue reading “A creative chronicle of a volunteer’s trip to Ecuador”

The impact of the Kilegou school garden

In April 2018, the Tandana Foundation partnered with the residents of Kilegou to create a garden at the elementary and junior high school. To support their efforts in establishing the school garden, Tandana provided the community members with a fence, tools, training, seeds, and water containers, helping to solve the water problem during the driest months. The students are now growing many vegetables, some of which they sell to earn money for their notebooks, pens, and other school supplies. Read the thoughts of the school’s director and a student about the impact of the garden below. Continue reading “The impact of the Kilegou school garden”

Motilón Chupa, the newest addition to the Tandana family

The Tandana family has been growing larger every year, and the foundation currently works with about 20 different communities in highland Ecuador. One year ago, a new community named Motilón Chupa joined our family. Motilón Chupa is a small community of less than 250 people that is located near Padre Chupa. Continue reading “Motilón Chupa, the newest addition to the Tandana family”

It’s all about the relationships

Volunteer trips can take many forms. Sometimes volunteers make lasting connections with local people, and other times they leave without building a lasting relationship. As Karen Graves explains below, the volunteer trips organized by the Tandana Foundation fall into the first category.  In the following blog, Graves shares her experience volunteering in Ecuador with Tandana, where she developed many friendships working alongside community members, as part of the Ohio Master Gardener trip this year. 

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Tandana is unity

The Tandana Foundation is a network of diverse people and communities across the world. It is the strength of this network working together that allows Tandana and its partners to achieve community goals, while fostering caring intercultural relationships based on mutual respect and responsibility. On the last day of a recent Gardening Volunteer Venture trip to Padre Chupa, Ecuador, Teresa Marrinan reflected upon her understanding of who Tandana is. In the following blog post, Teresa describes all the people whom she encountered and learned from as a gardening volunteer with Tandana, including its founder Anna Taft, and how she now feels forever a part of this extended network and Tandana itself. Continue reading “Tandana is unity”

Olouguèlemo Association launches reforestation campaign in Wadouba, Mali

Thanks to the continuous assistance and advisory support from the Tandana Foundation, the Olouguelemo Association was able to organize, for the first time, a reforestation campaign in the township of Wadouba, Mali, in partnership with the town hall.

Here are the speeches recorded during the launch ceremony of the reforestation campaign in Wadouba, which took place on August 17, 2018. Continue reading “Olouguèlemo Association launches reforestation campaign in Wadouba, Mali”

Learning while working alongside nature’s caretaker

Matias on the left and Hope on the right.

Many of the Tandana Foundation volunteers, who have come to Ecuador on Gardening Volunteer Ventures since 2013 as well as other programs, have worked alongside Matias Perugachi and learned how to grow plants, raise crops and nurture trees in our joint efforts to make the area more productive and sustainable. We have planted trees on hillsides to break the wind and along community streets to add greenery and purify the air. We have planted gardens at the community’s health center and schools to improve nutrition, and we have worked in the fields to plant and tend crops to provide food. Continue reading “Learning while working alongside nature’s caretaker”

Checking in on the Olouguelemo Association’s tree nurseries

Tree nursery managers with their seedlings.

In the rural Malian township of Wadouba, members of the Olouguelemo Association take care of tree nurseries that they established to combat the effects of deforestation and desertification. These nurseries allow them to produce new trees to be planted both in their protected forest areas and in farmers fields. Not only do the new trees benefit the environment, but they also provide fruit to the local communities. The Tandana Foundation assists the village-run association in caring for their nurseries through providing training and other resources. Below, two Olouguelemo members each describe the goals, productivity, and associated benefits of the tree nurseries they oversee. Continue reading “Checking in on the Olouguelemo Association’s tree nurseries”

Assisting a health center in providing services to the community

Through its health program in Ecuador, The Tandana Foundation works with the Quichinche Subcentro, a rural health center in Ecuador, to support its work caring for the people of the parish. Tandana collaborates with its staff to visit the more distant communities, to follow up with patients identified during these visits who need additional care, and also to support the staff’s health education work. The following is the story written about a recent collaboration by the director of the Subcentro. Continue reading “Assisting a health center in providing services to the community”

Planting seeds, growing friendships

You won’t find Motilón Chupa on Google Maps. This indigenous Kichwa community high in the Andes in the far reaches of Imbabura Province of Ecuador is literally and figuratively at the end of the road. The community is a tight-knit group of people, living in isolated small houses on steep hillsides with no public buildings other than the elementary school. Continue reading “Planting seeds, growing friendships”