Two Mancos residents recently visited Ecuador to celebrate Tandana Foundation’s 10th anniversary and its first decade of changing people’s lives through its work in Ecuador and Mali.
Tandana organized the trip last month for 18 of its board and staff members, including Tandana’s founding director, Anna Taft, and her husband, John Tsukayama. The Tandana Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports cross-cultural volunteer opportunities, scholarships and community projects in highland Ecuador and Mali’s Dogon Country.
The trip provided board and staff members with an opportunity to see the impact that Tandana’s work has had on rural communities and to work alongside community members on various projects.
“It was wonderful to have so many members of the Tandana team together, so everyone could get to know each other better and exchange knowledge and ideas,” Taft said in a news release. “I was amazed to reflect on Tandana’s beginnings and realize how far we have come. This week together set us up well for great success in our next decade.”
The group stayed at a hotel in the city of Otavalo and spent their days visiting communities that have partnered with Tandana over the years.
In Muenala, the participants helped plant trees to promote reforestation and then joined in a community lunch. In Quichinche, they planted ornamental flowers and bushes at the school garden, and toured one of the health centers Tandana partners with during its Health Care Volunteer Vacations.
They helped paint the community center in Cutambi. After the painting was done, everyone attended a service presided over by a local shaman who blessed the space. After the service, they enjoyed a community lunch. They also cleaned mud from the gutters along the main road in Agualongo.
The trip was filled with numerous celebrations in honor of Tandana’s 10th anniversary. In Tangali the group participated in a celebration at the community school. Community members in Quichinche put together a carnival of student presentations involving dances, speeches and music performances.
A final 10th-anniversary party was held in Panecillo on the last day of the trip and included dancing, food and speeches. Along with the celebrations held in the communities, individuals who collaborated with Tandana through the years joined the group for dinner and shared their stories about working with the foundation.
Along with community workdays and celebrations, presentations about different parts of Tandana’s work were also a big part of this trip. There was a presentation about Tandana’s work in Mali. Tandana’s scholarship coordinator and patient followup coordinator both gave presentations about the programs they oversee. Two staff members gave a presentation about working with the communities. Board members also presented on various topics, including teambuilding and storytelling.
The group also had time to see some of the region’s landmarks and natural wonders. They visited the Otavalo market, the equator and the Condor Park. They made a traditional Ecuadorian meal at Samyanuy Cooking School and visited the hot springs in Tangali.
For more information, visit www.tandanafoundation.org.