We support a wide variety of community initiatives, because they all emerge from community priorities, which are as varied as the local contexts and the residents' dreams for the future. We also offer intercultural volunteer programs that promote friendship and mutual understanding while supporting community initiatives. You can get a flavor for the diverse programs and projects we collaborate on by reading the annual summaries below.
The school in Dani, Mali was officially inaugurated! Speakers at the formal ceremony included Boubacar Yalcouyé, Mayor of Kendé Township. We want to thank all the generous donors who helped make this possible and helped create this new space for children to learn. What an amazing accomplishment!
The ten new literacy classes for 2023 have kicked off with 30 students in each class. They began with a pre-test and then started lessons. This year, 9 out of the 10 instructors are women, setting an example for their students of what women can achieve. Congratulations to everyone involved in this fantastic project!
The Olouguelemo Environmental Association (OEA), now comprising 30 villages in the Bandiagara District, has been working on composting and adding water retention features to restore and improve the soil in the fields in preparation for the upcoming agricultural season. During April and May, 5 different groups of men and women members of the Association composted organic manure and constructed half-moons to catch runoff water and grow grass. The work was carried out over 10 days with the participation of 150 people. The OEA organized more soil regeneration work during June as the work continued by digging 5 large composting ditches for organic fertilization with dry leaves and creating 100 more half-moons to store run-off water and grow grass. The work was carried out over 10 days with the participation of 15 people per day.
The well in Gongo Sinou, Mali has been completed! It has been dug to the planned depth, and the villagers completed the clean, raised opening with watering basins. Herders are now able to use the well water for their animals. Meanwhile, the well project in Annal is in its final stages of work and the well in Ondogou Dah has been completed!
The garden of the school in the remote area of Yarou Plateau is flourishing, thanks to the hard work of Ele Samakan and his students. Yarou Plateau is affected by insecurity and very limited resources. Many organizations and even teachers assigned by the government avoid going there. Ele, a local teacher supported by the community and by Tandana, is single-handedly keeping the school open with revenue generated by the garden's produce. Additionally, students from the school in Andjine are taking good care of the gardens there as well.
Three workshops for 100 women leaders have now been held this year. Participants are registering the new women's associations they have created and working on business plans for the competition that Tandana sponsors. The women's association business plan selection committee deliberated recently on the 5 best proposals. The 1st Place winner was the Dantiende women leaders' group in Bele N Ben, with a cotton spinning project. 2nd was from the Amba Inde group in the village of Orsegou, with a project to support market gardening and the sale of shallots, and planning to set up a seed storehouse. 3rd was the group Ogodan from the village of Diakadah, with a cotton bank project. 4th was the group Yaan Giry from the village of Kende Gode, with the Nere seed processing into seasoning balls, locally known as sombala. And the 5th winner was the Muetoumon group in the village of Kende Kinam, with a project to buy and sell fish. The winning associations received their startup funds, made possible by Tandana.
The Ash B. Varma, M.D. Scholars recently met to prepare for their internships and congratulate the best students. They also talked about challenges, organized some days to provide free medical support to communities, and received a letter from the Tandana scholarship committee. Especially meaningful were the notes of encouragement from attendees of our "Back to School" fundraiser in Columbus last September. Later they participated in an extensive cleanup at the Bandiagara hospital as part of their community service. Then at a year-end ceremony, they received certificates and supplies for their internships. Those completing the study of tailoring also received the tools they need to start their own workshops.
Community-managed reserves of grain are critical in the Bandiagara District to get families through the lean season. Tandana continues to support local committees in the management of the grain banks and sales to the public. The grain bank in Bolmo is up and running! The management committee received their training and tools, and the bank is now functioning, making millet available at an affordable price in the village. Aditionally, the Komeougou grain bank currently has 100kg bags of millet and five 20-liter cans of oil in stock. The committee has already purchased grain 5 times this year and sold most of it. The Sal Sambougo bank is also doing well, with Twenty five 50-kg sacks of rice in stock. Its committee has purchased grain four times this year and sold most of it.
Tandana's Scholarship Coordinator, Hawa Yalcouye', recently checked in with students from displaced families now living in Bandiagara. Out of the 75 students in the program, 51 passed the school year and/or passed their exam for the diploma of basic education. With increasing numbers of families seeking safety and new opportunities in the region Tandana serves, the need for this program is continuing to grow.
The Ohio Master Gardeners enjoyed a week full of farming, gardening, and cultural activities during this year’s trip. They spent their mornings doing service-learning work in 3 different small communities outside of Otavalo:
- 2 days working with the Saminay School - a private high school with a unique agricultural program.
- 2 days with the Cambugan school and community – a small rural community.
- 1 day with the Otavalango Museum – a project that highlights the history and strength of the indigenous people in the area.
Projects with all of these communities focused on preparing and planting beds for food that would support the families living in the communities. On the final day of the week, they also had the chance to participate in a “Pamba Mesa” (traditional shared community potluck meal) with all the families from Cambugan. In addition to their hard service-learning work, they experienced the world-renowned Otavalo market, roasted guinea pig, learned about medicinal plants at Kawsaymi cooking school, learned about Afro-Ecuadorian culture in the nearby community of El Juncal, made their own reed crafts (with the help of local artisans), walked to a nearby sacred waterfall, and visited the nearby leatherworking town of Cotacachi.
Adventures Cross Country brought a group of high school students from San Francisco to Ecuador who enjoyed 4 days of cultural immersion. They spent the first 2 days celebrating the local customs of Carnaval with water and spray foam play fights. During this time they also hiked to the Taxopamba waterfall and shared a special moment with the community of Gualapuro as they had the opportunity to be part of the ancestral tradition of Wakcha Caray. They continued in the community, engaging in service projects, including making a playground safe for children and building a bathroom with community members. On the last day of the trip, the volunteers had the chance to participate in a “Pamba Mesa” (traditional shared community meal) with the families from Gualapuro.
Work continues on the water project in Inguincho and another important milestone was reached in January of 2023 when a community minga completed the gravity portion of the water system. In light of the heavy rainfalls the area has experienced, it was rewarding to see that the new "capture" systems are working well. Our partners finished cleaning and attaching the final pipes so that gravity could do its work--and fill the tanks prior to filtering.
A group of 15 volunteers from Saline High School spent a week in Otavalo working at the Isaac J. Barrera school. Split into 3 teams, and paired with local students, the volunteers painted murals in the 3 buildings of the school (elementary, middle, and high school sections). By the end of the week, the local and the visiting students were so proud of the final outcome. Despite a language barrier, they made a lot of new friends by playing soccer after working on the murals each day. It was the universal language that made it easier to communicate. The volunteer group also had the opportunity to be part of a rich cultural immersion, which included intercultural exchanges in a responsible and respectful manner. They visited the Otavalango Museum, which offered an impressive insight into the customs, traditions, and history of the local indigenous population known as the Kichwa-Otavalo. Additionally, they took part in enriching activities to explore the local culture such as cooking classes, hand embroidery classes, and red-bead bracelets/maki watana classes). The volunteers also visited some natural wonders in and around Otavalo such as the Peguche Waterfall and Cuicocha lake.
A group of 10 students from Northeastern University (NU) spent a week in the community of Muenala. The volunteer group joined forces with local community members to make significant progress on the construction of the second floor of the community center. Together they finished the concrete flooring as well as plastered the window frames. The volunteers from NU also dug a walkway around the community center and filled potholes in the main roads near the community center. During their time in Muenala, the group enjoyed the opportunity for cultural immersion as they interacted with local residents while sharing their way of life, traditions, foods, sports, and music. They also had the opportunity to go for a hike at the Cuicocha crater lake.
A group of volunteers from Purcell Marian High School spent a week in the community of Agualongo staying with host families. They worked side by side with residents to build a roof over a volleyball court. This multi-phase project included digging holes that will be used to install steel columns that will be embedded in concrete foundations. After work each morning, and sharing lunch together, the volunteers would spend time with community members in the community center and the nearby soccer field. One of the most entertaining activities was baking bread at a community member's home. On the last day of the trip, they went on an excursion to the Timbuyacu hot springs. Later that afternoon, they visited the Otavalo market, locally known as Plaza de los Ponchos, which is the largest continually meeting Saturday market in South America.
Students on a trip with Adventures Cross Country (ARCC) had a week of immersion in the community of Motilón Chupa. The volunteers teamed up with elementary school students and several other community members to paint the local primary school. The volunteer group also worked with community members to install an asphalt speed bump. The speed bump was installed to help slow down cars arriving on the school premises and redirect rainwater away from the school buildings. During the week, the volunteers participated in a wide range of activities including hiking to a nearby river, learning how to crochet hats, baking bread, milking cows for cheese-making, preparation of Fanesca (a delicious Ecuadorian soup for Holy Week that has fresh grains and dried fish), visiting the famous Lechero tree, a boat ride around San Pablo Lake, visiting the Peguche waterfall, and attending a traditional Indigenous wedding.
A group of 17 engineering students and representatives from the University of Dayton's ETHOS program traveled to Inguincho, Ecuador to work alongside community members on a potable water project. The volunteers stayed with host families and immersed themselves in the local culture and day-to-day life. Their helping hands were invaluable in the mornings for making progress on installing water pipes, while in the afternoons they took part in other activities such as making local recipes like humitas and colada morada, learning to make bracelets, and visiting a local weather station. Toward the end of their trip, the volunteers and community members were rewarded for their hard work with a fun field day at the Araque Water Park, near San Pablo Lake.
A group of students from The Wellington School in Columbus, Ohio volunteered in Otavalo and Quichinche for two weeks. During the first week, they worked at the Ulpiano Navarro school, where they helped build a wheelchair ramp. During the second week, the volunteers worked at the La Joya School for students with special needs, helping to install a roof over the school's recycling area. In both schools, the volunteers also had opportunities to interact with the students in the classroom. Whether working, playing sports, or engaging in the classroom, the volunteers and local students enjoyed their time together. The volunteers stayed with local host families, gaining a "real-life" experience that was certainly one of the most rewarding parts of the experience. In the middle of the trip, the volunteers and their host families had the opportunity to spend a day at the hot springs in Nangulví.
The intercultural exchange program connecting Sharon High School students in the U.S. with students at the Alejandro Chavez School in Gualsaqui, Ecuador, has just been completed. Starting in 2022, the program offered great opportunities for cultural exchange and global learning. During regular zoom calls, the students from both schools were able to learn about each other and also work together to improve the Alejandro Chavez School’s infrastructure. For several months, Sharon High School students ran a fundraising campaign to help their Ecuadorian peers purchase sustainable and eco-friendly building materials for the construction of a trail. With those materials, the students of Gualsaqui and their parents were able to build an eco-trail, connecting the school building to the surrounding woods.
Thanks to the generosity of a Tandana supporter, our young friend James from a local community received a prosthetic eye. James had a cancerous tumor removed when he was 2 but will require a new prosthesis every few years while he is still growing.
Pupils at the primary school in Cambugan received several raspberry plants donated by Tandana Ecuador. Headteacher Esperanza Vaca said: “This generous donation is such a wonderful gift for our pupils.” School gardens grow vegetables as well as future leaders to counter hunger and poverty in their communities. Tandana intern Allie Leach worked with the children to care for plants in the school’s garden.
Elvia Muenala, supported by Tandana as a University Scholar, has graduated with an education degree. You may have read her wonderful story previously on Tandana's blog here. Congratulations, Elvia!
A group of students from Lakeside High School volunteered and lived with host families in the community of Cambugan for four weeks. During the first week, they had the opportunity to celebrate the Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) with their hosts in Cambugan. This annual event, which marks the end of the agricultural cycle, is one of the biggest celebrations for indigenous people all over Ecuador. Besides being a harvest festival, the celebration of Inti Raymi is an opportunity for Kichwa people to express unity and pride toward their culture and their heritage. In the second and third weeks, the volunteers and local parents worked at the primary school of the community of Cambugan, helping to pave the playground area to make it safer, cleaner, and more durable for the students. In the fourth and final week, the volunteers organized several recreational activities for community members. In the middle of the trip, the volunteers went to visit the community of El Juncal to learn about the history and contemporary realities faced by Afro-Ecuadorian communities of the Chota Valley.
A group of volunteers from ARCC spent a week with Tandana immersed in the community of Padre Chupa. The volunteers stayed with host families, which gave them a chance to connect with the residents of Padre Chupa, experience a different culture, and volunteer in the local community. The volunteers and Padre Chupa residents teamed up to paint the local elementary school. They also enjoyed impromptu soccer games, milking cows, making cheese, baking bread, and preparing a special drink called colada morada together. On the final day together, they held a celebration of their new friendships and their success in completing the project.
We just wrapped up another wonderful in-person summer school which served 25 students. The students received English language classes with a native speaker from the United States as well as math lessons to help reinforce their knowledge and prepare them for the upcoming school year. As always, theatre and public speaking courses were offered to improve their language skills and build their confidence. The lessons were taught by Victoria Terry (English), Karen Pazmiño (Math), and Hank Fincken (Theatre). The students also had the opportunity to go on Friday field trips to a few areas around Otavalo and have fun, including the Peguche waterfall!
We are thrilled to announce that two Tandana scholarship recipients have graduated from the Universidad Técnica del Norte (Technical University of the North, Ibarra): Alexander Tuquerres Tambi, of Quichinche, has earned a degree in Mechatronics Engineering; and Janeth Panamá, from the community of Perugachi, has earned a degree in Biotechnology Engineering.
We are excited to share the graduation of Pedro Segundo Panamá Perugachi from the community of Corazón de Perugachi. Now he is a Forestry Engineer with his completed degree from the University called Escuela Politécnica de Chimborazo.
We are also thrilled that 23 amazing students graduated from high school!
Over $5,000 in supplies were purchased and donated to the schools in Quichinche, Gualsaqui, and Tangali to upgrade the computer labs that were originally donated by the Tech Service Corps many years ago. A very special thanks to Andrés Gonzáles (IT intern) who conducted the needs assessment, decided what to purchase, and personally installed the hardware and updated all the software.
While working in the fields earlier this year, Kevin Perugachi suffered a severe injury when a scythe fell, cutting his leg to the bone. He underwent emergency surgery to save his leg, but Kevin’s family had to borrow money that they are not yet able to pay back. There are many other costs, including those of follow-up treatment, therapy, medicines, and transportation—in total, $2,500. We have raised more than half of this money for him to help him get back on the right track.
A medical team from the Health Center of Quichinche, accompanied by family practice physician, Dr. Margarita Echeverria, made a special field trip to the community of Larcacunga. Free medical consultations were provided to 33 patients, and an additional 7 received eye exams and reading glasses. Additionally, A medical team from the Health Center of Quichinche worked in partnership with Tandana Ecuador and a few healthcare workers from Seguro Social Campesino (a branch of Ecuador's social security institute) to organize a medical trip to the community of San Juan de Inguincho. The medical clinics also gave us the opportunity to provide school-based dental education for improving oral self-care in the local elementary school (Marco Aurelio Subia school). In total, 111 patients were attended to by a multidisciplinary health team which included several types of specialties such as general medicine, dentistry and eye care.
A group of students from Saline High School in Michigan spent a week of service and cultural learning with Tandana in Ecuador. They worked alongside residents of the community of Panecillo to dig trenches and install sewer pipes. In addition to working hard, they had a chance to participate in many exciting cultural experiences, including a pambamesa community lunch, a Kichwa Otavalo cooking class, a presentation about Kichwa Otavalo dress, playing the Kichwa game Triki-Traka, and making bracelets. They also visited Cuicocha crater lake, the Otavalo artisan market, and an Afro-Ecuadorian community in the Chota Valley. It was a great week, full of connection and learning.
Progress is being made on the Inguincho water project. Vicente, Rockey, and Nicole went to see if the water was flowing through the whole system and met with the community to make sure all their questions were answered. Despite some delays due to COVID, the solar panels have been installed and the pumping station should be running shortly. Intake pipes have been placed and the water reception facility is waiting for the tanks to be filled. The last step is a final wash of the gravel filters, which can take some time as it requires a lot of water. The project with Rotary International will be completed soon!
Students at Sharon High School in MA are working with the students in Quichinche to raise funds to paint the school. They have also met on zoom a few times to learn more about each other and share hobbies. To raise more funds, Sharon students had a bake sale and had some traditional treats from Ecuador. The bread babies they made were a hit! Update: For the second consecutive year, Tandana has worked in partnership with a public school in Sharon, Massachusetts, to offer cultural exchange between students of Sharon High School and Alejandro Chavez School, in Gualsaqui. Students write letters to each other, and communicate in real-time through Zoom calls. Peer-to-peer discussions bring to light cultural similarities and differences.
Veronica, our scholarship coordinator, organized an in-person high school scholarship parent meeting to answer any questions as we started the new calendar year. Parents had many questions and worried about if and when their children would return to in-person school full time. We also met virtually with the University scholarship students to share volunteer opportunities, hear about how classes are going in the everchanging pandemic, and check-in.
In January, eight patients received medical care for a variety of medical issues including inflammation/infection of the cervix, arm fracture, scoliosis, arthrosis, hearing loss, and epilepsy. Unfortunately, due to the rise in COVID cases because of the omicron variant, the hospitals in Otavalo and Ibarra have temporarily closed outpatient clinics. Appointments are supposed to open up again mid-February. That being said, a young man from Cutambi underwent surgery in Quito to extract a vein deformation in his left leg. This surgery has been postponed since 2019 because of the pandemic so we are very happy he has finally received care!
Through our remote connection program, Sharon High School raised funds for the Urkusiki community school which went towards musical instruments. They donated another violin (in addition to one that was donated on a previous visit) and 10 traditional flutes. Students are looking forward to getting to use them!
Looking for ways to improve their school, the Quichinche high school student government asked Tandana for support with painting the outside of their school. Quichinche students in 10th grade connected with Sharon High school students to help raise the money and, parents, teachers, students, and members of Tandana painted together!
In February, a total of 17 patients received medical care for thyroid extraction, muscle pains, progressive muscular dystrophy, possible microcephalia caused by temporoparietal sutures, prostate problems, issues due to a fatty liver, poorly done sutures in the eye which requires reconstructive surgery, and hearing loss. 4 patients were seen at the ophthalmology clinic in Otavalo.
Thanks to Sharon High School's generous donations, a handwashing station, and bike racks have been installed at the school.
Tandana was able to provide donations of medical gloves, disposable underpads, urine collection bags, and packs of multi-fold paper towels to the Otavalo Hospital. Special thanks to Boston Scientific for providing the funds for these donations.
Tandana facilitated a one-credit course for Whitman College students on Andean and Western Healthcare in Otavalo, Ecuador. Students had opportunities to interact on Zoom with a variety of practitioners of different forms of medicine from the Otavalo area in addition to readings and videos about the interactions of Andean and Western understandings, practices, and systems of healthcare.
The Inguincho water project has been completed. Prior to the inauguration of the water system, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) training was organized on April 23rd. During the WaSH training conducted by a team of Rotaract (Rotary-sponsored service club for young men and women ages 18 to 30), community members learned about sanitation, hygiene, and the importance of drinking safe, filtered water.
Thanks to the funds raised by Sharon High School, we purchased and donated items to the Jaime Roldos Aguilera Intercultural Bilingual school in Urkusiki. The donation consisted of more paint supplies, easels, 2 violin bows, paint, and paper.
Paint was donated to the "Provincia de Pichincha" School in Tangali. The donation was used by teachers and students to repaint traditional games similar to hopscotch in different areas of the school grounds.
After two years of online summer courses, in-person classes have returned for a group of 20 children, aged 11 to 16. The courses provide an extra opportunity for children to practice, develop, and consolidate their English language skills with a native-speaker teacher from the United States. The children receive Math lessons to help reinforce their knowledge and prepare them for the upcoming school year, as well as theatre courses to improve their language skills and build their confidence. The lessons are taught by Holly Dickinson (English), Karen Pazmiño (Math), and Hank Fincken (Theatre).
Seventeen of our high school scholarship recipients attended an end-of-year ceremony at their respective schools to celebrate promotion to the next grade level or graduation from high school.
On Sunday, July 24th, our dear Tandana friend Rockey Anderson provided training to beneficiaries of the water system donated by Rotary International in San Juan de Inguincho. The new information will enable community members to identify those who could potentially become operators of the system.
Accompanied by Virginia Sanchez and Gaetan Moussa of the Tandana Ecuador staff, a medical team from the Health Center of Quichinche delivered health services to members of the Minas Chupa community. Twenty-two patients were seen by a general practitioner, had dental consultations, and received medication. Twenty-four additional patients received medical care in July at 5 other sites.
In the village of Padre Chupa, a team from the Health Center of Quichinche organized a free medical exam and dental services for 26 children and adults who had never received dental care previously or had only limited access to it. Tandana also contributed essential medicines and medical supplies. Our staff members Gaetan and Virginia were present to record the success of the day's activities.
We were so excited to host our Gardening Volunteer Venture again in Ecuador with 6 participants! Their trip kicked off with a cooking class at Kawsaymi and then a great morning planting vegetables, fruits, and herbs with students at Saminay school. Later, they participated in a minga with the community of Muenala to plant acacia trees for a windbreak on the one remaining open side of the soccer field and did road work. Of course, the work was followed by a wonderful pambamesa. They also visited the Afro-Ecuadorian community of El Juncal, and planted corn and beans at the Quichinche Health Center.
School materials were distributed to high school scholarship students. These included uniforms, stationery, and other school supplies.
We are announcing with great pride the college graduation of Jhanina Orbes, one of Tandana's scholarship recipients. Jhanina, who comes from the community of Perugachi, has earned a business management degree from the Autonomous Regional University of the Andes (UNIANDES). Congratulations, Jhanina!
The Union of Peasant Organizations of Cotacachi (UNORCAC) launched a campaign to promote the conservation of traditional seeds and reduce the use of hybrid seeds. Tandana has begun to partner with UNORCAC by assigning intern Alexis McGilvery to assist the organization, including by growing and maintaining plants in an ethnobotanical garden.
Tandana Ecuador organized a visit to the Otavalango Museum, in Otavalo, for a group from Aroma Caliente, an association in El Juncal, Chota Valley. Following a guided tour, a meeting provided a safe space for Afro-Ecuadorian and Indigenous people to speak about their realities, share expertise and aspirations, and create opportunities for solidarity and mutual support.
Ecuador Program Manager, Gaetan Moussa, and Vicente Pazmiño, Logistics Manager, visited the community of Agualongo to make a donation of building materials. During a recent meeting between representatives of Tandana and Agualongo, community members requested financial support to finish the construction of a new volleyball court. Three days after receiving Tandana funding, residents participated in a minga to complete the project. The community anticipates increased participation in the sport, with the accompanying health benefits for youth and adults.
We are delighted to announce the college graduation of Mónica López, one of our scholarship recipients. Mónica, who comes from the community of Quichinche, has earned a law degree at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador).
With the support of Tandana as a primary sponsor, and through a partnership with the KISHT organization, a science-themed academic competition was held between October and December of 2022. Students in middle and high school from all areas of Ecuador demonstrated their knowledge of science while providing answers in Kichwa. Consisting of both qualifying stages and a national championship, the "Science Bee" held its final round in Peguche on December 10, 2022
The 5 student mothers in our program this year received their supplies and food so that they can care for their babies and stay in school. Update: All 5 of the young women in our student mothers program passed the year and are continuing to the next grade!
Four new school gardens are up and running. They are in Andjine, Tegou, Sal Ogol, and Nalou. The students, teachers, and parent representatives have all participated in training sessions about gardening and have started planting. We look forward to seeing what they harvest. These gardens were generously funded by AllPeopleBeHappy Foundation and the Nick and Edna Weller Charities. Update: The students and teachers in Tegou, Mali, have harvested manioc from their school garden and look forward to eating it as a source of carbohydrates.
The building at the Nounou Grain bank is complete, the management committee has received their training, and the first stock of millet has arrived! The grain bank will be extremely important this year, as the market price of millet is already climbing high. Luckily, the committee was able to put in their order quickly and get enough millet before it became too exorbitant. This grain bank will help the community towards food security this year and for many years to come. Thanks to the First Community Church Mission Council for helping make this a reality!
Construction is progressing on the workshop for making menstrual kits in Bandiagara, Mali. Update: The menstrual kit workshop in Mali is up and running. After some construction delays, the new workshop space is ready, and the sewing team has moved in with their sewing machines. They are now producing reusable sanitary menstrual kits to sell inexpensively to local women and girls.
10 new literacy classes for 300 women in Mali have started for 2022! The classes begin with a pre-test so we can see how much the students progress. Update: Our Women's Literacy Program is going well, with the continuation session in progress after a break for the busy farming season. Although the students are still working hard harvesting their crops, they are actively attending classes. Their commitment to prioritizing learning literacy and numeracy skills, even while addressing an urgent food crisis, is evidence of how important this education is to them and what a difference it is making in their lives.
The Sal Health Center is officially open! An official ceremony was held to open the center with all of the staff, officials, village representatives, health center committee, etc. The Prefect of Bandiagara District gave a speech thanking the Foundation for making possible the realization of this project despite the crises of Covid-19 and insecurity in the region. He pointed out how rare it is to see a complete health center built, equipped, and supplied at one time, especially involving inspection from the rural engineering service. They now have a health center close to home where they can access medical care, and also an ambulance to take them to the hospital in case they need higher levels of care. Update: A Covid-19 vaccination campaign for children, pregnant mothers, and nursing mothers was held at the Health Center. This was the first time that children had an opportunity to get vaccinated.
Our women's leadership workshops in Mali have kicked off for this year, with the first one in Mory. Women leaders who participated in the literacy classes last year are now learning how to form and lead women's associations and sharing their experiences getting involved in township elections and speaking up in their villages. The third women's leadership workshop was successfully completed in Kansongo. Women leaders learned how to form and lead women's associations, while also sharing their experiences with local decision-making and practicing their public speaking skills.
We held a training session for new literacy instructors with 11 participants who were among the best literacy students in past years. They will now be ready to take over if any of the current instructors become unavailable.
The Olouguelemo Environmental Association held its annual assembly and shared results from each village's efforts throughout 2021. They have built more than 18,600 meters worth of stone contour lines to prevent erosion and retain water in the soil. They have practiced assisted natural regeneration on 7,479 trees. They have made 95 improved cookstoves and built 203 houses. They have measured 2,725 acres of forests they have protected (and they still need to measure a few more protected areas). Congratulations to all the members of the association on their hard work!
Thanks to a generous donation from Kailua United Methodist Church, a school garden was created at the Amayowo school in Bandiagara, Mali. Students, teachers, and parent representatives have participated in a training session to learn about gardening and planted vegetables and fruit trees. They were able to build a fence and receive gardening tools.
The schools in Andjine and Tegou have received school first aid and pharmacy supplies, thanks to a grant from Nick and Edna Weller Charities. They now have the supplies they need to treat minor illnesses and injuries, which is very important since they are located far away from the nearest health centers. Harouna Yalcouyé, Director of the Tegou school, has written to say that the first aid station provided by Tandana has resulted in "a lot of improvement in the studying and living conditions of the students and also the teachers." The station can accommodate all sick or injured students at the school, so learning is not interrupted as in the past, when teachers had to seek out help.
The storehouse for the new cotton and indigo bank in Dassi was completed. The leadership committee for this new bank was formed, participated in a training session, and received their supplies. They will manage a stock of both cotton and indigo dyeing materials using a revolving fund so that these materials are always available to local women who use them to generate income. Thanks to the U.S. Embassy Mali for supporting this project.
This is Fatoumata Bamia, one of the Dr. Ash B. Varma, M.D. scholars in Mali who is studying to be a tailor. She is already learning how to make some models of clothing. Update: Congratulations to Fatoumata Bamia, the first Dr. Ash B. Varma, M.D. scholar to graduate from her program! She completed her training to be a professional tailor, and also received the tools and supplies she needs to set up her own sewing workshop in her home village of Nounou. She is now able to offer an important service right in her village. Having participated in the training workshop on making menstrual kits, she will be able to make and sell them in her village--a first for Nounou! To see a video of Fatoumata's teacher showing off her creations, Click here.
In honor of International Women's Day, the village of Dassi organized an inauguration ceremony for the new cotton and indigo bank. There were many women present, as well as the village and township leaders. They had a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the bank management committee received their revolving fund.
The agroforestry students from the Dr. Ash B. Varma M.D. Scholarship participated in a practical training session to learn several methods of estimating the weight of livestock. They are also going to do some community service work with the environmental association Olouguelemo. The students are excited about learning practical skills that will enable them to help their communities.
The Kansongo carpenters discussed their priority needs and decided that their biggest challenge was the fact that the trained carpenters kept moving away from the village to seek work in the cities. They decided to hire 2 young men as long-term managers of the workshop and to send them to Bandiagara for training. After their training, they will be able to earn income by managing the workshop. They are currently in Bandiagara participating in a training session.
The school garden at the Amayowo school in Bandiagara, Mali is doing well! The students are enjoying working in the garden, and it is growing nice produce.
Representatives of the 8 new member villages of the Olouguelemo Environmental Association participated in a training session to learn how to build stone contour lines and other erosion control features. This work makes a tremendous difference in the amount of millet that can be harvested, contributing to food security. It is especially urgent this year since there is a food crisis in the region. Families need to harvest as much as possible after the coming farming season, and this erosion control work will help. Three of Tandana's scholarship students who are studying agroforestry also participated in the training session.
At the Sal Health Center, there was a vaccination campaign for children under 6 years of age. The vaccination team from the hospital came and met parents who had brought their children to the Center. The community health committee provided transportation, using the ambulance to transport pregnant mothers who wanted prenatal checkups, as well as those who were bringing their babies for vaccination.
School gardens made possible by Tandana supporters are flourishing in Tegou and Andjine! Students have been harvesting various vegetables from the gardens, especially Dah leaves that are used to make a sauce as well as shallots.
Five new women's associations won the recent business plan contest and received startup funding for their initiatives. They are starting businesses in market gardening, indigo dyeing, and transforming cotton into cloth. To the left is a photo from the ceremony where they were given their startup funds.
After Tandana staff, the contractor, and village leaders met to mark out the exact location of the stone dam, residents quickly got to work, breaking the stones to be used in the construction. The reservoir in Moe-Leye will conserve water from the brief rainy season (which starts in June) for gardening and livestock in the dry season.
The members of the Dassi cotton and indigo bank participated in an additional training session on dyeing safety when using chemical dyes, in addition to natural indigo dyes. They also received additional personal protective equipment.
Between global grain market disruptions, violence that has limited food production in Mali, and the continuing effects of climate change, our partners in central Mali can't even find millet to buy in the market. There is rice for purchase at very high prices, but even the staple millet is not available. In the midst of the demanding farming season, more calories are needed for cultivating the fields. We have launched an emergency fundraising campaign, including requests to funding organizations that focus on food security, to provide much needed support for our partners.
Residents of 10 villages have been working on expanding 3 ponds to conserve water from the rainy season and use it for gardening and livestock during the dry season. Because of the urgent food crisis, we have provided tools and food in exchange for residents working to expand the ponds by hand. “Now that our partners have given us food to eat, there is nothing to stop us from continuing to expand many ponds,” said Daifourou Kassogué, a herder who is working on one of the ponds. “It’s all the people of the village who have benefited from this action.”
Members of Tandana's staff team in Mali, as well as leaders of two partner organizations, participated in a training program to improve their computer skills and also learn about reporting, collecting feedback from community members, and engaging in professional teamwork.
The Olouguelemo Association's new 2022 reforestation campaign has been launched! This photo is from the village of Kansongo, with local representatives present at the launch ceremony, and their work underway.
A meeting was held to make initial preparations and begin building the school in Dani, Mali. Tandana staff, the contractor, the inspector, village leaders, the parents' association, representatives of the youth and women, and the mayor of the township all gathered to make sure everyone agrees about how the school will be built, how work groups will be organized, and who will be in charge of storing the materials. Ground has been broken, and construction has started!
A ceremony took place to deliver school supplies and food to the children in the displaced student program. Donor support has been essential in the students being able to attend school. To the left, you can see a photo from the ceremony.
Twenty new scholars have entered the Dr. Ash B. Varma M.D. Scholarship Program. The photo to the right shows them receiving their school supplies as they begin the journey of pursuing their professional dreams.
The new literacy classes for 2021 have started! The chalkboards and furniture were made and delivered by the Kansongo carpenters. The 10 new literacy classes started in January with a total of 311 students. Each group meets for about four hours each afternoon, five days a week. They are all using covid precautions. Everyone is committed to success, and the classes are going well. Out of 311 students in the classes, 300 took the test (the other 11 were absent for various reasons). Out of the 300 who took the test, 240 earned passing scores. That is 80% which means that the goal for the entire year has already been reached. After a break for the agricultural season, the classes have started up again for 3 more months of instruction to reinforce and continue building the students' skills.
The first women's leadership workshop of 2021 was completed in Mali! 100 women leaders, 80 of whom were literacy students in 2020, participated in a 10-day workshop, learning about how to form and lead women's associations, participate in local decision-making, and make business plans. They also shared their personal experiences as women leaders.
The women's association of Goundoly Djeninke had a very successful year with their indigo dyeing business. They began with a startup fund of 750,000 cfa, which they received as winners of the business plan contest in 2018. Since then, they have expanded their fund to 1,400,000 cfa! In a general assembly, they decided to use some of the interest they had generated to buy koro taru, which are culturally significant musical instruments and decorations. These are used as shakers to accompany drums during dances and also as adornments for all kinds of ceremonies. Update: The village of Goundoly Djeninke is building a storehouse and meeting place for the women's association's indigo dyeing business. The association won a business plan contest and received startup funding. They have been working hard expanding their business, and now they will have a safe place to store all of their dyeing supplies and also to meet and work together while sharing ideas with each other.
The five women's associations who won the business plan contest in 2020 have shared their reports on their work since beginning their businesses. The groups had between 30 and 45 members, and their proposed businesses were market gardening, indigo dyeing, and raising sheep. Each group has seen a significant increase in funds. The market gardening group has increased their funds by 113,500 cfa; the indigo dyers have increased their funds by 424,000 cfa; and the three sheep-raising groups have increased their funds by 150,000 cfa.
Due to its tremendous growth and popularity, the Ondogou Indigo Bank is being divided into three sub-banks, one for each village of Kondiougou, Guinekandah, and Indell. Tandana staff just conducted a training session for the leaders of each sub-bank so they are clear on their management responsibilities, and they divided their fund among the three groups. The villages of Indell and Guinekandah are in the process of breaking stones for the construction of a new storehouse in each village for their indigo banks. Members are motivated by their success and are excited to make these three new banks just as successful as the Ondogou Bank.
Residents of Wana have brought all of the sand, gravel, and stones needed for the construction of a well. The contractor was delayed due to a death in his family, but he has now been introduced to the village and is ready to start the drilling. Update: The Wana Well is now 13m deep. The community is looking forward to having reliable access to water. Update: The Wana Well project is nearing completion. The Management Committee was elected and their training took place on June 22-23. Update: The Wana well is complete!
Residents of Sandiam have brought the sand and gravel needed for the construction of a well. The contractor was delayed due to a death in his family, but now he has been introduced in the village and will soon begin drilling. Residents of Sandiam have to go a long way to another village to get water so they are really excited about having the new well soon. Update: The Sandiam Well is now 18m deep. They have hit a very hard rock layer, which means slower going, but the whole team is persistent and continuing to make progress. Update: The well in Sandiam is nearly complete! They have finished the cement lining and built the raised opening and watering basin for livestock. Update: The Sandiam well is complete!
The Kansongho Garden had a successful recent harvest. The red fruits are from the doum palm and the black ones are cashew fruits.
Quite a lot of progress has been made to the Sal Health Center. They brought in rigs to drill a borehole for a well that will be equipped with a solar pump to supply water to the center, they have now started building a water tower, and they are finishing construction on the wall around the whole compound. The ambulance and some of the furniture will be arriving soon, as well. Update: The waiting area is complete, and most recently, they have been working on the water tower and solar panels. Update: The Sal Health Center is complete! After various meetings and inspections this past month, the residents of Sal, finally, held an inauguration ceremony and huge celebration for the new health center! Even young people from Sal who live in Bamako and even further away came back to the villages for this important event. They toured the center, gave speeches, and did performances in the morning, and then continued with a collective dance in the afternoon. Now that the management committee and ambulance drivers have received training, they are excited for the center to starting functioning.
The Olouguelemo Environmental Association now has a GPS unit, and the association's secretary, along with Tandana's Supervisor and Program Manager received training in how to use it. They are using GPS to measure the protected forest areas and record precise locations of boundaries, water sources, and other features. After completing the current survey, they will know the actual area and locations of their protected zones. They also are finding edible wild fruits, which are much more abundant thanks to their forest protection work.
The mayor of Wadouba Township organized a big meeting to discuss the township's development plan for the next five years. In the past, women had not been included in these kinds of meetings, but this year, many of the women's associations that have formed thanks to our Women's Literacy, Leadership, and Enterprise program demanded that their representatives be invited to the meeting. The mayor agreed, and this year, for the first time, many women representing the different associations participated, sharing their ideas and opinions about plans for the Township in the next five years.
Tandana is supporting a community-based teacher for the school in Andjine. The school only had 3 teachers for 131 students in grades 1 through 6. Salimata Karembe grew up in Andjine, got a certificate in agriculture, and then returned to the village to be with her husband and raise her family. She participated in Tandana's literacy program and women's leadership workshop. She started volunteering at the school to help out, and now she is being paid, half by the community and half by Tandana. She is teaching the 43 students in 3rd and 4th grades. Congratulations to Salimata for great work with the students.
The participants in the 2021 women's leadership workshops have returned to their villages and created 10 new official women's associations. These new associations were invited to submit a business plan to a contest sponsored by Tandana to seek startup funding for their business. The five best proposals were selected and have received their initial fund. Previously-created associations were invited to submit proposals for a second contest, and five of these proposals were also selected to receive funding. The association from Komberou has found the best market to sell their dried fish, and four other associations - one from Andjine, two from Kilegou, and one from Nalou - have bought their sheep and had them vaccinated.
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. They also received their equipment and supplies, so the new indigo bank is up and running. They recently held their first meeting to reimburse the materials they used for their indigo dyeing. The meeting went well and the first campaign was successful. They all reimbursed the amounts they owed, and now they have ordered their materials for the next campaign.
The school gardens at Saredina and Ondogou are both doing well! They are growing tomatoes, lettuce, onions, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, and carrots as well as taking care of their papaya, pomegranate, mango, lemon, and guava trees. The students are eating produce in their lunches and as fresh snacks, and they have also sold some extra produce to earn money. The Saredina garden committee has earned about $30 and the Ondogou garden committee has earned about $17 from produce sales. They will use these funds to buy school supplies in October when the new school year starts.
Residents of Kansongo are busy constructing a classroom for their kindergarten. Update: The classroom construction is complete and is now ready for the children to use!
Our team in Mali took some photos recently that really show the value of the erosion control work that the Olouguelemo Environmental Association has been doing. This is near the stock pond in Goundoly. You can see that the area is entirely barren, except for the green plants growing right by the stone contour line that association members built.
Dramane Pamateck, from Sal Ogol, has been selected as pharmacy manager for the new health center in Sal, Mali. He is currently training for his new role in Bandiagara.
The nursery at Gongo is providing 500 plants for the 2021 reforestation project at Kansongo. You can see a picture (left) of the plants that were grown and where they were planted.
We are happy to report that all 8 of the students in our student mothers program in Mali have passed the year! Five of them passed their DEF exam to receive the diploma of basic education. The other three passed from 7th grade into 8th grade.
The storehouse for a new grain bank in Nounou, Mali is under construction. Thanks to First Community Church Mission Council for supporting this project!
The women's association of Banakane, Mali held their annual assembly to collect the reimbursements for the cotton they have all turned into cloth and discuss the success of their business. They plan to order their next stock of cotton as soon as possible to keep working.
The women of Yarou Plateau, Mali have continued managing their cotton bank well, despite insecurity in their area. They held their annual meeting to reimburse the cotton they had used, and each group reimbursed 100%. Thanks to Ele Samakan, a local teacher supported by Tandana, for supporting their meeting, taking notes, and sending the details to Tandana.
McNair Scholars at the University of Cincinnati participated in a series of remote cultural activities. In one activity they joined Kawsaymi Cocina for a cooking class to learn to prepare traditional Kichwa dishes.
Congratulations to Ricardo Saransig, who recently graduated with a degree in architecture. We are excited to see where this new milestone takes him.
Community members in La Banda have completed the most recent phase of installing the pipes we had previously given to them for their potable water system. They received a generous donation for the final phase of the project and are working on the final phase of installing water pipes to reach all the homes in the community. Once this phase is finished, all of the homes will have water. Update: The La Banda Water project is complete! The last of the pipes needed to complete the system have been installed and are functioning.
Tandana donated 4 laptop computers and repaired 6 laptop computers and 1 printer for the computer lab at the school in Urkusiki, Ecuador. We are very grateful to Tech Service Corps who donated funds to make this happen.
In the continued effort to keep our communities safe and germ-free, we donated soap and paper towel dispensers to the Quichinche Health Center. We also donated a sink and paper towel dispensers to the Gualsaqui Health Center.
Kevin has received his new prosthetic leg! He will now be able to continue with his very active lifestyle. Kevin enjoys playing basketball, cycling, and skating, and, fortunately, he is still working in Ibarra despite the many layoffs due to the pandemic.
The medicinal and nutritional garden at the Quichinche Health Center is doing well. The health center staff and the health committee planted fava beans, runner beans, and medicinal plants, and they all participated in the harvest.
The Gualapuro Water Project is officially complete! All the homes now have access to clean water. A chlorination machine has been installed, an accounting system put in place, a small secure office for accounting, bill paying, and storing tools and supplies related to the water system has been built, and the whole community is very excited for what will come in the future. There have been talks of a family fun park which will include a zipline.
Juan Jose, a patient in our follow-up program, received his bone conduction hearing device after four hours of tests and learning how to use the device. His family is thrilled that he will now be able to hear.
The community of Motilón Chupa is working on the final phase of building their irrigation system. Most recently, they have been working on the water collection tank. Update: The water tank for the irrigation system in Motilón Chupa is complete! They just recently finished the major collection tank and water is flowing to the crops that need them in the irrigation system.
The community of Muenala, with materials provided by Tandana, is building a second story for their community center. This second floor will offer space for events, catechism classes, and community activities. They recently had a minga to pour the cement for the roof of the second story.
We are working with the community of Inguincho and Rotary International to plan a new, clean water system for the community. So far, a few of the 10,000-liter tanks have been delivered to the community and they have had held many community workdays to build the security area for the tanks and filtering station. The pipes have been located at the strategic sites. A big thanks to Rockey Anderson for his help coordinating this project.
Virtual summer school classes were a great success this year in Ecuador! 20 Students took classes in Math, English, Technology, Art, and Theater, just to name a few.
Tandana donated paint to the maternity ward at the Otavalo hospital. We also donated 135 3ml syringes to the Quichinche Health Center to be used for COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Cutambi Community Center is officially complete! Community members installed handrails and windows as the last few finishing touches.
Tiles were delivered for the floor of the community center at San Juan Loma. Members are making progress on laying the floor.
Tandana's favorite theater professional extraordinaire, Hank Fincken, taught a theater class again during summer school. His class, and the play, were conducted virtually, but the show went on without a hitch! Check out the video here.
Dayana Velasquez, a Tandana scholarship student, has graduated from university as an English teacher! She has been a great participant in many Tandana activities and recently taught English in our summer school program. We are very proud of her and excited to see her next steps!
Tandana post-secondary scholarship students are leading young students at the La Joya school for children with special needs in creating a mural in the school. It's looking great! This project was made possible by a donation in memory of John Gehringer, who was Tandana's pro bono graphic designer for many years.
University Scholar Sergio Torres has graduated from Technical University of the North with a degree in electrical engineering.
The Otavalo Hospital is receiving needed supplies for its birthing unit thanks to a generous donation from Boston Scientific. Donated items include infant formula, infant diapers, infant clothes, crib sheets, blankets, towels, pregnancy gowns, a refrigerator to store breast milk, and sanitary materials for field birthing units.
The Ohio Master Gardeners enjoyed a week full of farming, gardening, and cultural activities during this year’s trip. They spent 4 workdays at Saminay High School, a technical agriculture school about 40 minutes from Otavalo. They spent their mornings working with students and teachers to plant along the entrance of the school. They also had the chance to participate in a minga with all the families from the school, which was followed by a pampamesa (traditional potluck style lunch). In addition to their hard work, they learned about traditional Kichwa dress at Margarita’s, roasted guinea pig and learned about medicinal plants at Kawsaymi cooking school, cooked dinner on volcanic rocks at Pakarinka, and visited the nearby leatherworking town of Cotacachi. They also had the unique experience of traveling to Polylepis Forest, where they were able to compare plants in the highlands of Ecuador to the plants they see back in Ohio. Many participants look forward to bringing the new perspectives they gained in Ecuador back to their own gardens.
For many years, the Traveling School has come to Ecuador during their semester to work alongside communities and Tandana. This year was no exception as the girls arrived at the community of Agualongo where it all started. Students visited during the Carnaval holiday and got to participate in the festivities by throwing water and spraying foam on everyone. Living with host families and being part of a family away from home was just what the students needed. The students worked alongside the community, cleaning the road from a few landslides due to all the rain. They took their families on a trip to the lake and, on another day, hiked up to a fantastic view to cook lunch and enjoy everyone’s company in another successful “Dia de campo.” It was tough to say goodbye, and in the going-away party, the students showed gratitude to the community and families with songs, raps, and heartfelt words. Safe travels on your continued adventures!
This year Northeastern’s ACES program arrived during spring break to support the community of Gualapuro paint their community center. Students spent all week painting and plastering in the morning and building relationships and learning from community members in the afternoon. Participants took a tour of the large water project Gualapuro has been working on, made bracelets (pictured) and enjoyed freshly baked bread. They got to share the recipe for pizza with kids and community members and had a lovely afternoon playing outside. Each lunch students shared traditional food alongside people they worked with that day and in the morning and evening took turns cooking for the group. They had wonderful weather and were able to walk to the Living Kichwa museum to learn about Kichwa traditions and games. After the project was finished, students visited the nearby crater lake, Cuicocha. Finally, the week came to an end with a tearful despedida (goodbye party), complete with dancing and pamba mesa (potluck).
The group from Saline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, began their trip to Ecuador with a warm welcome from La Banda, the community they supported in implementing a new water system. The welcome included speeches, dancing, a band, and a traditional pambamesa (potluck style) lunch. For the next five days, the group worked side by side with members of the community to dig 1m deep trenches, stretching almost 800m in length total! The group did not only work hard, they also played hard. With activities such as visiting Peguche waterfall, cooking dinner at Kawsaymi cooking school, visiting the Plaza de Ponchos market, and playing soccer with community members, this group had a busy week trying new things. They also had the chance to learn more about one of the main jobs people from La Banda do- working at weaving workshops! They were lucky to be able to see not only a modern weaving workshop, but also a demonstration at the Otavalango museum about traditional weaving and how techniques have changed over the years.
We've supported the staff of the Quichinche and Gualsaqui health centers with PPE, supplies, and medications, as well as transportation to visit the communities they are responsible for. With the lockdown, patients from other communities have not been able to get to the health centers, so the staff went to attend to those who needed assistance in the communities and also to deliver monthly medications to those who usually pick them up at the center.
Tandana recently donated 1,000 graduate conical tubes for COVID-19 sample collection. These vital supplies will help ensure that there is not a delay in testing in the Otavalo area so healthcare professionals can stay on top of testing. Thanks to all the frontline healthcare workers putting these test kits to good work!
Tandana has covered transportation costs for subcentro workers from the Gualsaqui and Quichinche health centers to travel to the communities to provide necessary medical attention directly to the communities for patients who are vulnerable from their preexisting conditions and are unable to travel to the subcentro for check-ups and medicines due to the stay-at-home order imposed by the national government. A total of 217 patients from 13 different communities in the Quichinche Parish have received care.
Our scholarship students are engaged in online learning and resourcefully finding ways to access the internet from their mountain communities so they can keep up with their assignments. We are supporting them with additional internet expenses during the pandemic. We've been able to support 20 students with internet costs so that they can continue their studies that are completely online.
Summer School was offered virtually via zoom this year. Veronica, our Scholarship Coordinator pre-zoomed with all 22 potential scholarship students who were eagerly awaiting to meet their teachers. They had classes online on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 5 weeks from July 6 - August 7. Interns Mallory, Hannah, and Hank taught remotely from the USA together with 4 Ecuadorian university scholarship students, Amauta, Nicole, Dayana, and Lady. They taught English, Theater, Art, Leadership, Math, and Entrepreneurship. For an added bonus, Wednesdays consisted of a summer school-wide psychology class for students to get to know themselves and others in the program. 20 students completed the full 5-week summer school program and all 20 students that completed the course have been accepted into the high school scholarship program. Congratulations!
The fundraiser organized by Northeastern University’s Alliance of Civically Engaged Students (NU-ACES) was a huge success. 1280 masks were delivered in 21 communities of the Quichinche Parish including Padre Chupa, Motilón Chupa, Minas Chupa, Inguincho, Cambugán, Tangalí, Cutambi, Guachinguero, Achupallas, Urcusiqui, Muenala, Guayrapungo, Moraspungo, Gualsaquí, Panecillo, Agualongo, La Banda, Yambiro, Larcacunga, San Juan Alto, and Gualapuro. Also, 200 disposable masks and 100 KN95 masks were donated to the Health center in Gualsaqui and Quichinche. Additionally, other medical supplies, including bandages and alcohol among others were delivered to the Director of the Hospital of Otavalo and the Director of the Health Center in Gualsaqui.
The new school year kicked off in September, and because the classes are virtual, we decided to open the Panecillo office so scholarship students and community members could use the internet and computers to attend classes and do homework. Our amazing team has been helping students get their work done.
A computer was donated to the Panecillo Community Board. This will help the board during meetings, presentations, and other community events and gatherings.
Our Patient Follow Up program has been making strides during the pandemic. One patient has received her hearing aids and is very thankful to be able to hear clearly. She has been waiting for hearing aids since 2018. It has been important to keep up with seeing patients during the pandemic even though we have not been able to run our normal Health Care Volunteer Ventures.
The Gualsaqui Health Center was recently painted. Here's a look at the final product. It's more sanitary and gives patients more confidence to walk into a clean and sharp looking health center.
We kicked off the year with 10 new literacy classes, each with 30 women students. The 300 new participants are studied hard! Here's a look inside the classroom in Kilegou. They learned the alphabet, numbers, reading, writing, and arithmetic, skills that give them confidence and independence in the marketplace, in telephone communications, in keeping records for their savings groups and businesses, in reading signs, and taking notes at meetings. Of the 290 women who took the final exam last year, more than 90 percent of participants earned satisfactory scores or better on the literacy and numeracy final exams organized by the Tandana Foundation. Read all about it here on our blog.
A series of three 8-day workshops for 80 women leaders has been completed in Mali. Each literacy class from 2019 delegated class members to attend the workshops. Participants learned how to form, manage, and lead official women's associations, make business plans and keep records. They also had a chance to share their experiences as women speaking up and getting involved in local decision-making and provide encouragement to each other. At the end of the workshop, the participants showed off what they learned, and celebrated. Check out a video of their last day here.
Desks with attached benches, chairs, and cabinets for the school in Andjine were built by the Kansongho carpenters workshop and delivered using their moto-tricycle. Special thanks to Bellbrook United Methodist Church for helping fund both the tricycle and the furniture. Now the students can sit comfortably in class and write more neatly in their notebooks.
The residents of Komberou are working hard, breaking and transporting stones for the restoration and improvement of their well. Soon, a contractor will bring a drilling rig and work with them to deepen, secure, and improve their well. Here they are breaking off pieces of the stones.
Representatives of the 10 remaining Olouguelemo member villages participated in a training session to learn how to build stone contour lines and other features to prevent soil erosion. They received the tools they need to do this work and return home to share their knowledge and the tools with other farmers in their villages. This work greatly improves crop yield and conserves soil and water. Representatives of the other 9 member villages participated in this kind of training last year and are very pleased with the results of the harvest in the fields where they had built stone contour lines. You can find a blog post about the effects of this technique here.
The women's association Otaba in Kani, Mali, was one of the five winners of the business plan competition that was held recently as part of the Women's Literacy, Leadership, and Enterprise program. They have purchased their sheep, received training in how to care for them, and had them vaccinated.
Check out the Yarou Plateau's school garden harvest of onions, tomatoes, okra, lettuce, and peppers from their garden. They sold some of the produce and used the proceeds to buy notebooks, pens, and chalk. Congratulations and thank you to Ele Samakan for keeping the school in Yarou open without any other teachers and also doing a great job with students in the garden.
The 19 Savings for Change groups in Sobody, Sardina, and Nalou all held their fund-sharing ceremonies, after completing a year of savings and credit activities. Each member received her savings plus interest. Now they have started a new fund, saving again for the coming year.
The women’s association of Indell Koumbaye was one of the winners of the recent business plan competition with a proposal for an indigo dyeing business. They have participated in a training session on safe, natural indigo dyeing techniques and purchased equipment they need to do their work.
Progress is continuing on the well improvement project in Komberou, Mali. They have drilled it deeper and are now working on the secure cement lining. While working, they discovered that part of the wall had caved inside the well and it was getting dangerous. If this project wasn’t done, at some point it likely would have collapsed and people could have been hurt. Update: As of May 2020 the project is complete!
Our team has done 300 education sessions on preventing the spread of COVID-19, and distributed dozens of hand wash stations to make it practical to follow health recommendations, as well as providing supplies and PPE to a hospital and local health centers. The first case of COVID has been reported in Bandiagara, the district where we work in Mali, so our team is being as proactive as possible to get prevention information out there. In addition to in-person sessions, our team is also broadcasting information about COVID prevention methods over the radio.
The Olouguelemo Environmental Association held a socially-distanced meeting of the leadership committee and representatives from each village, instead of the large general assembly they would have had in the absence of the pandemic. They later announced the 4th Annual Olouguelemo Reforestation Campaign which was kicked off in Kansongho. The reforestation campaign is supported by the Olouguelemo Environmental Association, the office of the mayor of Wadouba Township, and The Tandana Foundation. It rained last week to water the trees which is a good sign for the success of the campaign. Also, thanks to the environmental protection work of the Olouguelemo Environmental Association in Mali, there are wild fruits growing abundantly in the protected forest areas. The reforestation campaign was completed with a total of 1,890 trees planted in 20 villages, at 3 schools, and at 5 other public buildings.
The residents of Andjine are taking full advantage of the stock pond that Tandana helped them create. This year, good rains filled the pond to the brim, and they are using its water to grow peppers, okra, eggplant, corn, squash, sweet potatoes, and cowpeas.
The emergency COVID response commission of Ningari has completed its work and held its final meeting. The commission thanked The Tandana Foundation for its support. Currently, all of the identified positive cases of COVID in Ningari have recovered, and there are no new cases reported. Families are using the small hand wash kits that Tandana provided, and residents are using the large handwash stations in public places.
The Papa Hubert Cotton Bank in Dana-Guire, Mali was started in 2018 and continues to function well, giving women an opportunity to earn income by transforming cotton into cloth. A few weeks ago, another NGO, without making any preparations with the village, sent a teacher to Dana-Guire to teach young people who are past school age. They brought the teacher with all of his luggage and told the village chief that he needed a classroom to teach in. Since he hadn't had any warning, the chief said that he could teach in the cotton bank building and that could be the classroom. But Kadidia Yanogue, the President of the cotton bank, stood up to the chief and said, "No, this building was built for our cotton bank. We need it to store the large lot of cotton that we will buy soon, and we use it as our meeting place for women. This can't be turned into a classroom. You will have to find another place for the teacher to hold classes." It took a lot of courage for a woman to speak up against what the village chief said, and her willingness to take this risk shows how important the cotton bank is to the women of the village, as well as the confidence that the women's leadership workshops have inspired. The chief listened and decided that the men would build a shade hangar for the classes to be held in.
Work is starting on the construction of the new health center in Sal, Mali, thanks to a generous gift from Kitty and Dick Rosenthal. Here is a photo of the site for the new health center, which will serve about 9,000 people, who currently have to travel long distances over rough tracks to access health care. The residents of Sal have completed breaking the stones for the foundations of the five buildings, and the contractor is transporting the sand and gravel needed for the construction.
The school gardens in Saredina and Ondogou are ready for action! For both gardens, the fences have been installed, the management committees have been selected, and students, teachers, and parents have participated in training workshops on gardening techniques and management. Both trainings hosted more participants than expected, and we are now eagerly waiting for the plants to be ready for harvest.
Construction of the Sal Health Center is moving along. At the beginning of the month, the contractor, the masons, and some residents of Sal laid out the corners and built a water reservoir to store water for mixing cement and for other purposes throughout the construction. Now, they are almost finished with the foundations for the main buildings.
Volunteers from the Ohio Master Gardeners joined Tandana for a week-long adventure to complete different gardening projects and cultural exploration. All week the group was accompanied by our knowledgeable, community friend, Matias Perugachi. They were able to help him work on his land and get dirty assisting with maintenance. The group spent three mornings working in Inguincho at the weather station planting medicinal plants and a variety of trees. Then, they were able to learn about the significance of the weather station to the area and the work that takes place. The group participated in a few afternoon cultural exchanges, learning about traditional dress and cooking methods, attending healing ceremonies and sharing meals and cooking with local friends. The group also had time to explore the Polylepis forest and learn about its unique ecosystem. On the final day, the group joined students and teachers at La Joya school to plant and enjoyed a snack and dancing together.
Students from The Traveling School visited and stayed in homestays with the community of Agualongo for a week. During this time, the girls continued their general high school studies all the while experiencing Indigenous Otavaleño culture. They assisted local community members in cleaning drainage trenches on the main road and then in a community minga, started the third wall for the soccer field and moved dirt and rocks to level out the field. The girls expressed their thanks by sharing words and a memory followed by a song in English and Spanish. The experience was enjoyable for everyone and the girls left the next morning full of ways they had grown and would continue to navigate their semester of travel.
Students from Arendell Parrott Academy began their week full of activities with a visit to Kawsaymi cooking school where they helped prepare a traditional meal and even tried a local delicacy- guinea pig. They spent their afternoons at the Panecillo school teaching art classes to the students. The kids loved making kaleidoscopes, giant paper flowers, seashell necklaces, and color-changing bracelets, and the group enjoyed practicing their Spanish to lead the projects. Additionally, the group contributed to 2 service projects- repainting the bathrooms, and painting a mural inside the school. On their final day at the school, the visiting students and Panecillo students played games and danced together. The event ended with a dance choreographed by the visiting students that the school dance group performed. The group enjoyed all of the activities that they participated in, but the highlight was working with students at the school where they made new friendships and hope to visit again one day.
The Tandana Foundation welcomed thirteen students from the Northeastern University Alliance of Civically Engaged Students (NU ACES) for a week long service project in the remote community of Motilón Chupa. Their project for the next four days was to work with community members to dig out a new water containment system. Fortunately, the first day on site was a minga (a community work day that included a representative from every household in the community). The afternoons were full of interesting activities with new local friends, like participating in the carnaval tradition of a community-wide water fight. Everyone was soaked and loving it. Mama Maria taught us how to make local cheese and Maria Cortez treated us to fanesca, a traditional soup that is served around Easter. We worked hard and ate well.
The inaugural group from Purcell Marian High School joined the Tandana Foundation in Ecuador on March 6th. The students and teachers quickly moved into their home stays in Agualongo and shared a week with their new families. They participated in three work days in the community cleaning the roads and putting in an drainage system for the soccer stadium. Students were able to learn about local indigenous Otavaleño culture while sharing meals and experiences every day. There was not a shortage of beautiful places as the group traveled to Lake Cuicocha, Lake Yahuarcocha and hiked up to a site to cook and eat lunch. When students were expressing gratitude and preparing to leave the community, an unexpected flight cancellation gave them three extra days. The extra days were spent visiting Taxopamba waterfall, a traditional cooking class, making bracelets, and a full day exploring Quito. The memories and friendships made will last a lifetime.
The 25th Health Care Volunteer Venture kept us very busy. Our usual pace of 10 clinics in 10 days was tempered by some great afternoon adventures like visits to the local cultural history museum and to the home of our dear friend Margarita. Our clinic mornings took us near and far as we traveled to remote communities like Motilon Chupa and Muenala, mountain top locations with views (on a clear day!) of distant volcanoes and valleys below. But we also stayed close to town with a visit to nearby community La Banda. With so many returning volunteers, we got off to a running start and our team came together very quickly. We tried out a new afternoon activity with a local leather shop, La Tierra. Volunteers had a chance to try their hands at leatherwork and everyone created a small passport-sized leather carrying case. It was a wonderful way to shift gears from the busy rhythm of clinic and relax for a moment. We appreciate the flexibility and dedication of our volunteers!
In May the Tandana Foundation was joined by a group of 8 students and one leader from Colgate University. The students stayed with host families in the community of Motilon Chupa where they were able to bake fresh bread, try colada morada, cook for the community, and work to help build a water tank at the top of the hill of the community. This was phase two of the project and students moved heavy mud and mixed and moved concrete to build the base and three walls of the tank. Students were pushed to their limits with 7 half days of hard work. Other activities included a cooking class, kichwa lessons and a talk about global warming and the effects on food, Otavalango museum to learn about kichwa culture, a speaker on local indigenous politics and also a day tour of the agricultural technical high school.
When the group from Bellbrook, Ohio arrived, they went right away to cook at the Kawsaymi cooking school and restaurant where they made a delicious traditional dinner. During the week they also participated in activities such as making dreamcatchers and bracelets, making bread, learning about Kichwa traditions and clothing, visiting the solar clock in Cayambe, hiking to Taxopamba waterfall, and of course spending some quality shopping time in the Plaza de Ponchos in Otavalo. All of these activities were on top of the service project that they completed at the local school in Tangali. They assisted the parents’ organization in painting the outside of the many buildings that make up the school. They also spent some time playing with the school kids, and partook in a couple of friendly soccer matches on our last day at the school. They had a fantastic week participating in the program, and many of them would like to return to work on another project and visit the friends they made at the school.
Now that the summer school has come to an end, we are exhausted but sad that it is over. The team of five teachers had a wonderful experience teaching English, art, sports, indoors games, theatre, math, science, documentaries, and animals classes. We had amazing trips to two lakes in the area and a pool nearby. Students presented their English knowledge and three plays in the final day performance. Afterwards 200 family members, staff and students enjoyed amazing hornado (a dish of potato patties, pulled pork and mote)! Fun was had by all!
Tandana recently had the pleasure of hosting a group from Boston Scientific. The group had the opportunity to do many different types of jobs from painting and gardening to building the walls of a water tank and digging a trench to repairing a road. The group also had a lot of fun. They spent time with many local friends cooking traditional dinners including guinea pig known locally as cuy. They also got to tour the traditional birthing rooms at the award winning Otavalo Hospital and see traditional cleansings to see how natural medicine is practiced. They had lunch in the communities and got to spend one afternoon painting with elders of the community. The relationships that were built will last a lifetime. Participants had a challenging week but were up to the challenge of stepping out of their comfort zone for the common good. They learned the word minga and were able to practice working together for the good of all the whole week.
Shortly after the ARCC group arrived in Otavalo they were whisked away for their week-long stay in Motilon Chupa. Mornings were spent working with community members on the third phase of a water tank project, and after a few long days of carrying supplies and mixing cement, the final wall of the structure was completed. During two of the “mingas” (everyone coming together to work for a common goal) the women of Motilon Chupa cooked lunch for everyone at the worksite, and the volunteers were able to try local cuisine such as potatoes, corn, fava beans, fresh cheese, and a traditional soup. The group of travelers also had the opportunity to engage with community members in the afternoon, doing activities such as bread making, pizza making, a hike to a microclimate where they were able to make and try sugar cane juice, and spending time with students from the local school. They were also able to see an exposition done by the mothers of the school about their project to knit and sell hats. The group’s energy made it possible for full days of work, activities, cooking, and playing with the kids. The week concluded with some heartfelt speeches from both the community members and the volunteers, and with handmade cards that the school children made for the group. After a fun night of dancing and eating, the group said their goodbyes and the next morning returned to Otavalo to continue on their journey.
Right after the semester ended, eleven students and two leaders from a Lindsey Wilson College community service group, came to Ecuador to support the community of Cutambi in Ecuador. These hard working participants had five full work days and managed to complete a painting and cement project alongside community members. They painted one room of the community center, cement paved a sidewalk and some stairs, and smoothed out the side of the community kitchen with cement. In the afternoons, LWC participants were able to take a local cooking class, learn how to make bracelets, learn embroidery, and play games with the students at the school in Cutambi. After dinner each night one would find the group at the kitchen table working on their embroidery projects. Margarita Fuerez, Tandana’s accountant, and our embroidery expert was so proud of all the work they did with their embroidery projects. The final day in the community students were able to experience a pamba mesa (potluck style meal) in the community while they said goodbye to all their new friends. Then, on their last day in Ecuador, they took a trip to Cuicocha Lake and hike for about two hours, this was followed by Tandana’s despedida (going away party) and then off to their airport. The Tandana Foundation hopes to host LWC participants in the coming year, what a great group!
Tandana's ten literacy instructors have begun new classes with 300 students! They are excited to bring numeracy and literacy skills to more women in more villages in covered, open-air classrooms. To the right is a picture of nine of the instructors who will be teaching the classes this year. To learn more about the Literacy program in Mali please click this link and then click on the literacy and leadership tab. We are excited about expanding this program to reach more women!
Representatives from the Olouguelemo Environmental Association's five new member villages and volunteers from nine additional villages learned how to make efficient cookstoves that reduce the need for firewood. Representatives of the new member villages also received bicycles and boots to help them in their conservation work in the protected forests. Leaders of the association also met with a contractor to survey the sites for the new stock ponds that will be created.
The women’s association of Kani-Gogouna, one of the groups selected to receive funding for their new business, has used their funds to purchase sheep and get training on how to vaccinate them.To the right is a photo of some happy members of the association with their sheep.
The Student Mothers Program exists because often times in Mali, when a female student becomes pregnant, she is unable to support herself and ends up having to drop out of school. The program was formed to support them through this critical stage of their development and allow them to continue to study. This year, the ten student mothers have received their food and supplies for this academic year and are ready to study. To the left is a picture of some of the mothers receiving their supplies.
With Tandana's help The Olouguelemo Environmental Association has created two stock ponds. The ponds will conserve water for livestock, which will also help keep the livestock out of their protected forest areas. Also, the village of Sal Sombogou has just joined The Olouguelemo Environmental Association, bringing the total number of member villages to 17.
The students who were elected to this year's Kilegou School Garden management committee participated in a training session to learn how to take care of the garden and how to keep records. They are excited to learn new skills and take care of this important garden. The garden also received new water containers to facilitate irrigation.
The women's association of Kedou was one of the groups who received funding for their enterprise turning cotton into cloth. They have all paid for the first lot of cotton and used the fund to buy a second lot. They have distributed this second lot among the members to be transformed into cloth and keep their businesses growing.
The Olouguelemo Environmental Association recently held a training session for representatives from 9 of its 17 member villages on the construction of stone contour lines for erosion prevention. A quick glance at the photos and it's clear how essential erosion prevention is for these farmers. During the training they learned how to construct stone contour lines to protect and enhance the new stock pond in Goundoly Dogon. The village representatives then went home and taught the techniques they have learned to other farmers in their villages. They also received tools, so that they will all have the ability to continue to build stone contour lines to prevent erosion in their own fields. This work will conserve both soil and water and increase crop yields.
Our Mali team recently completed a training session for Savings for Change "replicators." These women, who are all members of existing Savings for Change groups, have now learned how to form and support new groups in their fund-sharing ceremonies. Now that they have the knowledge to create new groups they can bring the program to more women in and around their villages and ensure the beginners manage their fund-sharing well.
Thanks to the protection of the forests through the Olouguelemo Association, there has been an abundant harvest of Gogdio fruits, which used to be rare. There are even enough for some residents to collect and sell in the market.
The school garden in the community of Yarou led by Ele Samakan, a teacher Tandana supports, is doing well. This is quite a feat as he is currently the only teacher at the school and has managed to keep it all running by himself.
The literacy program has yielded some incredible results. 687 women are now considered to have basic literacy thanks to the classes. The literacy students who are members of Savings for Change groups have begun using notebooks to keep notes on their SFC activities, amounts loaned and owed, etc.
"I am a student of the literacy class in Kansongho and one of the cooks trained by The Tandana Foundation to cook for Tandana volunteer groups on their visits to Mali. I am also a member of the executive committee of the Olouguelemo Environmental Association and a member of the Kansongho cotton bank committee. Thanks to the literacy classes, I can carry out my responsibilities in all the roles that have been entrusted to me and I can take notes during meetings and assemblies. Now I know how to calculate so I can estimate the quantities of ingredients needed for meals we cook for the different workshops and Tandana activities, based on the number of participants. Thanks to my work cooking for these workshops, I earn the money I need for skin cream, soap, clothes for me and my children, and ingredients for our family’s meals. After the literacy classes, I now can keep a notebook recording the attendance and contributions of each member of my Savings for Change group, and I assist other Savings for Change groups in my village when they share their group fund at the end of the year." - Yagouno Tembine
Olouguelemo's two new tree nurseries are in the villages of Gongo and Sandian. The tree nurseries' managers received training on how to produce young trees. The nurseries provide native, medicinal, fruit-bearing, and soil-enriching trees for both reforestation in the protected forest zones and for farmers to plant in their fields.
The Savings for Change groups in Kani held their annual fund-sharing ceremony in February. At the ceremony, each member receives her savings plus interest, which she can use to buy whatever she needs – whether it is seeds for a garden, cotton to transform into cloth, clothing, food for a special event coming up, etc. Also, The Kansongho village has elected a new committee to manage the grain bank for the coming year. The new committee members participated in a training session to learn their roles and have now assumed their responsibilities. The grain bank is extremely important to ensure that community members can afford to buy millet at an affordable price all year round.
The fence is erected for the orchard of the school in Kilegou. The teachers and students have also received training in horticulture so that they can maintain this project on their own. This garden will help maintain a nutritious diet and also provide students with produce that they can sell in order to buy school supplies. The trend of school gardening is gaining strength and it seems that whenever school officials visit another school and see a garden, they would also like to have one.
The new furniture for the school in Sal-Ogol, Mali, has been finished and delivered by members of the Kansongho carpentry workshop. The furniture was delivered using the workshop's motorcycle. This furniture will ensure that schoolchildren have a comfortable place to sit and learn.
Construction of the storehouse for the grain bank in Dologou is complete, and the members of the bank’s management committee have received training. The management committee purchases a large stock of millet and sells it at a constant price year round so that residents can afford it when they need it.
The second phase of the Literacy Program is progressing quite nicely. After attending the Leadership and Association Governance workshops, the women leaders returned home and created women's associations in each of their villages. Each association came up with an idea for an income generating enterprise. Two representatives from each association were chosen to present proposals for their enterprise ideas at workshops. At the workshops, the women had a chance to learn about each idea and evaluate each proposal. A committee selected the best proposals, using a scoring system based on 20 criteria, and they eliminated groups from villages that have already benefited from Tandana support for income-generating enterprises. They gave special mention to the association from Guinekanda for their innovative business proposal. This association will collect seeds of the Néré, or African locust bean, tree. They will cook and ferment them to make them into balls that are used in preparing sauce for meals. This ingredient is used in almost every meal, so the balls are sure to sell well. The other proposals selected include transforming cotton into cloth, indigo dyeing, and raising sheep.
The new cotton bank in Dana Guiri is called the Papa Hubert cotton bank because it honors the generous donations of Tandana friends and family members who gave in memory of Ed “Papa” Hubert. The construction of the building for the cotton bank is complete, and the bank’s management committee has also received their training.
The village of Biné has joined the Olouguelemo Environmental Association as its sixteenth member village. The nurseries in the villages of Gongo and Sandian are doing well. The nurseries currently have 90 moringa trees, 27 tamarind trees, 126 pomegranates, 42 balanzán trees, 60 guayabos, 75 detarros, 9 palm trees and 55 chirimoyas in existence.
On January 7, Tandana hosted ten students and two leaders from Colgate University for a service-learning trip. The students stayed with host families in Muenala and worked together with the community on the construction of a second floor for their community center. This program culminated in a heartfelt farewell party that included presentations and activities planned by both the community and the students; and of course, many tears were shed!
Ohio Master Gardener volunteers joined Tandana and several of our community partners for a week-long adventure of gardening and cultural learning. They collaborated with the Motilón Chupa community - planting vegetables in the school garden and fruit trees on land shared by the Motilón community. They also planted in the garden at La Joya School for children with special needs.
A group of girls from The Traveling School visited Ecuador and stayed with host families in the community of Agualongo. During this time, the students continued their general studies while experiencing the local indigenous Otavaleño culture. They also visited Saminay high school in the mountains surrounding Otavalo in order to assist the students in a reforestation project. Towards the end of the week, the students and their families went on a trip to a local Afro-Ecuadorian community, El Juncal, located in the nearby Chota Valley.
Northeastern University in Boston joined us in Ecuador for an immersion experience. The small group of students, on an alternative spring break trip, visited for a week to live and work in the mountain community of Motilón Chupa. The students, along with project foreman Alberto Panama and other community members, helped build an 8x8x10 ft. concrete water tank. The tank improves the community's irrigation system.
The Tandana Foundation was delighted to welcome a group of students from George Washington University in Ecuador. They spent most mornings helping the local community, Guachinguero, improve a multipurpose building next to their soccer field. This building serves as a center for the community, especially in the month of June, when they organize a large multi-community soccer competition.
In April, Tandana hosted 7 volunteers in a very special program. As close friends and relatives of Tandana in the United States, the participants of this program had the opportunity to form friendships with the Tandana family in Ecuador. They painted together with the community of Muenala in a two-day "minga", a collective work in which the families collaborate in a community project. The volunteers also spent two days building new cabinets at the special needs school, "La Joya".
Over the course of a week-long program, Tandana partnered with local and international volunteers to provide basic health care in 5 communities in Ecuador's rural highlands. Larcacunga, Motilón Chupa, Achupallas, Muenala and La Banda opened their doors to receive our volunteers and organized mobile health clinics with enthusiasm. Program participants also, in turn, gained from the genuine friendships they formed in and with Tandana's community partners, learning from their local knowledge and culture in medicine, agriculture, cooking and history.
A group of 13 people from the University of Cincinnati joined Tandana for a week in May to participate in a number of education-based activities and projects. UC students split into three distinct groups who had previously prepared a curriculum on a range of topics to present to several different local schools. The UC students observed classes at the schools to understand the dynamics of classrooms in this area. After observing, each group presented their lessons on weather, sports, and scientific method, respectively. Challenges were faced, lessons were learned and open minds were filled with information that helped broaden the perspectives and perceptions of the world and those who inhabit it.
Colgate University students joined Motilón Chupa's families, together renovating the community school. During two weeks of collaboration, they added new paint, fixed holes in the walls, replaced broken windows, and painted an educational mural. In addition, Colgate students lived with Motilon's families, sharing daily life with their new friends. Working hard and having fun through a variety of activities, everyone involved formed strong friendships through the time they spent together. Tandana appreciates Motilón's collaboration and Colgate's investment of time and energy as we all come together to learn and grow.
The Kichwa community of La Banda hosted students from Dayton, Ohio, in a week-long collaboration to improve the community's water system. They all worked together through "mingas" (community work days), built a retaining wall in the La Banda water tank, and dug a new line for the water system. Visiting volunteers also learned about the local culture as they spent time with our friends in La Banda and the surrounding area of Otavalo.
This year's Summer School program began on July 9 and ended on August 3. Approximately 53 students between the ages of 10 and 16 attended this year's program. The Summer School Program Director and four ESL interns taught English and elective classes. A theater professional returned for another summer and taught the students all about acting and public speaking.
Some of the electives included science, yoga, basic theater concepts, storytelling, and art. Two university scholarship students helped teach math and dance. This year's program took place at the Ati Pillahuasu School in the community of Panecillo. Highlights of this year's program included painting a mural at the school (right), visiting the Living Kichwa Museum in Otavalo, and performing a play on the last day.
This summer, a group of Lakeside School students joined Tandana for three weeks. During their stay, the students lived with host families in the Agualongo. While there, the group helped the community build a fence around their soccer field to solve the continuing problem of cars damaging the field. The students also participated in a series of cultural activities involving the community, including baking bread in one of a large brick oven, listening to the stories of the haciendas surrounding Agualongo, and climbing to the top of a mountain to spend a day roasting food and flying kites.
For two weeks this fall, our largest team ever assembled to provide healthcare to 12 total communities in highland Ecuador over a two-week period. About 60 foreign volunteers, local staff members, and local professionals all came together to visit 10 different villages while transportation was provided to two nearby villages so they could also attend. It was a great success and over 1,000 patients were seen. When the team was not providing basic medical care they could be found visiting with Tandana friends who live in the area enjoying local attractions.
For a week this fall a small but hardy team of dedicated volunteers worked at the community center and school property in the community of Padre Chupa. They put their green thumbs to work alongside local community members, planting medicinal plants, ornamental plants and fruit trees on the property surrounding the school. Lime trees and tree tomato trees are now growing and will one day provide food to help supplement the school lunches. In order to keep these plants strong with sufficient water, the team also installed a section of pipe that brings water from a tank above down to the school garden for irrigation. It was a wonderful week and the end was marked with a heartfelt ceremony led by Don Matias.
During their week with Tandana in Otavalo in late October and then again with another group in late November, 9 ARCC students and their 2 leaders spent their time in the community of Minas Chupa. Students worked side by side with community members, remodeling the community center in a series of mingas (community work days) for four mornings. The project involved plastering all the inside walls of the structure, covering the floors with cement and giving the walls a paint primer coat. They also enjoyed several activities in the area, including a hike with the president and several kids from the local school, spending an afternoon learning from the mothers in the community how to embroider beautiful designs, and making bread to be eaten with a golden berry colada/ drink. The week culminated with a ‘despedida’ in Minas Chupa including a lot of delicious food and dances with community members!