The Tandana Foundation is a non-profit organization with strong ties to First Community Church. Founded and directed by First Community member Anna Taft, the organization offers cross-cultural volunteer opportunities and provides support for scholarships and community projects in highland Ecuador and in Dogon country in Mali, West Africa.
The accomplishments of Tandana are extremely important to the people of these two regions.
In Ecuador volunteer groups completed the following projects in several rural communities in the highlands:
• built a retaining wall to protect a village water source from erosion and pollution
• planted trees to provide extra protection from erosion
• replaced the roof of a community center
• constructed a greenhouse for a native tree nursery
• set up basic health clinics in five villages, seeing 134 patients in five days
Additionally, Tandana provides scholarships to allow rural Ecuadorian students to continue their secondary and university education.
Several villages in Mali are the beneficiaries of Tandana supported community projects selected by the village leaders:
• funding for the restoration of a traditional well in Sal Dimi
• building a village grain bank and supplying grain in Sal Dimi
• expanding a savings and micro-credit program in eight villages
• funding a soap-making training class for the women in Kansangho, helping them diversify their sources of income
• building a latrine (the first in their village) at the women’s cotton bank in Kansangho
• assisting a group of villages with agricultural innovations such as the natural regeneration of trees in the fields and short-cycle cowpeas
• printing books for the first time in the local dialect and continuing literacy classes
October 2015 Update
I hope everyone is doing well. I have more pictures of the garden to share with you. As you can see by the pictures, the garden is doing well. The villagers have harvested a lot of fruit, especially a lot of lemons. Thank you again for your continued support of this vital project.
Public Relations Specialist
The Tandana Foundation
June 2014 Update
Villagers in Kansongho, Mali are thrilled to be able to grow vegetables year-round in a new garden that was made possible in part by support from First Community Church Mission Council.
The Tandana Foundation, with help from Mission Council and other donors, has installed a water tower, solar pump, and watering basins, so that now gardeners can easily water their plots throughout the year.
In the arid Sahel climate, the rainy season lasts less than 3 months and, in recent years, has not provided enough precipitation to nourish a good harvest of millet, peanuts, and cow peas, the traditional staple crops in the area. During the long dry season, villagers must subsist on what they have grown and then seek ways of earning income to purchase additional food.
People in Kansongho have long dreamed of being able to grow vegetables year-round, and now that dream is a reality.
They are excited to supplement their diet with fresh vegetables in the dry season and hope also to sell some of their produce in order to earn income that will help them buy additional millet, their staple food.
“Our dream of a vegetable garden has just been realized today,” said Mamoudou Tembiné, one of the gardeners who is eager to get started. “The people of Kansongho will finally be able to produce onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and many other vegetables for our own consumption, and to sell a part of the harvest. If there is water, we are ready to work in all seasons.”
June 2013 Update
Tandana has been busy this year, and we’d like to share some of our accomplishments as well as inviting you to join us in Ecuador in October.
We have space for all kinds of volunteers–both medically-trained, and untrained volunteers willing to lend a hand–in our Health Care Volunteer Vacation October 5-20. You can choose either week or both.
“This was the most amazing experience of my life! I learned so much and made so many amazing new friendships! I am so grateful I had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing experience,” said Danielle Clark, who volunteered on one of our recent health care programs.
2013 has brought us a lot of activity in both Ecuador and Mali. We invite you to visit our blog for more details and different voices and perspectives on these happenings.
Although we did not take a volunteer group to Mali, our work in the communities there is going strong, with a literacy program reaching 10 villages, a new Savings for Change micro-credit program in Yarou Plateau, support for an environmental association of 8 villages that is preventing deforestation and encouraging the natural regeneration of trees in the fields, and an improved and secured well for the village of Sal-Sombogou.
Five different volunteer groups have joined us this year in Ecuador, doing everything from weeding and planting trees to building a playground to offering health care to rural community members.
Nineteen Master Gardeners from Ohio came for the first time to work with Tandana in Ecuador in February. They worked alongside Matias Perugachi in the UCINQUI tree nursery in Achupallas. Matias, our good friend and sole employee of the nursery, was blown away by their enthusiasm and how much they accomplished. In addition to improving the tree nursery, which benefits twenty-three communities, the group was also able to participate in many other cultural exchange activities, including a traditional cooking class and seeing an international chainsaw sculpture symposium in action. A highlight of the trip included planting 200 trees with 46 students at the Quinchinche school and teaching some fun lessons on the importance of plants.
At the beginning of March, a group of 12 students from Northeastern University joined Tandana to work and learn together in the community of Gualapuro. Every morning the students worked on building two playground structures for the preschool in Gualapuro and caring for the preschoolers. One structure was designed kids ages 4 and up, and one for toddlers. By the end of the week, they were able to see the children enjoying their new toys. In the afternoons, the students spent time in the community harvesting local crops, weaving bracelets and making bread by hand. The week culminated in a celebration featuring dance and song performances by both local children and the visitors.
Next, nineteen staff and family from Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Idaho flew to Otavalo to work with Tandana putting on free medical clinics. Bringing a strong sense of enthusiasm and organization, the group went straight to work, running six medical clinics in five days! The team saw 190 medical patients and performed 228 pediatric check ups. They also added to our diagnostic abilities by bringing a portable ultrasound machine. In their free time they explored Peguche Waterfall, saw a weaving demonstration from master weaver Miguel Anrango and cooked a traditional dinner with indigenous chef Claudia Fuerez. They also danced behind while one group member rode as queen on the Tandana float in the parade opening the Quichinche festival.
Then came our thirteenth Health Care Volunteer Vacation. For two weeks, volunteers including six doctors, a dentist, and others from throughout the United States and Mexico worked together to provide health care in ten rural communities in Quichinche parish. They improved our dental capabilities with more equipment and materials for preventative treatments such as fluoride and sealants, and they performed check ups on 591 children in addition to seeing 443 medical patients. After work, they enjoyed seeing Ecuador beat Paraguay in a World Cup qualifying soccer match, hiking from the condor park to the Peguche waterfall, visiting Cuicocha and Mojanda Lakes, and dancing to live Andean music.
In the last week of April, the 8th grade class from Headwaters Academy in Bozeman, Montana joined us in the rural community of Padre Chupa. The group of ten students and two teachers packed their sleeping bags and stayed at the elementary school located at over 10,000 feet elevation. There the group helped the community to harvest over 400 pounds of potatoes and plant an assortment of vegetables for the upcoming harvest season. The students of Headwaters also taught an array of activities from Capture the Flag to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Likewise, the children of Padre Chupa shared their culture in the form of dance, food, and traditional music. They wrapped up the week with a day trip to the Interactive Science Museum in Quito where all of the kids learned about the human brain and laws of physics before saying their sad goodbyes.
We are busily preparing for several more groups this year and many more in 2014. We hope you can join us for one of our programs, or spread the word to others.
Thank you so much for your support. Because of the teamwork and diverse contributions behind Tandana’s efforts, we are building connections and expanding opportunities for so many people.
Anna and the Tandana team
Please watch this video about the cotton bank, carders and spinning wheels.
Learn more about the foundation
Questions? Contact the Mission Office 614 488.0681 x106