For about $300 you can make it possible for one Ecuadorian student to attend secondary school for one year.
For about $25 you can provide h. pylori medications for three people.
We are also seeking donations of medications and laboratory tests for use in our Health Care Volunteer Vacations. Contact us for more information.
Thank you so much for your support.
Students graduating from college and about to start medical school often try to save every penny they can in anticipation of many more years in school. Kate Ostrander does things differently. Kate, who will be starting at Tufts Medical School in August, was recently awarded Northeastern University's prestigious Presidential Global Fellowship and donated $500 of the money she received to The Tandana Foundation. This donation was meaningful because her work with The Tandana Foundation in Ecuador helped to make her eligible for the Fellowship. “I wanted to give to an organization that provided me with such a rich, fun, and meaningful experience, and one that seems to be really making a difference in this world," said Kate.
Kate, along with 10 other Northeastern University students, and a staff member, traveled to Ecuador to participate in an Alternative Spring Break service project organized by Tandana. The group spent a week working alongside villagers from the rural community of La Banda, helping them to build a water filtration system. They spent their days hauling potato sacks full of gravel, sand, concrete mix, and hefty bricks up the side of a large hill. The work was hard, but as an exercise and outdoor enthusiast Kate loved it. The villagers even gave the 4'11" student a nickname. “The locals started calling me the maquinita (little machine) because they were surprised to see a little girl tirelessly running up and down that hill."
Kate's motivation for donating to Tandana came from how impressed she was with how effective and organized The Tandana Foundation operates as well as the close relationships that staff members have formed within the communities. “What I loved most was that Tandana found La Banda solutions to La Banda problems, let the president of the community and a local engineer design the water system, and let the people of the community teach us! In service work it is so important to build reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationships and it seems as though Tandana has mastered this," she said.
Kate looks forward to being involved with Tandana in the future. At Tufts, she plans to study Oncology/Hematology and Palliative Care and would love to start a Tandana medical group service project for herself and her fellow students. Kate said that the time she spent with Tandana helped her to remember why she is pursuing her chosen career.
For most 10-year-olds, birthdays are a time to think about what gifts they will receive. For Cassie Robbins, a fifth grader who likes to draw, paint and play the piano, birthdays are a time to think about giving to others.
Since her birthday is two days after Christmas, Cassie decided a few years ago that she would ask her friends and family to donate money to a charity instead of giving her birthday gifts. This year, to mark her 10th birthday, Cassie asked her friends and family to donate money to The Tandana foundation. She learned about Tandana from her mother.
"My mom told me about it because Anna went to school at Wellington where my mom works. I had been choosing charities to give to for my birthday for a couple of years. When I read about what Tandana does, I realized I could help a lot of people for a little bit of money. My goal was to raise enough money to send an Ecuadorian child to school for a year. I’m glad to say that I raised more than I planned!"
With the donations from friends and family, she provided an Ecuadorian student with $410 to use for school-related expenses. One day Cassie would very much like to get in touch with the student for whom she raised the money. Raising money for the student is only the beginning of Cassie's involvement with The Tandana Foundation. She plans to raise money for the foundation again this December for her 11th birthday. Also, when she gets older Cassie would love to go on a volunteer vacation to Mali.
As with all Tandana Foundation activities, Cassie's fund-raising effort benefited all parties involved. Not only did the student receive the precious gift of education, Cassie also got to experience that special feeling that comes with doing something wonderful for someone else. She also was able to support education, a cause very important to her and her family.
"It made me feel very good inside because I know that we have enough money to keep sending me to school and some people in other countries don’t have that money. It makes me feel very glad that another kid can go to school. Education is very important to me and to my family.”
Julie and Mick Lundquist
Julie Lundquist, a writer and photographer from Minnesota, has always loved learning and serving the world around her and beyond. So a few years ago when she met Anna Taft at a leadership conference and heard about The Tandana Foundation, she was immediately interested.
“I was intrigued by her passion for serving others combined with travel," said Julie.
Julie first volunteered with Tandana in March 2007, when she went on the Foundation’s first Health Care Volunteer Vacation to Ecuador. She also invited her friends to donate money that was used to buy medications to be dispensed to patients seen during the trip. After she knew that the programs organized by The Tandana Foundation were thought-provoking and relationship-based experiences for all involved, she decided to go on the Foundation's first Volunteer Vacation to Mali in January 2009.
She also invited her 13-year-old son Mick, who had wanted to visit Africa since the age of two. Julie had little idea how much helping the villagers of Kansongho with projects to improve their food security would impact her son. “My husband and I thought Mick would enjoy and grow from this experience; little did we know it would serve as his Rite of Passage into (young) manhood.”
The trip had a profound impact on Julie as well. “Through my intention to learn more about the amazing people in Kansongho, I learned much about myself, about living fully and joyfully, and how thankful I am to be alive!"
Julie and Mick’s effort to help the people of Kansongho did not end when they left the village. Mick and Julie wrote a letter, which included pictures, telling people how much their experiences had touched their lives and that the villagers needed more grain. They mailed this letter with a self-addressed envelope for donations, to 130 people on their Christmas card list. This list included friends, family, members of the community, neighbors and people on their sports teams. They received 75 donations in varying amounts. Some of the money came from children whose parents had read them the letter. Together they raised over $7000, which was used to buy grain for the village grain bank. Julie and her family were amazed by the response they got from their letter.
"Each day we would go to the mailbox and find letters, cards and notes along with checks. So many people who read about our experience wanted to share stories of their own. We were so touched by how this “fundraiser” was about building community and connections not only in Kansongho, but here as well"
Julie and Mick plan to be involved with The Tandana Foundation for a long time to come. Julie would consider volunteering from Minnesota and plans to go on another trip. One of the reasons Julie likes working with The Tandana Foundation is that everyone involved, both local community member and volunteers, gets to be both giver and receiver. This enables all of them to build relationships and become a true community.
As for Mick, he plans to study more French and go back to the village someday. Julie and Mick are true pioneers of The Tandana Foundation!
When Tandana Foundation volunteer and donor Gloria Vasquez was asked to describe herself here is what she said: "I’m just a person that enjoys sharing my knowledge and helping out in the community. After all, there was always somebody in my life to lend me a helping hand, when I was growing up. I enjoy giving and seeing people succeed."
Gloria’s actions prove just how true this description is. Even when she was unemployed for a year, Gloria still made sure she donated money to The Tandana Foundation. According to Gloria, by giving to others we can stop worrying about our own problems and realize our situation is not as bad as it seems.
At the beginning of each year, Gloria plans out how much money she will donate to The Foundation for the entire year. She then sends several checks, dated throughout the year, to The Tandana Foundation. She does this because it enables The Tandana Foundation to figure the total amount into its annual budget, and also this way she does not forget to donate.
In the spring of 2009 Gloria was honored with the Service Above Self award by the Columbus Rotary for her exemplary service to others. She volunteers for numerous organizations including the Columbus chapter of the American Red Cross, The Justice League of Ohio, Divine Mercy Ministry, and the Ohio Governor’s Residence. The Service Above Self award comes with a donation of $1000 to be given to the nonprofit organization of the winner's choice. Gloria chose for the money to go to Tandana. Her reason for donating to the organization is simple. “I totally believe in what The Tandana Foundation stands for and is doing on a day to day basis," said Gloria
In 2007 she got to witness The Foundation's work first hand when she traveled with other volunteers to Ecuador on a Health Care Volunteer Vacation. While on this trip, she worked as an interpreter and helped provide medical care for local villagers. The trip presented Gloria with the opportunity to combine her love for learning about new cultures and her lifelong passion of helping others succeed. She says that the trip was the best and most gratifying vacation she had taken in a decade.
The most memorable experience of the Health Care Volunteer Vacation for Gloria was working with children and pregnant women at the clinic and seeing just how much medical care was given to them in a short period of time. She got to see the impact it had on the local community members to have access to medical care. "I could also see on their faces the faith that the people had when coming to the clinic for medical assistance," she said.
Gloria's involvement with The Tandana Foundation is far from over. She would like to go to Ecuador again and plans to try to get her friends involved with The Foundation too.
Matthew Rothert, from Manhattan Beach, California, has his hand in many pots. Matthew works as a massage therapist and yoga instructor as well as being a chef and a bartender for a gourmet caterer. He practices yoga daily and surfs whenever the waves are good. Amid these varied pursuits, Matthew does one very important task every month. Each month, he donates ten percent of his earnings to The Tandana Foundation. The reason he does this is quite simple:
“The reason I give money to Tandana is that I believe in what they are doing. You can see the results of the money that is donated. I have talked to some of the kids who have benefited from Tandana's scholarship program. They were able to go to high school as a result of money donated to Tandana. Another reason is that a little money goes a long way. It only takes a few hundred dollars to pay for a kid to go to high school," said Matthew.
Matthew also decided to donate his time to the Tandana Foundation. In September 2008 and September 2009, he chose to participate in Tandana’s Health Care Volunteer Vacations in Ecuador. Both Health Care Volunteer Vacations provided Matthew with a perfect opportunity to give back to others and to directly see the results of his efforts on behalf of the foundation. He had wonderful experiences both times he visited Ecuador.
"The most memorable experience I had occurred at Don Santos' home. All of the volunteers and Santos' family got together and baked bread. We fired up the brick oven outside. This was not something they did very often. You could tell it was a special occasion. We all gathered in their open-air kitchen and kneaded the bread until it was ready. Then we made lots of different shapes and sizes of rolls. We made a few empanadas and finally made a couple of pizzas. This was not something they normally had and it was very exciting to see their reaction. Hanging out with the family and laughing and joking around and seeing the love that the family has for each other is an awesome experience. Everyone helped out and no one complained about anything. It was so much fun being around them even though I didn't speak their language."
Matthew's involvement with the organization has had as big an impact on his own life as it has on the lives of the people he is helping half a world away. His involvement with the organization has made Matthew more grateful for all the things he has in his life. He has learned to appreciate more the little things in life, and he is more aware of the needs of people in other countries.
In fact, the experiences he had on the Health Care Volunteer Vacations had such an impact on Matthew that he has decided to go to Ecuador every year. He would also like the opportunity to travel with The Tandana Foundation to Africa. One of the reasons Matthew wants to go on more Volunteer Vacations is because he believes that so much can be accomplished on those trips and that they are rewarding for all involved. Along with going on future Volunteer Vacations, Matthew plans to be involved with whatever The Tandana Foundation chooses to do in the upcoming years. Why is he so committed?
“I think they are an amazing organization. Everything is done out of love with pure intention. You can't ask for anything more than that."
Parasites are commonly thought of as gross and disgusting little organisms. For Sue Barton, a middle school science teacher from Big Sky, Montana, these disgusting organisms were the starting point for a service learning project that ended up teaching her students some very valuable lessons that they could not have learned from books. This project would not have been possible without Sue's involvement with The Tandana Foundation.
Sue listened to her husband Jim Hoyne, a doctor who has participated in all of The Foundation's Health Care Volunteer Vacations to Ecuador, and was appalled to learn that having parasites was an accepted condition in Ecuador. She developed a service learning project that would not only make studying parasites more interesting to her students, but also help out people half a world away. Sue taught her students the science of parasites in the human body and then helped them raise money to buy medicines to combat parasites in Ecuador. The project was a huge success.
"My students were not even aware that having clean water could be such a huge concern or that parasites could be a major health concern. They learned to see beyond themselves and their own community and make a global connection to students who are like them," said Sue.
To raise the money, 26 sixth and seventh graders took part in a Readathon in January 2007. The students went throughout the community looking for people to sponsor them, either by giving a certain amount of money for every page they read or by making a one-time donation. Then the students read in the library and recorded the number of pages read. In total, the students raised $2,000.
Sue knew how to make her students enthusiastic about this service learning project. First, she had her husband talk to them about what he did in Ecuador. He also shared pictures of his trips and told them how they could make a difference. Then the students brainstormed ways to raise the money. Sue also contacted the local weekly newspapers in order to spread the word about the Readathon. She gives her students a lot of credit for the success of this project.
“The success of the Readathon depended mostly on the enthusiasm of the students going door-to-door and business-to-business to get sponsors. They had a preprinted page telling about Tandana and pictures of Jim with kid patients in Ecuador."
In March of 2008, Sue was able to go with her husband and one of their daughters on a Health Care Volunteer Vacation. She helped distribute medicine and saw the impact that the service learning project had on the lives of the people in Ecuador.
"I was so happy to have that personal connection. I could see firsthand how appreciated our efforts were.”
Sue also made personal connections with many of the schoolchildren in Ecuador. She helped facilitate a pen pal exchange between her students and the students from some of the villages she visited in Ecuador. While on the Volunteer Vacation, Sue was able to meet some of her students’ Ecuadorian pen pals. She bought school supplies for the Ecuadorian kids, which her students had decided to purchase for them with the $200 they had been awarded for good citizenship in early 2008. When Sue came home, she was able to tell her students more about the kids they had been writing to.
"My students loved hearing stories about individual personalities of their penpal buddies. I could say this kid kept trying to get in the picture no matter what I did and he's just like you, ________. Or this little girl was really shy and wouldn't let me get close to her."
Sue plans to do a similar service learning project with her class this year. She also plans to continue to facilitate the pen pal program. Some of the students and their families have shown an interest in going on a Health Care Volunteer Vacation. Sue would also like to continue traveling with The Tandana Foundation. Whatever happens in the future, Sue is sure of one thing.
"The whole project was something neither myself nor my students will ever forget."
Growing up In Washington State with her Caucasian parents, Sarah Wright, who was adopted from Peru as a baby, had limited ties with the Latino community. She also felt removed from the culture and heritage of her birthplace. In spring 2008, she got an opportunity to change that when she attended The Traveling School's spring semester in South America.
"I chose to attend the South America semester (as opposed to the one in South Africa) because I had a strong curiosity about my culture and people and felt that this opportunity would give me a chance to learn more about myself, as well as establish connections with people from a different part of the world," said Sarah.
During the semester, Sarah traveled to Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, where her experiences had a great impact on her and taught her invaluable lessons.
"I spent two months in Ecuador and was initially anxious to get to Peru. I grew to love Ecuador, however, as I began to interact with the people I met. Ecuador is a beautiful country and I realized that my initial uncertainty stemmed from the fact that I was somewhat unfamiliar with the culture," she said.
One of the experiences that most impacted Sarah was the week she and her classmates stayed in the small village of Agualongo, in northern Ecuador. There, the students lived with host families and participated in a service project that was coordinated by The Tandana Foundation. Sarah got to know the village's children and saw their intelligence and potential. She realized that the only barrier between these children and a better education was a lack of resources and money. When she returned home she decided she could make a difference in their lives.
In the summer of 2009, Sarah worked as a camp counselor at the Latin American Heritage Camp in Colorado. This camp provides children who were adopted from Latin America, along with their family members, an opportunity to learn about the culture in that region. One important component of the camp is its "More Than Me Program". Through this program, the campers raise money for a cause or nonprofit organization related to Latin America. Remembering the children she had met in Agualongo, Sarah suggested that they raise money for The Tandana Foundation Scholarship Program, which helps Ecuadorian students continue their education.
Forty-four high school and middle school campers raised $800 for the scholarship program. They raised some of this money on their own, and then raised the remainder by decorating and selling baseball caps to their family and friends at camp. Sarah made and sold jewelry before the camp to raise money for the foundation.
“While I am happy to know that the students are able to continue their education, I do not like to think that I am helping them. Instead, I believe that I am thanking them for all that they taught me and allowed me to experience. My time in Agualongo was a really pivotal point in my life, as I felt that I was being accepted by my people and culture. Therefore I feel that this project is not necessarily one-sided. I may be wealthier in resources and materials, but they are wealthier in many other ways that are equally as important," said Sarah.
Sarah plans to be involved with Tandana in the future. Her reason for this is simple.
“The connections that I made and the knowledge that I gained from the experience are invaluable," she said.
The Lefler Family
Beau and Amy Lefler, who had left California for three years of work in Hong Kong, wanted a more fulfilling life and a service adventure for their family. They decided they would like to volunteer somewhere for a year but had trouble finding an organization that would accept them as volunteers with three kids: nine-year-old Marjorie, seven-year-old Audrey and four-year-old Bentz in tow. Then Beau came across The Tandana Foundation on Idealist.org. Tandana’s Executive Director, Anna Taft, thought it would be a great idea for them to bring their kids and offered Beau a position as a long-term intern with Tandana in Ecuador. Besides being fulfilled by their volunteer work, the Leflers had other goals they wanted to achieve while in Ecuador.
“As a family our goal is to learn Spanish, learn about the culture of Ecuador, find service opportunities and strengthen our family bonds," said Amy.
The Leflers arrived in August and moved in with the Lopez Perugachi family in the small town of Quichinche. Carlos Lopez, Susana Perugachi, and their five children gave the Leflers two rooms in their cinderblock house. The families eat meals together and have celebrated birthdays, baptisms, Halloween and Thanksgiving. The families also work side-by-side. They share household chores, plant crops, tend to the animals and have made home improvements. The Leflers are very grateful for, and humbled by, all the Lopez Perugachi family has done for them.
“They have been very generous and are the kindest people," said Amy.
In his position with Tandana, Beau has several different duties. Along with helping to coordinate group service projects for students from Northeastern University and Carpe Diem Education, he helped organize both of Tandana's Health Care Volunteer Vacations this year. After the volunteers leave, Beau makes sure that patients seen during the trip receive any necessary follow-up treatment. He also teaches computer classes at the Ulpiano Navarro School in Quichinche. About a year ago, 25 computers were donated to the school. Very few of the children have any experience with computers.
“It is a challenge to teach such a variety of ages and levels of familiarity," he said.
The Lefler kids also attend the Ulpiano Navarro School. The first few months were difficult because they had trouble with the language, but by the beginning of February their teachers said that they were speaking up and participating just like the other students. To help with the language barrier, Amy and the girls attended daily Spanish classes for their first month in Ecuador.
“When I didn´t know Spanish it was hard to make friends, but they were really nice to me when I couldn´t speak Spanish. But later when I learned Spanish I could talk to all my friends," said Audrey.
The Leflers have made a difference in the lives of the local kids through books. They noticed most of the kids in Quichinche only read for class assignments and not for pleasure. The school did not have a library, so, working with the school director, they decided to create one and develop a curriculum to get the kids more excited about reading. Working through an organization called Help One Future, the family raised money by writing letters asking their family and friends for donations to buy books and benches for the library. They were grateful for the generous response. The school’s director and local parents were excited by the project and raised money to convert the school's old kitchen into an inviting library. The library, serving the schools 430 students, offers over 680 titles in four categories based on reading level. Some of the books are by Ecuadorian authors and promote local culture. Among the books are mysteries, novels, science fiction, fun science books, folk tales, and many other genres.
"The kids are super excited to start reading. It has been very cool to be able to help them with this," said Beau.
Their experiences in Ecuador have changed the lives of the Lefler family in many ways. Beau loves that he gets to spend more time with his family. Bentz likes chasing the chickens. The impact of this experience is best expressed in a quote from Marjorie.
"When we moved to Otavalo, Ecuador, I hated it. I just thought that it was super dirty, unfamiliar, and strange. But, as this experience shows, first impressions are most usually wrong. As we started getting settled with our hosts, the Lopez Perugachi family, I began to think that Ecuador wasn´t actually that bad. When school started, I admit that I didn´t think it was the best, but eventually I once again got settled. I have lots of new friends there. My wonderful time here has changed my life entirely, and I will never forget it, not just by looking at our pictures, but by having this experience engraved into my memory."