Tandana Foundation Promotes Literacy in Mali

Women attending class in Mali.
Women attending class in Mali.

Tandana Foundation Wins Coveted Grant

Award will be used to expand literacy program in Mali

By Devinne Zadravec

Women attending class in Mali.
Women attending class in Mali.

April was an exciting month for the Tandana Foundation. The Ohio based non-profit recently announced to the public that it was one of six organizations to receive a competitive grant from Dining for Women, a nonprofit organization that funds grassroots programs working in developing countries to fight gender inequality.

Tandana itself is a nonprofit organization that supports cross-cultural exchange, volunteer opportunities, scholarships, and community projects in highland Ecuador and Mali’s Dogon Country. Tandana was awarded the selective $47,980.00 prize to support its literacy program for women in Mali.

The announcement could not have come at a better time for the Tandana Foundation, which is currently celebrating its ten year anniversary. In honor of this milestone, Tandana announced a commemorative campaign titled “Ten Years of Joining Hands and Changing Lives”. This year-long campaign will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Tandana receiving its nonprofit status as well as the foundation’s decade of service and positive impact through its work in Ecuador and Mali.

The theme for the 10-year anniversary campaign is “Joining Hands and Changing Lives,” a slogan that was chosen to highlight the most important element of Tandana’s work: relationships.

Forging positive relationships is the focus at the heart of Tandana’s international volunteer programs and community development projects, as well as its school scholarship fund. As a leader in cross cultutral communication and service work, Tandana believes that these opportunities to live, work, and laugh with people of diverse cultural backgrounds can broaden our worldviews, strengthen our communities, and propel us all toward our potential as a globally connected community.

Grant Award

Practicing lessons in a notebook.
Practicing lessons in a notebook.

There is perhaps no greater anniversary gift than the recognition and funding Tandana will receive as part of the grant from Dining for Women. The award will directly support Tandana’s literacy program in Mali.

This program works to provide basic literacy and numeracy classes to women in Mali’s Bandiagara Circle, so that they may be able to run their micro businesses, support their families independently, and better negotiate in the marketplace. By the end of 2016, nearly 1117 women will have participated in these essential classes.

The grant will help to continue the classes that exist currently, and also to help expand and support the program to include more advanced classes at the suggestion of women in the community. Tandana will begin offering advanced literacy classes along with training workshops in association management, democratic governance, and leadership.

Celebrating 10 Years

2016 will see many events to mark Tandana’s momentous ten-year milestone. A special 10th anniversary trip to Ecuador for Tandana board and staff members will be held in the fall, the goal of which is to bring board and staff members together, celebrate all the good that has been done, and to shape future plans for the organization.

Tandana will also hold a celebration in mid-November at its headquarters in central Ohio to express thanks to all those who have made Tandana’s work possible. Other commemorations will Leading the lesson at the blackboard.Leading the lesson at the blackboard.take place throughout the year, including special blog post features by long-time supporters and special giving opportunities.

In the ten years since its inception, The Tandana Foundation has accomplished a remarkable amount. It has partnered with 25 communities in Ecuador and an equal number in Mali to work toward community goals while promoting intercultural friendships. Over 1400 volunteers from the United States, Canada, Ecuador, Uganda, and Europe have traveled with Tandana to make friends in these communities and collaborate with those new friends on important projects.

Over 120 students in Ecuador have continued their secondary and higher education with Tandana support, while 1117 women in rural Mali have learned literacy and numeracy skills through Tandana classes. Tandana’s health care volunteer program has provided over 7775 patient visits in remote villages in Ecuador.

Perhaps the most incredible thing is the spirit and attitude with which Tandana approches these projects. Speaking with Susan Koller, Public Relations Specialist for the foundation, it was clear that the people involved with Tandana are truly passionate about their work and the impact they are creating.

“I grew up in an international community,” explained Koller. “I’ve worked here for the past seven years, and to me the most important thing is creating those intercultural relationships, and giving [our program partners] the tools needed to accomplish their own goals].”

Sharing this spirit with others is one of Tandana’s main goals, and also the reason why they offer volunteer trips to Ecuador and Mali throughout the year, so that others may join the impact Tandana has in these regions.

If you share this passion, and want to join the Tandana Foundation’s mission, check out their website for current volunteer opportunities. Note, Tandana is not accepting volunteers for their Mali program as of May 2016, but you can apply to work with them in Ecuador.

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Fond of big dogs, stargazing, and foods covered in hummus, Devinne Zadravec is a writer/photographer/explorer from New England. Her favorite hobbies include hiking, yoga, and taking far too many pictures of her pitbull, Mischa. Currently, you can find Devinne hanging with her sisters in her Massachusetts home, or off adventuring, writing, and loving life in some new corner of the globe. Follow Devinne on her latest adventures on her website, or Instagram.

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Devinne Zadravec
Fond of big dogs, stargazing, and foods covered in hummus, Devinne Zadravec is a writer/photographer/explorer from New England. Her favorite hobbies include hiking, yoga and writing. Currently, you can find Devinne hanging with her sisters in her Massachusetts home, or off adventuring, writing, and loving life in some new corner of the globe.