Tena, Ecuador

Population  Population: 34,800

Land Area  Land Area: 261.8 km²

Languages  Languages: Spanish

Currency   Currency: American Dollars

About Tena

Why You Should ComeOne of the entryways into the Amazon rainforest, Tena is the capital of the Napo province of Ecuador. Visitors come to Tena to experience the jungle’s incredible biodiversity, raft or kayak down the white-waters of the nearby rivers, and to learn about the indigenous communities that call the area home.

Why You Should Come

Why You Should Come

Tena is the urban center of the region, serving as the primary economic and governmental base for a network of surrounding rural, indigenous communities. Isolation and poor infrastructure in these communities means that access to health care and other services is limited.

In recent years, these Amazonian communities have experienced rapid modernization due to increased contact with outsiders interested in tourism, ecotourism, and oil prospecting. The environmental problems caused by the large-scale industrial extraction of natural resources in the Amazon rainforest have resulted in serious health complications for its inhabitants, including higher rates of cancer and skin diseases.

Although oil companies were found guilty and required to pay billions of dollars in damages in one of the biggest environmental lawsuits on record in 2011, oil prospecting continues to be a point of contention in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Volunteers in a MEDLIFE trip to Tena will learn about modern life and rights for indigenous groups, as well as challenges facing the sustainable development of the Amazon region.

How we work in tena

Unique to some of our other homes, in Tena MEDLIFE has a longstanding and extremely collaborative relationship with the regional government’s social assistance program. The region of Napo where Tena is located puts strong focus and effort on serving the rural and vulnerable populations that the call it home. The result of this effort is successful a government social assistance program called Sumak Kawsay Wasi.

MEDLIFE and Sumak Kawsay Wasi collaborate every day on patient follow-up care and community development initiatives. When the local government does not have the staff, medical professionals, nor tools to run a Mobile Clinic in a remote area, MEDLIFE steps in. When MEDLIFE doesn’t have the means to transport a patient from Tena to a specialized hospital located hours away in Riobamba, Sumak Kawsay Wasi steps in.

This relationship allows us to do what we do best, and also avoids us building parallel systems to what the government already has in place. It is a great example of working hand in hand for social justice.

How You Can Help

Since 2009 MEDLIFE has worked to address the needs of the underserved populations in the Ecuadorian Amazon through Mobile Clinics, community development projects, and hand in hand collaboration with the local government. But our work would not be possible without motivated individuals like you choosing to volunteer in Service Learning Trips.

In Tena, you can help us address the needs of low-income communities by signing up for the following Service Learning Trips:

Mobile Clinics

Mobile Clinics

Sign up for a service learning trip

Additional Travel opportunities

A trip to Ecuador would be incomplete without witnessing the majestic Galapagos Islands or hiking in the amazing Cotopaxi National Park. With optional tourism extensions offered by our partner travel company, Good Life Expeditions, you can explore more of your SLT destination while continuing to support MEDLIFE partner communities and traveling sustainably.

Click here to view extension options

Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

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Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

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Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

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David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

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Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

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Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

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Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

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Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

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Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

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Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

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Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

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Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.