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

Explore more of the history, adventure, and culture of Peru by adding travel extensions to a Service Learning Trip. Our partner travel agency Good Life Expeditions can set up day tours or multi-day trip extensions before or after your SLT, and the profit from your experience will fund even more MEDLIFE projects! 

Below are some ideas to inspire you – contact Good Life Expeditions for more details.

Jungle Rafting Full Day Tour

This add-on day tour already fits into the allotted time for your Service Learning Trip. Paddle onto the Jatunyacu River – the Class III rapids are perfect both beginners and experienced rafters. Enjoy the thrill of your raft rushing during the quicker sections, and take time to look out for wildlife during calmer moments. Learn more. 

Galapagos Islands Adventure

This 5-day once in a lifetime experience will take you to the Galapagos Islands for an incredible adventure to spot giant tortoises and iguanas on land and snorkel with sea lions and sharks in the ocean. Learn more.

Explore Mainland Ecuador

In 5-days you can explore some of the highlights of mainland Ecuador, from the lush greenery in Mindo’s Cloud Forest to snow-capped peaks of Cotopaxi National Park. Learn more.

Interested in a different type of trip or one that caters better to your personal interests or price point? Just let Good Life Expeditions know!

Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Tiffany Fung
McGill University

I enjoyed meeting new people at project and clinics. I would because it opens your views to poverty and makes you realize there needs to be done to help.

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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 Yes! 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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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 Yes! It was such an amazing experience.