In 2009, Donna Baumgartner went on a safari trip to Tanzania with her mom. On that trip, she visited Bashay Primary School for students in kindergarten through seventh grade.
Having taught for more than 30 years, Donna immediately noticed the lack of textbooks and the difficult learning conditions.
"As an educator, seeing how those schools operated, I knew that I needed to help," said Donna Baumgartner.
Back home in Waterloo, Donna convinced her husband he needed to visit, too. So the next year they went back with $1500 they collected from family and friends and bought textbooks. But the Baumgartners wanted to do more. They started the not-for-profit Positive Outlook Association or POA.
"We have to help. It wasn't a choice. We have to help," said Donna Baumgartner.
Right now, the Baumgartners are helping Bashay School raise $17,000 to build housing to hire more teachers. The Tanzanian government won't provide the teachers until housing exists.
"Last year the kindergarten class had 109 kids with one teacher," said Baumgartner.
Besides the school, POA is also supporting Shalom Orphanage, which Donna first visited in 2011.
"They had at that time 56 children. They now have 63. It was started by a Tanzanian woman some years ago, and she just keep taking more kids," said Baumgartner.
Add one more item to the Baumgartner's list.
The couple started a safari business with a Tanzanian tour guide called Viewpoint Adventures. They use that money to help fund POA and to pay for their trips back and forth.
The Baumgartners said they're doing all this because they fell in love with the people of Tanzania.
"The Tanzanian people have such a positive outlook about everything. they have incredibly little, but they are grateful," said Donna Baumgartner.
In the long-term, the Baumgarnters hope to get non-profit status with POA, continue to visit Tanzania at least twice a year and just make a difference in the lives of Tanzanians.
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