“[The people of Kenya and Tanzania] needed HELP, but they never felt sorry for themselves. They have such joy and willingness to work. They just need the right guidance and assistance. I just wanted to help them improve themselves, and I knew they would flourish.”
Mrs. Mary Bauder lives in Corpus Christi, Texas and works in the office of Coral Cay Beachfront Condominiums. While traveling in Kenya and Tanzania – an item from her “bucket list” – she was won over by the kindness of the people she met, and upon her return to the United States she decided to support them and other African communities in need. She started selling jewelry and African baskets to condominium customers, with the proceeds going to Africare. Her operation is now two years old, and in each year she has successfully raised $1,000 to fund Africare’s water projects. She recently spoke with us about what motivated her to open her own fundraising enterprise.
Why was traveling to Africa on your “bucket list”?
It was the various cultures of different people. The contrast of landscape, vegetation, the wild animals, wilderness, photography diversity and the availability to camp away from hordes of tourists.
I love traveling and photography. After researching my travel plans, in the fall of 2010 I traveled to Kenya and Tanzania. I witnessed the thousands and thousands of wildebeests migrating South in the Serengeti, but I was most interested in getting closer to the Tanzanian and Kenyan people and their culture.
What impressed you most about the people you met?
Most of the people we met were Maasai. I was not expecting their overwhelming kindness, willingness to work hard, unselfishness, and the joy and happiness they had in their hearts.
Upon my return, I felt compelled to support them. They needed HELP, but they never felt sorry for themselves. They have such joy and willingness to work. They just need the right guidance and assistance. I just wanted to help them improve themselves, and I knew they would flourish.
Could you describe how you set up your fundraising enterprise?
I began thinking, planning and researching for my project. I decided to sell baskets made by African artisans and jewelry at a stall in my resort’s office. I wanted to set it up nicely and make it appealing for people to purchase.
In 2012, I officially established a “Donations for Africare” stand in the Coral Cay office. Vacationers can buy items, and the proceeds go to Africare. Now, through word of mouth, locals are customers too.
You request that your donations go toward water projects. Is there a particular reason why?
During my visit, the region was in the middle of an extended drought. Animals were dying. There were also many women and children carrying plastic jugs, fetching water.
Water is the core need. No water, no quality of life. Without water nothing else can exist, or develop or flourish. You need water for children to be healthy, for children to attend school, for there to be food to eat.
Why did you choose to entrust your donations to Africare?
I did online research, surveying websites, to educate myself and to give my trust to the best organization that gives back the most to the needs of the African people. I spent many hours on the internet and read many articles. Africare is by far the most efficient African organization for the needs of the people.
Thank you! We know you also raise awareness about Africare using some promotional items we’ve sent you. How have you gone about that?
You have sent me material like brochures, annual reports, pens and t-shirts to provide for my customers. I try not to force anything on people in the office, but if I see someone who is curious, looking at the materials, I always at least give them a brochure and direct them to your website. If they ask questions, I’m happy to share my experiences and explain why I feel it’s important to support those in need in Africa.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope the word gets out to the world about the vision, hard dedication, and the love for the African people that Africare works so hard for.
Thanks so much for your vote of confidence, and for all of YOUR hard work, Mrs. Bauder!