Barbara died in a bus accident in Peru after volunteering with the children at To Give Hope. This is her story. Barbara’s boyfriend, Aaron, created this Fund in her memory.

Barbara’s story

BarbaraBarbara Baumgartner traveled to Ecuador in October 2008 to volunteer at To Give Hope (TGH) along with her boyfriend, Aaron. From Italy, She was 22 years old and full of love for the children at TGH. She also was very interested in development work in South America. In her letter of introduction to TGH, she wrote, “I believe that this is an unique experience, to understand a country, the culture, the life of the people. In the past years, it has interested me to know the people of developing countries and I have developed a dream to give them a little bit of help.”

In her time at TGH, Barbara gave more then just a little bit of help, she gave her whole heart. She worked mainly with the youngest group, but was always ready to help out in any way possible. Every day of the week, including the weekends, her and Aaron where at TGH, helping in every way that they could. They went out of their way to do something special for the kids, like staying up all night to make pizza for the kids to enjoy.

She wrote about her desire to work with the children at TGH, “I have faith that this project is right for me, because it corresponds to my interests. Because this project works with children, and I work great with them. I have many experiences in collaborating with children. Frequently, I worked as an au pair. I also worked in a Kindergarten class. Through my work with children, I have had the opportunity to work also with children from different countries and cultures. All these experiences were invaluable to me and have influenced me positively.”

Barbara worked magic with the younger children, teaching them all that she knew. She also allowed them to teach her. She was also open to learn something new and saw this experience as a start to her study in development work.

After volunteering at TGH through the holidays, she and Aaron left to go traveling around South America with her sister and a friend from home. While in Peru, the four of them took a night bus on one of the most dangerous roads in Peru. It is suspected that the driver of the bus was drunk and he tried to pass a car when he crashed head on into another bus. The people in the first six rows were killed, including Barbara, her sister, and their friend. Aaron was the only one to survive.

Upon returning home, Aaron did something amazing. He started asking his friends and acquaintances for donations for the children in Barrio Santa Maria. At Barbara’s funeral, they asked for donations and the word got out. After months of fundraising, Aaron donated a great amount to BECAS Foundation International, to help the children that Barbara loved so much receive an education.

In Ecuador, the children still remember Barbara and Aaron. They talk about the field trip to the park, where Barbara and Aaron played with them. They laugh about the Christmas celebration, when Aaron dressed up as Santa Claus. They hold Barbara and Aaron close to their hearts.

We will also remember Barbara’s loving smile and open heart.


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