Denny Baumann is on a mission.

“We desperately need volunteers,” said Baumann, who along with John Payne, started Bethel Computers for Education 25 years ago.

At that time, Baumann learned of a need for desktop computers in a mission school located in Walls, Mississippi. He secured a dozen donated computers to the school, which allowed the children to learn keyboarding.

Word quickly spread and requests came in from communities around the United States and globally; computers found their way to Florida, Texas and West Virginia, as well as Haiti, Uganda, Nepal Cambodia, Mexico and more.

Over the years, Baumann’s outreach has stretched to places like Port Au Prince, Haiti where high school students are able to take a computer class, and Ft. Liberte, Haiti where children now have a computer lab even if their desk is a long piece of plywood.

To date, more than 4,000 computers have found their way into some of the poorest schools worldwide due to the efforts of churches and mission teams both here and abroad.

The need for computers also quickly surpassed what private donations could provide.

“We have been blessed with an offer from Fauquier County Public Schools, which not only provides us with an adequate number of used computers, but also requires us to ‘give back’ to students in Fauquier County who qualify under Title 1 USC,” said Baumann on the church’s website at Bethel United Methodist Church.

Volunteers needed

“All of this is being done from our shop, which is located on the top floor of the Summit Bank in Warrenton,” said Baumann.

“The computers are mostly donated from FCPS and are delivered to their ultimate destination by mission teams from churches of every denomination,” continued Baumann, emphasizing that the organization’s greatest need at this time is for volunteers to staff the downtown Warrenton location.

“I moved to Fauquier County in 1986 after a 25-year career as a naval 

aviator.  I now live in Vero Beach, Florida but still run the project here in 

Warrenton,” said Baumann.

“Our team of "technicians" in Warrenton is small and getting older by the minute.  As such, we are in desperate need of some younger men or women to help us at the shop,” said Baumann, adding, “we will provide the training to refurbish and reload the computers so they can be used to bring technology to where it is needed most.”

Volunteers do some minor repair work on the computers when necessary, but usually just have to wipe the hard drive and load a fresh operating system with the educational software that is included.  

Internet In A Box (IIAB)

No Internet. No problem.

Over the years, Bethel Computers for Education developed a computer device that they call Internet In A Box. This modified laptop computer can be used in schools where there is no Internet, or it is unaffordable.

It contains all of Wikipedia in several languages and more than 2,000 books, plus an off-line educational resource called Kolibri, which has an extensive selection of lectures in a variety of subjects. There is also a version of IIAB that contains medical educational materials for medical personnel and patients. Again, available in multiple languages, subjects cover nutrition for infants and children, preventing cholera, breastfeeding information and more.

Physician and friend Mary Susan Carlson is an advocate for the people of Haiti, posting this comment on Facebook. 

"Internet service in Medor is spotty at best. Recently it has been nonexistent. That is why Medical Internet In A Box is so important. It is a device loaded with a wealth of medical information in Creole, French, English and Spanish. It contains information for clinicians, like Sister Francois, the nurse and director of St. Joseph of Medor Parish Clinic, as well as videos and jingles for patient instruction. Sister Nalta, a nurse who previously worked in Medor, told me that the patient videos on proper nutrition, hand washing, and cholera prevention are helping patients form healthy habits. Thank you, Bethel Computers For Education, for providing this awesome educational device for Medor’s parish clinic!

Baumann knows that his group’s efforts are having a worldwide impact and he wants that to continue. “Feedback from schools and clinics in Haiti, countries within Africa, and other countries has been very positive,” said Baumann. “We are convinced that we can make a difference in the lives of the poor by improving their education. Donations to this effort in the form of money, computers and volunteers are always appreciated.”

“We will continue to perform this outreach as long as the resources to do so exist,” emphasized Baumann noting that the point of contact in Warrenton is Jack Dunlop.

Anyone who would like to help or learn more about this effort may contact Denny Baumann at 540-878-3056 or Jack Dunlop at 540-347-3769 or dunlopje@comcast.net.

Reach Anita Sherman at asherman@fauquier.com

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