In 2013 Melissa Benassi went to Tanzania, Africa.
Here is her adventure:
Hello, my name is Melissa Benassi. I am a fourth grade teacher out in Strathmore, Alberta. I absolutely love what I do, and I am privileged that I can share my talent with others around the world. This past summer I embarked on a trip to Arusha, Tanzania to volunteer at an Orphanage/ School called Shining Star. I was extremely excited to share my expertise in the classroom with the teachers; my only fear was how to teach them outside—the importance of play. I immediately got in contact with Darlene Fedyna; who is one truly inspirational person. I approached her in hopes that she could help me organize and teach the children as well as teachers about the importance of physical activity. She welcomed me with open arms to her house and graciously donated an abundant of resources to take down to Arusha, Tanzania. Darlene not only provided with me with toys and objects for the children but she set me up with lessons that corresponded to the materials she donated. The enthusiasm Darlene displayed was definitely contagious, I felt more than prepared to go and teach the children about the importance of physical health.
When I finally arrived at the orphanage and was observing for the day, I was so surprised with how the students interacted outside. They would fight over the limited amount of balls, swings, each other, and the slide. I was not sure how these children would react to the parachute Darlene gave us. Once my friend and I worked up some courage, we introduced the Play it Forward Parachute. It was one of the most remarkable times at the orphanage –the whole school came together as one. The teachers joined us outside for recess and helped us communicate with the children the expectation of the parachute. Once they understood, the students cooperated and worked together as a team to play with the parachute. Popcorn was their favorite game. Watching the balls go flying all around was priceless. The smiles, the laughter – that is something that I will never forget. Play it Forward’s donations added so much value to their school.
The parachute was a huge success with the students. I also felt a sense of accomplishment when the director of the school came to us eager to learn other games that she could continue to play with the children after we left. To show the children how to play and inspire the teachers down in Arusha was something I wanted to achieve. It is something that Darlene inspired me to do. I definitely believe that I Played it Forward.
Thank you for your kind and generous donations, it has touched so many hearts of so many at Shining Star Orphanage.