Who are we? – The founders

Antonio Benedini con una bimba del Togo
Antonio Benedini

I was born in Milan on March 2, 1947 and I live in Arona, in the province of Novara.
I am an orthopaedic surgeon and I am currently working at Multimedica in Castellanza (VA).  On April 9, 2009, my wife Marcella, with whom I shared my life for 36 years, was no longer at my side, because of an incurable disease.
I felt the need, even if it was late, to do something for mankind. Through Prof. Emilio Galli, who had been working in Togo for some time, I contacted Sister Stella, a Togolese Doctor who got her medical degree in Milan and was a student of Prof. Galli. In August  2009 my extraordinary experience began at the Hopital Saint Joseph in Datcha, a small hospital run by a religious order, on the outskirts of Atakpamé, roughly 2 hours by car from the capital city of Lomé. Here I came into contact with a reality that was, at times, dramatic, of the local population and I had to carry out my medical practice as an orthopaedic surgeon with the scarce equipment that was available. My work was mainly of surgical treatment of deformed limbs in children and adolescents, with the help of Sister Stella and a young local doctor, Pier, who was eager to learn “the tricks of my trade”.
My interest was not limited to surgery. Sister Stella took me to a village of huts in the middle of the forest where many classes of school children were taught under thatched roofs.
Through the help of Lions Club Arona-Stresa, which I am a member of, a school with 3 spacious classrooms was built.


Lucia Benedini in Togo
Lucia Benedini

I was born in Arona and I live in Milan. I am married and I have 2 children, Tommaso and Camilla. I have degree in modern literature and I work in Milan in a public relations agency.
In May 2010 I accompanied my father to Togo for the inauguration of the new school in Ketognakopé. I was prepared, or at least I thought I was prepared, for what I was about to see. Instead it was very difficult to believe.
You ask yourself how can people possibly live in huts or crumbling shacks, who walk hours to get water at a well, who don’t have anything at all, children with swollen bellies, deformed people abandoned along a dusty road, children with no future.
And then you come back home, to our daily life and you re-adjust to “our world”. But Something stays with you, in your deepest soul and you can’t pretend it doesn’t.
It may be very little, statistically irrelevant in the calculations of world poverty, but I know that I am giving some hope to Justine, Josephine…
Valentina Scanziani Stella onlus
Valentina Scanziani

I was born in Milan. I am married and I have 3 children. I have a degree in political economics and after a brief experience at the United Nations and I was a consultant for two years. From 1999 I am in charge of the administration of my  family company.
For years I tried to find a way to actively help people who have not had the same opportunities in life that I had.
This wish stayed with me for years, during many trips abroad, and especially during an internship at UNCTAD in Geneva and with my university courses of Economics in Developing Countries.
Then my life took a different turn until Lucia told me about the experience she and her father had. We put our heads together, combining our skills and our enthusiasm, and came up with the idea of starting an organization, Stella Onlus, which began in July 2011.