Becky Schaffer was an aspiring humanitarian who traveled the world and immersed herself in the poorest countries to help build a better future for the children she taught and cared for.

Ms. Schaffer died on Aug. 6 after she fell while hiking near a waterfall in Pohnpei, Micronesia. She was 23.

Ms. Schaffer graduated from Yarmouth High School in 2006 and majored in history at McGill University in Montreal. She studied abroad in England, India and Kenya. In Kenya, she stayed in Gilgil, a town two hours north of Nairobi.

She volunteered for The Sanata Charitable Trust working in its Restart Centre, a type of school that helps children who were abandoned on the streets because of crime or drug abuse in the family.

Her sister, Alexandra Schaffer, of Los Angeles, Calif., said she fell in love with the children living there.

“She loved being there and loved making the kids smile,” her sister said. “She bonded with them. She had this raw open joy and love that kept her wanting to go back.”

Ms. Schaffer did return to Gilgil a second time, in March.

Earlier this summer, she traveled to Micronesia to work with WorldTeach. On the last day of her teaching orientation, she died in the hiking accident. She was supposed to teach at a public high school in Pohnpei for the 2011-2012 academic year.

A statement on WorldTeach’s website said, “Though only in Micronesia for three weeks, Becky had already made an impact on the community.”

Ms. Schaffer’s host mother led a memorial service to honor her. Several WorldTeach volunteers, the field director and many locals attended the service.

Ms. Schaffer was planning to join the Peace Corps after her year in Micronesia. Her sister said she planned to attend graduate school for African studies and that she wanted to return to Gilgil to continue her work there.

“Here’s a girl, who … (could have) easily asked the world for stuff,” her sister said. “Instead, she went out and gave the world what she had. At a young age, that’s an amazing gift to have.”

Ms. Schaffer’s older brother, Tim Schaffer of Chevy Chase, Md., spoke Wednesday about his sister’s passion for life and traveling. He said at a young age, she embraced new experiences and sometimes bucked trends.

In high school, Ms. Schaffer was the only girl to play on the boys’ ice hockey team. When the school developed a girls’ ice hockey team, she played for that team too.

The daughter of Janice Cooper and Bill Schaffer of Yarmouth, Ms. Schaffer also enjoyed surfing and acting, and once worked as a deckhand in Casco Bay.

“She was passionate about everything she was into,” her brother said. “Our interests were converging more as she got older. I’ll miss having the opportunity to really connect with her as an adult.”

Ms. Schaffer’s best friend, Judith Konecki of Freeport, remembered her Wednesday as a bubbly, funny and quirky woman, who was always there for her.

“I had five major surgeries in my life and she didn’t leave my hospital (room),” Konecki said. “She was always there for me, always. She would do anything for her friends.”

A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 10 at the First Parish Congregationalist Church on Main Street in Yarmouth.

The family is suggesting that contributions be made in her memory to support the children she worked with in Gilgil. Contributions should be made out to Lift Up Africa, and mailed to Beth Costello, 89 Sisquisic Trail, Yarmouth, ME 04096.

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]