Aug. 22, 2007
Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - In order to stop the spread of AIDS in South Africa, many people purchase merchandise or donate money, but UCF volleyball player Schanell Neiderworder donated her time. The Aurora, Colo., native spent two weeks of her summer vacation on a mission trip to South Africa, empowering children and aiding their families in order to help curb the growing AIDS epidemic.
Before her trip even began, Neiderworder needed to raise funds for the trip. Through the support of her family and friends, as well as her church, the senior was able to live out her dream of doing mission work.
"Mission work is something that I have always wanted to do," Neiderworder said. "Now that I am old enough to make my own decisions, I felt like I was ready."
The church that the senior attends now is close partners with the organization Pride Africa, which took Neiderworder and her group on the trip. The group worked about three hours south of Johannesburg.
"They (Pride Africa) made it very accessible and easy to figure out what we had to do while we were there. Before we left we had group meetings in order to meet everyone in our group."
Just north of the land-locked country Lesotho, Neiderworder did village ministries, where she would travel with a translator and knock on villagers' doors offering to help with chores that needed to be done around the house. The outside hitter aided them in washing laundry, cooking, cleaning and even planting gardens, staying with the families for a week at a time.
"They were very welcoming," Neiderworder said. "When we came they would drop everything they were doing. It was very cold there at the time, so we brought some soup along with us to give to the families."
In the afternoons, Neiderworder and her group would eat lunch and then have Children's Church, where they sang songs and played games with the children of the village.
"The organization that we went with, Pride Africa, stressed to us that their main focus was the children," Neiderworder stated. "They think that building up strong leaders in the churches and in the community will help stop the spread of AIDS. A lot of people there go out and do promiscuous acts because they believe that they are going to die anyway. So, we tried to teach the kids that there is a purpose to life and that their life is important. That is why we went to Children's Church, to instill some of those values in them."
For now, the senior is looking forward to her final season of volleyball and graduating with a degree in criminal justice, but her trip this summer only fueled her desire to pursue more of the same in the future.
"I might want to do more mission work when I get out of school," she said. I just think that it was something I was called to do."
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