Kari Neill's summer will be spent in service to the southwest African naton of Namibia.

If Kari Neill’s aspirations are any indication, the future of our world is one of hope.

Neill, 22, of Independence, is leaving Monday to spend nine weeks in the southern African country of Namibia. She will travel with 29 others to this impoverished land northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, to participate in WorldTeach, a non-profit, non-governmental organization associated with the Center for International Development at Harvard University.

There, Neill will instruct secondary school teachers, as well as students, on how to use computers. She will also teach in the school’s new science lab.

“I may be teaching people who have never used a computer before,” she says. “I could be teaching skills ranging from how to use a mouse to how to use Excel.”

Neill graduated high school from Center Place Restoration School in Independence and earlier this month from the University of Nebraska, with a major in biology and minors in African studies and chemistry.

She first enrolled at the university in pre-pharmacy, but a presentation on tropical medicine in a biology class had a profound effect on her. Her goal now is to pursue a graduate degree in international health.

“I’m interested in alleviating health disparities in the ... poorest countries in Africa,” she says.

While Neill has never traveled outside the continental U.S., she is no stranger to world missions or the field of health care. Her father, Richard Neill, has traveled on mission trips to Kenya through their church, Living Hope Restoration Branch, in Independence. Her mother, Robin Neill, is a registered nurse with the Independence Health Department and also involved with the Child Abuse Prevention Association.

Beyond teaching important new skills, Neill also will participate in an HIV/AIDS awareness program while there.

“The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is a pretty high one,” she says, adding that the disease affects about 20 percent of the adult population in Namibia.

Neill also hopes to give the Namibian people something more.

“I want the people I work with to have a genuine feeling that people care who are far removed from where they are, that they care enough to take time to understand their culture and have this exchange,” she says.

And she expects to return from her trip with an altered perception of her life.

“I know I live a privileged life here. While I know it logically, I haven’t experienced the difference first hand,” she says. “I’m ready to never look at life the same again.”

 

WAYS TO HELP

Tax-deductible donations made through Monday, June 2, will apply toward Neill’s WorldTeach program fee. Contributions made after June 2 will become part of the general WorldTeach fund.
 
Ways to contribute:

 Call World Teach at 617-495-5527 to donate by credit card and mention “Kari Neill.”  Donate online at www.firstgiving.com/KariNeill. Note: A fee (7.7%) will be charged for using this service.