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Alumna Rebecca Sheppard Lintner makes a difference through projects in Uganda

Courtesy of Rebecca Lintner

Courtesy of Rebecca Lintner

Rebecca Lintner poses with her two-year-old friend Mark, also called Markaroni, who is the son of a single mother who started the first women’s empowerment group for HIV positive women.

Sarah Lashly, Parkway West High School

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Alumna Rebecca Lintner founded Building Foundations of Hope in December 2012 after a trip to Uganda, where she was exposed to the city, as well as the needs of the people.

“I didn’t know exactly what this would turn into, but after seeing so many children living in immense poverty, with little hope of anyone helping them, I knew I had to do something,” Lintner said.

Lintner has several projects that are all working together in Kibaale, Uganda. They all share the common goal of overcoming and breaking the cycle of poverty that has spread throughout the country.

“We identified three major groups of people who have the least amount of resources or chances of hope: [orphans], widowed, divorced or single women and [people who are] HIV positive,” Lintner said. “We found that in creating sustainable community-based and run programs that we might have a chance of breaking the cycle of poverty.”

Another project Lintner is working on is aimed at providing love and care to children who are orphaned and in extreme crisis. She wanted to come up with a way to care for children who do not have parents who love them. Her goal for this project is to make each child feel safe, loved, cared for and to help remind them what it feels like to be a kid.

“We have built a Community Center, and every Saturday, all 68 children in our Orphan Care Program join us at the Center for the day. We have educational activities, homework help, Bible classes, singing, dancing, English lessons, sports, games, crafts and a healthy meal for them,” Lintner said.

Lintner also works with Big Brothers Big Sisters and has been a Big Sister for four years, which she started prior to her other projects.

“I wanted a way to mentor a child in my own neighborhood, not just across the world, and I started my journey with Big Brothers Big Sisters and have loved it,” Lintner said.

One of her greatest accomplishments was returning to Africa as part of her honeymoon with her husband last summer. They wanted to take a week out of their honeymoon to spend time with the children and people in their programs.

“This was the first time I had seen the Community Center since we had broken ground 18 months earlier. It had been an intense year and half of fundraising, praying and working so hard to find the finances to build it. I remember walking up the steps and hearing singing coming from inside. Our kids were there waiting for us, and I was completely overcome with emotion at the thought that God had allowed me to care for these children and build this building and love His little ones,” Lintner said. “Tears filled my eyes as I took in every handmade mud brick and listened to the songs of the children and women in our new Community Center. I know that this is the just the beginning, and I cannot wait to see what will be possible now that we have a building for our programs and our kids.”

Linter feels that the struggles she faces are endless, sometimes making her forget her previous accomplishments and breakthroughs. Stories of what some of the children endure make her question her impact.

“[There is a horrible story of] a teenage girl who [thought] the only option at success was to marry her classmate and become pregnant with his baby, only to die in childbirth, and leave a beautiful baby girl as our youngest in our orphan care program. Those stories make you stumble in your tracks, [make] you want to scream, cry and ask why [these things happen]. Those days are hard—I will not sugarcoat it,” Lintner said. “Thank the good Lord that those stories are few, [compared to] the stories of a child graduating school, starting a business or even learning to read and write. Those are the accomplishments and stories that we hold on to.”

In the future, Linter hopes to be able to send all of the children in her programs to school and to continue adding children to her programs to care for them the best that she can.

“I have a lofty long-term goal to work with young teenage moms and somehow find a way to keep them in school while teaching them child development and healthy ways to love and care for their babies. If the cycle of poverty repeats itself at every turn, we will never win. We need to intervene where the cycle picks up time and time again, with our sweet, innocent, confused and scared teenage moms,” Lintner said.

In addition to the current project in Uganda, Lintner has had many other projects through Building Foundations of Hope.

“[One project involves] a healthy meal plan where we help purchase vegetable seeds for our families and teach them how to eat a more balanced and healthy diet by eating things other than carbs and starches, which grow [the] fastest and are [the] cheapest. We now have six women’s groups and have probably around 350 women employed interdependently and working to provide for their families,” Lintner said. “That program is a huge success, and we will continue to add groups and keep empowering women. We have also hosted leadership retreats for over 700 young girls to teach them they are beautiful, smart, strong and loved. We still hear stories of how those days influenced girls all over the village, and we are thanking God for an opportunity to share His love with them.”

Lintner is currently working with Women of West, where club members will be participating in service projects for Building Foundations of Hope. Lintner also recalls how Parkway West has helped shape the person she is today.

“Parkway West taught me that I can do anything. I had leadership positions in the Drama club, Improv, choir, among my friends and outside church groups. I always felt supported and encouraged by staff, Mr. Anthony in particular. I remember [him] encouraging me and trusting me with so much, and I felt empowered and wanted to do so for others,” Lintner said. “I would encourage any student at Parkway West to be involved with a club or activity and to try out leadership in some way or another. It’s a very safe way to start discovering what you are capable of, and the resources you have as a student will likely be more than in your adult life. So go for it!”

Grateful for what she is able to do through Building Foundations of Hope every day, Litner said she would not exchange it for anything. She explains how her goal of providing love will never change, and she enjoys growing and getting better each day.

“Find your passion, find your purpose and go after it with everything you have. I believe 100 percent that God created me to love those in pain and to care for kids in crisis, and that is what I will do every single day of my life,” Linter said. “Don’t miss your chance to do what you were created to do, no matter what you believe in. You are here for a purpose so find it and do it!”

Linter offers opportunities for people who are interested in helping Building Foundations of Hope with their success.

“One of our ongoing fundraisers is selling jewelry and crafts made by some of our women’s groups in Uganda. We purchase the items from them and then sell them and the profit goes directly back into Building Foundations of Hope and pays for our Center Days supplies and our social worker’s salary,” Lintner said. “The best way for someone to get involved in our projects is to consider hosting a Home Market [which involves] checking out some crafts, selling and telling their story to friends and families. We had one Home Market make over $500! We also have sponsorship opportunities and for $35 a month you can send a child to school, feed them nutritious food, house them and support their Center Days.”

Lintner has sent 14 children to school so far and hopes to continue to grow that number in the future.

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