Silver Spring collegian helps HIV-positive Rwandan women take charge of their lives -- Gazette.Net


A Silver Spring woman spent her summer college break taking her studies far afield — to Rwanda.

Samantha Lint, a graduate of Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, is now a student at the University of Richmond (Va.) majoring in international studies and French, with a minor in women, gender and sexuality studies. For 10 weeks this summer, she taught the meaning of social justice, community leadership and women empowerment to HIV-positive girls and women ages 17-23 in the African nation’s capital, Kigali.

Lint said she created a curriculum with a series of workshops and sent it to Sheila Tlou, director of the regional support team for East and Southern Africa with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS.

“I did not believe when I got a reply,” Lint said.

She then received a summer fellowship from the University of Richmond and was awarded $4,000 to take on a challenging unpaid internship or conduct research with a faculty member, according to a news release. Lint worked in Kigali in partnership with the nonprofit Kigali Hope and the U.N. agency.

“I want to do women empowering as my career field. I want to focus on policy and women’s rights,” Lint said.

Her experiences in Rwanda, Lint said, hightlighted not only the differences between the young women and her, but also the similarities.

“They were amazing girls, so loving,” she said. “They gave me two months of their lives; that’s huge.”

The young women made “great” progress, she said. Lint taught them how to analyze a situation critically, create a budget and timeline, and deal with money.

“They had no experience with money,” she said, adding that even small activities such as making phone calls were learned in the classroom.

Lint is writing her senior thesis about the women she met in Rwanda and said she feels so passionate about her work that she plans to return for a follow-up.

“I am so grateful for their participation and enthusiasm,” she said. “I am thinking about running the programs again.”