Building a Dream
O, The Oprah Magazine | From the January 2007 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
Thirty young girls wait in the sunlit afternoon in the neat uniforms of their current schools, sporting proud badges—Class Captain, Head Prefect. One by one, they will enter the room and stand in utter disbelief that Oprah herself is here to meet them. One girl has lost the vision in her left eye. "Is it my eyes...," she hardly dares whisper, covering her mouth with both hands, thinking her sight is playing tricks on her. "No, it's really me!" Oprah says warmly. "Are you nervous? Give me a hug! Let's get rid of the nerves!" And so the conversations begin.
"Why do you want to come to my school?" Some see themselves as financial burdens on their families. For others, it's a dream for the future. "I have these things inside me and I want to let them out! And I want to help others let them out!" says one.
"Who do you live with?" Oprah asks each girl. Often the list fails to include a parent; instead it is a grandfather, an aunt, a cousin. Many have lost a parent to AIDS, some have been raped, others abandoned. "Where is your mother?" Oprah asks one girl. "Nobody knows, ma'am." Oprah continues, "That must be very hard for you?" The girl looks away, and then with unflinching resolve says, "Yes, but I have to be strong for my small brothers." Oprah has found a brave and brilliant girl, ready for a miracle.
Probing, she asks about favorite subjects. What do they want to do with their lives? They light up: mathematics, social work, languages, forensics, they say. They dream of becoming astronauts, chartered accountants, teachers. One tells Oprah she wants to be a "special doctor," caring for AIDS victims. "There are so many dying in my community. I need to help them." And they all want to help others fulfill their dreams. "I want to be inspired!" one declares.