When I heard that Meg Ryan was going to India with CARE, the international aid organization, I got excited. Like Meg, I believe that empowering impoverished women is the key to transforming our world. I was even more convinced after reading Rosemary Mahoney's riveting account of the four days she spent with Meg. Wanting to talk with Meg about what she learned, I reached her in China—the next stop on her journey—where she had just adopted a baby girl. — Oprah
Meg: What a week I've had! My new daughter, Charlotte True, is sitting next to me. It's been a two-year process, but nothing prepares you for the second a little person gets handed to you. It's a delirious, great time.
Oprah: How old is she?
Meg: Fourteen months. She's beautiful. Every day I'm getting to know her, and she is such a flower. You could never anticipate the sweetness, the smarts, or the amount of love she already has.
Oprah: That's what you were working on for two years. And what prompted the India trip?
Meg: CARE came to me because they were initiating a campaign called "I Am Powerful", which is about paralleling the lives of women in the first world with women in the third world. They're always looking for the seed of the idea that can be most productive in building people's lives. I just kept thinking, "Wow, this is a beautiful idea." I'd gone to India before, but I've never seen it the way I did with CARE. Have you been there?
Oprah: No, I'd love to go.
Meg: I first went about ten years ago. This time when I landed in Delhi, I thought, "I forgot how tough this is"—the smells, the hordes of people. It seems like everyone lives in the streets. There's this oozing, enormous feeling of everyone in your face, all the time. The extremes of poverty are so big that you feel incredibly alive, like you've never been more awake.
Oprah: Then I must go.
Meg: There's so much light in the people's eyes. We went to a slum in Delhi that turned my heart inside out. But we met these 14- and 15-year-old girls CARE has trained to talk to one another about condoms and preventing the spread of HIV. These girls own one, maybe two saris, and they run through the slum, all decked out. You've never seen so much joy—in this horrible place in Delhi.
Oprah: I've seen that many times in rural African villages where people have nothing but a hut and a bowl. The joy in the children's eyes is something you wish you could package and bring back to America. How did this trip compare with your other visits to India?
Note: This interview appeared in the April 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.