Building a Dream
Creating this school has not been easy, logistically or socially. From the beginning, she struggled to explain her vision, a school that could "contain the emotional, spiritual selves of the girls." Because these girls come from poverty, she was first given designs she felt looked like a chicken coop, then a barracks. Planners advised that these African children were not accustomed to much—many sleep on dirt floors in housing with no water or electricity; some share a bed with relatives. Oprah was told that the simplest environment would be a luxury to them, that they would need only basics. She sent the plans back. "I said, from the start, I am creating everything in this school that I would have wanted for myself—so the girls will have the absolute best that my imagination can offer." In 2002, she announced her plans to build a leadership academy and donated $10 million for the school. Her donation has grown into more than $40 million.