Oprah's All-Time Favorite Guest Shares Her Inspiring Update
Season 5 Episode 317
Aired on 10/17/2015
In 2009, Oprah met Tererai Trent, a woman who grew up in a remote village in Zimbabwe. She was raised in a hut with no running water or electricity and little hope for the future.
Desperate to learn, this little girl with big dreams secretly did her brother's homework. "I learned to read and write from my brother's books," she said. Soon, Tererai's secret was exposed, and the teacher begged her father to let her learn. Tererai attended only two terms before she was forced to marry at age 11. By age 18, she was the mother of three.
Then, in 1991, a visitor changed Tererai's life forever. Jo Luck, from Heifer International, asked women in Tererai's village about their greatest dreams. "I remember very clearly saying: 'My name is Tererai, and I want to go to America to have an education, and I want to have a BS degree. I want to have a master's, and I want to have a PhD," she said. "And she just looked at me [and said], 'If you desire those things, it is achievable.'"
Tererai's mother encouraged her to write her dreams on a piece of paper. The 20-year-old placed them in a scrap of tin and buried them under a rock. A few years later, Tererai moved to Oklahoma with her husband and now five children. Three years after that, she earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural education. In 2003, Tererai obtained her master's degree, and in 2009, Tererai realized her greatest dream of all—a doctoral degree.
After every achievement, Tererai returned home to Zimbabwe, unearthed her tin of dreams and checked off each goal she accomplished, one by one.
In 2011, Oprah named Tererai her favorite Oprah Show guest of all time and invited her back to Chicago to share the next dream she wanted to turn into a reality. "I need to build a school in my village so that the same girls that I see today, they don't have to go through what I did go through," she told Oprah.
To Tererai's surprise, Oprah pledged to help make this dream come true. "Your story, you know, is at the core of everything I believe in the possibility of a human life here on earth, and for that reason, I am going to help you rebuild your school," Oprah said. "I'm donating a million and a half dollars."
With Oprah's help, Tererai's school was completed in 2014, and today, enrollment exceeds 1,200 students. In the above video, watch as Tereri invites cameras inside the school and shares how it's changing the community as a whole.