Talk show diva and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey opened a school for disadvantaged girls, fulfilling a promise she made to former President Nelson Mandela, giving more than 150 students a chance for a better future.
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“I wanted to give this opportunity to girls who had a light so bright that not even poverty could dim that light,” Winfrey said at a news conference earlier this year.
The $40 million academy aims to give girls from deprived backgrounds a quality education in a country where schools are struggling to overcome the legacy of apartheid.
Many of the girls come from families devastated by the disease, which has infected 5.4 million of the 48 million South Africans, hitting women the hardest.
By educating girls, Winfrey said she hopes to help “change the face of a nation.”
Many state-funded schools, especially in the sprawling townships that sprang up under White racist rule, are hopelessly overcrowded and lack even basic necessities, such as books and writing utensils.
They also are plagued by gang violence, drugs and a high rate of pregnancy among school girls. Winfrey says she plans to open a second school for both boys and girls in South Africa.