I’m very proud of Oprah Winfrey for contributing $40 million to build a school in Johannesburg, South Africa in the tiny town of Henley-on-Klip. I am reading in the papers and I have heard criticism towards Oprah saying things like, “Why she did not build this school in America?”
I applaud her efforts. She is working in a positive manner to erase poverty. Her funds are going into building a school. These funds will not dwindle away in administrative fees or to 3rd parties who are trying to decide what to do with the funds earmarked for a poverty region. We all know what Oprah is doing with this 40 million – it is going into building a leadership school in South Africa.
I applaud Oprah for making and keeping a promise to help people who need it the most. Six years ago she promised Mandela she would build a school in South Africa. She is keeping this promise.
I am no stranger to poverty. I see it every day. I live in the West Virginia coalfields. West Virginia has the highest number of students eligible for free and reduced lunches in the nation. An adjoining county is offering free breakfast to every student in the county. If all students are eligible for breakfast more free and reduced students will eat. They will not have to deal with the stigma of poverty right in their face. West Virginia Schools deal with hunger by incorporating meals in their after school and extended summer school programs in schools where poverty is the greatest. Poverty is painful, humiliating and debilitating whether it is in Africa or West Virginia.
Oprah is doing a notable and lasting deed which will in the end be her greatest legacy – giving to children an out from poverty. In turn, they can pass this on to others. In turn, they too, can pass this on to others.
Betty Dotson-Lewis (B. L. Dotson-Lewis) Author of Sago Mine Disaster (Featured Story) Appalachian Coalfield Stories, published January 2007. Appalachia: Spirit Triumphant (a cultural Odyssey of Appalachia, published 2004 January 15, 2007 PO Box 313 Summersville, West Virginia 26651 firstname.lastname@example.org