Oprah Winfrey reveals her greatest joy: "They’re the daughters I did not have"
Oprah Winfrey is incredibly proud of her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa that she founded. The students at the school even affectionately refer to the legendary TV star as ‘Mom O’.
The school opened in 2007 and has been Winfrey’s greatest joy ever since. As the school is a boarding school with fantastic facilities, the opportunities that students are given there are second to none.
Ninety per cent of the students enrol in universities like Harvard and Oxford, which is remarkable in a country where 20 per cent of students attend university.
“They are my greatest, deepest joy,” says Winfrey.
“When the girls started calling me Mom O, I did not want their mothers or their legal guardians to think that I was stepping in and trying to take over the role their mom holds in their lives,” she explained.
“I’m very much aware of who I am and what my role is for them.”
Winfrey sees a part of herself in the students that go through the school. After all, they’ve grown up in deep poverty and Winfrey went through the same experience when she was growing up in Mississippi during the Jim Crow era.
“[The girls] have been in the heart and heat of poverty. Poverty itself is a traumatic event, just trying to be able to have food on your table every day.
“Most girls have lost one or another really close relative, sometimes both mother and father.”
The girls celebrating their 7th graduation at Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Girls
As Winfrey reflects on all she’s been able to accomplish with the school, she’s come to a unique understanding about her place in their lives.
“They’re the daughters I did not have,” Winfrey says.
“I never thought that that mothering instinct was something for me. I like babies, but I like them like, ‘Hi baby, OK, now go over there.’ I like children when they can actually speak to me and tell what is the problem.
“This is how having children was supposed to manifest for me."