I am Dr. Tererai Trent.
I grew up very poor in a tiny village in Zimbabwe. Against all odds, I became an internationally recognized voice for women’s education and empowerment, and a leader for social change.
I am also Oprah Winfrey’s “All-Time Favorite Guest.” Thanks to Oprah and countless others around the world, I have been able to educate more than 19,000 girls in Zimbabwe.
When miracles like this happen, I say, Tinogona: It is achievable!
I have a friend who has a history in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and recently has made journeys back to learn more about the people who sheltered her as a child. Because she knows of the hardships villages face, she raised money for a well to be dug. This will allow more girls to attend school, since the daily water treks take up most of their days.
Providing education to rural areas is changing the cultures for both boys and girls. Dr. Trent is proof of it. Because of her, hope has replaced indifference. Her dream now is to bring her 2017 self-help book, The Awakened Woman: Remembering & Igniting Our Sacred Dreams, to the world stage by showing ways to tap into modern research, indigenous wisdom and daily rituals.
If you are looking for ways to “be awakened,” or are a coach, business professional or team leader, she offers lessons. In lesson one she asks, “What breaks your heart?” This requires an answer from the heart and soul and takes time to formulate an answer. In lesson two she gives guidance for “healing your soul wounds.” In this, she addresses being handed the baton from generation to generation and where the cycle ends. Lesson three gives ways to reclaim your voice, to tell your story and to right the wrongs of the past with honest dialog.
Tererai taught herself to read and write using her brother’s school books. But per tradition, her father married her off young by accepting a brideprice of a cow. By age 18 she had three children. Her husband would beat her for wanting an education. When she was 26 years of age, in 1991, a woman from Heifer International came to her village and asked every women what her dream was. Tererai wrote down her dream of getting an education in the USA and eventually earning her PhD. She wrote it out and then buried it in a strap of tin.
In 1998 she, her 5 children and husband, moved to Oklahoma. By 2003 she had earned a master’s degree and her husband had been deported for abuse. She remarried, returned to Zimbabwe and unearthed her piece of tin to check off each goal she had achieved. By 2009 she had earned her PhD and then began a two-year commitment to work with Heifer International, who had paid for her PhD studies.
Her story has been featured in the book Half the Sky, which Oprah ran a segment on. Afterwards, Oprah sent a crew and Trent back to Zimbabwe to dig up the piece of tin she had buried with her goals. Oprah then made a huge donation so that Tererai could build a series of schools in her village of Tatau and beyond. Trent published a children’s book about her life in 2015 called The Girl who Buried her Dreams in a Can.
This month, in New York City, Tererai Trent is being honored with a bronze statue for being one of the “10 most inspiring women in the world.” Her chance to be educated in the USA shows the power dreams have. She is the living example of how good deeds change the world more than bad wars ever will. Quite an achievement for The Girl who Buried her Dreams in a Can.