Save the Children Celebrates Matau Primary School Groundbreaking in Zimbabwe

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Education Project Honors Oprah’s All-Time Favorite Guest, Tererai Trent

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Local officials break ground for the Matau Primary School project on July 15, 2011. Photo Credit: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi
Local officials break ground for the Matau Primary School project on July 15, 2011. Photo Credit: Tsvangy/AP for Save the Children
WESTPORT, Conn. (July 18, 2011) — Save the Children staff, local officials, teachers, parents and children broke ground this past Friday for construction of the new Matau Primay School buildings in Zvipani, Zimbabwe. Construction will begin this month and is expected to be completed by September 2012.

The Matau Primary School project is funded through the Oprah Winfrey Foundation in honor of Oprah’s all-time favorite guest, Tererai Trent, who grew up in the rural village of Matau, longing to go to school. Through extraordinary determination, Tererai’s dream of getting an education was realized years later, but she never forgot the children in her own village, wanting them to have the same opportunity to follow their dreams and realize their potential.  The donation to the Matau Primary School project was announced on May 20, 2011, during one of the final "Oprah" show episodes.

The new school will have 850 students, and will include new latrines, new classrooms, new homes for teachers, a preschool playground and a school administration building. In addition, some 4,000 preschoolers and school-age children from Matau and neighboring villages will be reached through early education programs and a community-wide literacy program.

More than 2,000 people gathered on the school campus to hear remarks from a Save the Children representative, local government officials and education officials. Many families walked for miles under the morning sun and along dirt roads to attend the ceremonial groundbreaking and show their support for the education project.

“This is a special day. A day for us to celebrate, for education is the light that will lead our children into a brighter tomorrow,” said Sharon Hauser, Save the Children’s acting country director in Zimbabwe. “This project is important not only for the rehabilitation of the school buildings here, but also for the improvements we will make together in increasing children’s ability to read, and in nurturing preschool children to grow and develop into successful students and citizens.”

Tererai Trent, who could not attend the groundbreaking, sent a special message to the children, which was read at the ceremony, “My heart is filled with joy when I imagine thousands of you sitting in these classrooms, starting your journey to becoming the finest women and men you aspire to be,” said Tererai Trent. “Make the world proud. Show the world it is achievable, Tinogona.” Read Tererai’s full remarks.

The education project has $1.5 million in funding from the Oprah Winfrey Foundation. In addition, Oprah viewers across the United States, inspired by Tererai’s incredible story of achievement against all odds, have contributed nearly $60,000 to date through the purchase of “Tinogona” t-shirts. Tinogona means “It is Achievable” in the local Shona language. T-shirts are available here.

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