Wednesday, 27 November 2013


One of the stories that I personally draw some serious inspiration from is that of this lady called Tererai Trent. The fact that she is a Zimbabwean African woman adds onto the inspiration. There are so many life lessons we can draw from this woman, who in any situation, was not supposed to have reached where she reached today! She had nothing going for her. She was given off in an arranged marriage at 11 years old! At 11 years old I was still playing with my dolls! She became a mother of 3 children by 18 and she was physically abused by her husband. But she had a dream. She was resilient, she was a fighter and she didnt give up. Some of the women I know today who are in a better position than she was in think just because they are mothers, they cant do anything anymore but just take care of their kids. That is not true! Tererai grew up in utter poverty in the rural areas of Zimbabwe in Matau in a mud-thatched house. She was bound to follow the path of many women in Africa: illiteracy, early marriage and poverty. Today she is evaluator and international public speaker.

Oprah Winfrey named Dr. Trent her “favorite guest of all time” in 2010. In 2013, she was named one of 26 women in the Power List of O, the Oprah Magazine SA
Let me share a little more about Tererai. Her father did not allow her to go to school as a child mainly due to poverty but also he believed that the boy child is the one that deserved going to school so instead he sent her brother Tinashe. For Tererai he had other plans. According to Tererai, when she was sharing about her childhood experiences, she remembers the men in her village "pointing to the boys in the village and saying 'These are the breadwinners of tomorrow. We need to educate them. We need to send them to school. The girls will get married.'" She taught herself to read and write from her brother's school books. When her teacher discovered this as she did better that her brother in school, he begged Tererai's father to allow her to attend school. She then attended school for a short period, and as is the custom, her father accepted a brideprice of a cow and married her off at the age of 11. She had three children by age 18 and without a high school diploma. Tererai Trent wanted to go to America and get a bachelor's degree, a master's, and eventually a PhD. Encouraged by her mother, Tererai wrote down these dreams, put the paper in a scrap of tin, and buried it. 
Original Dream Can Tererai's dreams of education were buried in this can

But Tererai was undeterred. One day, Tererai met a woman named Jo Luck, CEO of Heifer International who would profoundly impact and inspired the young mother with these words, if you desire your dreams they are achievable.”The meeting with a stranger and words that would ultimately change Tererai’s life!
With very little education, and only her mother’s encouragement to break the cycle of poverty, Tererai wrote down her five dreams on a scrap of paper; to go to America, to achieve a bachelor’s, a master’s and a doctorate degree along with the seemingly insurmountable goal of giving back to her community. Sealed the list of dreams in a tin can, and buried the tin under a rock.

Jo Luck, CEO of Heifer International sitting in a circle with Tererai and women in her village

In 1998, she moved to Oklahoma with her husband and their five children. Three years later, she earned a bachelor's degree and then earned her master's degree after her husband was deported for abuse. After earning each degree, she returned to Zimbabwe, unearthed her tin and checked off each goal she accomplished, one by one. In December 2009, she earned her doctorate degree. Today, Tererai is happily remarried and holds a PhD!

After reaching all her academic aspirations, she realized the need to achieve her last dream-giving back to her community. She founded Tinogona Foundation to help build schools in rural Zimbabwe and introduce quality education to thousands of girls and boys. It was a dream that became a reality when Oprah Winfrey named her “favorite guest ever” and donated $1.5 million in her honor to rebuild the Matau Primary School, the school she briefly attended as a child.

As an evaluator and a public speaker, Dr. Tererai Trent has gained international recognition as one of the most compelling voices for education and women’s empowerment.

Today Dr. Trent holds multiple degrees: a Bachelor’s degree and a Masters degree in Plant Pathology from Oklahoma State University; a Masters degree in Public Health from UC Berkeley; and a PhD degree in Evaluation from Western Michigan University.


Visit her page and learn more: