Dr. Tererai Trent is simply one of the most extraordinary women currently walking the planet. Married at age 14, the mother of four by 18, Dr. Trent — whom Oprah has called her favorite guest — has lived many lives. Though she was raised in a rural Zimbabwe village that struggled with disease, poverty, and the lack of basic resources such as clean water, electricity, healthcare, and at times food, Tererai dreamed of an education. She overcame impossible odds in order to realize that dream, and in partnership with Oprah, has built schools in Zimbabwe to ensure a quality education for tens of thousands of girls.
With The Awakened Woman: Remembering & Reigniting Our Sacred Dreams Tererai has given us an accessible, intimate, and evocative guide that teaches nine essential lessons. It encourages all women to examine their most deeply held aspirations and to uncover the innate power that can recreate our world for the better. Her awakened woman does more than survive; she thrives emotionally, physically, spiritually, politically, intellectually, and sexually.
Tererai is a wonder of a human being, and a magnetic speaker. She describes growing up in the shadow of a colonial, patriarchal system that repressed girls and women, and she explains the “ugly baton” of poverty, illiteracy, and abuse that had been passed from one generation of devalued women in her family to the next. She tells us how she refused to pass that baton, instead discovering her goal, writing it down on a piece of paper, and planting the paper in the ground like a seedling. Years later, she walked across the stage at Western Michigan University to accept the doctorate degree she had long dreamed of.
Tererai has been a hero of mine for many years, and I was honored that she joined me for one of the most moving, powerful, and important conversations I’ve ever had. A born leader, she teaches us about transforming heartbreak into action and the difference between little hunger (for fame, for attention, for money) and big hunger (the search for meaning, which comes from doing for others). This book argues for a shift in global resources and attention to the education of girls with backgrounds like her own. Nothing will change the world more than uplifting such girls and women.
To learn more about the work of Tererai’s groundbreaking nonprofit, please visit www.tererai.org.
Watch Tererai’s TED talk, “Forgotten Women and Girls,” here.