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Graduate of the University of Oregon, Married for 4-1/2 years to my High School sweetheart. I am currently residing in Cleveland while I attend med school.

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    Monday, January 01, 2007

    Is this really charity?

    My wife recently made an interesting comment about the television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition". She said that it bothered her that they made such lavish homes, when they could have built several regular homes, thus helping more people. Anyone who has seen the show would agree, though I suppose building standard homes wouldn't pull in the ratings.

    I have the same sentiment after reading this article about Oprah's new school. It is a $40 Million dollar school for girls in South Africa, designed to help those from "deprived backgrounds". So, how much education does $40,000,000 buy? Well, it boasts 28 buildings, lying on 52 acres, and has the finest equipment, a laboratory, theatre, and 'is said to resemble a luxury hotel.' However, it will apparently be used to educate only 152 girls!

    For those of you without a calculator handy, that $40 million works out to over $260,000 per student! The class was selected from 3,500 applicants; $40,000,000 spread amongst that number would be over $11,000, which is comparable to US education costs, and thus, should be enough to provide a solid education for all of the applicants. According to the article, "Oprah said she decided to build her own school because she was tired of charity from a distance." Thus, the decision to only help a small number of lottery winners is, apparently, due to Oprah's close involvement. Anyone without an ego or image to worry about likely would have chosen to help a greater number of people. Yet, Oprah chose to be grandiose.
    Mandela was invited to be among the dignitaries at the opening of the lavish Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in the small town of Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg, as well as a string of international celebrities -- though the guest list was kept secret.

    With a grand opening that boasts a celebrity guest list, I would hardly consider this charity. It would appear that will serve more to enhance Oprah's image and ego than it will to educate the children of South Africa.


    Anonymous Debbie said...

    Gentle Cricket, the answer is 'no', this isn't charity. Sure they are 'giving' away the homes/money/school, but it's for the publicity. Both for the TV show and for Oprah. With all the people who need housing and education, one would think that reaching the MOST people for your buck would be the goal. I guess not.

    2:07 PM  
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    11:55 PM  
    Blogger Travis said...

    Your math is a little off. Yes it was $40 million but that doesn't work out to 260,000 per student, because that implies the students accepted this year are the only students the construction costs will ever serve.

    When you choose to donate money from your personal wealth, you can donate it as you choose. To imply that Oprah has not donated HUNDREDS of MILLIONS to American causes is a bit misinformed.

    Should Oprah choose from a pre-approved list of causes you see fit, prior to making such decisions?

    On another, but related note: $350 billion that has spent so far in Iraq could have provided every child without insurance in America, healthcare for life.

    Just a thought.

    7:58 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I don't think your math is off GC...

    Yes Oprah can spend her money as she sees fit and she sees fit to help only 152 girls this year as opposed to helping the 3,348 others who applied.

    As noted by Travis, 152 for this year. More will come through as the years pass. The article also said, "Eventually the academy will accommodate 450 girls."

    450+152 = 602
    $40,000,000 divided by 602 = $66,455

    Of course this number doesn't really count either because as the years pass and more students go through the school the number will drop.

    Still it IS a piss poor number of children she is actually helping.

    But, as Travis pointed out, it is her money.

    I don't however see how health care in the U.S. and the amount spent on the war in Iraq are related to this story. Maybe I'm missing something.


    Sorry it has been a while since I've visited Gentle Cricket. I'll try to come by more often.

    8:37 PM  
    Blogger Oneqler said...


    4:06 PM  

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