Ordinary Oprahs

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picture of Medhine

hide caption The death of Medhine (above), a 9-year-old from Feres Mai, Ethiopia, gave Lidia Schaefer, a manicurist from Washington, D.C., the inspiration to build a school for the African village. Medhine was killed by hyenas during her three-hour walk home from the nearest school.

Courtesy of Lidia Shaefer

We were interested in the hullabaloo surrounding the opening of Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. We stumbled onto a story, actually. We realized that two people we see all the time are doing what Oprah has just done, and let me tell you, they don't have Oprah-sized pockets.

Lidia Schaefer works as a manicurist at a salon in Washington, D.C., but she managed to build schoolhouses in Ethiopia. And Wendy Johnson, an administrative assistant here at NPR, works part time so that she has the time to hand deliver her contributions in support of projects overseas. We thought you'd be interested in meeting them and hearing about what they do. We broaden the story with a conversation with Dennis Whittle from Global Giving, an organization that helps small donors find worthy projects. We also talk with Gene Sperling, a leading economist who tells us why this is good for the world and not just the soul.

Oprah stories are irresistible, but discovering that ordinary people are doing the same thing was too good to pass up. Do you agree? Tell us what you think. Was it interesting? Did it keep your attention? Are you comfortable with the variety of accents you heard? Did you hear something that you have not heard anywhere else? And did it make you think about the choices you make with your time and money?

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Yes, I found this story very interesting. Although Oprah may inspire many, she may also leave others with the feeling that they don't have the means to effect change in the world. So hearing about how "ordinary" people are making a extraordinary difference can inspire the rest of the ordinary people to do the same.

Sent by Kevin Broch | 5:16 PM | 1-11-2007

Shout out to Andy Carvin for directing me to Rough Cuts and the "Ordinary Oprahs" segment in particular. Very inspiring as we at SOLID www.solidsaltspring.com embark on our journey to build a school for the disabled and vulnerable children at the HaMakhata project in Lesotho, Sub-Saharan Africa. You can find out more about our school house project here: http://www.solidsaltspring.com/schoolhouse.html

And thanks for including Global Giving, an organization we should look more closely into as we move forward with building and supplying the school.

Sent by Meron Moroz | 5:21 PM | 1-11-2007

I enjoyed the interviews and was inspired. We don't have to be rich and famous to be great. We all have parts to do and can do something to make a change in someone else's life. I hope others will be encouraged and inspired to find their task in life to help another.

Sent by Krista Williams | 5:27 PM | 1-11-2007

Over 10% of American children are below the poverty line. While I admire the fact that Oprah started a school, big deal, she's not the first and she won't be the last. Stop giving to credit the wealthly and recognize that "we the people . . ." are actually working and struggling to change things without glory.

Sent by Phenix | 5:29 PM | 1-11-2007

I liked this show. I am involved with Charities like World Vision in Africa, so it was nice to hear about "regular people" who help make a difference.

I think adding comments from Gene Sperling about how African girls are probably the most benefitted by aid. I donate to local, national, and international groups, so I understand the needs everywhere. But it is nice to hear somebody advocating for the poorest of the poor.

Also, this is the first I heard about Global Giving, and I am excited to see how I can help with projects posted or maybe add my own.

Sent by wydok | 5:31 PM | 1-11-2007

Thank you for the very informative and personal "article." This was excellent.

All my questions were answered as I listened to the interviews. I just happened across this, I don't think that our station subscribes to Rough Cuts. So I will continue to look for it each week on NPR.org.

Sent by Sondra Daly | 5:39 PM | 1-11-2007

Nice program...quite inspiring.

Sent by Neville Waters | 5:41 PM | 1-11-2007

Excellent coverage on a current event that takes the discussion to different levels - including the individual listeners level. Ordinary Oprahs remind us that it is not just the wealthy who can make changes that greatly impact lives.

Sent by Teresa Sholes | 5:44 PM | 1-11-2007

I agree whole heartedly. I would much rather hear about some every-day-Joe or Janet than a movie star or show host about what they are doing now. Sure, Oprah does a lot of good, but she also flaunts her money in many directions (whether its a pair of $500 shoes or $40 million for a school). The difference is that she seeks publicity (her story was in last weeks Newsweek as well). The every-day-person doesn't flaunt their money and doesn't seek publicity. And they might have just as an interesting story or more.

Sent by Steve Shaum | 6:00 PM | 1-11-2007

Thank you so much for reminding all of us that we don't have to have the resources that Oprah enjoys to make a difference.

Sent by Keli Cottrell | 6:02 PM | 1-11-2007

I enjoy hearing how Oprah spends her millions. However, I don't think others who do good should be considered little "Oprahs." They are people doing extraordinary things without the benefit of millions and numerous staff.

Sent by Phylice Walton | 6:06 PM | 1-11-2007

Whatever the equivalent of a male Oprah is that would be Scott Pegg, Professor of Political Science, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He has helped build schools literally piece by piece in Bodo City, Nigeria after a visiting there in the April 2000. He and his wife, Tijen, directed all their wedding presents to support building in the village. His meticulous accounting and updates on the work there have moved me to contribute my Christmas donations every year to this cause. Peggs political science background, the oil greed in the area, and Peggs generous soul would make a great NPR feature. Check the website through the Timmy Foundation (International Partners) at http://www.timmyfoundation.org/international-partners-nigeria.htm

Sent by Patricia K. Hair | 6:11 PM | 1-11-2007

I agree that discovering ordinary people doing Oprah-like things is great. This is more than interesting, its inspiring. It kept my attention. I don't think I will forget it. The variety of accents was very comfortable with me. The very essence of this story isn't something Ive heard anywhere else. It did make me think about the choices I make with my time and money. Theres room for improvement.

Sent by Norman V. Slack | 6:15 PM | 1-11-2007

Ordinary Oprahs:

Your story and interviews were presented beautifully. The concern that some people have about funding the poorest abroad instead of their relatively affluent counterparts here appeared to have been a major thread in the presentation. I was struck by the appreciation of a simple pencil by the children abroad! Perhaps there is a way to actually capture that appreciation and desire, bottle it, and then donate it to the children over here. That would be the best things that anyone could possibly do for my eleven year old son and his friends!

Sent by Jerry Rubenfeld | 6:18 PM | 1-11-2007

I really enjoyed this segment. One of things that I would hope that the mainstream media would do more is empower ordinary people who may lack time, money, and clout. This segment is wonderful as it profiles people, who are like the vast majority of us, making a significant difference in the world. I would have liked to hear a little bit more on other ways people can help out. For instance, there are sites where people can donate as little as $25 towards micocredit loans to businesspeople in the developing world. I have donated through such a site. Also, what kind of resources do churches in our country offer to people who want to help out in the developing world?

The second interview was also interesting. I feel that it did put this aid that Oprah and these ordinary Oprahs into greater context. How do the recipients feel about what is given them?

Yes, this segment made me feel so lazy. Why can't I do more like the people profiled in this segment?

Sent by Steve Petersen | 10:36 AM | 1-12-2007

The use of the word "hullabaloo" implies some disdain for the actions of Oprah. I think that there are indeed many people who do this kind of work, and even if they don't have Oprah's purse, so to speak, it is in bad taste, in my opinion, to have written such a show. $40 million is a lot of money, and many organizations are indeed out there, helping, but for the most part, they are often trying to convert the people they are helping. Who is NPR to question Oprah's motivation?

Sent by CJ Plourde | 10:39 AM | 1-12-2007

My dear friend and coworker Rose, who works as a loan processor has funded, entirely on her salary and donations a preschool (Destiny Preschool) and scholarship program in her home country of Belize. There is also an after school mentoring center and plans for an adult education program for adults who did not complete high school as Belize does not have a GED program.

Each year I sponsor two of her graduating students through their kindergarten year for books and uniforms and some students receive sponsorship through high schools.

Anytime I feel limited in my own capacity to give I think of what Rose has achieved with seemingly very little resources.

Sent by Lindsey Dailey | 10:41 AM | 1-12-2007

Education is so important and I applaud Lidia, Wendy, Oprah and any other person that has helped such a worthy cause. Speaking for myself, I always admire the amount of money that celebrities make and I find it very comforting to hear when certain celebrities help people less fortunate than themselves, but it speaks volumes to hear when someone who is an ordinary person do something so giving to help people less fortunate. What makes us all different? I think it is the opportunities we have made to us -- but it's the compassion that we give to each other that makes the difference in this World. Thank you Lidia & Wendy!

Sent by Clara Stricchiola | 10:43 AM | 1-12-2007

THANK YOU SO MUCH for this inspiring article. I agree what Oprah is doing is absolutely great. However, it should be expected with the many blessings she's been given. I am in awe of what the other two women have done and that is what has left me searching my own mind and heart about what I can do to help others. What a difference we can all make in this world by just doing our part. Thank you again.

Sent by Arnitha | 10:46 AM | 1-12-2007

Proportionally, Oprah building her school is like me giving some spare change to a street beggar. Let's keep things in perspective! Thank you for your story!

Sent by Laurie Davenport | 10:49 AM | 1-12-2007

Please don't slap an insulting "Ordinary Oprah" label to the many anonymous charity donators. I am one of these anonymous charity donators who's her own "authentic" person and will not be compared to a disingenuous capitalist such as Oprah. This comparison is absolutely degrading -- NPR should be ashamed.

I live my ego-free life with integrity. And, I don't feel the overwhelmingly obsessive-compulsive desire to hire a publicist to send out a massive press release to the media everytime a donation to charity is made or a couture hanky is purchased from a Paris boutique. And, yes I realize the donation was in the form of $40 million. Can't Oprah's ego just let her do something for the children anonymously? She might actually discover she can enjoy being "normal."

I am extremely inspired by the countless hard-working folks who give their time, sweat, energy, money and heart to those in desperate need. Thank you for sharing their stories. Please share more. And they are anything but ordinary! So, shame on the lazy NPR writer who could not come up with a better title. He or she probably thought it was "cute."

Sent by Carrie Crain | 10:51 AM | 1-12-2007

Your story was interesting but not ground breaking. Every Thursday WBEZ's World View (Chicago Public Radio 91.5 FM http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/programs/worldview/worldview.asp) features "Global Activism" where they interview, in depth over an hour, ordinary people who are doing good works abroad. World View's model for this type of interview is more interesting because it's a recurrent feature and the people interviewed are recommended by the audience.

I agree with the commenter who objected to calling your interviewee or other non-famous people doing global NGO work "little Oprahs": it sounds demeaning.

Sent by Allears | 10:54 AM | 1-12-2007

This is precisely the kind of news I want to hear. Thanks

Sent by Heidi | 10:58 AM | 1-12-2007

I was thrilled to discover your program while perusing NPR's site and I have two comments. First, anyone doing something to help create a better world is inspiring, including Oprah. Why the heat? There are so many celebrities that do absolutely nothing with their hundreds of millions, and no one is criticizing them! Also, because of her fame, how many countless ordinary Oprahs is she going to inspire to act whether it is for Africa or their local communities? Oprah is using star power for good. How can that be wrong?

Second, the tip about Global Giving's site was great. I am a fundraiser for National Dance Institute, a New York City arts ed program that has been inspiring public school children to excellence through participation in the arts for 30 years, and our theme is An African Village this year. In addition to learning about the arts and cultures of Africa, students in 25 schools city-wide are learning about the gift of giving by raising pennies for NDI's adopted village of Potou, Senegal. Many of the teaching artists have been inspired as well. One spent the holidays working with orphaned children in Uganda and another is going to Ethiopia to work with HIV-positive children and teach them dance this summer. Just today she asked me about raising private funds for the project. All she needs is $3,000. Now I can point her to Global Giving. Thanks!

Sent by Mary Walker | 11:04 AM | 1-12-2007

Fantastic segment. Thank you. I was particularly struck by the end portion of the "Ordinary Oprahs" segment regarding educating girls in Africa - eye opening! I have since visited the Global Giving webpage and am in thought regarding how I will do my part to help make this world safe and equitable for everyone. Thank you.

Sent by Laura Gidney | 11:08 AM | 1-12-2007

I enjoyed this segment very much. The approach the staff took in presenting the human interest side of the story first, then background information in the second half, did hold my interest. And I like that there is a nice synopsis on the shows home page so I have follow-up information.

My only complaint is comparing the two women featured in the first part to Oprah. They are not, like another listener commented, "little Oprahs." It would be wise if NPR would stop using celebrity names as catch-alls for actions and activities of the ordinary person.

Sent by Bonnie Jeanne Tibbetts | 11:21 AM | 1-12-2007

Thank you so much NPR for your unwavering presentation of facts when reporting world news and sports. You always allow me to absorb the pertinent information and then draw my own conclusions without having to deal with a spin on the subject matter one way or the other.

Sent by Emory Burns | 11:25 AM | 1-12-2007

Oprah is definitely an inspiration to us all, and the stories that you highlighted inspired me to get involved. However, I found this story to be lacking in the nitty-gritty: how do I do what these women have done? What if I want to build a school or health care clinic on my own- how did Lidia connect with people to get this done? How was she sure that her money was, in fact, being used to build a school? I do hear so many fantastic and inspiring stories like this on NPR, but many provide little information on how to follow through on my own.

By the way, as for investing in educating girls, many organizations have long realized that funding women is the best investment they can make. Women have a stake in ensuring their children are well cared for. One of my favorite charities provides exclusively to women in order to raise the wealth of entire villages. They found that when they gave to men, men would desert their families to better only themselves.

Sent by Sarah | 11:27 AM | 1-12-2007

These exact thought came to my mind when I heard Oprah started a school in Africa. As a person of Indian Origin I know so many of my friends who in addition to their own kids sponsor for education for not so fortunate kids in India. In my mind, even if we are just regular Joe and Jills and if we are not able to build a whole school, what ever we do to help a kid get an education is a noble effort.

Sent by Yogesh Ramakrishnan | 11:29 AM | 1-12-2007

Thank you for your heartwarming and inspiring article "Ordinary Oprahs". In my mind, there is nothing ordinary about these extraordinary individuals who have little but give so much. Ms. Lindia Schaefer and Ms. Wendy Johnson and the likes are nothing less than unsung heroes. Their altruism is the epitome of humanity and compassion. They have earned a place in the pantheon of greatness. Thank you Ms. Schaefer and thank you Ms. Johnson for your inspiring deeds.

Sent by Pauls | 11:35 AM | 1-12-2007

Maybe Oprah should visit Pine Ridge, South Dakota or other reservations here in American for inspiration to change things domestically.

Sent by Cynthia M. Kemp | 11:53 AM | 1-12-2007

I thought the story was great. I think what Oprah has done is fantastic in spite of the criticism that she has received.

I have accompanied Wendy to Africa for the past two years and have been a part of giving to the children and visiting the schools in Ethiopia, Kenya and Ghana. This work is necessary and so needed.

Sent by Lanette Simmons | 11:55 AM | 1-12-2007

I think this kind of story does a bit to correct the bias in the media toward publicity hunters. Quiet people doing worthwhile things--we need to hear more about them!

Sent by Lois Svoboda | 11:57 AM | 1-12-2007

I enjoyed reading about the "Ordinary Oprahs" however, why negate their efforts? These efforts are even greater than Oprah's because they do not have the means, but they manager to do what they do from the heart and they should be celebrated as "Ordinary Heroes."

Sent by Karen Austin | 12:07 PM | 1-12-2007

Ordinary Oprahs -- absolutely outstanding story. I am a pastor of a local church in East Tennessee. We've been looking for a way to contribute to the betterment of the global community in which we are a part. You've helped to point us in the right direction with this story...

Sent by Phillip Williams | 2:27 PM | 1-12-2007

I think its too bad that there even has to comparisons between the amount that Oprah may have helped compared to the two sisters mentioned or attempting to put into perspective the money she put into the school by making it akin to spare change to a beggar. The fact is that The three women and many others known and unknown are not sitting writing opinions on how it should be done, she should do it , or what the motivations behind the action should be. They have seen a need and selflessly are making a difference in someones life. Blessing of joy, abundance, health, is what I pray for them, and please continue to spot light the people that are doing soooo much with what little they have peace.

Sent by Mwenya | 1:58 PM | 1-16-2007

I think this story deserves FAR more attention than the Oprah story. The power of many individuals to make a substantial change without substantial effort or expense is much more inspiring than what a single celebrity does. Oprah may have millions, but she also has dozens if not hundreds of support staff to make her dreams come true. It is much more impressive to see average Americans with jobs, mortgages, family responsibilities and no staff make the effort to make a difference.

Sent by Mike DeHetre | 2:04 PM | 1-16-2007

I am really happy for the many girls in Africa who will benefit from Oprah's generous heart. Giving is a beautiful virtue, be a few coins to a beggar, time for a cause or millions to an organization. Watching Oprah's interview on why them and not American children caused me heartache. If an American child wishes to have an iPod over a book or $250 tennis shoes over a school uniform, that is completely our fault, we cannot blame our children for our materialistic sins. To me it says that our children are a lost cause, they are not worth saving. In this country we have children without a loving homes, food, child care, education or health care. Helping thy neighbors starts at home! let us not loose sight of our future.

Sent by Ivonne Martinez | 2:09 PM | 1-16-2007

I would like to add my brother, Greg Mortenson, to the list. He has built 50 self sustainable schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His biography, Three Cups of Tea, tells of the incredible lengths he has gone through, especially establishing his first school in the foothills of K2. How many schools could have been built with $40 million is mind boggling.

NPR was one of the first national stations to interview Greg and his one-person, non-profit work.

Thanks,

Sent by Sonja Mortenson Rauen | 2:11 PM | 1-16-2007

I enjoyed this segment. I am thinking about what I can do to help, and will look at the websites given. Please do more shows on the education of children around the world and especially girls to let people know how it is so cost effective to send kids to school in achieving the goal of a better world. Also give us more stories of ordinary Oprahs. It is inspiring to say the least. Thank you,

Sent by Sarah Cotton | 2:13 PM | 1-16-2007

I think this segment could be a lesson for Oprah that her money could have benefited many more children in Africa than investing in so much in one facility. I believe there must be an optimal cost per student/benefit received ratio and Oprah has overshot the mark.

Sent by Betty | 2:15 PM | 1-16-2007

I thought your story on "Ordinary Oprahs" was superb and inspiring. I hope you make it an annual topic so that people can be reminded of the small ways (and not so small) in which they can support these dedicated people and their programs.

Sent by Betty Francis | 2:17 PM | 1-16-2007

Hello Michel, I agree on the fact that there are too many stories and news reports to cover the world and to have another show is an excellent idea. I myself work in television. I was highly interested in stories that hit close to home, meaning, the average person who gives what they barely have to those who don't in other countries as well as there home land. If you ever need someone to help out--reporting, music cuts/ cues/ dialogue editing, please let me know. I truly enjoy the show and believe by allowing for many points of views to be shared allows diversity. It is amazing how a station can bring about so much light in a world that lives by candlesticks.

Sent by Adrianna Marie | 2:42 PM | 1-16-2007

This was truly an inspiring story that makes a person double think what they are about and what they spend on. As far as placing such titles as "Ordinary Oprahs" towards people, that I feel deserve the higher title of being called Heroes, is unfortunate. I love the show and we should hail these people as Humanitarians and Heroes! It is amazing what a little effort can do to a world so big !

Sent by Adrianna | 2:44 PM | 1-16-2007

This story was amazing. We hear so much about celebrities generosity its great to hear about people who aren't famous doing extraordinary things like this, putting their energies into giving...but in relative obscurity. Hopefully, programs like yours will change the obscurity part. However, although I loved the program, I would not classify these people as "ordinary" in any way. I think you could come up with a better title!

Sent by Andy | 2:59 PM | 1-16-2007

I am very interested in topics like this--ordinary people doing extraordinary things for others. And girls education in underdeveloped countries is a very important topic--it could've been covered more in depth.

I enjoyed hearing from the women building schools (would have liked to hear more from them and/or others) and the expert on schooling in Africa. However, while I was glad to learn about Global Giving, I felt this information wasn't fit seamlessly into the segment.

Why criticize Oprah for starting a school for girls in Africa? There is a great need there and she is helping. Think of those girls, those particular young people who are benefiting--how can anyone say the money should've been spent on other people, no matter how deserving? There is a lot of need in the world and we shouldn't criticize those who are helping. If you don't like their choices, then don't do as they do. Don't help build schools in Africa if you prefer to help those closer to home! It's not either/or--us or them--thats the thinking that keeps getting us in trouble!

Thanks for a good program. If it was a call-in program, however, I would be less enthusiastic. I usually tune out when Talk of the Nation starts taking calls. Every once in a while, you get an insightful caller, but so often it seems people just want to hear their voices on the radio. Just my opinion. . . Keep up the good work!

Sent by Chris M. | 3:12 PM | 1-16-2007

I really appreciate this story. I'm a pastor planning to do a series of sermons about the big global issues and have been seeking ways to break folks out of the "I'm only one little person, so what can I do" syndrome. I wish I could get everyone in my church to listen to the whole story. I'll certainly be including links to it in the bulletin. Thanks.

Sent by Keith Beasley-Topliffe | 3:28 PM | 1-16-2007

While I am a fan of Oprah and her giving, I must say that prior to Oprah's arrival there have always been those who gave in time, energy and money to the various ethnic and social communities here and abroad. Go back, maybe, 100 years and you will find some interesting stories I am sure......

Sent by kevin lloyd | 3:57 PM | 1-16-2007

Wendy Johnson and in particular Lidia Schaefer are such interesting people I would have loved to hear a little more about their backgrounds and why they do what they do. Also, I would have liked to hear a more of this information toward the beginning of the program.

I thought the addition of commentators like James Whittle and the Sperling guy were great at expanding the dialogue and gave me a better overall picture of global charities. So for argument's sake, i would have liked to hear (just for a minute or two) someone advocating (not just a question from Michel Martin) the "spend money on people in need in our own communities/country" school of thought.

Overall, i enjoyed it and learned some things and i thought the questions Michel asked were pretty good at getting the interviewees to talk and open up.

Sent by grey | 4:12 PM | 1-16-2007

I am sorry, the new show is quite DRY!!! The interview was interesting, but it was not challenging (which is the sealing point of all successful shows: Bill O'Reilly, RadioLab, On the Media...) Why, for example, didn't you challenge better-than-ALL-of-you Oprah to convince and pressure her guests and friends to give to rotating charities? Her "people" listen to all the bad things that are said of her in the media....

Sent by Daniel | 4:15 PM | 1-16-2007

So I found the topic interesting and really enjoyed the Gene Sperling part. I thought it completed the first half of the show in a way that the HPV show was lacking. However, the interview questions during the first half of the show were abysmal. There were some good subjects to be raised and rather than elevating the subject I felt the questions were really answers unto themselves. A definite improvement over last week's show, however still not something that would make a regular listener on my public radio station.

Sent by Lane Young | 4:29 PM | 1-16-2007

Thank you. The reason I enjoy NPR is because they cover the news people need to hear. I don't really care what you call all the wonderfully generous people who help others...I'm just glad that they do so.

I had heard mention of Global Giving before on NPR. I'd love to see Oprah acknowledge them on her show. That would really help get the word out there without costing them advertising dollars.

I've contributed to an African child for the past four years though World Vision and barely thought about it until I received a thank you letter from her father. I know that I will continue making sure that she does get a chance to complete her education and help change the world.

Again, thank you. I'll be looking forward to your future shows.

Sent by Sheila Brooks | 4:45 PM | 1-16-2007

Enjoyed the "Ordinary Oprah" piece, which I downloaded from iTunes. The topic was an interesting one, and the treatment was very competent. I think somehow I had expected "rough cuts" to sound more like a work-in-progress! (Might consider the positioning suggested by that title...)

Sent by Mary Mac | 5:23 PM | 1-16-2007

Ordinary Oprahs? I think not, rather I think it is extraordinary regular people that do the quiet work that is sustaining. Never underestimate the power of one person extending their hand to another. Not a hand out, but a hand up. I am inspired by those who do the small things that help others achieve big dreams, not those who relentlessly self promote and do the flashy.

Sent by Pierrette Mimi Poinsett MD | 5:42 PM | 1-16-2007

I appreciate hearing stories of the amazing things "little people" do. These stories fight apathy, low self-esteem and hopelessness. Hearing about the thoughts and efforts of other people support our own thoughts and efforts. Simply having access to programs like Global Giving makes us genuinely able to impact our world at home and abroad. thanks for the work you are doing.

Sent by Laura Dreamspinner | 5:51 PM | 1-16-2007

This is very eye-opening. The philanthropy of Oprah is great but it is the generosity of everyday people that is truly amazing. These people deserve notoriety, and it proves that we all can help build schools and help villages. I would like to see more efforts directed toward helping children in rural economically deprived areas in the U.S. This feature is a wonderful addition to the NPR.

Sent by Deborah Emerson | 6:08 PM | 1-16-2007

Oprah should have these ladies and many more who work behind the scenes to help children in not only Ethiopia, but other countries on her show and applaud their work. Oprah is not the heroine here.

Sent by Evangeline Salas | 6:55 PM | 1-16-2007

I really enjoyed this episode. I particularly liked hearing how ordinary people are making a difference. So much media attention is given to the big names who are doing good works - and certainly their work deserves attention - but it's equally important to hear what average Americans are doing because this is where the real inspiration lies.

I like the new show! I can't wait to hear more.

Sent by Jamie Carlton | 6:59 PM | 1-16-2007

Inspirational story. Enjoyed it. It's a relief to listen to a positive story. I look to Rough Cuts for something other than hard news.

Sent by Lisa Cozzetti | 2:27 PM | 1-17-2007

This was an outstanding and inspiring piece. Hearing how people are sacrificing so much to help people so far away, provides a beacon of light among the darknesses engulfing media and the world today.

It certainly sparked ideas and energy in me to get back involved and provide more of a helping hand.

Thanks NPR!

Sent by Aaron | 2:56 PM | 1-17-2007

I found the content excellent, the subjects provocative and approachable. When I read the introduction to this series, it seemed like this show might not be for me. Based on this segment, it appears this show is very much for me. I'm glad I took the time to check it out.

Sent by Lindsay | 3:21 PM | 1-17-2007

I really enjoyed hearing a comparison on how those without great wealth like Oprah can participate in global giving and change. I also appreciated the commentary near the end of the show explaining why and how girls (and children in general) can be educated in different countries as well as why this is important and how it can change a community.

Sent by Mieke | 6:46 PM | 1-18-2007

Firstly, I believe a story's "content" is much more important than the "title" given it. Secondly, such information is really newsworthy on a global scale. For one thing people - knowledge in this global reality helps to keep the authenticity of "giving" on the right track. It also helps give perspective on what people, both famous and not famous, are doing to help solve the world's most pressing problems. I think this is an important service to us all.

Sent by Glenda Trefts | 4:57 PM | 1-22-2007

I thought that the "Ordinary Oprahs" episode was excellent. The content is exactly the sort of thing that I look to NPR for, and follows in the line of shows like On the Media. But the focus on the "real" people instead of economists or PR hacks set the show apart enough to make it a valuable contribution in its own right.

Sent by Leaf McGregor | 5:06 PM | 1-22-2007

We would like to thank NPR for "Ordinary Oprahs." It was absolutely inspiring and wonderfully informative. After going to the Global Giving website we find ourselves overwhelmed with such a terrific use of the internet to really effect change in the lives of those in need.

Sent by Marilyn and Dick Kennedy | 6:15 PM | 1-22-2007

I have enjoyed the first few podcasts, especially the one about Ordinary Oprahs. It is refreshing to know ordinary people like myself are out there working to help improve the world.
I must confess I was a little leery after listening to the first few episodes about Mocha Moms and HPV. I will confess I am a white male and sometimes get a little frustrated when talk of multiculturalism seems to focus primarily upon race or women. I guess the best way to illustrate my point (yes, I know that most of the media is about white men and women) was attending the wedding of a friend who was also a doctor. While the reception had a variety of races and cultures represented, they were all doctors! So statistically, the crowd wasn't diverse at all since a small percentage of the U.S. population are actually medical doctors.

That is why I liked the Ordinary Oprahs piece so much. The ethnicity of the people involved didn't matter because what connected them was their acts of courage and kindness.

Sent by Bruce Yarnall | 10:50 AM | 1-25-2007

I am inspired with the dedication and determination of Lidia. I am inspired to do the same or similar project in Ethiopia. I have lost a child in Seattle and forming a foundation in USA that extend it's service far in Ethiopia to those who are in need. Keep up the good work, Lidia, Operah and others who are sacrifycing your life.

Sent by Belete Gebre | 10:16 AM | 1-30-2007

Circuitous serendipity delightfully led me to Ordinary Ophahs. The last chapter of William Easterly???s book The White Man???s Burden: Why the West???s Efforts To Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good also featured GlobalGiving.com ???and one click lead to another. I???m changing my life-course after working for more than a decade in a hit-or-miss development assistance bureaucracy. These vignettes stoked my hope in humanity, brightened technology???s promising role, and highlight transparent, cost-effective and apolitical aid innovations. Thanks Michel Martin!

Sent by Eric Abdullateef | 3:15 PM | 2-27-2007

Greg Mortenson, an American who grew up in Africa, is another Ordinary Oprah who has dedicated his life over the last thirteen years to set up 58 mostly girls schools providing education to over 24,000 students at the cost of about one dollar per month per child in remote, often dangerous regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 1993, he literally sold everything he owned to do this including his car and wordly possessions. He is the author of a recent New York Times Best-Seller, "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission To Promote Peace...One School At A Time" www.threecupsoftea.com
In the course of his work, he has received two fatwahs and after 9/11 hate mail and death threats from Americans for helping Muslim children. In USA, he is also founder of Pennies For Peace www.penniesforpeace.org a program in hundreds of schools dedicated to teach children about philanthropy, peace, and cultural 'bridge-building'.

Sent by Christiane Leitinger | 12:40 PM | 5-11-2007

Halo Thank You for sharing this story! I would like to invite this gal to be a guest on one of my TV programs. Weekly Angels Talk Soul Relationships and or the One hour TV Calling All Angels HOTLINE...reflecting real tell-A-Vision journeys in ONE World, One Dream, In the Spirit Of Unity.
Thanks again.

Divine Love & HOly KIsses,
Sandra Lynch

Sent by Sandra Lynch | 7:50 AM | 9-28-2007

I am trying to find the comment posted by Belete Gebre on "Ordinary Oprahs"..Belete passed away on June 6, 2008 & I wanted to send this to his wife. For some reason the link is not working. His name is listed on the right menu bar, but link broken. Thank you for your time.

Sent by Nancy Adams | 12:55 AM | 6-27-2008

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