The veteran media tycoon who heads the OWN Network appeared at the Premier Hotel in Ekurhuleni, South Africa on Saturday where she surprised hundreds of young women who were a part of the Dreams program. The Dreams program, which stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe, is a U.S. government initiative that seeks to empower young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries to remain AIDS-free while pursuing career goals.
Winfrey appeared at a Dreams initiative event where she was the special guest of US ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard who served as the moderator as the media veteran told her story. While she related to some struggles experienced by the young women in attendance after growing up in poverty and overcoming abuse, Winfrey made it clear that God was a vital part of her success.
“I grew up in the church. My grandmother led me to the sense of God and made me believe there was a greater force than me,” Winfrey said, according to South Africa’s Channel24 reports. “I grew up believing that God was my father and Jesus was my brother, which meant I could do anything in life.”
While Winfrey let the young women know the importance of excelling in their lives to deter sexism and create their own success stories, she drove the point home about needing to lean on something bigger than themselves.
“In life you cannot trust yourself only, there must be some higher force you trust in, be it God, the community or an organization, because you cannot be successful on your own,” she said.
“What you do today and where you see yourself is what matters. You need to know what kind of woman you want to be and where you want to be, not just in terms of profession, but in life.”
Winfrey has been vocal about holding strong to her faith after being abused, raped and mistreated in the past.
“You will have to learn that the wounds of your past—rape, molestation, whippings for ‘stepping out of place,’ and not being allowed to show anger or cry afterward—damaged your self-esteem” the head of OWN previously wrote in a letter to her teenage self . “Yet through it all, you’ve held onto a belief in God and God’s belief in you. That will be your single greatest gift: knowing there is a power greater than yourself and trusting that force to guide you.”