"I did not think it was possible to have this love for other people's children," said Winfrey (cutting the ribbon on Jan. 2 alongside some of her students).
01/04/2007 AT 12:00 PM EST
The first thing Matshidiso Mabe, 13, got excited about was being able to sleep in her very own bed. Like many poor South African children, Matshidiso has to share a bed with relatives in her small Soweto home. But now that she's a boarding student at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls-South Africa, outside Johannesburg, she will no longer have to fight for mattress space with her mother and cousin.
"It didn't feel lonely at all!" recalls Matshidiso of the first night in her new bed, which is covered with an Oprah-approved fluffy white duvet. She is also drawing inspiration from her mentor: "I want to help all the children of South Africa," says Matshidiso, who one day hopes to open a similar school of her own. "This is in me. I want to adopt children, as Oprah has adopted us."