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April 1st, 2009
Time for School Series
Video: Kenyan Girls' Songs

At Ayany Primary School in Kenya, nearly a forth of the 2000 students are orphans, having lost both their parents to AIDS. The school is in the Kibera section of Nairobi — the largest slum in all of Africa. With rape on the rise and AIDS an ever-present problem in Kenya, basic HIV/AIDS awareness is a substantial part of the school curriculum. But Leah Asego, a teacher at Ayany, goes beyond the basic, composing passionate poems on the themes of sexuality and women’s rights, meant to instill pride in her young female students. Asego spends her free time during lunch, after school, and even on weekends diligently coaching the girls in the lyrics and assertive delivery style of her poetry, which highlights the plight of women in Africa and emphasizes HIV/AIDS awareness. Asego hopes that the lyrics will equip her students with a sense of self, teaching them how to live within the pressures of their communities and social norms, all the while maintaining a smile.

My Bag, written by Leah Asego, teaches young girls to say “no” to unwanted sexual advances.

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Woman of Africa is an ode to the resilience of an unsung hero — the African woman.

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