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December 5, 2002

Lora with a mother from the centerFor SFSU senior Lora Kihorany, this year's World AIDS Day has special meaning. After interning last summer at an HIV/AIDS nonprofit in Kenya, Kihorany was chosen to read part of an essay she wrote about the experience on an MTV special. The program first aired Sunday, Dec. 1.

Her essay was part of her application for the Lisa Lopes AIDS Scholarship, which commemorates the death earlier this year of rapper-singer Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, a longtime AIDS activist. Lopes' band mate Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas from the R&B group TLC introduced Kihorany's reading, accompanied by photos from her work in Kenya.

Despite the disease's ravages, which she saw firsthand, Kihorany (pictured right with one of the mothers the nonprofit serves) also perceived signs of hope.

"Most of the people I was with had absolutely nothing; terrible health, dying children, starving bodies, a mud hut as a home, with no running water or electricity," she said, "yet they were joyful."

In July, Kihorany, a social science major with a minor in women's studies, worked at the Teenage Mothers and Girls Association of Kenya (TEMAK), a nonprofit service in Kisumu, western Kenya, which provides job training, AIDS testing and health education for young mothers. The center trains women to be economically self-sufficient and to take control of their health and their lives.

Over 90 percent of the women in TEMAK's programs have HIV or AIDS, and the center estimates that one of every three women in Kisumu between ages 15 and 24 have contracted the virus.

Back in San Francisco, Kihorany continues to work to raise awareness about TEMAK and the AIDS epidemic.

"I went to Kenya to teach the students about AIDS, yet they taught me in the process," she said. "They are my source of inspiration."

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Last modified December 3, 2002, by the Office of Public Affairs