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R&B singer Kelly Rowland became a Staying Alive Foundation ambassador in March. Highly motivated, she immediately turned her belief of ‘knowledge is power’ into a plan of action.

In June she went with MTV to South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya to meet some of SAF’s grant winners who are implementing HIV/AIDS awareness programs to “encourage, educate and empower their peers.”

“The [HIV/AIDS] statistics are high in young people,” says Rowland, “in African Americans or Africans period, so it’s important to get the message out there.”

The result of Rowland’s trip was not only her film, The Diary of Kelly Rowland – which documented her activities in Africa and aired on 1 December, World AIDS Day – but also an emotional rollercoaster that took her far beyond the comforts of home that she is accustomed to. Shocked by the putrid existence of AIDS sufferers in the squalor and hopelessness of a prostitution camp, affected by intelligent theatrical performance by actors with AIDS about the realities of AIDS, and inspired by the centre that takes girls off the streets and teaches them to read and write to make them employable, the visit to Africa was a real eye opener for the new ambassador.

“There’s so many young people out there and they have a life to live,” says Rowland. “We’re all a bit responsible for that.”

Singer Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes, SAF’s latest ambassador, is also keen to spread the message.

“I’ve been that young naive boy, running around, not caring, wanting to have sex,” says McCoy. “I can definitely relate to the young guys out there now… I want to talk to them about respecting themselves, protecting themselves and the girls and women around them.”

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