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tv   CNN Films We Will Rise Michelle Obamas Mission to Educate Girls Around...  CNN  December 11, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

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my name is aisha and i'm a correspondent with cnn and this is how my trip to liberia is getting started. >> i'm merrill streep in morocco. >> we are joining michelle obama on a trip to africa. >> the let girls learn initiative is teaching girls around the world, including
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liberia and morocco and we are here to see how it's going. >> we are pushed to the very bottom of our society. >> we're can't accept the barriers who keep them from realizing their promise. >> i can't walk away from them. >> we are some of the extraordinary girls we will meet. >> we have come here to help the first lady gain the insight into what it will take to rise up and claim their equal place in this world. >> should you feel so proud. these girls are the change makers. the future doctors and teachers and entrepreneurs. they are dreamers and visionaries who can change the world as we know it.
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i'm kind of nervous, choosing girls who have chosen to meet the first lady of the united states. i wonder how i can help them. what is it they want to say? the girls i'm about to meet like many in liberia come from families to somehow survive or r on just a few dollars a day. getting girls in school and keeping them there is usually not a priority and school can be dangerous for girls here. sexual assaults are a big problem. i hope i can help them tell their stories. i understand what they are up against. >> i'm a child from this continent. i'm an african child whose parents came from very humble beginnings and grandparents were
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not educated. my grandmother sold ginger beer to make money for schooling like these girls. with a lot of luck i got to here. >> for me this is not a big news story. the lives of my loveds are at risk. >> if i fail to convey that they can walk the same path i walked, i haven't done a good job that would be heart breaking for me. >> what brings me here is this issue of equality for women and girls. it brings me here is my
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grandmother. >> she had three children before 1920 and she couldn't vote. she didn't care who was president and she really cared who was on the school board. she would have to go to the golf course and find my grandfather on the ninth hole. hand him a piece of paper on the day the school board election. the name is written out. he didn't care anything about that. but she wasn't allowed. she wasn't deemed capable of making that decision under law. it's an issue shared across cultures. we find ourselves in morocco. it's the same in many parts of the world. i'm interested in these girls. and their aspirations and how things have changed for their mothers and grandmothers and how they will change for the daughters of these girls.
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>> i'm trying to build a team here of people who will be committed to these issues. you don't have to be the first lady. you have to care and ready to do the work and be honest about it. >> i'm going to meet a young woman called ra finna. she lived with her aunt and uncle. it is common where you have parent who is can't support you and you live with a relative. she is living with them. >> hello. ra finna?
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how are you in ni? nice to meet you. >> ra finna is 20. she lives with her aunt and uncle and earns her keep by doing most of the house work. >>. >> ra finna's father died when she was 9 and her mother struggled on her. they will make her on her. her mother made a sacrifice. she sent her away to live with relatives. you have so much to do during the day. when do you get to do it? at night?
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>> yes. from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00, i can do my school work. >> when everyone has gone to bed? >> with so many mouths to feed, her uncle questioned paying the school fees. in liberia as in many parts of the world, school is not free. families have to pay to educate their children. ironically it was ra finna's education that saved her uncle's life. the deadly ebola virus swept across liberia and the disease was everywhere. in her house, her uncle got sick. she recognized the symptoms from biology class. he didn't believe it. she was a girl. but she wouldn't give up. she forced him to be quarantined and get treatment much he survived. educate a girl and good things happen to the family.
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ra finna's uncle is living proof of that. your mother, did she go to school? >> no, she didn't go to school. she educated our children. >> if you educate your children then it changes their lives and it can change the family's life. you should be proud of her. >> i don't care why. >> you know you can. you can absolutely make it. >> ra finna is strong and driven. she wants so badly to make it. >> wants so badly to change her circumstances and she studies late at night with this tiny little light. she studies. she studies and continues to dream.
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>> here in morocco the struggle is different. sometimes less about day to day survival and more about survival of the spirit. but still, real physical challenges deny young women the shot at an education. almost half the people live in remote rural areas where it's difficult to find safe access to schools. sanitation facilities and even clean water. some moroccans enjoy relative process prosperity. the women are still illiterate. how are they going to help keep the vulnerable girls in school? i'm here at project sore, an oasis in the desert for these girls. this is project sore. i know why. you soar in the air. >> privately funded with support from the peace corps, the
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purpose is to keep girls in school as long as possible. after 12, most moroccan girls outside the cities dropout. >> i am strong! i am capable! i am worthy! i am smart! girl power! >> here they find support and encouragement, sports, tutoring, but also practical help for girls. hanan is 13 and our translator helped her explain to me why many adolescent girls disappear from schools five days a month. i wondered if most mothers taught their girls about menstruation. >> they don't really.
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moms don't talk to their girls about their periods. >> what do the girls understand what's happening to them if they don't tell them? >> a big sister maybe. >> they're provide menstrual pads and the kits. this enables them to stay in school. >> i have one question. do you think it might be valuable for the younger ones to come before they have their period so they are not surprised if they don't have the help that this group supports at home?
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>> i say this because when i got my period, i was 11. my mother had not had the talk with me yet. i thought i was very ill. i thought i was sick. she said oh, i'm sorry, i'm sorry, i didn't have the talk with you yet. >> when we came out of that workshop, hanan was called over. >> they are talking to the mayor. >> the mayor? >> yes. >> it's the mayor's crew, i believe. for some reason hanan has been pulled away from the group. is she in some sort of trouble?
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>> i couldn't understand what they were saying, but hanan who was so expressive was abashed and a little bit subdued. through the interpreter i learned that the mayor is asking does her father know she is
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participating with us and being photographed and everything. i'm not sure what to make of it. what are the pressures on this young girl? during ramadan, people don't eat or have a drop of water from morning until night. this time of year was about 15 hours. it's 102 degrees.
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but at the end of each day, families all come together for a special meal to break the fast called iftar and i'm honored to be invited to share it with hanan's family. >> his her dad. >> very nice to meet you. >> i wonder if the mayor has spoken to him about this afternoon. >> fatima is her mom. >> so glad to meet you. okay. >> thank you.
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hanan is very quiet. there is a tension in the room. it's hard to know if it's the camera or something else. so i asked hanan's father how he feels about her education and far from disapproving of it, he says -- he now works a day job and all night to be able to afford to live here where there are schools. i can see where hanan gets some of her spirit. her father's mother who is illiterate herself is optimistic
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and insistent for her grandchildren's studying. >> she wants to make sure that the first lady takes care of the program. >> earlier i saw a plate being prepared for someone not at the table. as the meal comes to a close, i learn that hanan's older sister is here in the house in a curtained off room. she is married to a conservative man and she has been forbidden by him to join us. the pressure on hanan and her father weighs on the whole family where tradition and opportunity collide. >> i'm off to meet janet jackson, 16. she is making extra money to pay
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for school fees. she is already an overachiever in this part of the world? that she is 16 and still in school. she hasn't dropped out and fallen pregnant. >> there is a famous musician called janet jackson. you have a superstar name. who do you live with? >> with my parents. >> do you have brothers and sisters? >> yes. >> how many? >> four sisters and then three brothers. >> what grade are you? >> 10th grade. >> what time does your day start? >> i woke up by 4:00 and i get up at about 4:00 in the morning and wash my dishes and bathe my little sister and brotherers and get them ready for school and i
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take a bath and get myself ready for school. go to school and after school i see about food. >> do your parents treat you and your brothers differently, would you say? >> no. the only difference is the working. the girls work more than the boys. >> that's not fair! >> when you imagine your life in the future 10 or 20 years from now, what do you say? >> i want to be a journalist. >> like me. i'm a journalist. >> wow! >> you are going to be in the same room as michelle obama. what do you want to say to her? what do you want to tell her? >> i would tell her a lot of
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things. sexual harassment and exploitation. marriage. >> you want her to understand what it's like for girls. what makes you happy? >> plenty of things make me happy. singing. >> can you actually sing? >> yes. >> very confident. >> you ready? are. >> miss janet jackson. ♪
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if you meet this girl, she speaks the language arabic, french, english, and japanese. you would think she comes to this garden with every advantage. of all the girls i met, her family from outside the city was the poorest. her father was opposed to educating his girls past the age of 12. her mother was older and sick and needed her at home. she struggled at every step to get herself an education. >> my family rejected the whole
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thing. they said you have to stay home. >> how old were you? secondary school? >> yeah. >> 12 years old. >> yeah. >> how did you win out and get your parents to agree? >> i said i'm not going to eat anymore. >> you went on a hunger strike? >> yeah. >> my goodness! >> in her case, it was a teacher who intervened with her parents. >> he saw the promise in you. >> he said i promise she is going to achieve her goals. >> her family is worried about her walking to and from school alone through remote areas. she walked eight miles back and forth every day and graduated number one from middle school. there were no high schools near her home so she had to move away to continue her education and
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she graduated from high school in three years, top of her class. >> where do you find the courage to come so far. >> when you lost hope, i just remember my mom seeing that she wanted to see me, something very important in society. i want to achieve her dreams. i was so happy. because she deserves that. and i have a really nice mom and she is always by me and encouraging me. she is illiterate and still i would like to make something to show her that i can do it. even if i'm a girl. i'm female. sorry. >> it means a lot to me that you would share that. >> yeah.
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>> the president of the united states and mrs. michelle obama. >> when i my story as the first lady, i don't start with my degrees from harvard and princeton. i grew up in a working class community. my mother is a huge source of inspiration for me. she didn't go to university. but she has in her this basic common sense and humor and deep love and fierceness in her that made me think i could do anything. my father, he worked hard and had a shift job and it's because of my parents that i always
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think every day how am i making them proud. that's what keeps me motivated. i owe that to them. >> my next stop is in the small town of marshall. >> how are you? how is everybody? fine? yeah? >> like lots of places in liberia, access to electricity and running water is limited. the ebola crisis two years ago hit marshall hard. things are better now. i'm here to meet tina brown. tina is 15. >> so tina, who do you live with? >> with my parents. i'm the sister. >> you all live in the same house?
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>> yes. >> me about school. >> i have new friends and you have fun and share ideas and focus on your lesson. >> what's your favorite subject? >> science. >> you do well? >> yes. >> her father struggles to support the family. often there is barely enough money for food. >> there is a problem with the school? >> yes. >> no matter what, he pays her older brother's school fees and sometimes not hers. >> do you say to him it's not fair that you don't pay my school fees and you pay my brother's first? do you tell him that? >> no. >> is that common in liberia. does that happen a lot where they prioritize the boys's education over girls? >> yes. in liberia, the enjoys go to school and girls stay home.
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if you want to learn, you keep on your parents every day. i want to go to school. >> that's brave of to you stay on your father and say you should pay my fees. you know you are brave. do you feel brave? >> yeah. >> do you feel courageous? >> yes. >> you are courageous. >> on the rare moment when is her chores are done and school work is complete, tina loves to read stories to other children. >> michelle obama is coming. what do you want to say to her if you get the chance? is there something you want to tell her? >> to empower us to go to school and learn something better. >> i talked to tina's father. he thought her education was
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very important. until that moment she was just his daughter unremarkable, but now he seemed proud of her. maybe for the first time. >> hi, peter. we are with cnn. i'm well, thanks. how are you. i'm about to meet the girls who will spend time with the first lady and they have a couple of questions. for starters, how should they address the first lady? >> they should say mrs. obama. >> can they touch or hug her? >> absolutely. she is very warm and affectionate. >> brilliant. >> all the girls i met are here. they will be telling their stories to the first lady tomorrow. >> i want everyone to share.
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is that all right? >> so how much do you know about michelle obama apart that she is the first lady? do you know she is a lawyer? do you know her parents weren't rich? growing up, her parents were not rich. you need to address her as mrs. obama. you don't need to worry about anything. if you want to touch or hug her, feel free. >> wow! [ applause ] >> i do believe we have someone in the house. can i introduce you? >> hi, everyone. i am so excited about tomorrow. >> her is to moderate the meeting. one more contribution to her years of work supporting gifrls and girls's education around the world. >> we need to make sure that the
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first lady, mrs. obama hears your stories and make sure the stories go out to the world as well. >> i'm ready. okay, go where those white people are standing. over there. i always look for the white people. even in africa. sometimes that's a clue. here. >> thank you. >> she is going to be here in -- she is supposed to be here in an hour. >> i had everyone get in first. how are you doing?
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>> i guess we can all go into the pen until then. we will get into the press pen until they pick her up. >> take the position. >> she is due to land in about three minutes. that makes me think she is hovering up there in the clouds and will land soon in this j joyous scene here. it's getting really tense. there are her daughters, malia
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is sasha and her mother. they are here and the welcoming begins. everyone is coming now to get to the school where the round table is taking place. >> they want to show appreciation and welcome her. they are out in the rain. it was a mad hustle trying to move everyone to get in quickly. >> hello! are you excited?
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>> yes! you going to tell your stories? >> yes! are thank you. are we ready? >> yes. we ready for this? >> yes. >> please put your hands together! >> thank you. i am so blessed to be here with you all. so proud of you. >> thank you. >> we are not going to be shy. we are going to talk, right? >> yes. >> we are ready for this. >> okay. we are going to jump into this and talk about the obstacles and
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some problems that you girls face in getting your most basic education. we are going to start with maybe the party starter, rafina. >> i'm rafina and during the ebola crisis, some lost family members or their entire family. most others here feel discouraged about life. they see that they are no more important in society because of what happened to them. they don't have people to encourage them and say they are valued in the society. they don't have educational support. [ applause ] >> i want to know what keeps you going? what do you think is different about you that you are able to overcome all of those challenges
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and be as articulate and smart and inspiring as you are? >> thank you, mrs. obama. for me, what encouraged me is that if madam president can be str strong, i am a woman like her and i can be strok too. i put myself in the feet of education that i can be more than her in society. >> many girls get pregnant in our community. teenage pregnancy with peer pressure. and some of them want to go to school. how can they go to school? thank you.
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>> i go to school, but i have self support. i have to sell after school and market and i support myself. i take care of my parents. >> you found the value in yourself. [ applause ] >> i really want to know how it feels to be a first lady and your challenges, some of your weaknesses and your strgths and the disadvantages. i really want to know. >> excellent. i want to say how impressed i am with all of you. not just the types of stories you told, but the way you did it. with confidence and pride. that's the beginning of becoming a leader. it's just starting to do things
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that you don't feel comfortable doing. you push yourself to do them anyway. when i was your age, if anyone told me i would be the first lady of the united states of america, i would have laughed at them. because growing up in the united states, there had never been an african-american president, let alone an african-american first lady. my goal as first lady was to make sure that i was the best first lady i could be. so i made sure that every day i came to my job that i brought a level of passion and confidence and trust. i try to operate from that place every day. maybe those of some of my strengths is the ability to just be me no matter where i am. you don't have to be somebody different to be important. you are important in your own right. people want and need to value you because of who you are. because of your story.
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because of your challenges. that's what makes you unique. you know? you want to be u sneak and special. the fact that you overcame challenges, that made me smarter and better. i could overcome things that a lot of people in the same position never had to overcome. un-stop right there! i'm about to pop a cap of "mmm fresh" in that washer with unstopables in-wash scent boosters by downy. because this scent lasts up to 12 weeks, which is longer than any relationship i've ever been in.
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let's just get a sandwich or something. "or something"? you don't just graduate from medical school, "or something." and we don't just pull smoked chicken, bake fresh foccacia and hand-slice avocado. there's nothing "or something" about it.
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we are about to board the first lady's plane and i hope it is
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not raining. >> rain? >> it's been raining for two days. >> not raining. i don't think it rained here in a while. i'm so looking forward to meeting you. >> me too. i really am. you and i are going to get out of the city and go way up into the mountains. >> i will see you in a couple of hours. take care. see you soon. bye. >> if you think about wa we ask them to do. come into a room with the first lady and share your story in front of the world with cameras and lights. to be able to do that at all whether you have grown up in a small town and you had to leave
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your family to get your education, to be able to stand up and articulate your feelings and ask questions, it reminds me why we can't ♪ ♪ >> here we are, darling. >> where? >> we're about 20 kilometers
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outside. >> i think so. >> okay. >> we're going to meet the brilliant young woman who's been chosen to share the stage with mrs. obama tomorrow. >> high school valedictorian, took part in a u.s. program called tech girls. she wants to be an engineer. >> what's your thinking about why girls are less represented in the sciences? >> while growing up, the girl's always represented as the beauty. so they move towards art or music or literature. that was the stereotype that generalized every one. but girls started realizing that they have brains as well. and they will excel in math and science and technology. >> do you think you will be nervous when you're in the room with michelle obama? when i look at you you're so wonderfully poised and
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confident. have you ever had a problem with lack of confidence? >> my parents play a part in that. they're always pushing me towards that. but i'm not sure i'm that confident yet. i'm really nervous, but i just try not to show it. sitting with women like you gives me the power to be confident and speak my mind. >> yeah. ♪ >> i'm so excited to be with both of you. >> usually when i hold it, i hold it like this. or cover it like that. >> now you're just showing your thumb to the world. >> that's how all my selfies look like. >> we have to go into the hold because we have to get ready for our conversation with these amazing girls here in morocco. we'll be joined by mrs. obama to
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find out about what girls go through to make their hopes and dreams come true. ♪ >> here they are. >> how are you? i've heard so much about you. i've read about you all. >> let me start with the one you are -- and i can feel your anticipation to see her, right? i'm talking about the first lady of the united states, michelle obama, joined by meryl streep and freida pinto. you can give them a bigger, warmer applause than that. come on! [ applause ] >> thank you all. i am beyond excited to be here with all of you.
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and i'm so excited to be able to bring a piece of the world here to hear your stories. if there are people who come to you and say why should we educate girls. well, the health of any nation can be measured by the health of women in that society. because women bear children. they raise the children. and if you look at women who are not educated in their countries, there are higher infant mortality rates, higher rates of hiv. obviously lower wages. and all of those conditions have an impact not just on that girl, but on her family, on that society, and eventually on the entire nation. so that's the vision you want to impart to those who might doubt you and those who might say, well, why should we invest. it is critical to the health of our nations. [ applause ]
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>> really beautifully said, mrs. obama. >> everyone, i grew up in a family where expectations were high. my brother graduated from high school with honors and went to university. i thought that was it. that's the end of it. my parents got their first born and he's a male and he went to university. achieved their dream, that's it. that wasn't the case. i was wrong. they encouraged me to do the same as he did, if not better. the struggles started when i went to high school. i chose science and technology of electricity as a specialty, which is a domain where males are dominating. stereotypes, you're a girl, what are you doing between machines and wires, you're not supposed to be here. i broke the chain like previous years. boys always come on top. and this year, i came on top. [ applause ] >> korina, thank you. >> i always think, wow, i know millions of girls in the united states and around the world who need to see this, they need to hear this conversation.
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you don't have to be in the room, but we all need it. >> i sometimes just don't believe in myself or enough or i don't think i can do it. so my question to you ladies, i'm pretty sure you've all face the this before. how do you overcome that? >> i feel and i agree with you that your biggest enemy sometimes is yourself. and actually that's one of the most important things to talk about in every girl forum like this. i have to tell you that for the last two and a half years, i've been going through the exact same thing. telling myself constantly that i'm not good enough. >> crying is okay. we're sisters. crying is okay. >> so so important that everyone knows that we all have our self-doubts. sometimes it lasts longer than a minute or an hour or a day. you can get through it. meryl, do you want to add anything?
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>> i'm not sure i have advice for the girls here. i think within each one of them the young women that i have met have such strength of purpose, it all exists within each of you. it is already there. and you just have to reach in and access it. because in my own life, i know that losing heart is the most dangerous thing. you can put any obstacle in front of me and i'll jump over it. but when i lose heart, you lose everything. and so you take your strength from your friends, from that one person in your life who has said you are capable. [ applause ] >> absolutely. >> you only need one. >> i cannot help but see myself
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in all of these girls. these encounters inspire me and remind me of the work that needs to be done. so then i start thinking, what can i do, how do i follow through, what's next? >> well done. ♪ you're broken down and dire ♪ living life on the merry-go-round ♪ ♪ you can't find a fighter ♪ but i see it in you, so we can walk it out ♪ ♪ ooh, ooh ♪ and i'll rise up, i'll rise like the day ♪ ♪ i'll rise up, i'll rise unafraid ♪ ♪ i'll rise up, and i do it a thousand times again ♪ >> this was sort of a full circle trip.
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we got to see the many different facets of the challenge, but also to be reminded of the beautiful stories of these girls and the promise that we have. and it just reinforces the fact that we can't afford to waste that talent. we need to invest in it and let it bloom because we need their resources. >> and overcome challenges to become successful. ♪ i'll rise up, rise like the day ♪ ♪ i'll rise up in spite of the ache ♪ ♪ i will rise a thousand times again ♪ ♪ and we'll rise up, like the waves ♪ ♪ we'll rise up in spite of the ache ♪ ♪ we'll rise up and we'll do it a thousand times again ♪
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♪ for you, ooh, ooh ♪ for you, ooh, ooh from the american museum of natural history in new york city, this is the tenth annual cnn all-star tribute. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your host of the evening anderson cooper and kelly ripa. >> thank you so much. welcome to cnn heros, an all-star tribute. this night is always special.

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