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Melania Trump visits Malawi

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By Audrey Kapalamula & Macdonald Thom:

Her first foot on Malawi soil marked one of the country’s historical moments.

Melania Trump, the United States (US) First Lady, visited Lilongwe yesterday as part of her solo tour of Africa. The tour has taken her to Ghana, Egypt and Kenya.

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With tight security, she landed at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe at 12:40pm.

Trump received a warm welcome from Malawi First Lady, Gertrude Mutharika and members of the diplomatic corps.

Students from Lilongwe private schools lined up alongside Honala dancers, spicing up her arrival.

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Her first stop was Chipala Primary School within Mgona area in Lilongwe, a school that benefits from National Reading.

The school has an enrollment of 8,554 with some learning in the open.

Trump observed students in standard two and three having lessons in English and Chichewa with the aid of textbooks provided under the reading programme.

She also interacted with children during the lessons.

Upon inspecting the classes, Trump also had a roundtable with school authorities, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Bright Msaka and US Ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer.

In his remarks, Msaka hailed the US for supporting Malawi’s education sector.

“In the rural areas, this is the only reading material that children can access easily. We are very grateful because this initiative will improve our education standards. We are fully aware that for this programme to be effective there is need for us to take good care of the resources,” he said

Palmer said reading is one of the learning skills that children need to acquire, hence the US has provided an additional 1.4 million Chichewa and English books for standard one learners to 5,603 primary schools across the country.

Trump said her stopover was meant to appreciate the success of programmes which America support in the to Malawi education sector.

“Thank you for the beautiful welcome. I came here to see the success of programmes that the US provides to the education sector to make sure that children are getting best education,” Trump said

During her visit, some Americans stood along the M1 Road, near a junction to Area 43, where they carried placards against the Trump administration.

While saying they just wanted to welcome the US First Lady to Malawi, one of them, Rachel Pope, said they used her visit to send a message to Trump about some issues they are concerned with.

“We are here to welcome her to the Warm Heart of Africa but also to raise our concerns about what is happening in the US and also what the US is doing to the rest of the world, especially things that affect people in Malawi,” she said.

She added: “We are concerned about the vast cuts in healthcare budget for aid, things like Pepfar [The US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief], and things that affect women and children. Many of us here are physicians. We see women and children every day that are affected by the budget cuts and we do not want to see that happening, so we want Melania to know that will affect people here”.

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