Melania Trump set off on Monday for a tour of Africa to promote her “Be Best” campaign, a journey that marked her first major solo international trip as first lady. According to the first lady’s office, Trump will visit schools, anti-poverty centers, and hospitals focusing on mothers and newborn care throughout Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt during a weeklong trip coordinated in conjunction with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). On Tuesday, she landed in the West African nation of Ghana and then paid a visit to the Greater Accra Regional Hospital in the capital city.
News cameras followed her as she and Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Ghana first lady, made their way through the hospital. Melania passed out teddy bears to small children there and was seen cradling a baby at one point. The two first ladies then met for a private tea after the hospital visit.
“There are many programs across the country that are doing great things for children, and I believe we can replicate many of these programs overseas. This is why I am pleased to be working closely with USAID as I prepare for my first major International trip to Africa,” said Trump during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week. “By working with developing countries around the world to help them with their journey to self-reliance, USAID’s work embodies much of what ‘Be Best’ stands for.”
President Donald Trump, who has yet to visit Africa since becoming president or announce any plans to do so, has called for funding to USAID to be slashed by 33 percent in his proposal for last year’s budget — including a 17 percent cut aimed specifically at programs that combat HIV and AIDS. Congress blocked the cuts, but Trump’s re-implementation of funding bans on international groups that refer to abortion as a viable family planning option has led to steep cuts in many African countries — according to the Center for Health and Gender Equity, the cuts would cost one major Mozambique family planning group 60 percent of its budget, forcing them to close half of their clinics and dramatically limit their ability to provide education and testing for women at risk of HIV. President Trump also faced controversy in January for allegedly referring to a number of African countries as “shithole countries” in front of legislators during a controversial discussion on limiting immigration.
Despite her husband’s harsh language and sharp policy proposals, the first lady’s trip seemed to kick off with a sense of traditional diplomacy. Below, watch some highlights from her visit to the hospital.