LILONGWE, MALAWI — U.S. first lady Melania Trump visited Malawi Thursday on the second leg of her four-nation tour of Africa.
She received a joyous welcome upon her arrival at Kamuzu International Airport, with singing and dancing by a troupe of women and scores of schoolchildren waving African and Malawian flags.
Mrs Trump proceeded to Chipala Primary School in Lilongwe (lih-LON’-gweh) where about 8,500 children are taught by just 75 teachers.
The students welcomed Mrs Trump to the school with song: “We are happy today to see you. Welcome, welcome, welcome, welcome, welcome all of you. We are happy today. We are happy to see you.”
She watched children taking part in an English lesson and later spoke with some of the teachers.
“Thank you for educating them to be best,” she said, echoing the name of her child welfare program unveiled earlier this year.
“What an amazing experience. Meeting those children and understanding their different way of life is why I wanted to travel here,” Trump said. “I was heartened to spend time with the students and was honored to donate school supplies and soccer balls.”
Malawi has received a total of 9.6 million textbooks in the past few years through a US-funded national reading program.
Mrs Trump toured several classrooms in the equivalent of second and third grade and watched teachers help the young students learn English and the Chichewa language.
The White House is donating school supplies to the children, including tote bags, chalk and soccer balls, and says the U.S. Agency for International Development is making a large donation of textbooks.
The White House said Malawi was chosen as a destination because of the country’s high poverty rate and the difficulties that children — especially girls — have in accessing education.
Despite 50 years of peaceful independence, Malawi remains one of the poorest nations in the world, with more than half of its 17 million population living below the poverty line and roughly 40 percent unable to read.