Melania Trump has kept a somewhat reserved profile during her initial time as the first lady of the United States, but she’s slowly but surely making (some sort of) a mark on the national and global scene, anyway. She has now revealed that she’s planning a trip overseas for October. On her first major solo overseas trip since her husband took office, she will be visiting a not yet specified list of African countries.
She told the Associated Press:
‘This will be my first time traveling to Africa and I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about its rich culture and history. We are a global society and I believe it is through open dialogue and the exchanging of ideas that we have a real opportunity to learn from one another.’
Her singling out African children comes after she announced a “Be Best” program to promote the welfare of American children earlier this year.
Her announcement, though, is darkly ironic on a number of levels.
For one, she will be traveling to the continent months after her husband was reported to have lashed out at African nations as “shithole countries” during a private White House meeting about immigration. Those reports prompted formal rebukes from around the world including some African countries and interests as high up as the United Nations. Perhaps, then, someone somewhere in Trump World hopes the Melania trip as some sort of conciliatory gesture of good will — or something.
Melania’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham shared the first lady to have chosen to travel to the continent after learning of some of the development programs underway to help those living there in need. In addition to his rhetorical attacks on Africans, though, her husband has undercut some of those very development programs. One of his first moves in office constituted the re-imposition of the “Mexico City rule,” which in the Trump administration’s form cuts off all funding to international groups that do as little as present abortion as an option to those in need.
The re-imposition of the rule has had far reaching effects; after eight years of Democratic leadership in the United States allowing global aid groups to build up a reliance on U.S. funds, Trump’s move cut off massive amounts of support. Marie Stopes International, for instance, which is based in the United Kingdom and operates in dozens of countries around the globe, lost a $30 million annual allowance from the U.S. government.
That’s not pocket change. Dana Tilson, who works as director of the organization’s operations in Kenya, described the global impact of the change as “massive,” explaining that it will affect health care services including HIV and malaria treatment.
The Trump administration, though, is holding fast to their ideology, and in the time since, they’ve moved to cut off some public funding to groups presenting abortion as an option at home, too, targeting Planned Parenthood.
In the middle of the turmoil, Melania is taking a vacation.
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