US First lady Michelle Obama landed in Liberia today with her daughters–Malia (18), Sasha (15) who just graduated from high school–and mother for an overseas trip during which they will be promoting education for girls.
The presidential family is starting with a country still recovering from the scars of Ebola epidemic that left thousands dead.
The Obamas arrival was given a red-carpet welcome. Traditional dancers wearing the red, white and blue colors of both the American and Liberian flags, thrilled the visitors with amazing dance steps.
After meeting with the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Obamas traveled a heavily potholed road to the town of Kakata. There, they visited a Peace Corps-sponsored leadership camp for girls.
“I am just so thrilled to be here with you,” the first lady told the crowd.
Education for girls is the central theme of the first lady’s trip, which also includes stops in Morocco and Spain.
Liberia was battered by civil wars between 1989 and 2003.
Then Ebola swept the country in 2014, killing more than 4,800 people. Teachers died and schools were closed for months.
The country was founded as part of an effort to resettle freed American slaves and has deep ties to the United States. The country’s oldest vocational high school, located in Kakata, is named for the African-American civil rights activist Booker T. Washington.
Schools in Liberia suspended mid-term exams scheduled to start Monday “to allow the students to give Mrs. Obama a rousing welcome to appreciate what the United States has done for us,” principal Harris Tarnue said.
“She will be a real inspiration to the young girls around here,” he said.
Mrs. Obama’s previous visits to Africa as first lady have included Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Senegal and Tanzania.