US First Lady Melania Trump receives flowers during an arrival ceremony.
US First Lady Melania Trump receives flowers during an arrival ceremony.

Big problem with Melania Trump photos

MELANIA Trump has embarked on her first major international solo trip as First Lady of the United States.

Mrs Trump arrived in Ghana on Tuesday with a big wave, a smile and a baby in her arms, aiming to promote child welfare during a five-day tour of Africa.

It's part of her "Be Best" campaign, geared at focusing on improvements to women's and children's health around the world - and will see her touring Malawi, Kenya and Egypt.

Photos show her warmly greeting Ghanaian officials, hugging babies and giving out teddy bears and blankets with her slogan knitted in the red, white and blue colours of the American flag.

Mrs Trump's solo trip is not out of the ordinary. Hillary Clinton took her daughter to five African states in 1997, George W Bush's wife Laura made five solo trips in support of her husband's global health initiatives, and Michelle Obama travelled unaccompanied to South Africa in 2011, and then to the continent's north in 2016 with her daughters.

But the current First Lady's tour sits at uncomfortable odds with her husband's policies, through which funding for foreign charities have faced major cuts since he came to power.

On January 23, 2017, days after his inauguration, US President Donald Trump reinstated a policy that saw US funding cut for foreign charities that provide abortions - even if abortion is legal in that country.

The White House has also made repeated requests for significant funding cuts to USAID in its proposed budget, slashing it by as much as 30 per cent, according to CNN.

The foreign aid agency has spent more than $US47 billion to combat AIDS, malaria and implement health programs on the continent over the past decade.

He infamously described countries on the African continent as "s**thole countries" in a private meeting.

Mr Trump has also imposed travel bans on African nations including Libya and Somalia, delayed the appointment of noteworthy officials to the continent, and proposed to slash funding for HIV and AIDS programs on the continent. According to advocacy organisation ONE campaign, the cuts could lead to four million deaths and 26 million new infections over the next 15 years.

 

Melania spent much of her time expressing her thanks to her hosts for welcoming her.
Melania spent much of her time expressing her thanks to her hosts for welcoming her.

But some experts say Mrs Trump's presence may have a positive effect.

Speaking to Quartz, Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University in New Jersey who studies American first ladies, said she may be able to put out a "positive vibe" and engage Africans by speaking up on healthcare and education.

"She can show that the United States cares about these things, not just at home but around the world."

The New York Times noted Mrs Trump spent much of her time expressing her appreciation to her hosts, repeatedly thanking them for welcoming her.

"Mrs Trump has done her best to soften the image of an administration known for its sharp elbows, and of a president who outraged many Africans with his disparaging remarks," the report said.

Nana Amba Eyiaba, queen mother of Cape Coast, told the newspaper that Ghanaians were both excited and anxious about her visit.

"There are so many countries in Africa, but she chose to come here," the queen mother said. "It means there are some expectations from us. She will learn something about our culture and learn at first hand what Ghana is like.

"I think her 'Be Best' project will benefit our children, which in turn will benefit our country."