First Lady helps paint mural at clinic in Botswana

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Michelle Obama wielded a brush Friday and helped paint a mural at a children’s HIV/AIDS clinic here as she opened the second leg of a weeklong visit to southern Africa.

GABORONE, Botswana (AP) — Michelle Obama wielded a brush Friday and helped paint a mural at a children’s HIV/AIDS clinic here as she opened the second leg of a weeklong visit to southern Africa.

The disease is a major public health challenge in Botswana, a country as big as Texas with about 2 million people. That includes an estimated 300,000 HIV/AIDS carriers.

The first lady has promoted health and wellness on her visit this week, with special emphasis on AIDS prevention.

Her first stop after leaving the airport was at the Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence that is sponsored by Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. The clinic provides care and treatment for more than 4,000 infected children and their families. Mrs. Obama and several family members who are traveling with her joined children from the center’s "Teen Club" to paint a mural on the wall of a future facility for adolescents.

The first lady then spoke at a luncheon highlighting women’s leadership, another issue she has drawn attention to this week. She called Botswana "a thriving democracy" with a fast-growing economy that embodies "a vision of Africa on the move."

She also met with President Ian Khama. They emerged from his office after about 45 minutes and shook hands for news photographers.

Also on the first lady’s Friday agenda was a family dinner at a nature park.

Mrs. Obama, her daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, 10; her mother Marian Robinson, and a niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson, 15 and 19, respectively, landed in arrived in Botswana on Friday morning and were welcome with a performance of traditional African dances by a group of children ages 6 to 18. They wore traditional costumes of hide and what appeared to be zebra skin and shells around their ankles. They clapped and sang, "Obama Ye-Le-Le."

The first lady also greeted a separate group of children who waved the American flag and the black and blue flag of Botswana.

Mrs. Obama’s trip to Africa began in South Africa on Monday, and she spent the past four days in Johannesburg and Cape Town promoting youth and women’s leadership.

While in Africa, the first lady managed to slip in dinner with a friend. She dined on Tuesday in Johannesburg with media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who is in South Africa to accept an honorary degree from the University of the Free State on Friday.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)

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