First Lady Wraps Up Africa Tour at Egyptian Pyramids, Kenya Orphanage

By Holly Kellum
Holly Kellum
Holly Kellum
Washington Correspondent
Holly Kellum is a Washington correspondent for NTD. She has worked for NTD on and off since 2012.
October 7, 2018 Updated: October 8, 2018

First Lady Melania Trump finished her whirlwind, six-day trip to four African countries on Oct. 7, capped off by visits to Kenya and Egypt.

After visiting Malawi and Ghana, she arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, on Oct. 4 to a red-carpet welcome. The next day, she spent time with Kenyan first lady Margaret Kenyatta, who she met at the White House on Aug. 28 when Kenyatta accompanied her husband on a trip to the United States.

Together, they visited an animal orphanage, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi National Park, which cares for and rehabilitates rhinos and elephants. The orphanage was named after a warden for Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, David Sheldrick, whose daughter accompanied the first ladies as they fed baby elephants from arm-length plastic bottles. Daughter Angela Sheldrick is now the owner of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, whose website says it’s hand-raised more than 150 elephants since its founding in 1977.

“I want to believe this [visit] is going to make a big change, in terms of conservation and wildlife in Kenya,” said Edwin Lusichi, project manager and head keeper at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. “I believe her interaction, her coming here will create a lot of publicity to the elephants in general and people will know that these elephants have a right to life and need to be protected.”

The two also took a safari with the senior warden of the park, Nelly Pamernis, who took them to a site where ivory was incinerated to keep it from entering the ivory trade, which has funneled money to criminal organizations and created a bounty business for poachers.

After seeing wild zebras, hippos, rhinos, and giraffes on the trip, Trump’s communications director told reporters that the first lady doesn’t like big-game hunting and considers the animals to be precious.

After their safari, the two first ladies toured an orphanage in Nairobi called The Nest, where Trump held infants, danced with and read stories to older children, and passed out teddy bears, books, and Be Best blankets. The first lady’s Be Best awareness campaign, unveiled in May, focuses on the well-being of children, particularly on how they are affected by opioid addiction and the adverse effects of social media.

The Nest was founded in 1997 to rescue children whose mothers have been imprisoned, and now rehabilitates and re-integrates orphans into extended families and communities. Among the 130 children in its care, some have also been abandoned or orphaned.

Later in the day, the two visited the National Theatre in Nairobi, where they watched a Sarakasi performance, a combination of acrobatics and traditional and modern dance, staged by the Sarkasi Trust. Established in 2001, the organization fosters the professional development of youth from low-income backgrounds and does outreach to hospitals, prisons, and orphanages.

The first lady’s next stop was Egypt, where she was greeted on Oct. 6 by Egyptian first lady Entissar al-Sisi at the Cairo International Airport.

The two met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Heliopolis, a Cairo suburb that’s the site of one of several Egyptian presidential palaces.

Trump visited a few of Egypt’s many cultural sites, including the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid—one of the Seven Wonders of the World—in Giza with Egypt’s Minister of Antiquity Khaled Al-Anany.

She told reporters after the trip that her biggest accomplishment was meeting with the people of the nations she visited and thanking them for their hospitality.

“We care, and we want to show the world that we care,” she said.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

Holly Kellum
Washington Correspondent
Holly Kellum is a Washington correspondent for NTD. She has worked for NTD on and off since 2012.