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15.01.2006 General News

American First Lady Laura Bush arrives

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Accra, Jan. 15, GNA - United States First Lady Laura Bush arrived in Accra on Sunday as part of a three-nation West African tour during which she will attend the inauguration of Liberian President-elect Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

She was met on arrival by government officials.

The inauguration of Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman to be elected President in Africa, would take place on Monday in the Liberian capital, Monrovia and is expected to attract other international dignitaries, including UN Chief Kofi Annan.

The programme outlining Mrs Bush's visit says she will fly from Accra to Monrovia on Monday and return same day after the inaugural activities, including a reception to honour Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf. On Tuesday, the American First lady will speak at the Accra Teacher Training College on "Teacher training and education" and also visit the Korle-Bu Teaching hospital and meet HIV/ AIDS patients. She will later hold talks with President John Agyekum Kufuor at the Castle.

Mrs Bush will fly out of Accra Tuesday to Abuja, Nigeria, where she is expected to meet with President Olusegun Obasanjo, visit a hospital and a school, and participate in a roundtable discussion at the National Centre for Women Development.

Mrs Bush, 60, will be the second US First Lady to visit Ghana in eight years after Hillary Rodham Clinton, who accompanied his husband, Bill, to Ghana in March 1998.

Currently, Mrs Bush Laura is actively involved in issues of national and global concern, with a particular emphasis on education, health care, and human rights.

She is Honorary Ambassador for the Decade of Literacy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), serving as an international spokesperson for efforts to educate people throughout the world, especially women and girls.

As the leader of President Bush's Helping America's Youth initiative, Mrs. Bush is listening to the concerns of young people, parents, and community leaders throughout the country and drawing attention to programmes that help children avoid risky behaviours like drug and alcohol use, early sexual activity, and violence.

"She's highlighting the need of every child to have a caring adult role model in his or her life - whether that adult is a parent, grandparent, teacher, coach, or mentor," her biography stated.

One of Mrs. Bush's first priorities in the White House was to convene the Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development. Prominent scholars and educators shared research on the best ways for parents and caregivers to prepare children for life-long learning.

She is passionate about the importance and pleasures of reading, and she joined with the Library of Congress to launch the first National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., in September 2001. The 2004 National Book Festival drew 85,000 book-lovers from across the nation. In honour of her mother, a breast cancer survivor, Mrs. Bush supports education campaigns for breast cancer and heart diseases. She is a partner with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in publicizing The Heart Truth, which is that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in America. Mrs. Bush educates women about their risks and emphasizes the importance of healthy eating, exercise, and preventive screenings. She was born on November 4, 1946, in Midland, Texas, to Harold and Jenna Welch. Inspired by her second grade teacher, she earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Southern Methodist University in 1968. She taught in public schools in Dallas and Houston.

In 1973, she earned a master of library science degree from the University of Texas and worked as a public school librarian. In 1977, she met and married George Walker Bush. They are the parents of twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna, who are named for their grandmothers. 15 Jan. 06