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To Bush aunty, with love

Kids experience US First Lady?s warmth, first hand

india Updated: Mar 03, 2006 01:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Her husband may be the most powerful man on earth. He may have signed a landmark nuclear deal with India. But at Prayas, the institute for juvenile justice, it was Laura Bush who took the spotlight.

The US First Lady was given a traditional welcome by the children at Prayas on Thursday. Eleven-year-old Pinki loved the way 'Bush aunty' spoke. It was a dream come true for many children at Prayas who gave her different titles likes 'Didi Sir' and 'Rani Madam'.

Dressed in colourful Rajasthani clothes, children from the Nath community performed for their star guest. The celebrations started with a kachchi ghodi dance that was followed by traditional folk songs and then a grand finale — a folk dance on a chaupal specially created for this occasion.

The best part was the round-table conference with children. "I asked her if children in the US get to go to school," said Elaichi, while Meenakshi wanted to know human trafficking was a concern in America too. "Problems like children dropping out of school, child abuse and trafficking is faced by the US government too. The government tackles this grave concern by focusing on rescuing and more importantly rehabilitating the children," the US First Lady said. Her answers were translated in Hindi for the children.

Laura Bush was accompanied by Jeannie Mulford, wife of American Ambassador to India David Mulford. A group of senior officials from the US Embassy were also present at the meeting. The children later presented the First Lady with handmade mementos after a 20-minute interaction with her.

She answered a host of questions ranging from independence of children at an early age in the US to whether there were shelter homes like Prayas for kids.

"Sure, there are children in the US who cannot afford education." But, she also mentioned that there were public schools for them and as per law education was compulsory for all in America.

Bush was briefed about the various contemporary market driven vocational education courses run by Prayas.

A special day forchildren at Mother Teresa home

The US First Lady exchanged jokes and accepted paper toys as gifts made by disabled children at Mother Teresa's Home for Disabled Children in New Delhi on Thursday.

She was greeted with a special song by a group of children who had been practicing it for quite a long time. "We had been rehearsing daily from six to eight hours with our music teacher. Ms Bush was very happy to listen to the welcome song and the prayer. She also clapped for us," said Manjula.

Established in 1988, the home is dedicated to caring for youngsters with a range of physical and emotional disabilities. Eighty-two children currently reside at the home, many since birth.

Laura Bush reached the place around 3.40 p.m. and spend almost 45 minutes with the children. Security was tightened around the place.

Since the children are not habitual of seeing so many people around them so they got scared. The sniffer dogs made matter worse.

But when the US First Lady Laura arrived, the panic was all gone. Mahave, Kishore, Santosh were happy when Laura Bush gave them an autograph.

First Published: Mar 03, 2006 01:35 IST