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Liberians eager to welcome ‘sister’ Michelle Obama


MONROVIA, Liberia — First lady Michelle Obama, her mother and her daughters are arriving Monday afternoon in Liberia, where they will kick off an overseas trip promoting education for girls.

The first lady is scheduled to meet with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state on the continent.

The Obamas will then visit a Peace Corps-sponsored leadership camp for girls in the town of Kakata.

“People are going to consider her to be a sister to them,” Mayor Eddie Murphy said. “We are overwhelmed.”

A main topic of their trip will be how to address the barriers facing girls trying to get an education after the recent Ebola epidemic. More than 4,800 people died and children missed many months of school.

The Obamas’ last stop in Liberia will be at a school in Unification Town, where they will speak with adolescent girls, according to Tina Tchen, the first lady’s chief of staff.

Founded as part of an effort to resettle freed American slaves, Liberia has deep ties to the United States. The country’s oldest technical and vocational high school, located in Kakata, is named for the African-American educator and civil rights activist Booker T. Washington.

The school suspended mid-term exams scheduled to start Monday “to allow the students to give Mrs. Obama a rousing welcome to appreciate what the United States has done for us,” principal Harris Tarnue said.

“She will be a real inspiration to the young girls around here,” he said.

The Obamas are scheduled to leave Liberia on Monday evening for Morocco.

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