A bi-partisan group including two former U.S. Senators and the wife of Republican hopeful John McCain are in Rwanda to witness some of the successful development projects taking place there. Thomas Rippe reports from Kigali.
The U.S. delegation is in Rwanda this week to see what is working, and what is not, in the country's development progress. Cindy McCain, the wife of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, along with former senators Tom Daschle and Bill Frist are in Rwanda with the One Campaign. Their goal is to learn more about what is happening here and to take that message back to America.
Senator Daschle, a Democrat, says it is important to emphasize the success of the partnership between Rwanda and the U.S.
"We really want to showcase this success story so that we can energize the American people and people in high levels of government to understand this is not only an important partnership, but also an investment in even greater economic development and real opportunities, not only for people in Rwanda, but people in countries all through Africa," he said.
Senator Frist, a Republican, is also a physician. He praised Rwanda's success in the health sector.
"The One Campaign, the purpose of this visit, is to listen very carefully to the people of Rwanda," he said. "Because Rwanda has been, as Senator Daschle said, a tremendous success story, with the reduction of child mortality by a third, a reduction in maternal mother deaths by about a third. Why has it worked so well here? What can we do to continue to support that? And we are going to share that message with the people back in the United States who have supported most of this program, and the people of the world so we can further reduce poverty and fight preventable disease."
This is not Mrs. McCain's first trip to Rwanda, where the 1994 genocide killed more than 800,000 people. Since that time she says Rwanda has become a model for other developing countries.
"What I have seen is this country is truly on its way to becoming a very successful country in this region," she said. "But what this brings to the world is peace and security, and that is what is so sorely needed around the world. And this country will truly be an inspiration to other fledgling countries around the world."
Mrs. McCain says what impresses her most is the efforts of the women in the country.
"The women are truly what is making this country survive, excel and succeed," she said. "And it is a great inspiration to observe and to witness their courage and their absolute resolve to making this country a great and wonderful place."
The One Campaign is a U.S.-based advocacy group with more than two million members. The organization successfully pushed American lawmakers into increasing funding to fight disease and extreme poverty. The group is asking Barack Obama and John McCain to make poverty reduction a priority in their foreign policy platforms. Both the candidates have expressed support for the project.