Associated Press
23 March 1997

Teens Give Hillary a Lesson on African 'Baby Dumping'

First lady sees how U.S. foreign aid
helps clinics fight AIDS in Zimbabwe

Harare, Zimbabwe -- Evicted by her mother, spurned by her boyfriend, desperately afraid, the girl crouches in the bush, gives birth in silence, then walks away from her baby.

A village ''auntie'' finds the baby, confronts the girl and helps smooth things over with her mother to let her return home.

''Baby dumping,'' demonstrated for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in a skit Saturday by teenage girls at a family-planning clinic, causes great anxiety in Zimbabwe.

Clinics like Kuwadzana Polyclinic, where the first lady watched the teens' presentation, are trying to combat unwanted pregnancies that lead young mothers to leave babies to die. They have lowered Zimbabwe's birth rate but still confront daunting challenges of ''AIDS orphans'' and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

With the help of U.S. aid money, the Kuwadzana is trying to reduce the transmission of HIV by dispensing condoms, is treating sexually transmitted diseases and is counseling both men and women on ways to avoid pregnancy.

It is the type of foreign aid that deserves to remain intact, Hillary Clinton said -- especially since such efforts cost so little. U.S. aid to all countries comprises about 1 percent of the total federal budget, she said.

''There are a lot of misconceptions in our country about foreign aid,'' the first lady said. ''One of my hopes is through visits like this, where you can see people on the front lines working to use the money which the United States has provided . . . more Americans would be proud.''

Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea are halfway through a two-week visit to Africa designed to display to Americans how far African countries have come economically and politically. The first lady previously visited Senegal and South Africa and will stop in Tanzania, Uganda and Eritrea before heading home on Easter.

The first lady said 30 African countries have seen their economies grow by 3 to 4 percent. In Zimbabwe, growth is 7 percent. But the United States hardly contributes to the economic expansion, she said, noting that American business holds only 7 percent of the African market.

''Even that small percentage translated into 100,000 American jobs,'' Hillary Clinton said. ''Just think what that means for the United States.''

Just as minuscule amounts of government aid have helped trigger social progress in Africa, small contributions by big corporations are making a difference too, she said.

At the Dorothy Duncan Center for the Blind, where most young patients were blinded by measles, children compile books of poetry in Braille, using 22 computers donated by IBM.

''Enjoy these, children of Africa, and pass them on to 10 children of your own. Go well,'' Aiden Gamble, 7, read for the first lady, his small hands gliding lightly along the book's first page.

''Very good job, Aiden,'' Hillary Clinton said.

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