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7 Jul, 2009 16:14

Politics aside: First ladies’ job

While President Obama was busy with diplomacy America’s first lady visited a school for nurses in Moscow, where she spoke to orphans and was given a traditional Russian matryoshka doll made by the children themselves.

Michelle Obama arrived in the Russian capital on Monday together with her two daughters and husband, who is in Russia on his first official visit as the head of the US.

Traditionally, first ladies spend a lot of time in public, visiting cultural events and talking to groups of children. Michelle Obama’s time in Moscow is no exception.

On Tuesday, she visited the Sisterhood of St. Dmitry. Founded in 1992, it is the only Russian Orthodox medical school in the country and teaches nurses to, among other things, look after HIV and AIDS patients.

Children who live in two St. Dmitry’s orphanages sang songs and read poems in both Russian and English for Michelle Obama. They also gave her a matryoshka, a traditional Russian doll which consists of a set of dolls of decreasing sizes placed one inside the other.

Michelle Obama said she was going to buy exactly such a doll in Moscow. She autographed a poster with an image of St. Dmitry School and thanked the nurses for their work and for the care of children.

“These children have wonderful souls,” she said. “We will pray for you and for them and hope you will pray for us. I’m saying it on behalf of my country.”

The first lady chose St. Dmitry’s partly because it receives funding through USAID and the United Nations Development Program.

Later, Michelle Obama and her two daughters, Sasha and Malia, were joined by Russia’s first lady, Svetlana Medvedeva. They attended a concert of Russian folk music at the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater. The American guests said they were impressed by the performance.

Michelle thanked Svetlana for her hospitality and invited Medvedeva to visit them in Washington.

On Monday, Michelle Obama and her daughters enjoyed the sight of Moscow’s Kremlin.

Svetlana Medvedeva took the guests to the Armoury Chamber, the Diamond Fund and the Assumption Cathedral. The Obama family saw 16th-18th century coronation clothing, church attires, ancient state regalia and ceremonial objects. They were especially impressed by a collection of carriages, one of the biggest in the world.