Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler visits Mumbai hospital

Valerie Trierweiler, former First Lady of French President Francois Hollande, testing a food product made for malnourished children during her visit to the nutrition rehabilitation and research centre at Dharavi. Photo: Vivek Bendre  

In her first public appearance since the French president broke up with her, Valerie Trierweiler turned her attention to the less fortunate on Monday, cuddling and kissing children in a paediatric ward in Mumbai.

Ms. Trierweiler arrived in Mumbai on Sunday evening on a long-planned trip that has provided the former first lady with an escape from the scandal. The trip with the aid group Action Against Hunger also gives her an opportunity to re-establish her own independence.

Ms. Trierweiler has been a subject of intense media interest after being hospitalised earlier this month with what aides described as shock and the blues following a tabloid’s publication of photos it said proved President Francois Hollande was having an affair with an actress.

On Saturday, Mr. Hollande announced their seven-year relationship was over. They were not married.

On Monday, Ms. Trierweiler visited children in the pediatric ward of a public hospital in Mumbai and spoke with mothers about nutrition.

“I cannot stand that these children have fewer chances than others,” said Ms. Trierweiler, a career journalist who has three children from a previous marriage. “We should give the same chances to all. We have (here) children who suffer from malnutrition. That is why I am here today.”

The comments, in French, were Ms. Trierweiler’s first public remarks since the scandal erupted. She did not discuss her relationship with Mr. Hollande, and cancelled a planned visit to a Mumbai slum, though she retained plans for a gala dinner on Monday night in conjunction with the charity group.

After the hospital visit, Ms. Trierweiler posted a photograph of a mother and child in a message on her Twitter account that read- “Alongside ACF (Action Against Hunger) in India to fight malnutrition. A child dies of hunger every 30 seconds.”

She also posted a message thanking the staff of the French presidential palace for their “devotion.”

Ms. Trierweiler’s chief of staff, Patrice Biancone, told The Associated Press that her office as first lady would be formally eliminated on Wednesday.

“These last few days have been difficult. But today, she is serene,” he said on Sunday.

In an interview published on Sunday and conducted before he split with Trierweiler, Mr. Hollande renewed his plea for privacy. He told Time magazine that “private life is always, at certain times, a challenge. And it has to be respected.”

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 8:41:41 PM |

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