Bill Clinton's 'Lifetime Responsibility' to Rwanda

Former president feels responsibility, not "guilt."

ByABC News via logo
October 26, 2008, 2:41 PM

BUTARO, Rwanda, Aug. 2, 2008 — -- The mist was just clearing over the mountains of Eastern Rwanda when Bill Clinton and Chelsea walked down an uneven, rutted red clay road early this morning.

They cut quite a picture -- the former president in hiking boots and a polo shirt, his daughter in a raspberry suit jacket, oversized white pearls and high-heeled designer wedge heels.

Watch "GMA" Monday to see more of Kate Snow's interview with Bill Clinton.

They were here to see the cassava fields. The Clinton Foundation helped introduce a hardy strain of the plant to farmers in a region where the dry season can be fierce. The starchy, tuberous root is dried and then ground into flour to make food.

"Almost all the cassava had been wiped out, so this is 100 percent add-on to farm income here," Clinton said.

He pointed out that the cassava flour has "enormous potential" as an export to Western nations since it is gluten-free.

Chelsea is clearly her father's daughter. She listened with great focus as the process of milling the cassava was explained by locals. She frequently pulls reporters aside to explain policy details -- off the record, of course.

At a later stop in Butaro, a local singing group chanted and drummed in their native language.

"They're saying, 'Thank you for building our hospital and bringing us doctors,'" she repeated with a grin after relaying the translation to the group.

The new hospital in Butaro will sit on a high plateau, with stunning views all the way to Uganda. The Clinton Foundation has worked with another nongovernmental organization called Partners in Health to build hospitals in Rwanda.

Another hospital in the Burera district is the latest to be built.

"It will be the best, the newest and the most beautiful," Clinton said.

On Saturday, the former president and his daughter took turns using a shovel to break the ground.

"That's why I got into politics, so I wouldn't have to work for a living," Clinton joked as he raised the spade.

Rwanda is a country that has seen enormous improvement since the 1990s when Clinton was in the White House. Both he and Chelsea have noted that repeatedly.