Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Saturday, 8 August 2009 18:35 UK

Clinton helps South Africa bloom

Hillary Clinton carries a flower at a housing project near Cape Town, South Africa, 8 August 2009
Hillary Clinton helped plant marigolds during her visit

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has helped clear rubble and plant flowers as she visited two housing schemes near Cape Town, South Africa.

The most senior diplomat in the US also danced as she was welcomed with music at the Victoria Mxenge Housing project, which she first visited 12 years ago.

When asked if she wanted to donate to the project, Mrs Clinton handed over $50 (£30) borrowed from an aide.

Mrs Clinton is visiting South Africa on a tour of seven African nations.

Correspondents say she was in her element as she toured the Victoria Mxenge project, which she had visited while she was first lady in 1997 and 1998.

Stopping off at a second project, she called on staff to lend a hand to teams of women preparing ground for a new building.

They cleared rubble from the site and planted flowers and a tree.

"This is what I really believe in," she was quoted as saying during the tour.

"I mean, I have travelled literally all over the world and when people organise themselves and are given the tools and the training to really empower themselves and their future and build houses and communities, that's what's lasting."

When one woman asked if Mrs Clinton wanted to make a contribution she explained she had no money on her, and turned to Africa envoy Johnnie Carson, who drew a $50 note from his wallet.

"These are good businesswomen," Mrs Clinton said.

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