Madonna heads home after Malawi visit

Madonna left Malawi on Monday after a visit that included meetings with the president and the biological father of one of her adopted children.

Sarah Ezzy, director of the U.S. pop star's charity Raising Malawi, confirmed Madonna's departure on her private jet.

Madonna has been visiting Malawi since 2006. She funds a number of orphanages and schools in the country. On Thursday, she helped open a new 50-bed pediatrics ward in the commercial capital, Blantyre, that she helped fund.

On this visit, Madonna met President Peter Mutharika as well as Yohane Banda, father of her adopted son, 9-year-old David Banda. Madonna has another Malawi-born child, Mercy Chifundo James.

Associated Press Via Yahoo! News

Madonna meets Malawian President Peter Mutharika

Madonna is seen at State House in Lillongwe Malawi, Friday, Nov, 28, 2014, during her meeting with the Malawian President Peter Mutharika at State House.

Mutharika thanked Madonna for agreeing to fund the construction of a new state of the art Paediatric Surgery and Intensive Care Unit in the country.

Madonna is currently visiting Malawi, where she has been working since 2006 with her non profit organization, Raising Malawi.

Pictures from Associated Press via Yahoo! News

Madonna wins new Malawi president's praise

Pop diva Madonna met Malawi's new president Friday after her VIP status was restored in the country where she adopted two children but then fell foul of the former government.

President Peter Mutharika hailed Madonna for her charity work in the poor southern African nation, saying "my government has always been grateful for the passion Madonna has for this country."

It was Madonna's first visit in more than a year after she was stripped of her VIP status by former president Joyce Banda amid controversy over the cancellation of her plans for an academy for girls.

'Her VIP status has been restored,' presidential press secretary Frederick Ndala told AFP.

Mutharika said the singer's passion was directed 'especially towards addressing poverty and hardships endured by Malawi's orphans and vulnerable children through her charity Raising Malawi'.

Madonna has adopted two children - Mercy James and David Banda - from the country, which officially has more than a million orphans and vulnerable children.

'During our discussion, Madonna displayed much commitment in helping to build more classrooms in schools across Malawi,' said Mutharika, who described himself as 'a fan of her music'.

He thanked her for honouring her promise to bring her two adopted children along for the week-long visit.

The singer did not speak to the assembled journalists and was whisked away by her security detail soon after meeting the president at Kamuzu Palace in the administrative capital Lilongwe.

Madonna lost favour with the previous government after cancelling the construction of a $15 million academy which was meant to offer 500 scholarships to girls from poor backgrounds.

The academy was mired in allegations of mismanagement and the project was replaced by plans to build schools in order to reach more children.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News

'I'd like to be serenaded by a minister's son'

Madonna met Malawian hip hop star Tay Grin at a party to celebrate her first visit to the African country for 18 months.

Tay Grin was invited to the party by his mother - Malawi's health minister Dr Jean Kalilani - who asked Madonna if her son could attend. Madonna is reported to have said: 'I'd like to be serenaded by a minister's son - please invite him.'

Madonna and Tay are said to have talked for a while and briefly sang together at the party infront of guests.

Tay Grin, also known as 'Nyau King', is Malawi's number one hip hop star and this year scooped the Best International African gong at the Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts awards in London.

Madonna's Instagram: Pictures from Malawi

Madonna has been posting pictures on her Instagram page since her arrival in Malawi on Wednesday:

'Surgical Trainees at Queen Elizabeth Hospital! In the business of Miracles! @raisingmalawi #livingforlove'

'Mabvuto thrives against all odds! The Future of Malawi! #livingforlove'

'Werking on my skilzz @missionariesofcharity #raisingmalawi #rebelheart'

'Getting pushed around by Mercy James at Kondanani Orphanage! #livingforlove'

Madonna returns to Malawi with David and Mercy

Madonna has returned to Malawi for the first time since she had a public spat with the southern African country's former president Joyce Banda over her charitable projects, as the new president extended an olive branch.

The pop star landed in the capital Lilongwe at around 11am on Wednesday, accompanied by David Banda and Mercy Chifundo, two children she adopted from the country, and her 14-year-old son Rocco along with an entourage that included advisers and bodyguards.

On Friday, Madonna is due to meet Malawi's new president Peter Mutharika, who took over from Joyce Banda at the last elections.

Madonna and Mrs Banda had a series of public disagreements after the pop star sacked her sister, Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo, as head of her Raising Malawi charity.

Madonna tried to meet Mrs Banda during a visit to Malawi last year, but the president said the star was simply trying to get 'poor people to dance for her' and refused, also accusing her of 'blackmail' and 'bullying'.

She then stripped the Material Girl singer of her VVIP status, forcing her to check into her private jet at Kamuzu International Airport as an ordinary passenger.

On Wednesday, Madonna was restored to VVIP status.

'We were asked to clear the airport's cargo bay for a special guest,' said an airport official.

He said Madonna was whisked into a fleet of SUVs and driven into town to Kumbali Lodge, a farm lodge where she always stays on her visits to Malawi.

The American star is due to hold talks with Mr Mutharika on Friday at his official resident, the Kamuzu Palace.

'We welcome Madonna as guest of the government and people of Malawi,' said State House Press Secretary Frederick Ndala. 'The President appreciates the charity work she is doing for the people of Malawi.'

Trevor Neilson, president of the Global Philanthropy Group which works with Madonna, said her charitable endeavours in Malawi have included building schools for over 1,000 students and funding clinics and orphanages.

From Daily Telegraph

Madonna criticises Malawi president amid vote chaos

Pop diva Madonna has weighed in on Malawi's chaotic election, criticising embattled President Joyce Banda, who has tried to nullify the vote amid allegations of irregularities.

The superstar, who adopted two children from the southern African nation, has been involved in a long-running spat with Malawi's government over her charity work in the country.

In a statement posted on the website of her charity Raising Malawi, Madonna accused the government of corruption and of failing its people.

'I am so sad to see that because of the actions of their president Malawians will continue to suffer,' the American singer said.

'In my philanthropic work I have seen the depths of corruption in Malawi's government. I can only hope that change will come, Malawians deserve so much better.'

The remarks come after Banda attempted to declare the presidential election 'null and void', prompting fierce legal wrangling over her right to do so.

Madonna's charity says it has poured millions of dollars into the support of children, including orphans in Malawi, which is ranked by the UN Human Development Index as one of the world's 20 least developed countries.

But after a visit to the country last year Banda's government accused the 55-year-old of inflating the value of that help, demanding VIP treatment, being 'uncouth' and bullying state officials.

In a long statement it said that if Madonna had her way 'the Malawi government and its leadership should have rolled out a red carpet and blast the 21-gun salute in her honour.' When leaving the country, Madonna was for the first time denied use of the VIP section at the airport in Lilongwe.

A government spokesman claimed the singer 'wants Malawi to be forever chained to the obligation of gratitude' for having adopted two Malawian children. But Madonna denied 'these ridiculous allegations'. 'I did not ever ask or demand special treatment at the airport or elsewhere during my visit,' she said.

During the trip she visited schools her charity has built, flanked by her four children, including David Banda and Mercy James who she adopted from the southern African nation.

'I will not be distracted or discouraged by other people's political agendas. I made a promise to the children of Malawi and I am keeping that promise' she said.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News

Help Madonna help her hero for her birthday

Madonna posted this picture and message on her Instagram page, thanking fans for their birthday love and asking them to support one of her heroes.

'Thank u all for your #birthday love! Help me celebrate my birthday, by donating to Raising Malawi to support the work of one of my Heroes, Pediatric Surgeon Dr. Eric Borgstein: Revolution of LOVE!'

Madonna also posted a longer message on the Raising Malawi website:

Many of you know Dr. Eric Borgstein, one of Raising Malawi’s long-standing partners and one of my personal heroes. Dr. Borgstein is a pediatric surgeon who provides care to thousands of children in Malawi. When I met with him earlier this year in Malawi, we discussed expanding the pediatric training program that Raising Malawi supports to train more young surgeons in Malawi.
To learn more, watch the below video from our team’s latest trip to Malawi. If you are as inspired as I am, please donate. Every dollar donated through this link: will go to Dr. Borgstein’s program to train more surgeons who are saving the lives of children in Malawi.

With Gratitude and Love,

Malawi's president 'furious' after Madonna criticised

Malawi's President Joyce Banda was 'incandescent with anger' over a statement labelling US singer Madonna a bully, the BBC has learnt.
She was unaware of the harshly-critical statement that was issued by her office following Madonna's recent visit to the country, senior officials have said.
The statement accused Madonna of exaggerating her contribution to the country and demanding VIP treatment.
Madonna, who was visiting her charity in Malawi, hit back at the criticisms.
She described them as lies and said she began her involvement in Malawi seven years ago 'with honourable intentions'.
A well-placed source told the BBC that President Banda was 'incandescent with anger' when she heard about the statement, and a senior official has confirmed she knew nothing about it.
The statement, issued on Wednesday, accused the star of wanting Malawi 'to be forever chained to the obligation of gratitude'.
It claimed Madonna believed the government should have 'rolled out a red carpet and blast the 21-gun salute' upon her arrival in Malawi.
'Granted, Madonna is a famed international musician. But that does not impose an injunction of obligation on any give her state treatment. Such treatment, even if she deserved it, is discretionary not obligatory,' the statement said.
And, in reference to a row over whether she is building schools or classrooms, it said she 'needs to learn as a matter of urgency...the decency of telling the truth'.
Emily Banda, head of Malawi's NGO board, said that although President Banda 'did not approve' or indeed know about the statement, there would be no apology for the mistake.
Some of the criticism of Madonna's charity work was justified, she said.
Madonna, who has adopted two children from Malawi, originally planned to build an $15m (£9.9m) girls' academy.
But two years ago she closed down the Malawian office of her charity Raising Malawi, which was headed by President Joyce Banda's sister, Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo - who now works at the education ministry - and opted to fund 10 schools instead.
Earlier this month, Malawi's education minister Eunice Kazembe said Madonna was building classrooms, not entire schools, in the country.
'She has built classrooms at existing schools...really it's a difference in terminology,' the minister said.
Trevor Neilson, who is now managing Raising Malawi projects, said $400,000 had been spent on building the 10 school blocks allowing some 4,000 children, who had been learning under trees, to be taught in classrooms.
On Thursday, Raising Malawi put out a statement saying that Madonna 'did not ever ask or demand special treatment at the airport or elsewhere' during her visit.
She said she saw 'with my own eyes the 10 new primary schools in Kasungu province that Raising Malawi...completed this year'.
'Madonna is not letting politics stand in the way of her deep commitment to help build schools there and educate as many children as possible,' the statement also said.

From BBC News

Madonna Remains Deeply Committed to Children of Malawi

There have been many reports regarding Madonna’s recent visit to Malawi. Some of these reports include inaccurate information and accusations by the Malawian Government on Madonna’s character and the work of her foundation Raising Malawi. Despite the accusations, Madonna and her organization Raising Malawi remains committed to the health and education of the children of Malawi.

'I was very happy to visit with the children of Malawi earlier this month and to see with my own eyes the ten new primary schools in Kasungu province that Raising Malawi and buildOn completed this past year. These schools are now educating more than 4,800 children with girls attending in equal numbers. These children who were formerly learning outside on the ground, in unsafe buildings or not at all, now get to attend classes on a daily basis.
My children and I were overjoyed to visit these schools and see what amazing progress has been made. I will continue to follow through on my commitment to help educate the children of Malawi. I’m saddened that Malawi’s President Joyce Banda has chosen to release lies about what we’ve accomplished, my intentions, how I personally conducted myself while visiting Malawi and other untruths. I have no intentions of being distracted by these ridiculous allegations.
I came to Malawi seven years ago with honorable intentions. I returned earlier this month to view the new schools we built. I did not ever ask or demand special treatment at the airport or elsewhere during my visit. I will not be distracted or discouraged by other people’s political agendas. I made a promise to the children of Malawi and I am keeping that promise' commented Madonna.

Madonna originally planned on building a Girls Academy in the impoverished country but realized that a more sustainable model would be to build smaller schools in villages around the country with buildOn who have had 20 years of success building schools in Africa. The original team that Raising Malawi first put in place included Anjimile Oponyo, the sister of Malawi’s current President Joyce Banda. Due to major organizational problems that occurred during that time, the original team was disbanded. President Banda has since appointed her sister to a senior post within the Ministry of Education.
Madonna’s decision to change course on her education projects has subsequently been met by deep resistance from Oponyo, the President, and the Ministry of Education. But Madonna is not letting politics stand in the way of her deep commitment to help build schools there and educate as many children as possible.
In addition to the school projects, Raising Malawi has spent millions of dollars in Malawi to support orphans and vulnerable children through multiple community-based organizations. This includes Home of Hope which supported 595 beneficiaries including orphans, vulnerable children and their caregivers in 2012 alone. Raising Malawi also supports Dr. Eric Borgstein, one of three pediatric surgeons in Malawi. Dr. Borgstein performed more than 500 surgeries in 2012 alone and he sees thousands of children each year.

From Raising Malawi Press Statement

Madonna leaves Malawi after visits to schools

Madonna has left Malawi after visiting the projects she has helped support through her Raising Malawi charity.
The pop diva and her four children arrived in the southern African country Monday and left Saturday. Madonna visited the 10 school blocks that her charity has helped build or renovate in collaboration with BuildOn.
The singer also visited a hospital's pediatric ward and several orphanages, including the Home of Hope, where she adopted David Banda in 2006. She also adopted Mercy James from Malawi in 2009.
Madonna initially planned to build a $15 million 500-bed Raising Malawi Academy for girls, before changing plans to help fund several community schools, which led to some controversy in Malawi. She also closed the Malawi office of Raising Malawi and fired staff for misappropriating funds.

From Associated Press Via Yahoo! News

Madonna In Malawi To Visit Son's Orphanage

Madonna has returned to the orphanage where she adopted one of her Malawian children.
The pop star was welcomed with song and dance from youngsters at the Home of Hope, from where she adopted David Banda in 2006.
She said she was pleased to visit the orphanage, in the western district of Mchinji near the Zambian border.
'I'm happy that David is back to see his brothers and sisters,' she said.
David, now eight, was accompanied by his sister Mercy James, also eight and adopted from Malawi, and Madonna's natural children, Rocco and Lourdes.
The visit saw him taken to see his former crib, which has been preserved in his memory.
It was not known if the family would also visit the Kondanani Children's Village, where Madonna adopted Mercy in 2009 after a protracted court battle.
The singer arrived in Malawi on Monday to visit projects she has supported.
She had initially planned to build a $15m (£10m), 500-bed Raising Malawi Academy for girls, before changing plans to help fund several community schools.
Meanwhile, the singer expects to raise more than $5m (£3.3m) to support education for girls in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries by selling an abstract French painting she has owned for more than 20 years.

From Associated Press Via Yahoo! News

Madonna visits children's ward in Malawi

Pop diva Madonna, spending her fourth day in the southern African country of Malawi on Thursday, picked up ailing children and joked with them when she visited an overcrowded children's ward in Blantyre, the country's largest city.
'Muli bwanji? (How are you?)' she greeted them in Malawi's main language, Chichewa.
Madonna, with her son, Rocco, went to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, which she has been supporting for five years through its chief pediatrician, Dr. Eric Borgstein.
'Eric Borgstein is a hero of mine' said Madonna. 'He is doing a wonderful job.'
The ward performs at least 500 surgeries per year on poor children, said Borgstein.
Madonna is the largest individual donor to the hospital and funds programs run by Borgstein that include treating children with cancer, said Trevor Neilson, president of the Global Philanthropy Group that is managing Madonna's projects in Malawi.
Born and raised in Malawi, Borgstein said he studied medicine at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands before to returning to his home country. Borgstein said he has been working in children's health for 15 years, treating up to 40 patients daily. Malawi has only three pediatric surgeons, said Borgstein.
He is currently a partner of Raising Malawi, the non-profit organization Madonna co-founded with Michael Berg in 2006 to help Malawian children.
On Friday, Madonna is scheduled to visit Consol Homes Orphan Care Centre, 50 kilometers (31 miles) outside the capital, Lilongwe.

From Associated Press Via Yahoo! News

Madonna takes children to native home in Malawi

US pop icon Madonna on Wednesday took her four children to a famous orphanage in central Malawi, from where she adopted one of them, seven-year-old David Banda.
Madonna, who adopted David in 2006, last visited the Home of Hope three years ago.
The singer also received reports on how the financial support she has provided the orphanage since 2007 have helped the up to 500 children there.
When she adopted David, Madonna promised that she would be bringing him home 'to stay connected to his Malawi keep connected to his cultural heritage'.
In 2009, Madonna also adopted Mercy James, now aged seven, from another Malawian orphanage.
Trevor Neilson, philanthropy manager for Madonna, told AFP the pop diva was 'continuing her commitment to ensuring the children feel connected to this beautiful country'.
Madonna is also travelling with her two biological children Lourdes and Rocco.
'There is incredible joy and enthusiasm. The children of Madonna are dancing together with fellow children here. It brings connection to the people of Malawi,' he said.
Madonna arrived in the poor southern African nation, sandwiched between Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania, on Monday to visit the schools she has built with an organisation called BuildOn.
The schools can currently accommodate 4,800 students, but many others still learn under trees.
The megastar is also inspecting other charity projects she is funding, including those involved in child care.
Madonna, according to Neilson, is the single largest international philanthropic donor to Malawi.
Malawi, where nearly half of the 13 million citizens are poor, has over one million orphans and vulnerable children.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News

Malawians hail Madonna project

Schoolchildren joined by hundreds of villagers have danced around pop diva Madonna and serenaded her with praise songs as she inspected school blocks she helped to construct in Malawi.
'Zikomo (Thank you),' said the singer as the Malawians rejoiced at Nkoko Primary School in the central Kasungu district, where she worked with non-profit organisation BuildOn to construct classrooms.
Madonna initially planned to build a 15 million US dollar (£10 million) 500-bed Raising Malawi Academy for girls, before changing plans to help fund several community schools to benefit more Malawians. She arrived in Malawi yesterday to tour the 10 school wings she has helped to build.
'I love Malawi, I am committed to help end poverty here,' she said.
Madonna is the 'biggest global philanthropist' Malawi has had, said Trevor Neilson, president of the Global Philanthropy Group that is managing the pop star's projects in Malawi.
She is exploring more projects she can work on in Malawi, said Mr Neilson.
Madonna's efforts have provided new classrooms for more than 4,000 children who were previously learning under trees.
'Madonna is happy that the communities are appreciating her efforts,' he said.
She has been joined on her tour by her two adopted Malawian children, David Banda and Mercy James, both now eight.

From Press Association Via Yahoo! News

Madonna in Malawi to inspect schools project

American pop queen Madonna is in Malawi to inspect the schools she has built in the impoverished African country, the native home of her adopted two children, her manager said on Tuesday.
'We are coming to visit the 10 schools that she recently finished building with an organisation called BuildOn,' said Madonna's philanthropy manager Trevor Nielson.
'Those schools which are now open and operating are serving 3,800 students,' he told AFP.
The schools were built over the past nine months.
Education minister Eunice Kazembe had last year challenged a claim by her charity Raising Malawi that it built 10 schools, saying they were rather classroom blocks, and not schools.
But Nielson said the structures were schools complying with national standards.
'There's no controversy, the schools are built to the exact national standards of Malawi, like every other Malawian school,' he said.
'The bottom line is that 3,800 children are going to school now who were not going to school before.'
Initially she wanted to build a large $15-million girls academy, but the plan was abandoned after 'a large amount of money went missing'.
The academy was replaced by plans to build schools, in order to reach more children.
Madonna, said to be the single largest international philanthropic donor to Malawi, also supports childcare in the country which is home to nearly a million children orphaned by AIDS.
On Sunday she visited one of the orphanages she sponsors in the capital Lilongwe.
Madonna arrived on Sunday with David Banda and Mercy James, the two children she adopted from the small landlocked African country sandwiched between Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News

Madonna touches down in Malawi

The American pop diva Madonna has arrived in Malawi for an unannounced visit, local residents say.
An aviation department worker said Madonna’s jet landed at the Kamuzu International Airport in the country’s capital, Lilongwe, early Monday. It was not clear if she came with her children. The aviation worker spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not have permission to speak to the press.
The singer previously has stayed at the exclusive Kumbali Lodge in Lilongwe, and an employee there says all other guests were checked out. The employee spoke on condition of anonymity because he didn’t have permission to speak to the press on the matter.
Madonna has adopted two children from Malawi. She promised the court she would bring her adopted children twice 'every two or three years.'

From The Washington Times / AP

Madonna dismisses 'reckless' Africa claims

The singer, along with the actress Angelina Jolie, was the subject of criticism from Mozambique-born supermodel Tasha de Vasconcelos.
Ms de Vasconcelos, who was forced to flee to Canada after the outbreak of civil war in her country of birth, said: 'You don't take a child out of Africa. If you want to help them, you help them inside their country.'
She added: 'This is why I do not advocate adoption out of Africa to a Hollywood lifestyle, as Madonna and Angelina Jolie have done.'
But a spokesman for Madonna, who has adopted two children from Africa, called the comments 'reckless'.
'Her children are thriving and well cared-for and are certainly being educated about their culture and where they came from,' the spokesman added.

It is rumoured that Madonna was inspired to adopt from Africa after a conversation with Jolie, who adopted Ethiopian baby Zahara Marley to her family in 2005.
Ms de Vasconcelos, who was recently made an honorary consul for the G8 to help bridge the gap between Europe and Africa, also attacked Madonna and Jolie for 'throwing money' at Africa without getting involved on the ground.
Her charity Amor is set to open an eye clinic in Malawi this year, the charity's second such project.
She said: 'They don't know how it is to be an African. In a tribe there's a chief, he's got a community. You have to respect the chief first, then meet with the elders.'
'You have to become close to the people on the ground: the ministers, the chief of the village, the people who are running the projects on the ground, and that means being hands-on. It is not enough just to send cheques.'


buildOn Schools Constructed in Partnership with Raising Malawi

buildOn partnered with Raising Malawi have released this statement to respond to quotes in the press from Malawi Education Minister Eunice Kazembe who argued that Madonna's charity didn't play such a big part in the project. She says: 'The schools Raising Malawi claims to have constructed were already in existence. Raising Malawi only built 10 classroom blocks and not schools. People should know the difference between the two and Malawi government officials were keen to clarify any misconceptions that may arise.'

Here is buildOn's response from

In January of 2012, buildOn partnered with Raising Malawi to build ten two-classroom schools for rural villages of the Kasungu District of Malawi. Each school was built with a corrugated metal roof and poured concrete floor.
The locations for each school were chosen in partnership with the District Education Manager’s Office in the Kasungu District. Each village that was selected had no adequate school structure; priority was given to villages with no school infrastructure at all. Prior to buildOn and Raising Malawi, children in these villages attended classes in either a temporary structure or outside under a tree. Each classroom is built to hold 50 children at any given time.
Each school was constructed in partnership with the communities who will benefit from the structures. buildOn and Raising Malawi provided the construction materials, transportation, skilled labor, project management, and construction plans. Each partnering community provides a gender-balanced leadership team, volunteer labor, land, local building materials, and authorization from the government to have a school. Each community also agrees that boys and girls will attend schools in equal numbers.
The District of Education Manager’s Office in Kasungu has provided 44 educators for the schools who are now teaching the Ministry’s approved curriculum. Once completed each community and school leadership team manages the use of each structure.
buildOn has constructed 72 two-classroom schools Malawi since 1993. In 2013, we plan to build 23 additional two-classroom schools in the Kasungu and Neno District of Malawi in partnership with each region’s District Education Manager’s office.

buildOn & Raising Malawi Complete 10 Schools in Malawi

This year buildOn partnered with Madonna and Raising Malawi to build ten schools in villages chosen from a list of communities in need of new infrastructure. We said we would build all ten schools within 18 months. We did it in 12!
Malawi is one of the economically poorest countries on the planet; only 12% of women complete secondary education and nearly half of adult women are illiterate. Literacy is a life-changing gift that will transform the futures of girls and boys across Malawi and that will change the economic future of their nation.
Over 4,800 children in Malawi will receive an education at a buildOn school in their own village. Six of the schools are already in use and all ten will be up and running in January 2013. These students will no longer have to walk miles to reach a school in a neighboring village. They no longer have to learn math under a tree, or study their ABC’s under a thatched roof. They can go to class even when it rains. And because of our focus on gender equality, girls will attend the schools in equal numbers to boys.
'I am overjoyed that my commitment along with buildOn’s to help educate the children of Malawi has come to fruition. In a country where girls have little opportunity for education, it’s additionally inspiring to know that more than half the students attending will be young girls. The fact that nearly 5,000 children in Malawi will get to go to school next year is a tremendous step forward for their individual growth and the growth of Malawi,' commented Madonna in a press release.

To read more about the schools visit

Madonna in new fundraising venture in Malawi

US pop diva Madonna, who is worth $650 million, has launched a new fund-raising drive to support the work of a Malawian paediatric surgeon, her charity announced, two years after she abandoned a girls' academy project in a cloud of alleged mismanagement.
Through her US registered charity Raising Malawi, the 'Queen of Pop' has emailed hordes of her well-wishers and fans, addressing them as Dear Friend, and asking: 'Will you consider donating $5 or more to support people like Dr. Erick Borgstein, for many years the only paediatric surgeon in Malawi, who are helping orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi?'
Malawi, where 39 percent of the 13 million citizens are poor, has over one million orphans and vulnerable children, and less than 200 doctors, creating huge shortages in the medical system.
The charity said Borgstein 'treats thousands of paediatric patients every year, performing hundreds of life-saving operations.'
He also trains medical students in general and in paediatric surgery, thanks to the financial support from Raising Malawi.
'He will now formally train a young Malawian doctor to follow in his footsteps as a paediatric surgeon,' the charity added.
Raising Malawi said for the past six years, it has 'remained committed to supporting orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi...This would not be possible without the support of people like you, who share in our mission to end the poverty and hardship endured by the country's estimated one million orphans.'
Calling itself the Raising Malawi Team, the charity thanked its supporters 'for your support...we look forward to sharing future updates with you about the inspirational work of Dr. Borgstein and others.'
It was not clear how much money Madonna is seeking in this new venture, coming more than a year after her charity controversially cancelled the construction of a state-of-the-art $15 million Raising Malawi Academy for Girls -RMAG- in Chinkhota village, 15 kilometres from the capital Lilongwe.
The academy, meant to offer 500 scholarship to girls from poor backgrounds and train them into doctors and future leaders of the country, was mired in allegations of mismanagement, including excessive spending on offices and cars. An audit had found $3.8 million had been misused.
Madonna, who has adopted two children from Malawi - Mercy James and David Banda - said she had realised the academy would not be enough as two-thirds of Malawian girls are not educated beyond primary school and she wanted to reach 'thousands and not hundreds of girls' by constructing several schools.
She said she was focussed on an approach to build 10 schools within communities across the country, that would educate at least 1,000 children a year, half of them girls.
The charity has teamed up with the non-profit group buildOn, which has constructed 54 primary schools in Malawi in the last 19 years.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News

Madonna: Happy Joyce Banda is Malawi's president

Madonna says she's happy that Malawi's former vice president is now leading the country.
Joy Banda became president Saturday and is the country's first women leader. Former president Bingu wa Mutharika died of a heart attack on April 5.
Madonna adopted two Malawian children and started the charity, Raising Malawi, in 2006. It assists orphanages and other aid programs in the country.
The singer called Banda 'amazing' and said she interviewed the 62-year-old for her 2008 documentary, 'I Am Because We Are,' about Malawian orphans who lost family members to HIV/AIDS.
'She was really into girls being educated in Africa, which is a good thing,' Madonna said in an interview Thursday night. 'So, I'm glad.'

From Associated Press Via Yahoo! News

Madonna says charity plans 10 schools in Malawi

Nearly six years after it was created, Madonna's Raising Malawi charity is set to break ground on the construction of schools in the impoverished country, but they will be run by the local community, not the superstar's organization.
According to organizers, work on the first school will start on March 30 in the Kasungu area, about 80 miles from the capital of Lilongwe, and all of the schools should be built by June 2013. Raising Malawi is providing $300,000 to the non-governmental organization buildOn to develop the schools. They'll serve about 1,000 boys and girls in the southern African nation.
'This remains a very big priority in my life and I am excited that with the help of buildOn we can maintain our ongoing commitment to move forward efficiently,' Madonna said in a statement provided to The Associated Press.
Raising Malawi had originally intended to build all-girls schools that the organization would run. But it faced several obstacles in its goal, including complaints from some local farmers that they had been moved off land that Raising Malawi intended to use for its mission. Raising Malawi also had difficulty getting title to the land and there were concerns about the high costs of construction.
The new plan calls for 'simple structures' that will be more practical and better serve Raising Malawi's original mission, said Trevor Neilson, who is helping to direct the project as partner of the Global Philanthropy Group. The approach will allow the program to serve twice as many children as before, Madonna said.
'I have learned a great deal over the last few years and feel so much more confident that we can reach out goals to educate children in Malawi, especially young girls, in a much more efficient and practical way,' she said. Madonna has adopted two children from Malawi.
BuildOn has already built more than 50 schools in Malawi and 427 schools worldwide.
'For schools to be successful, they need to have community ownership and leadership,' Neilson said in an interview Friday. 'Raising Malawi shouldn't be running schools in Malawi. Local communities in Malawi should be running those schools, so that's a big part of the shift.'
BuildOn has been working in Malawi for almost 20 years, said spokeswoman Carrie Pena. The organization works closely with the community, and locals even volunteer the labor to build the schools, according to Pena.
'It's absolutely a community-owned school,' she said.
Neilson praised Madonna for sticking with her plan to build schools for Malawi's children despite several setbacks for the star, who is the director of the new movie 'W.E.,' out next week, and is this year's Super Bowl performer. Madonna brought in Global Philanthropy to work with Raising Malawi more than a year ago and removed the involvement of the Kabbalah Centre. She has practiced Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism.
'When the previous management team had those problems, I think a lot of people thought Madonna would give up,' Neilson said 'It would have been understandable, but instead she's going to reaching twice as many kids.'

From Associated Press Via Yahoo! News

Madonna 'to open Malawi orphan care centre'

Madonna has revealed plans to open an orphanage in Malawi.
The '4 Minutes' singer, who adopted son David and daughter Mercy from the impoverished South African country, explained her charitable goals in an interview for Ovation's new series American Revolutionaries: The Hitmakers.
Madonna explained: 'My short term goals are to build an orphan care centre that will service and reach at least 1,000 children and I'm also actively involved in funding several orphanages that already exist.'
It was reported in March that Madonna's charity Raising Malawi had squandered more than £2.4 million ($3.8m) over plans for a school that was never built, leading to an upheaval in the foundation's board of directors.
Madonna was later said to be considering taking legal action against the directors following the financial mismanagement.
She revealed in January 2011 that she planned to restructure Raising Malawi so that the charity could operate on a 'bigger scale' in the coming years.

From Digital Spy

Madonna's Malawi orphan scheme facing money crisis

A program in Malawi which helps feed orphaned children is facing a financial crisis after Madonna's charity cut funding, according to a U.K. report.
The pop superstar, who has adopted two children from the African nation, helped set up an organisation called Raising Malawi to aid residents of the poverty-stricken nation.
The charity was thrown into chaos earlier this year when plans to build a girls' school collapsed amid allegations of financial mismanagement, prompting Madonna to dissolve the foundation's board of directors.
The head of a charity scheme in Malawi called Consol Homes Orphan Care, which feeds more than 24,000 children across the country, has now claimed the program is in jeopardy after money from Raising Malawi was stopped.
Elicy Chapomba, co-founder and head of operations at Consol, tells Britain's The Times, 'Since July last year, no money has been sent and we have resorted to borrowing from the banks.'
Madonna's publicist has alleged funding was cut because a Raising Malawi audit allegedly found evidence of poor financial management at the organisation, explaining, 'Simple financial procedures need to be put in place ensuring that cheques are authorised, disbursements are accounted for and financial documents and resources are....handled by financial staff. Basic monitoring and evaluation of not implemented.'


Madonna charity subpoenaed

Madonna's charity Raising Malawi and the Kabbalah Centre were hit with subpoenas this week as part of an IRS investigation. But don't expect Madonna - or Kabbalah bigwig Karen Berg - to appear before a grand jury soon. The subpoenas are for documents, not testimony, we are told. Also subpoenaed was Kabbalah charity Success for Kids.
Sources say that behind the scenes, Kabbalists still blame a 'disgruntled former member' for the media storm surrounding the organization, as well as the IRS investigation. Feds are probing the religious non-profit status of the Kabbalah Centre, according to sources. Kabbalah outside litigation council Mathew Rosengart said in a statement, 'The centre and SFK intend to work closely with the IRS and the government, and are in the process of providing responsive information to the subpoenas.'
'Raising Malawi is actively cooperating with all investigations and will continue to do so,' Madonna's publicist, Liz Rosenberg, told The Associated Press in an email saying it would be her only comment.

From the New York Post

Madonna opens legal defence against Malawi workers

US pop icon Madonna has begun her legal defence in a Malawian court as workers at one of the singer's charity projects attempt to sue for unfair dismissal, a tribunal official said Monday.
Eight staff at the failed $15 million Raising Malawi Academy for Girls (RMAG) lodged the action at the end of March claiming they were let go without proper procedures.
The star said 'there is nothing unfair about the termination of the applicants' employment given the termination of employment was necessitated by genuine economic reasons,' in documents filed last week by lawyer Davis Njobvu.
Madonna said the decision not to continue funding the academy project was taken by by her charity Raising Malawi Inc 'after carefully reviewing its financial commitments and future plans and was made in good faith.'
Led by Anjimile Oponya, the former head of the school, the workers allege they were forced to sign a termination agreement they describe as 'unfair and unconstitutional'.
Madonna, who adopted children David Banda and Mercy James from Malawian orphanages, said the charity had proposed to pay them more than they were due on the condition they signed a 'confidentiality agreement.'
The pop star also said Raising Malawi, a US-registered foundation providing funds for the school's construction, was not directly implicated in the affair and it was RMAG that 'would be responsible for any matters relating to the applicants' employment.'
She said RMAG was 'ready and willing to pay the applicants their retrenchments and redundancy benefits calculated in accordance with the Employment Act and the laws of Malawi.'
A hearing of the application to strike out Raising Malawi as a party to the action has been set for Wednesday in Blantyre.
Madonna announced in January that she was reviewing the direction of Raising Malawi, which had originally planned to establish an academy offering 500 scholarships to girls from impoverished backgrounds.
In a statement, she said she had realised the academy would not be enough as two-thirds of girls are not educated beyond primary school and she wanted to reach 'thousands and not hundreds of girls' by constructing several schools in the area.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News

Liz Rosenberg makes Malawi statement

In recent days a number of wild and totally false rumors about Madonna's philanthropy - spread by bloggers and tabloids - have begun appearing on the internet. As we have said previously, Raising Malawi is currently undergoing a series of positive changes in an effort to serve more children. Neither Madonna nor Raising Malawi is being investigated by the FBI or the IRS. It is unfortunate that people have chosen to say things about Raising Malawi and Madonna that are not true. Madonna remains committed and focused on what matters helping the children of Malawi.

From Raising Malawi - thanks to Damon

Madonna takes over the Raising Malawi reins

Madonna has removed the board of directors of her Raising Malawi charity amid accusations it wasted £2.4million on a project to build a school that never got off the ground.
The 52-year-old singer has herself now taken up the reins of the charity, which aims to help orphans and children with AIDS in the African state.
Among the board members axed is Kabbalah co-director Michael Berg.
Madonna took the decision after the charity’s £9 million flagship project – the Raising Malawi Girls’ Academy – was abandoned last week following an audit which discovered £2.4million had been frittered away by staff on golf memberships and chauffeur-driven cars.
And she has called in PR gurus Fabiani and Lehane – dubbed ‘The Masters of Disasters’ – to help her rebuild the charity’s image.
Madonna announced plans for the 500-pupil girls’ school in 2009 and flew into the country to lay the first brick. But two years on there is no further progress, and when The Mail on Sunday visited the site earlier this year it was still scrubland.
A spokesman for the singer confirmed a new interim board had been appointed which, it is understood, will include her manager Guy Oseary. Three of the four previous board members – Berg, John Larkin and Rachel Almog – had links to Kabbalah, the Jewish faith followed by Madonna.
The fourth board member, Philippe Van Den Bossche, was the executive director of Raising Malawi but left the charity last October. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing from any board members.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that Madonna has also hired a team of advisers after being hit by a string of lawsuits from former Raising Malawi employees and criticism over the charity’s handling of the Girls’ Academy project.
She drafted in Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane, who earned their ‘Masters of Disasters’ sobriquet for their damage-control PR work when they worked for Bill Clinton in the White House.
They are reported to charge fees of £18,000 a month. In an email, Fabiani declined to comment on questions from The Mail on Sunday.
On March 23 – two days before the highly critical Raising Malawi audit was published – US law firm Bingham McCutchen announced they had also been hired by the singer. The firm said they had been appointed to handle ‘corporate, tax, intellectual property and employment work – as well as provide day-to-day legal advice regarding the nonprofit’s operations’.
A statement on the firm’s website said: ‘Madonna decided to change [Raising Malawi’s] focus and direction in order to increase its effectiveness.’
It is understood an internal investigation is still ongoing to establish exactly what happened with the Girls’ Academy project and how such large sums of money were spent without being accounted for.
The academy was planned to have housed 30 classrooms, 12 dormitories and 18 staff houses – including one for the head of the school, Anjimile Oponyo.
A source close to the singer said: ‘Madonna was misled by a series of people, and she was the first to call for an investigation as to how the school funds had been used by the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls.
‘She is the single largest private donor to the country of Malawi, and the vast majority of her programmes have been an enormous success.’


Malawian staff sue Madonna for 'unfair dismissal'

Eight ex-employees of a Malawian charity founded by Madonna are suing the pop diva for unfair dismissal after being fired from her $15-million girls' academy, a court official said Monday.
'The staff at Madonna's charity Raising Malawi accuse the singer of terminating their employment due to (a) change in strategy which had not been properly explained to them,' the official told AFP.
'The staff are demanding their terminal benefits because they think their employment was terminated without proper procedures,' added the source, an official of the country's industrial relations court who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Led by the former head of the much-publicised girls' academy, Anjimile Oponya, the senior staff members also claim they are being 'forced to sign a discriminatory termination agreement which is unfair and unconstitutional,' the official said.
Madonna announced in January that she was overhauling plans for Raising Malawi, which was originally to be a school that would offer 500 scholarships to girls from poor backgrounds.
But the pop star said she realised the academy 'would not serve enough children in a country where 33 percent of Malawian girls attend secondary school'.
She said she wanted to 'reach thousands not hundreds of girls with education and would expand the charity's mission and change its management'.
'We are focused on an approach, which builds schools within communities across the country,' she said.
'The implementation of my original vision is now on a much bigger scale. I want to do more and I want to do it better. We are in the process of implementing several changes and additions to the management of Raising Malawi both in the US and Malawi,' she said.
Malawi's education standards have plummeted because of overcrowded classrooms, shortages of teachers and learning materials.
Madonna has adopted two orphans from the impoverished country, David and Mercy, among an army of one million orphaned children whose parents have died of AIDS.
She funds several orphanages, including Home of Hope in Mchinji, 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the capital, Lilongwe, where she first adopted David in 2006.
The orphanages feed, clothe and house 25,000 orphans in central Malawi.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News

Madonna-backed group ends plans for Malawi school

A charitable group backed by pop star Madonna has scrapped its plan to build a school for impoverished girls in Malawi due to mismanagement, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
The organization, Raising Malawi, has ousted its board of directors and replaced its members with a new set of officials that includes Madonna and her manager, the Times reported.
'A thoughtful decision has been made to discontinue plans for the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls, as it was originally conceived,' Michael Berg, co-founder of Raising Malawi, said Thursday in an e-mail to the center's members who had contributed to the project, according to the Times.
Berg, a co-director of the spiritual and educational organization Kabbalah Center International in Los Angeles, could not be reached for comment on Thursday night.
The Times said the effort to build the Malawi school had collapsed after spending $3.8 million on the project and its executive director left in October amid criticism of his management style and cost overruns.
Madonna lent $11 million of her money to the organization. She has been a frequent visitor to Malawi and has adopted two children from the country.
On Thursday, the singer issued a statement to the Times saying she was still intent on working with Raising Malawi.
'There's a real education crisis in Malawi,' she said in the statement given to the Times. 'Sixty-seven percent of girls don't go to secondary school, and this is simply unacceptable.'
A spokeswoman for Madonna could not be reached on Thursday night.

From Reuters Via Yahoo! News

Madonna Malawi project leader lays out plans

Logistical problems and other concerns have led Madonna to abandon her plan to build a girls-only school in Malawi, but the new leader of her effort says the superstar instead plans many more schools with educational groups already working toward that goal.
'Basically, what we'd be doing is expanding the ability for a group of nonprofits to provide education to more kids,' said Trevor Neilson in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.
Neilson, a former executive with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, joins the Raising Malawi project as a partner of the Global Philanthropy Group, a leading international organization that works with organizations and governments around the globe.
He and several other experienced philanthropy experts became part of Raising Malawi's revamped team in November.
'Madonna increasingly began to have concerns about the effectiveness of the existing strategy and management team, and as a result has made sweeping changes in order to better serve more children in Malawi,' he said.
The Kabbalah Centre, once a part of the project, is no longer involved, Neilson noted. Madonna has practiced Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, for years.
The bigger changes involve the scope of Madonna's educational plans in the impoverished African country. The superstar, who has adopted a boy and a girl from Malawi, had initially planned to build a school for girls, most of whom don't get the opportunity to go to school.
The school was to be on an approximately 117-acre plot of government land near the capital, Lilongwe. But soon after the location was announced, several local villagers claimed they owned the land and the government was forcing them off of it.
'Obviously, Raising Malawi didn't know anything about this, and was surprised, yet Raising Malawi paid those people over $130,000, which in Malawi is a lot of money,' Neilson said.
Even after that, however, he said, Raising Malawi never got title to the land. In addition, Neilson said the school was being built in an area where there were not many children, and too much effort was being paid to the design of the building.
'Madonna was shocked to find out how much time and money had been spent on architecture,' he said, though declining to give an exact estimate, simply saying, 'too much!'
Instead of creating a Raising Malawi school, the new plan is to use Raising Malawi's resources to partner with other NGOs, or non-governmental organizations, already working to provide a better education in Malawi.
'Working in consultation with a series of non-profits and education efforts, we're looking at a new strategy that builds more schools, but embeds them in communities of Malawi where the students are,' he said.
'Basically what we'd be doing is expanding the ability for a group of non-profits to provide education to more kids,' he added.
Neilson said Raising Malawi has contacted its key donors and informed them of the change in strategy: 'All of the major donors we've talked to are really excited about the strategy.'
Neilson also added that contrary to reports, the charity is still working very closely with the government, and that Madonna called the president's office and explained her new plans.
New schools could be built by the end of this year, and the educational efforts, while geared toward girls, will not exclude boys, he said.
'The need is so broad that you don't want to come into a community and say, `Sorry boys, you can't go to school,'' he said.
Neilson said Madonna would go to the region 'soon' and stressed that she was still fiercely committed to the country: He said Raising Malawi has dispersed $13 million toward charitable efforts over the last few years.
'She's very frustrated that the project has not moved faster and has not reached children with these services in a faster way,' he said. 'Ultimately, that's all that matters, is that children go to school.'
He said Madonna has also denounced Malawi's anti-gay measures, but said she would still work with the country to help the children. 'I don't think that that is core to this project in any way.'

From AP Via Yahoo! News

Madonna's Mercy family to sue over break of visit vow?

Madonna might face legal action from her adopted Malawian daughter's family, after they claimed the singer broke her promise to let them see the little girl.
Madonna, 52, is said to have guaranteed them regular contact with Mercy James, 5, after she adopted the tot from an orphanage in June 2009.
But they have not seen her since, even though Madonna has made two return visits to Malawi with the little girl.
Now they have enlisted the help of the country's leading civil rights group CILIC to prepare a legal case.
The child, whose 16-year-old mother died five days after giving birth, was raised by her grandmother and uncles, but placed in the care of the Kondanani Children's Village when they could no longer look after her.
'Mercy's family have met me several times over the past year and they have been very upset,' the Daily Mail quoted Emmie Chanika, director of CILIC, as saying.
'They have a strong recollection of being told that they would be able to see Mercy and have regular contact with her - and that when she is an adult she will return to live with them in Malawi.'
'I believe they have a case in law because there appears to have been a verbal contract between them and Madonna's representatives.'
'I have already consulted a lawyer on their behalf. Obviously there could be problems as there is no written agreement, but the lawyer is looking into it.'
'I am preparing a letter which will appeal to Madonna's lawyer Alan Chinula to intervene on the family's behalf and ask Madonna to kindly let Mercy meet her family.'
'None of us desires an embarrassing and expensive court case which could humiliate or inconvenience Madonna. The best outcome would be a proper agreement to let Mercy meet her family on a regular basis,' Chanika added.

From ANI

Raising Malawi: Statement from Madonna

Madonna, whose Raising Malawi charity has made substantial inroads helping over a million children orphaned from the AIDS epidemic in that African nation, is stepping up the pace considerably on all fronts - especially in regard to her plans for building the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls.

Madonna issued the following statement:

I remain deeply committed and am more passionate than ever about helping the children of Malawi - especially the girls. In a country where only 33% of Malawian girls attend secondary school, I realize that the plans we had in place for the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls simply would not serve enough children.
My original vision is now on a much bigger scale. I want to reach thousands not hundreds of girls. I want to do more and I want to do it better. While I am grateful to all the people who have given me guidance and support up until now, we are in the process of implementing several changes and additions to the management of Raising Malawi in both the US and Malawi.
I am also working with Trevor Neilson and his team at Global Philanthropy Group to shift the strategies that we had in place so that we can accomplish our goals with more efficiency as we continue to consult with our government partners in Malawi. This is a larger challenge than I thought, but I welcome it. We are focused on an approach, which builds schools within communities across the country.
We are currently determining the size, location, staffing and curriculum of the schools. I will continue to monitor the process of reaching these goals here and through my ongoing visits to Malawi.

Neilson, whose company Global Philanthropy Group advises some of the world's leading philanthropists, was positive about the shift in strategy. 'Raising Malawi's new community-based approach will provide the opportunity for many more girls to receive a quality education. We are focused on ensuring the most efficient implementation of this new strategy in collaboration with Raising Malawi's partners on the ground.'
Neilson also noted the many achievements of Raising Malawi including the construction of a model orphan care center in partnership with Malawi's largest community-based organization as well as assistance to thousands of HIV+ children and caregivers through life saving medical treatments and daily nutritious meals and nutrition supplements.
Additional programming has also provided thousands of children and caregivers in the south of the country with access to clean water through the implementation of piped safe water and the construction of new boreholes.


Madonna plays Santa for Malawi children

Madonna wasn't able to visit Malawi this Christmas, but she let the children in the six orphanages she funds there know they were very much on her mind this holiday season.
Boxes of toys, chocolate, other sweets and clothes were shipped with a handwritten note from the star, which read, 'To my Malawi children on Christmas and Boxing Day. I wish I was with you. See you soon M.'
Inside the goodie boxes were miniature Christmas cards signed by Madonna, Lourdes and Rocco.
'How so sweet this woman is!' said Lucy Chipeta, director of Home of Hope Orphanage in Mchinji, where Madonna adopted son David in 2006, as more than 500 children scrambled for toys and bars of chocolate.
Near another orphanage, Consol Homes, more than 1,000 people from surrounding villages were invited to an open-air party. All the orphans and under-privileged children who registered with the center received clothes.
'Madonna says she always enjoys the traditional dances the villagers perform for her when she visits,' said Yacinta Chapomba, director of Consol Homes. 'She asked us to invite as many villagers as possible for the Christmas party.'
The singer planned to return to Malawi in November alongside U2 singer Bono, but the trip, according to sources, was rescheduled for the spring.


Madonna appeals for fans to 'answer the call'

Madonna, together with the Earth Institute, Ericsson and Millennium Promise launched Connect To Learn, a non-profit global education initiative to greatly improve both the access to and quality of secondary education for children around the world—especially girls. Connect To Learn provides three-year scholarships to attend secondary school and covers tuition, books, uniforms as well as access to broadband technology.

Madonna's architect speaks out about Malawi school

The architectural brains behind Madonna's new all-girl academy in Malawi won the pop star's trust by creating a boarding school blueprint which doesn't resemble a gloomy prison for kids.
German-born Markus Dochantschi was introduced to the star by her Raising Malawi charity director and he offered to create a plan for the perfect school for free.
He tells Architectural Digest magazine that Madonna was very specific about what she wanted her Raising Malawi Academy for Girls to look like.
He says, 'We were asked to design a prototype boarding school replicable by others even in different countries, without repeating the typical British-style school that you see in former British colonies.'
'The design is not just about aesthetics and materials but about helping to understand the society you're building for. For example, in Africa, you realise the importance of open space, of being outside and understanding nature. So we designed a very open pedestrian campus.'
Dochantschi tells the publication the school will cater for 450 students from all over Malawi - the African nation where Madonna adopted two children - and he reveals the pop star is keen for all the children who start the academy to finish with honours.
He adds, 'Traditionally, a lot of girls drop out in eighth grade, shortly before they get married....Madonna hopes that the school will instill pride in their homeland, and that educated young women will understand the importance of remaining in Malawi, supporting their own communities.'
The architect also reveals Madonna broke ground on the school with a shovel which featured the inscription 'Dare to dream'.


Madonna denies Malawian access to adopted girl

Pop superstar Madonna will not allow a man who claims to be the biological father of her adopted Malawian daughter to see the four-year-old, a South African newspaper reported on Sunday.
James Kambewa, 26, who is working as a waiter in Durban, had hoped to meet Mercy whom the wealthy star adopted last year but Madonna's spokeswoman Barbara Charone said the child's father was not known.
'The extended family members had no knowledge of a father. The village leadership had no knowledge of a father....the mother was raped and left,. the Sunday Times quoted Charone as saying.
Mercy was controversially adopted from an orphanage by the 52-year-old pop star after the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned a lower court that blocked the placement. She is Madonna's second adopted Malawian child.
'There was a three-week window between the oral arguments (in court) and the decision, when the man could have made his claim. Again nothing,' said Charone.
'Moreover, the Ministry of Gender has recommended that it would be in the child's best interest not to engage with anyone claiming to be a parent or guardian.'
The court listed Mercy's biological father as unknown and said that she was born in January 2006 to a 14-year-old mother who died days after giving birth.
Kambewa vowed last year to fight the adoption bid, saying media reports had alerted him to the child whom he thought had also died with her mother, with whom he said he had a relationship. The age of consent in Malawi is 14.
He told the Sunday Times earlier this month that he was happy the star was looking after Mercy but hoped to meet her one day.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News

A Message from Madonna on the Release of Steven and Tiwonge

Madonna posted the following message on the Raising Malawi website:

I have always believed love conquers all - yesterday I got to see it in action.
In the last week over 30,000 of you added your name to mine calling for the release of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga - the Malawi couple sentenced to 14 years hard labor for the 'crime' of homosexuality. With incredible joy, I am writing to share with you that Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has ordered their release. Steven and Tiwonge were freed on Saturday night.
They have won their freedom and you have been a part of it.
We celebrate this astounding turn of events with Steven, Tiwonge, and the countless Malawians fighting for their release. It is a historic day for Malawi.
Though they are free from prison, sadly their safety and future in Malawi is still unknown. I hope this is just the beginning of our work together.
Human rights injustices continue for so many Malawians facing poverty, disease, and a lack of critical resources. There are still over two million orphans and vulnerable children who need to experience love's embrace.
It is going to take the love and creativity of all of us to bring justice to the people of Malawi.
Thank you for joining me in Raising Malawi.

With great love,

Share your thoughts with Madonna on this important day in Malawi at

Madonna's letter: Right to love and be loved

Madonna has published this letter via her Raising Malawi website asking for readers to pledge their support for the freedom to love:

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga will spend the next 14 years in a Malawi jail, sentenced to hard labor.
They aren't murderers. They didn't steal. In fact, they didn't commit a crime.
They were convicted of homosexuality.
I call upon the progressive men and women of Malawi - and around the world - to challenge this decision in the name of human dignity and equal rights for all.
Please add your name to mine in a pledge of support for the freedom to love:

I am shocked and saddened by the recent decision made by the Malawian court. As a matter of principle, I believe in equal rights for all people, no matter what their gender, race, color, religion, or sexual orientation.
This week, Malawi took a giant step backward. The world is filled with pain and suffering; therefore, we must support our basic human right to love and be loved.
I will not sit back and be silent while two men are sentenced to 14 years hard labor simply for loving each other. I hope you will add your name to mine, and speak out to your friends and family on this issue:


Madonna responds to Malawi court decision

Madonna has issued a statement over the Malawi court ruling handed down to a gay couple in the country - for more information on the story visit

'I am shocked and saddened by the decision made today by the Malawian court, which sentenced two innocent men to prison.
As a matter of principle, I believe in equal rights for all people, no matter what their gender, race, color, religion, or sexual orientation.
Today, Malawi took a giant step backward. The world is filled with pain and suffering; therefore, we must support our basic human right to love and be loved.
I call upon the progressive men and women of Malawi - and around the world - to challenge this decision in the name of human dignity and equal rights for all.'

Fans can add their name to a petition to support Madonna's stand for equal rights in Malawi at

Madonna jets out of Malawi

US pop star Madonna jetted out of Malawi on Friday ending a five-day trip which included laying a foundation stone for a new girls school an airport official told AFP.
The singer who was accompanied by her biological children Rocco and Lourdes and her other two children whom she adopted in Malawi flew out of Kamuzu international Airport on a private jet bound for London, the official said.
Madonna's charity, Raising Malawi, is building a 15-million-dollar Girls Academy to educate young Malawi girls from poor backgrounds.
The star already funds several charities in the country, including homes for children with AIDS.
She has built a multi-purpose community centre 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Lilongwe which looks after more than 8,000 orphans.
Late Thursday Madonna, accompanied by Lourdes and adopted daugher Mercy 'Chifundo' James, visited the centre where a local band and a choir seranaded the pop star and villagers thanked her for her help.
'I am happy my small contribution has lifted the lives of many,' Madonna told the cheering villagers.
'It pains me as a mother to see children suffering because they can't get food or clothes. I want to use what I have to make the world a better place where everyone will enjoy life.'
The southern African country is one of the world's poorest nations, with more than half of the population of 13 million living on less than one dollar a day.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News

Madonna and David return to Malawian orphanage

Pop singer Madonna has taken her adopted son David to visit his former orphanage in central Malawi.
Chants of 'welcome home, David!' and 'we love you, David!' could be heard from inside the Home Of Hope as the four-year-old and his mother arrived.
Journalists were barred from the reunion, which took place during Madonna's week-long stay in Malawi.
But the head of the orphanage said Madonna did not want to break David's 'emotional attachment' to the home.
'David spent most of his first days on earth here,' Lucy Chipeta told the BBC. 'We are delighted to have him back.'
'We have preserved his room including his crib,' she added.
As Madonna engaged in discussions with the orphanage's directors, David and his older sister Lourdes played with the young residents.
However, the four-year-old's biological father, Yohane Banda, was nowhere to be seen.
Chipeta refused to comment on why he had not attended.
Madonna, in Malawi since Monday, is scheduled to leave the southern African country on Friday.
The pop star, 51, funds six orphanages through her Raising Malawi charity and is setting up a school for girls on the outskirts of the country's capital, Lilongwe.

From BBC News

Madonna launches a telecommunication initiative

Madonna laid the first brick of her new girls' academy near Malawi's capital Tuesday, in which she encouraged Malawian girls to 'dare to dream,' according to the inscription on the brick.
The pop star said it has long been her dream to build a girls' school. She said she hopes the girls attending the academy will go on to become doctors, lawyers and future leaders of their country.
The $15 million Raising Malawi Academy for Girls is scheduled to open in 2011, and will assist 500 orphaned children.
At the same event, Madonna also launched a telecommunications and fundraising initiative that aims to provide education to children around the world by offering secondary school scholarships and by supporting schools in developing countries in accessing the internet.
'Kids will be able to connect with kids from the other parts of the world,' the singer said. 'This will promote peace throughout the world.'
Telecommunications giant Ericsson will donate computers to various schools in 11 African countries through the United Nations Millennium Village initiative, where model villages are established to demonstrate how the quality of life in African rural areas can be improved through community-led development.
The pop diva looked relaxed as she used a trowel to turn the earth. She wore a long-sleeved striped top, white cotton slacks, a patterned scarf and pale ballet flats. She also wore a black-banded straw hat and dark sunglasses on the sunny day.
Madonna arrived in Malawi on Monday for a weeklong charity tour to inspect projects she established since her first visit in 2006 while filming a documentary on its devastating poverty and AIDS crisis.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News