Alexa

Madonna Visits Orphanage in Malawi

Madonna Visits Orphanage in Malawi

Madonna visited an orphanage in Malawi's commercial capital Thursday on the second day of a trip to highlight the plight of AIDS orphans, which prompted speculation she was about to adopt a child herself.
The pop star was greeted by about 50 children as she arrived in a four-vehicle convoy. Bodyguards prevented journalists from getting access to the premises or approaching her.
Madonna's publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said the star was on a private visit working on projects for children and dismissed statements from Malawian government officials that she had adopted a boy.
"Madonna has not adopted a baby boy as has been previously and incorrectly reported," Rosenberg said in an e-mail to The Associated Press in Los Angeles. "She is on a private visit to Malawi and is involved in the building of an orphanage/child care center as well as other initiatives to help the children of that country who have lost parents to AIDS.
"I have no information or confirmation regarding Madonna adopting an individual child. She's kind of adopting an entire country of children," Rosenberg said.
Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world, trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of hunger and disease. Just over 14 percent of the 12 million population is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and an estimated 1 million children have been orphaned.
Madonna's project, called Raising Malawi, aims to set up an orphan care center to provide food, education and shelter for up to 4,000 children. It will have projects based on Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism that has gained popularity in recent years and which counts the 48-year-old singer among its devotees.
The care center is based in Mphandula, a village about 30 miles from Lilongwe.
There had been reports that Madonna would visit Mphandula, as well as two orphanages in the commercial capital Blantyre. However, there was no sign of the star and organizers refused to give details of her itinerary.
Philippe van den Bossche, project coordinator for Raising Malawi, merely said he welcomed the visit to the southern African state by their patron.
"Any organization would be happy to know that they are being supported by such a beacon of hope. We are very grateful for the work she is doing in the country and for the project. She is an extraordinary inspiration and will hopefully inspire people to put children first," he said.
Van Den Bossche said the orphan care center would be completed in March, a year after work on it was started.
In villages like Mphandula, many orphans are cared for either by siblings or grandparents, who struggle to find food for the extended family. The village has no electricity and the inhabitants live in mud and thatched huts.
In a letter on the organization's Web site, Madonna said she hoped to help "bring an end to the extreme poverty and degradation suffered by Malawi's orphans."
The 48-year-old star joins a growing list of entertainers who have focused on Africa.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, whose child was born in Namibia earlier this year, recently announced they would donate $1 million each to two humanitarian organizations active on the continent. They also have two adopted children _ one from Ethiopia and one from Cambodia.
Andrina Mchiela, a senior official with Malawi's Ministry for Gender and Child Welfare said Wednesday that Madonna and her husband, director Guy Ritchie, would be subject to a probation period required of all prospective adoptive parents.
"After her husband and her fill in the papers, we'll allow them to take him away, not as adoptive parents but foster parents until after the 18-24 months when the government of Malawi will assess whether they are a suitable family," she said. "This is a legal requirement that cannot be fast-tracked."
Madonna and Ritchie have a son, Rocco, 5, and the singer also has a daughter, Lourdes, 9.
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On the Net:
http://www.raisingmalawi.org