Alexa

Madonna visits Malawi orphans, keeps mum on adoption plans

Madonna visits Malawi orphans, keeps mum on adoption plans

Madonna made a whirlwind visit to a children's home in this impoverished African country Thursday, handing out copies of her book "English Rose" to a crowd of AIDS orphans but leaving unanswered questions about her own reported adoption plans.
Her publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said she was unaware of statements made Wednesday by Malawian government officials that the singer and her husband, film director Guy Ritchie, would adopt a boy.
"I have no information or confirmation regarding Madonna adopting an individual child. She's kind of adopting an entire country of children," said Rosenberg 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."
Andrina Mchiela, a senior official with Malawi's Ministry for Gender and Child Welfare, said the government was awaiting news of the singer's plans.
The ministry said Wednesday that it expected Madonna to file adoption papers Thursday and that it would relax restrictions that normally apply to foreigners adopting Malawian children.
"We haven't got anything from Madonna's people yet," Mchiela said.
"As far as we are concerned her plans (to adopt a child) remain unchanged."
The visit has generated huge excitement in Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries, which usually only makes headlines because of its grim cycle of drought, hunger and disease. More than 14 percent of Malawi's 12 million people have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and an estimated 1 million children have been orphaned.
The pop star was greeted at the Kondanani children's village near Malawai's commercial capital by a crowd of about 28 singing orphans, who each received a translated copy of the children's book written by Madonna.
Bodyguards prevented reporters from getting access to the premises or approaching the star, who arrived in a convoy of vehicles and was rushed away after the brief visit. Orphanage officials said Ritchie accompanied her and filmed the children.
"She and her husband are very lovely," said orphanage director Anne Chikhwaza. "She has a kind heart; she really wants to help."
She said Madonna didn't make any financial pledges "but appreciates the work we are doing here."
The orphanage is home to 128 children, many of whom have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS in a pattern repeated throughout the country.
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.
Kabbalah is virtually unheard of in Malawi, a predominantly Roman Catholic country where superstitions and belief in witchcraft run high.
Philippe van den Bossche, project coordinator for Raising Malawi, said he welcomed her visit to the southern African nation.
"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," he said. "She is an extraordinary inspiration and will hopefully inspire people to put children first."
Van Den Bossche said the orphan care center would be completed next March, a year after work on it began.
Madonna is due to meet government officials in the capital, Lilongwe, on Friday and visit more orphanages.
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."
Madonna joins a growing list of entertainer-activists who have focused on Africa.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, whose child was born in Namibia earlier this year, recently announced they would donate US$1 million (euro790,000) each to two humanitarian organizations active on the continent. They also have two adopted children _ one from Ethiopia and one from Cambodia.
Mchiela told the AP on Wednesday that if they adopt, Madonna and her husband 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 to 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.
___
On the Net:
http://www.raisingmalawi.org


Updated : 2021-04-11 21:03 GMT+08:00