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Madonna's secret mission to Malawi shrouded in mystery

Madonna's secret mission to Malawi shrouded in mystery

Madonna's mission to help Malawi's AIDS orphans remained shrouded in mystery Friday with a scheduled meeting between the pop star and a government minister failing to take place.
The celebrity, who has kept a low-profile since arriving in the impoverished southern African country Wednesday, made a secretive visit to an orphanage near the capital, while rumors that she was to adopt a child persisted.
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 are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and an estimated 1 million children have been orphaned.
Madonna had been scheduled to meet Mines, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Henry Chimunthu Banda _ the top government official in the absence of President Bingu wa Mutharika who was abroad.
The meeting was expected to take place at 3 p.m. (1500 GMT) but by late afternoon the star had not arrived at his offices.
Banda said Madonna had been "caught up" and the meeting had been postponed but he had no further information.
Shortly after Madonna's arrival in Malawi, government officials said she planned to adopt an orphaned boy.
But by Friday there was still no confirmation of this.
Andrina Mchiela, a senior official with Malawi's Ministry for Gender and Child Welfare, said no adoption papers had been filed yet, even though Madonna had voiced her intention to adopt a child.
"As far as we are concerned her plans remain unchanged," she said.
Madonna's publicist, Liz Rosenberg, has denied any knowledge that that star was to adopt a baby.
It was unclear how long the pop star would remain in the country, but the private plane she arrived in returned to Lilongwe Friday after a reported routine stopover in the South African city of Johannesburg.
On Friday Madonna was reported to have visited the Chezi Orphan Care Center near the lake-shore district of Salima about 20 kilometers from the capital. But no further details were available.
On Thursday she was greeted by a crowd of about 28 singing orphans at the Kondanani children's village near Malawi's commercial capital of Blantyre. Bodyguards and four vehicles kept a tight ring around the star and her entourage.
Orphanage officials said Ritchie accompanied the singer and filmed the children who received copies of Madonna's book "English Rose".
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.
Madonna and Ritchie have a son, Rocco, 5, and the singer also has a daughter, Lourdes, 9.
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."
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On the Net:
http://www.raisingmalawi.org


Updated : 2021-03-08 09:12 GMT+08:00