Clare Sidoti Staff Writer
One thing about Madonna, she’s never been one to shy away from controversy or censor her views on issues. However, one thing has been quite quiet on has been the debate surrounding her Malawi school project run by her charity, Raising Malawi, in conjunction with the non-profit organisation, BuildOn.
This project has caused rifts with the Malawi government since the beginning. Initially, Madonna planned to build a 500-bed US $15m Raising Malawi Academy for Girls. The project was then abandoned in January 2011 and it was subsequently revealed through a Global Philanthropy Group audit that the managers of her charity had squandered $3.8m on “outlandish expenditures on salaries, cars, office space and golf course membership, free housing and a car and driver for the school’s director” and the school will never be built. Madonna then turned to the option of building “several community schools to benefit more Malawian children”. The Malawian government though saw this as Madonna abandoning the project and so began her troubles with them.
The current plan was to build 10 schools and Madonna’s visit this week, with her four children in tow, was to inspect the schools and have her adopted children, David Banda and Mercy James, both 8, visit their homeland. However, the Malawi government has called out the singer of the veracity of her claims, with President Joyce Banda claiming:
“Where are the ten schools she has built? She is just building school blocks at already existing schools. In some cases she just renovated an already existing block. This is an insult to the people of Malawi. She can’t be lying to the world at our expense.”
Madonna later hit back at her detractors. During a visit to the Consol Homes Orphan Centre (one of the six orphanages she is funding in Malawi) on Friday (April 5), she addressed the claims telling reporters:
"I want to say that my reasons for being here have never changed. I’m here because I care deeply about the children of Malawi. That is my main priority. So regardless of the challenges, the ups and the downs, the things that I’ve learned…I have not forgotten my commitment to the children, the orphans, but specifically all children of Malawi."
You can see the clip in full below:
She also reached out personally to President Banda, in a widely quoted handwritten letter. She expresses her admiration for the leader and requests a meeting to discuss options of working together:
"I have always admired your strength and courage and have very fond memories of when we met and spoke…As you know I am in Malawi for the week. If you have any time in your very busy schedule to meet that would be great. If not, just know that I would like to be of service and continue to support the children of Malawi! If there is a project you can think of that we can join efforts let me know! I wish you the very best!"
While the meeting never took place, Madonna confirmed her love of Malawi and that she is “committed to help end poverty here”.
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