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.
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.