Queen of pop re­vis­its Malawi

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

MADONNA shrugged off con­tro­ver­sies about her re­la­tion­ship with Malawi, the home­land of her two adopted chil­dren, and spoke freely of her fam­ily life dur­ing a visit to the coun­try on July 10.

The US pop diva ap­peared cheer­ful after in­spect­ing progress at a sur­gi­cal unit for chil­dren that her char­ity, Rais­ing Malawi, is fund­ing at Queen Eliz­a­beth hos­pi­tal in the com­mer­cial cap­i­tal Blan­tyre.

“We are re­ally ex­cited about it,” Madonna told re­porters. “Hope­fully it should be up and run­ning in 2017.

“This new fa­cil­ity is the first pae­di­atric in­ten­sive care unit in any Malawi hos­pi­tal. It will have an enor­mous im­pact on sav­ing the lives of chil­dren,” she said.

“Chil­dren are the fu­ture. I love chil­dren be­cause they are the most hon­est and most cre­ative.”

It is the first time in nearly two years that Madonna has vis­ited the coun­try, where she has at times been em­broiled in con­tro­versy after her adoption of David Banda in 2006 and Mercy James in 2009.

She was stripped of her VIP sta­tus by for­mer pres­i­dent Joyce Banda’s gov­ern­ment in 2013 and ac­cused of be­ing “un­couth” and want­ing eter­nal grat­i­tude from the im­pov­er­ished coun­try for adopt­ing the two chil­dren.

But Banda was ousted in 2014 elec­tions and the new pres­i­dent, Peter Mutharika, has moved to re­pair re­la­tions, say­ing, “My gov­ern­ment has al­ways been grate­ful for the pas­sion Madonna has for this coun­try.”

The pop star and the pres­i­dent were ex­pected to meet yes­ter­day.

Speak­ing openly to re­porters for the first time dur­ing a visit to Malawi, Madonna, sport­ing a fe­dora hat, said “ask David your­self” when she was ques­tioned about the adopted boy’s fu­ture.

“I want to be a pro­fes­sional soc­cer player,” David replied, while Madonna added that she plays soc­cer with her son and her fam­ily at home.

Madonna said she would not re­vive plans for a US$15 mil­lion academy for girls in Malawi, which was can­celled amid al­le­ga­tions of mis­man­age­ment – lead­ing to her tiff with the for­mer pres­i­dent.

“It was a great idea, but we want to build more pri­mary schools,” she said.

Madonna is re­port­edly the big­gest in­di­vid­ual donor to chil­dren’s projects such as or­phan­ages in Malawi, which is ranked by the UN Hu­man De­vel­op­ment In­dex as one of the world’s 20 least-de­vel­oped coun­tries.

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