London: Madonna has reportedly abandoned projects she started in Malawi to help children in the African country, even though her representatives insist that such claims are “simply not true.”
The move, which has seen the closure of the Raising Malawi Trust and the Kabbalah backed Success For Kids, has triggered scathing criticism from the Malawi government.
She had initially planned to build a 10 million pound academy for girls, but now has no full-time presence in Malawi, where her two adopted children David, six, and Mercy, five, were born.
After the academy plans collapsed last year amid claims of corruption, she decided to invest 190,000 pounds in 10 schools built by a US charity. But government officials claim they have been cut out of her plans.
“When Madonna expressed interest to help the Malawian education system through the construction of the girls’ academy, we were very grateful and welcomed the idea,” the Mirror quoted Malawi’s Ministry of Education spokesman Lindiwe Chide as saying.
“But to our disappointment we have not heard a word from either Madonna or her office since the ground-breaking ceremony for the academy.
“We have just seen media reports that she has abandoned the project and will be building 10 community schools instead. We know nothing about these 10 schools.
“The ministry and government feels that Madonna is using Malawi for her personal gain. The Ministry of Education will not tolerate this behaviour,” he said.
Trevor Neilson, from the Global Philanthropy Group which runs the Raising Malawi Trust in the US, said a letter outlining her latest plans was hand delivered to the Ministry of Education on January 30.
Neilson said he believed there might be confusion because the project for 10 schools in the Kasungu district is being led by US charity build-on.
He added the government had signed off on the first new school site and education ministry officials had attended a ceremony when building work began last month.
“We shut down the offices in Malawi because we believed that a large amount of money had been wasted.
“Madonna is now providing funding to an NGO that has built more than 50 schools in Malawi. Our current plan is to serve twice as many kids as would have been served with the academy project,” he said.
According to him, the 190,000 pounds were an initial investment and the pop star would consider funding other projects in the country for organisations with “a clear track record of transparency, accountability and good governance”.
“Despite all the challenges of working in Malawi, she is still trying to put kids in school there, and it is bewildering why anyone would oppose that,” he said.