New York: Madonna’s plan to build a school for impoverished girls in Malawi has failed after the board of directors of the charity, Raising Malawi, were replaced by a caretaker board.
Madonna, 52, who had founded the charity along with fellow devotees of a prominent Jewish mysticism movement, had spent 3.8 million dollars on the project.
The charity’s executive director, who is the boyfriend of Madonna’s former trainer, Tracy Anderson, left in October amid criticism of his management style and cost overruns for the school.
These included what auditors described as outlandish expenditures on salaries, cars, office space and a golf course membership, free housing and a car and driver for the school’s director.
Plans to build a 15 million dollar school for about 400 girls in the poor southeastern African country of 15 million have been officially abandoned.
The charity had drawn financial support from Hollywood and society circles, as well as the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre International, an organization devoted to Jewish mysticism.
Malawi officials said they were stunned and asserted that Madonna was blaming management breakdowns because she had been unable to raise the money she had promised.
Michael Berg, a co-director of the Kabbalah Centre and the co-founder of Raising Malawi, confirmed the change of plans in an e-mail to the centre’s members who had contributed to the project.
“A thoughtful decision has been made to discontinue plans for the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls, as it was originally conceived,” the New York Times quoted Berg as writing.
In conceding the shortcomings of her charity, Madonna issued a statement saying she was still intent on using the organization, which has raised 18 million dollars so far, to advance improvements in the beleaguered nation.
“There’s a real education crisis in Malawi,” she said.
“Sixty-seven percent of girls don’t go to secondary school, and this is simply unacceptable. Our team is going to work hard to address this in every way we can,” she stated.