Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Madonna
“It has pretty much taken over my life, and I’m so grateful it has…I’ve started an organization called Raising Malawi…and any of your help would be greatly appreciated by me”
Considered to be one of the “25 most powerful women of the past century” by Time for being an influential figure in contemporary music, Madonna is known for continuously reinventing her image as well as her music. Because she is such an important public figure, some people would reduce Madonna’s philanthropic work merely as an ego trip. However, if you delve into her works more carefully, you’ll see that her attempts cannot be phony in any sense.
1. Warm Heart of Africa—Malawi
Malawi is a tiny landlocked nation situated between Zambia, Tanzanian and Mozambique in central sub-Saharan Africa. It is home to over 16 million people whose primary vocation is subsistence agriculture. After years of living under control of colonial rule, Malawi achieved independence from UK in 1964 and it now has a relatively stable government. However, Malawians sill confronts dire problems stemming from its poverty, disease and lack of critical resources. In 2006, Madonna and Michael Berg founded Raising Malawi, a non-profit organization supporting community-based organizations that provide vulnerable children and caregivers with nutritious food, proper clothing, secure shelter, formal education, and emotional care.
2. Academy for Malawian children
Madonna deemed education as a crucial factor in improving Malawi’s economy and a long term investment that can change Malawi’s future. However, her plan to build schools for children didn’t go as smoothly as she imagined. The construction of the girls’ academy was delayed over a dispute between her charity and some 200 villagers who claimed they were not adequately compensated for land used to build the school. Madonna’s charity had to pay extra $500,000 in compensation. Again, in 2011, the plan almost collapsed after appending $3.8 million on a project. This was due to change in the board of directors. It’s executive director, Tracy Anderson, left in October amid criticism of his management style and cost overruns for school. “There’s a real education crisis in Malawi,” Madonna said, trying to save the project. However, she could not give a reason why she had not noticed the problems as they began unfolding. Thus she eventually abandoned her project to build Malawi Academy for Girls. However, Madonna persisted that “Our team is going to work hard to address this in every way we can”
Indeed, the fist Raising Malawi School was completed in Kabila on May 24, 2012. With the help of 1426 volunteer hours of work from the local community, the school will be up and running in Kabila with 142 students set to attend the school. Despite the quandary she confronted, Madonna completed a school for Malawian.
3. David Banda Mwale Ciccone Ritchie and Chifundo Mery James.
On October 10, 2006, Madonna filed adoption papers for a boy from the orphanage, David Banda Mawale Ciccone Ritchie. This adoption raised strong public opinion because she did not obey the Malawian law, which requires would-be parents to reside in Malawi for a year before adopting. In order to calm public fury, Madonna addressed this on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Despite what public believed, there were no written adoption laws in Malawi that regulated foreign adoption. Also, Banda needed an immediate treatment for his health. He had been suffering from pneumonia after surviving malaria and tuberculosis when she first met him.
On June 12, 2009, Madonna adopted another child called Chifundo Mery James. Her second attempt to adopt a child from Malawia was also obstructed by the Malawia government’s interference. But the Malawi’s High Court eventually approved her petition to adopt 4-year-old Mercy, despite the fact that she hadn’t fulfilled the country’s 18-month residency requirement. “Madonna has shown that she is bold and compassionate enough to come forward to adopt Chifundo James,” said Lovemore Munlo, the Malawia Chief Justice.