BLANTYRE--‘Queen of Pop’ Madonna, who is worth $650 million according to Celebrity Net Worth, has surprisingly launched a new fund-raising drive that seeks to support the training of a pediatric surgeon who will be under the tutelage of distinguished Dr. Erick Borgstein, two years after she abandoned a $15 million girls academy project in a dust of alleged mismanagement.
Through her US registered charity Raising Malawi, the pop diva has emailed hordes of her well-wishers and fans, addressing them as Dear Friend, and simply asking: Will you consider donating $5 or more to support people like Dr. Borgstein who are helping orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi?
Malawi, where 39 percent of the 13 million citizens are poor, has over one million orphans and vulnerable children.
In a posting on the website of Raising Malawi, the charity said for the past six years, it has “remained committed to supporting orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi... This would not be possible without the support of people like you, who share in our mission to end the poverty and hardship endured by the country's estimated one million orphans.”
The charity said it was making progress by continuing to support organizations and individuals who fight tirelessly to give these orphans, adding that “one of these individuals is Dr. Eric Borgstein, for many years the only pediatric surgeon in Malawi.”
It said working with the “incredible staff” at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, “Dr. Borgstein treats thousands of pediatric patients every year, performing hundreds of life-saving operations.”
He also trains medical students in general and pediatric surgery, and thanks to support from Raising Malawi, he will now formally train a young Malawian doctor to follow in his footsteps as a pediatric surgeon.
“Dr. Borgstein is able to perform surgery and provide medical care to children in Malawi because of support he receives from Raising Malawi,” the charity added.
Calling itself the Raising Malawi Team, the charity thanked its supporters “For your support...we look forward to sharing future updates with you about the inspirational work of Dr. Borgstein and others.
It was not clear how much money Madonna is seeking in this new venture, coming more than a year after her charity controversially cancelled the construction of a $15 million Raising Malawi Academy for Girls in Chinkhota village, 15 kilometres from the capital Lilongwe.
The academy, meant to offer 500 scholarships to girls from poor backgrounds and train them into doctors and future leaders of the country, was mired in allegations of mismanagement, including excessive spending on offices and cars. An audit had found $3.8 million had been misused without much to show.
Madonna, who has adopted two children from Malawi—Mercy James and David Banda—said she had realised the academy wouldn’t be enough as two-thirds of Malawian girls aren’t educated beyond primary school and she wanted to reach “ thousands and not hundreds of girls” by constructing several schools.
She said she was focused on an approach to 10 build schools within communities across the country that would educate at least 1,000 children a year, half of them girls.
The charity has teamed up with the non-profit group buildOn, which has constructed 54 primary schools in Malawi in the last 19 years.
"I am excited that with the help of buildOn, we can maintain our ongoing commitment to move forward efficiently. We now will be able to serve twice as many children as we would have served with our old approach," Madonna said in a statement.
"I have learned a great deal over the last few years and feel confident that we can reach our goals to educate children in Malawi, especially young girls, in a much more practical way. Constructing smaller schools in partnership with buildOn has restored my faith that we can accomplish what we promised we would," she added.
In partnership with the Millenium Promise and Connect to Learn, the charity has also offered scholarships for 10 girls from the Millenium village in Mwandama, Zomba, “as part of our ongoing commitment to education in Malawi.”
The scholars were selected based on academic and leadership potential, social-economic condition, and the determination they have exhibited in their community as assessed by a local selection committee.
Raising Malawi said it believed that education is one of the most critical tools for supporting vulnerable children and families in Malawi.
UNESCO estimates that in Africa 1.8 million children’s lives could be saved if their mothers had at least a secondary education. “A child born to a mother who can read is 50 percent more likely to live past age five,” the United Nations agency says.
“Additionally, each extra year of a mother’s schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by 5–10 percent and women with post-primary education are five times more likely than illiterate women to be educated about the risks of contracting HIV/ Aids, Unesco adds.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.