Malawi villagers praise Madonna

2010-04-09 09:37

Mphandala - Villagers serenaded US pop star Madonna late Thursday at an orphanage she bankrolls that caters for 8 000 orphans in impoverished Malawi.

A local band and a choir sang songs praising Madonna as she visited the centre in Namitete, 50 kilometres from Malawi's administrative capital Lilongwe.

She was accompanied by her biological daughter Lourdes and Mercy 'Chifundo' James, who was adopted by Madonna last year from the poor southern African nation.

Yacinta Chapomba, director of the Consol homes orphanage centre which is financed by Madonna, said the villagers view the pop diva as their mother for constructing the centre which is complete with a 2 000 capacity hall.

"We are grateful to you for your kind gesture," she told Madonna. "The people of this area take you as their mother."

Some 8 000 orphans and vulnerable children come to the centre to learn, get fed and clothed. Some old men and women also come here to eat lunch.

Madonna's charity Raising Malawi benefits some 25 000 orphans throughout Malawi, where there are over a million orphans due to parents dying of Aids.

"I am happy my small contribution has lifted the lives of many," Madonna told the cheering villagers.

"It pains me as a mother to see children suffering because they can't get food or clothes. I want to use what I have to make the world a better place where everyone will enjoy life."

She said she would visit Malawi, calling it "my second home, " twice a year.

Madonna first visited Malawi in 2006 to controversially adopt David Banda, who is now four. She adopted her second Malawian child Mercy, also four, last year.

Madonna, who arrived on Monday to lay the first brick for a $15m academy she is building in Malawi, was expected to leave on Friday.