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“one more chance”?

1 February 2012

I thought Madonna Malawi stories were over. Or at least, I thought I’d get a long hiatus from reading about some new scheme Madonna had planned for “helping” Malawi.

To get the unfamiliar up to speed: Madonna had previously tried to fund the building of a girls’ academy in Malawi, but last March it was reported in the international media that her organization, Raising Malawi, had “collapsed” after spending millions of dollars and not one building ever being built in Malawi. Following that, Raising Malawi and Madonna said they were going to shift the strategy to “reach thousands not hundreds of girls.” In the meanwhile, all the Malawians that had been hired for the girls academy would thus be out of work, and some of them even accused of contributing to the poor management of project funds.

Her Raising Malawi charity issued a press release two days ago that the organization was going to build 10 schools in Malawi. From the press release:

“This remains a very big priority in my life and 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,” said Madonna. Raising Malawi, Madonna’s charity, previously ran into various difficulties in their original effort to build a girls academy. “I have learned a great deal over the last few years and feel so much more confident that we can reach out goals to educate children in Malawi, especially young girls, in a much more efficient and practical way. Constructing smaller schools in partnership with buildOn has restored my faith that we can accomplish what we promised we would” concluded Madonna.

Many of the people linking to the story on Twitter point to the article by The Guardian, which is little more than cut-and-paste from the press release and earlier news reporting on Raising Malawi (reporting from Malawi wasn’t much better). Another article — byline Associated Press but I first saw it on the Washington Post — reported Raising Malawi would give $300,000 to build these 10 schools. Let’s do the math… Raising Malawi wasted $3.8 million the last time to build one school (which, despite the headline of this BBC article, was never opened), but now building ten schools will cost more than ten times less? Hmm.

Let’s not forget that the saga of Madonna’s earlier foray into “helping” girls’ education in Malawi is not yet over. Just a few weeks ago, it was reported there was an out-of-court settlement between Madonna and the girls’ academy employees about unfair dismissal and unpaid wages. The payout was supposed to be £96,000, but employees have yet to see any of this payout money, and former Malawian director of the girls academy, Anjimile Oponyo, characterized the payout as “fiction.”

Raising Malawi’s partner at Global Philanthropy Group, Trevor Neilson, was quoted in the AP story, saying:

“When the previous management team had those problems, I think a lot of people thought Madonna would give up.”

I had hoped. *sigh*

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The title of this blog post refers to a not-very-famous song.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 8 February 2012 2:58 pm

    I gave Madonna the benefit of doubt when she started her Malawi projects, but i am now not convinced…

    I found the covering of the her latest trysts in Malawi very flat. She has not yet explained what happened to the $15 or so millions she raised previously for the girls academy.

    I also now dont find it coincidental that he press release on the 10 schools she says she wants to build comes just before her appearing at super bowl, her upcoming album/movie release etc.

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  1. Madonna, Malawi, and manners | haba na haba

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