Madonna says poverty in Malawi “pains” her.
The comments came during a visit to the birth country of the pop singer’s two adopted children.
“As a mother, it pains me to see women having no access to potable water and good education,” Madonna said after visiting a poverty alleviation project in the Mchinji district, where she controversially adopted David Banda in 2006.
Toddler Chifundo “Mercy” James, adopted last year, and Madonna’s biological daughter Lourdes accompanied her to visit the Millennium Village site where she will lay the first bricks of a girls academy she is funding.
Construction of the academy has been delayed over a dispute between Madonna’s charity and about 200 villagers who claimed they were not adequately compensated for land used to build the school.
Each villager was paid $US500,000 ($545,000) in compensation by Madonna’s charity, Raising Malawi.
The government has had to forcibly removed the villagers.
Today Madonna and her family were given a hero’s welcome, with villagers staging traditional dances and displays.
Madonna said she would “ask friends and fans around the world to join us in making the difference” in Malawi.
Malawi is one of the world’s poorest nations, with more than half of the population of 13 million living on less than $US1 a day.