Madonna has a long history with Malawi. She has adopted four children from the nation, most recently four-year-old twin girls Stelle and Estere. She also founded the charity Raising Malawi, an organization devoted to helping Malawi’s one million orphans, with a focus on health, education, and community support. The latest venture for Madonna and Raising Malawi is a new state-of-the-art medical facility at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. Although it admitted its first patients on June 29, the facility will have its grand opening today (July 11).
The Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, which was named after Madonna’s daughter, will “double the number of surgeries on children each year and will save lives with critical intensive care services.” In addition to treating children, it will be a training ground for medical professionals, particularly for educating local doctors about pediatric surgery.
A post on the Raising Malawi website says, “In a country with only three pediatric surgeons and 50% of the population under 15 years old, this new facility could make a significant difference in the lives of Malawian children.”
For those children who need to spend extended time in the hospital, there is a playroom and an outdoor play center. There are also murals that Madonna brought artists to the country to create.
Madonna has said, “Malawi has enriched my family more than I could have ever imagined.” It’s important to her that her Malawian children maintain a strong connection to their birth country. She is also committed to helping to improve the lives of as many other Malawian children as possible.
Madonna’s reception by Malawians has been somewhat mixed over the years, with some questioning her motivations and intentions in the country. Despite some hostility from certain government officials in the past, it’s impossible to deny that Madonna’s charity has had an incredibly positive effect on the impoverished country.
To help raise money for the Mercy James Institute, Madonna and Raising Malawi put on a star-studded party this past December during Art Basel Miami. Madonna’s son David spoke at the event, saying, “I was one of the lucky ones. My mother found medicine for me, and that medicine saved me.” Among the guests were Ariana Grande, Leonardo DiCaprio, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and Madonna’s ex Sean Penn. Malawian surgeon Dr. Eric Borgstein also spoke at the event. Madonna herself then performed for an hour. In total, the event raised more than $7.5 million. That money will be put to good use for sick children in Malawi.