Madonna Welcomed in Malawi as 'Daughter of This Nation' at Opening of Hospital Children's Wing

Madonna attends the opening ceremony of the Mercy James Children's Hospital at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi on July 11, 2017.
AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP/Getty Images

Madonna attends the opening ceremony of the Mercy James Children's Hospital at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi on July 11, 2017.

Madonna was welcomed in Malawi on Tuesday (July 11) for the official opening of a hospital children's wing funded by her charity and named after one of the four children the pop star has adopted from the impoverished southern African nation.

"You started by adopting four Malawian children, now we are adopting you as the daughter of this nation," President Peter Mutharika declared at the ceremony.

"There are so many things I never imagined I will do. I never imagined one day I will build this kind of a hospital," said Madonna, who explained that she grew up without a mother and wanted to give the best to Malawian children.

"Never give up on your dreams," she added.

The Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, located at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in the city of Blantyre, was built in collaboration with Malawi's health ministry. It has already started some activities, and Madonna said last week that the institute had completed its first surgery.

The four children she adopted from Malawi are David Banda, Mercy James, Stelle and Estere. The children's wing was named after 11-year-old Mercy.

Madonna's charity, Raising Malawi, was founded in 2006 to address the poverty and hardship endured by the country's orphans and other vulnerable children. It has built schools and funded the new pediatric unit, which began construction in 2015 and includes three operating rooms dedicated to children's surgery, a day clinic and a 45-bed ward.

Madonna, 58, visited the site last year. The singer has been chronicling her journey all week.

 

 

 

 

Warming up in Dr. B's office before my speech!! ----------------♥?------------@raisingmalawi

A post shared by Madonna (@madonna) on

In extended excerpts from her comments at the opening, People reported that Madonna got emotional when discussing her path to adopting her children, which included legal battles with Malawi's highest court for the right to adopt Mercy James. “I met Mercy soon after I met my son David, but they were living in different orphanages. David was in Mchinji in Home of Hope, and Mercy was here in Blantyre at Kondanani," she said. "Mercy was suffering from malaria, and David from pneumonia. And when I held each of them in my arms, I whispered in their ears, that I would look after them. And I promised them that they would grow up into strong and healthy adults."

Madonna said she was granted permission to adopt David first, and then filed a petition to adopt Mercy a short time later. "But this time, the judge who was presiding said no. I was recently divorced, and she informed me, as a divorced woman, I was not fit to raise children and that Mercy James was better off growing up in an orphanage,” she said. Malawian law requires prospective adoptive parents to live in the country for one year before adopting, which Madonna had not done. As Madonna was in the process of divorcing her second husband, Guy Ritchie, Mercy was put into the Children's Village following the death of her teenage birth mother.

“If you know me, you can imagine how I received this information. It’s true, I am a freedom fighter. I am a feminist. I am a rebel heart," she said. "But I am also a compassionate and intelligent human being. And if you cannot give me a logical reason for the word ‘no,’ then I will not accept the word ‘no.’ I hired a team of lawyers, and I took my case to the supreme court, and it was not an easy battle." Noting that the adoption laws in Malawi had not been changed since the 1940s, Madonna said she argued that women have been raising children for "centuries on their own," noting that she was doing just fine raising her own three children.

"When you look into the eyes of children in need, wherever they may be, a human being wants to do anything and everything they can to help, and on my first visit to Malawi, I made a commitment that I would do just that," Madonna said in a statement to The Associated Press last week about her work to open the hospital wing.

 

 

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