Madonna was expected to spend Wednesday resting in the capital, Lilongwe. She was to travel Thursday to Mphandula, a village about 30 miles from the capital, where she wants to set up an education and feeding center for children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world, trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of hunger and disease. HIV/AIDS infects just over 14 percent of the 12 million population — most of them economically active adults — and has left an estimated 1 million children orphaned.
In villages like Mphandula, many orphaned children are cared for either by siblings or grandparents, who struggle to find food for the extended family. There is no electricity in the village and the inhabitants live in mud and thatched huts.Televisions are nonexistent and radios are rare, meaning that most of the villagers have never even heard Madonna sing.
Madonna unveiled her plans for Malawi in an interview in August with Time magazine. She said she wants to raise at least $3 million for programs to support AIDS orphans.Madonna joins a growing list of entertainer-activists who have focused on Africa. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, whose child was born in Namibia earlier this year, recently announced they would donate $1 million each to two humanitarian organizations active on the continent. Actor and director George Clooney has campaigned passionately for the victims of the violence in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Madonna has teamed up with developing-world economic expert Jeffrey Sachs on programs in Malawi, and she's met with former U.S. President Bill Clinton about bringing low-cost medicines to the country.Sachs has launched a series of comprehensive projects to transform villages in Africa, and Clinton last month announced a campaign against rural poverty in Malawi that will focus in part on combatting AIDS.