Mummy's girls: Madonna, Lourdes and Mercy bond on trip to Malawi homeland

Mothers and daughters don't come much closer than this. The genuine affection between Madonna and her two girls Lourdes, 13, and four-year-old Mercy was clear this week as the trio visited Mercy's Malawi homeland.

There were plenty of kisses and cuddles as the three attended a bricklaying ceremony to mark the start of construction of the Material Girl's $15 million Raising Malawi Academy for Girls near Lilongwe.

After getting a peck on the cheek from Lourdes, the 51-year-old singer scooped Mercy up on to her lap for a cuddle. The little girl has clearly developed an affection for all things pink, judging by her accessories – a cute beanie hat and rose tinted aviator shades.

Lourdes has seemingly effortlessly settled into the role of big sister, which, naturally comes with an obligation for some playful teasing. Madonna's daughter with trainer Carlos Leon at one point plonked her Panama hat on Mercy's head, before shifting it forward to cover her face.

Both the girls applauded loudly as their mum laid the first brick for the school. In a speech she told prospective pupils: "For me, education is everything."

The queen of pop and her family are on a week long tour of Malawi. During their time in the African country they are expected to visit the biological families of both Mercy and her brother David.

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