The tables turned for Madonna as she was serenaded by schoolchildren on a trip to Malawi on Tuesday. The 54-year-old spent the day visiting the school blocks at Mkoko Primary School which her foundation had helped to build in the country where she adopted her two youngest children.
The popstar was accompanied by her four children Lourdes Leon, from her relationship with trainer Carlos Leon, Rocco Ritchie, her and Guy Ritchie's son and her two adoptive children David Banda, seven, and Mercy James, who is eight. Hundreds of excited villagers and schoolchildren greeted them with praise songs and traditional dances. The singer responded by saying "zikomo" (thank you) to those who had gathered to see her. Mkoko is one of the schools that Madonna's Raising Malawi organisation has built in partnership with American organisation BuildOn. The singer is due to return to the Home of Hope orphanage where she adopted her first Malawi child David on Wednesday. The Material Girl's private jet landed in the country's capital Lilongwe early on Monday.
Staff at her favourite luxury lodge hotel, Kumbali Lodge, said the residence had been prepared for a special visit. "All the guests who had checked into the lodge were asked to check out on Thursday and we are not checking in any new guests now," an insider said. During her stay, Madonna intends to tour the ten school blocks she has funded around the country, starting with Nkoko Primary School in Kasungu.
Each school block was built in a village that was selected due to having no adequate school structure. Prior to buildOn and Raising Malawi's involvement, children in these villages attended classes in either a temporary structure or outside under a tree. It is the first time in two years that Madonna has returned to Malawi. The singer vowed to go back "every two or three years" so her adopted children could feel connected to their roots and visit relatives in their homeland. Mercy's uncle Peter Baneti said, "No one told me anything about Madonna's visit. I hope she has brought Mercy, we desperately want to be reunited with her." Madonna adopted David in 2006. Three years later, she won custody of her daughter Mercy, who is from the eastern district of Zomba, after an initial ruling blocking the adoption was overturned in court. Madonna is said to be the single largest international philanthropist Malawi has ever had. Madonna will sell a Fernand Legér Cubist painting to help raise money for girls' education projects in countries including Afghanistan and Pakistan, the auction house Sotheby's has announced. Bidding will take place in New York on 7 May with an estimate of $5m-$7m and all proceeds are to benefit the Ray of Light Foundation. Malawi is a small landlocked country that is home to more than one million adults and children living with HIV.