Madonna is taking a cue from Angelina Jolie and Bono and launching an effort to bring aid to Africa.
In the issue of Time that hits newsstands on August 7, Madonna spoke out about why she is committed to raising $3 million to fund programs that will help orphans in Malawi, a nation in Southeastern Africa that is plagued by AIDS, malaria and drought.
“Now that I have children and now that I have what I consider to be a better perspective on life, I have felt responsible for the children of the world,” she said.
Madonna has formed a partnership with developing-world economic expert Jeffrey Sachs (who has worked with Jolie and Bono) to improve orphan healthcare. She has also committed to financing a $1 million documentary on the children’s crisis in Malawi. One of her first projects is an orphan-care center that will help feed and educate as many as 1,000 children per day and offer programs based on Spirituality for Kids, Kabbalah’s children’s program (Michael Berg, founder of Los Angeles’ Kabbalah Center, is co-founding Madonna’s Raising Malawi initiative).
“One of the main precepts of Kabbalah is that we’re put on this earth to help people,” said Madonna. “And your job is to figure out how you can help, and what it is that you can do.”
Madonna has been concerned with bringing attention to the problems that afflict Africa for some time. On her Confessions Tour, she performs the song “Live to Tell” while a ticker projected on the screens behind her runs up from zero to 12 million, the number of children left orphaned by AIDS in Africa. Last July, she performed in London as part of the Live 8 concert organized to pressure world leaders to help end poverty in Africa (see “Jay-Z, U2, Madonna, Pink Floyd Deliver Live 8 Highlights” ).
“I’ve been doing bits and bobs about it and I suppose I was looking for a big, big project I could sink my teeth into,” Madonna said.
The singer, who has never been to Africa, is currently on the European leg of her Confessions tour but plans to visit Malawi in October. She also said she has met with former President Bill Clinton to discuss forging relationships with aid groups and bringing the nation affordable medication.
Madonna contacted Sachs after reading his book, “The End of Poverty.” Sachs said, after meeting the 47-year-old mother of two and attending his first-ever Madonna concert, he was impressed by what she had to say. “Of course there are no doubt people who, on a fling, say something, but that’s not what Madonna’s doing, it’s not what Angelina’s doing, it’s not what Bono’s doing,” Sachs told Time.
“In the very noisy and complicated world that we have, people that reach large numbers of people, like Madonna does, have an extraordinarily important role to play,” he continued. “When they’re devoting their time, their money, their name, a lot of effort, a lot of organizational skill to all of this, it makes a huge difference. The cynics are just wrong. They don’t get it.”