Fans cheers as US pop icon Madonna performs on stage during her first ever concert in the Gulf as part of her MDNA world tour at Abu Dhabi's Yas Island Stadium on June 3, 2012. An estimated 25,000 fans cheered and screamed as the Material Girl finally appeared on stage more than two hours late, wearing a skin-tight black outfit from her "Girl Gone Wild" album. — AFP Photo

BLANTYRE: US pop diva Madonna, who is worth $650 million, has launched a new fund-raising drive to support the training of a Malawian paediatric surgeon, her charity announced Sunday, two years after she abandoned a girls academy project in a cloud of alleged mismanagement.

Through her US registered charity Raising Malawi, the 'Queen of Pop' has emailed hordes of her well-wishers and fans, addressing them as Dear Friend, and asking: “Will you consider donating $5 or more to support people like Dr. Erick Borgstein, for many years the only paediatric surgeon in Malawi, who are helping orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi?”Malawi, where 39 percent of the 13 million citizens are poor, has over one million orphans and vulnerable children, and less than 200 doctors, creating huge shortages in the medical system.

The charity said Borgstein “treats thousands of paediatric patients every year, performing hundreds of life-saving operations.”He also trains medical students in general and in paediatric surgery, thanks to the financial support from Raising Malawi.

“He will now formally train a young Malawian doctor to follow in his footsteps as a paediatric surgeon,” the charity added.

Raising Malawi said for the past six years, it has “remained committed to supporting orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi... This would not be possible without the support of people like you, who share in our mission to end the poverty and hardship endured by the country's estimated one million orphans.”Calling itself the Raising Malawi Team, the charity thanked its supporters “for your support...we look forward to sharing future updates with you about the inspirational work of Dr. Borgstein and others.”

It was not clearly how much money Madonna is seeking in this new venture, coming more than a year after her charity controversially cancelled the construction of a state-of-the-art $15 million Raising Malawi Academy for Girls -RMAG- in Chinkhota village, 15 kilometres from the capital Lilongwe.

The academy, meant to offer 500 scholarship to girls from poor backgrounds and train them into doctors and future leaders of the country, was mired in allegations of mismanagement, including excessive spending on offices and cars. An audit had found $3.8 million had been misused.

Madonna, who has adopted two children from Malawi- Mercy James and David Banda - said she had realised the academy would not be enough as two-thirds of Malawian girls are not educated beyond primary school and she wanted to reach “thousands and not hundreds of girls” by constructing several schools.

She said she was focussed on an approach to 10 build schools within communities across the country, that would educate at least 1,000 children a year, half of them girls.

The charity has teamed up with the non-profit group buildOn, which has constructed 54 primary schools in Malawi in the last 19 years.

Updated Jul 22, 2012 12:27pm

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