Statement from Madonna

Madonna, whose Raising Malawi charity has made substantial inroads helping over a million children orphaned from the AIDS epidemic in that African nation, is stepping up the pace considerably on all fronts — especially in regard to her plans for building the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls.

Madonna issued the following statement:

I remain deeply committed and am more passionate than ever about helping the children of Malawi — especially the girls. In a country where only 33% of Malawian girls attend secondary school, I realize that the plans we had in place for the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls simply would not serve enough children. My original vision is now on a much bigger scale. I want to reach thousands not hundreds of girls. I want to do more and I want to do it better. While I am grateful to all the people who have given me guidance and support up until now, we are in the process of implementing several changes and additions to the management of Raising Malawi in both the US and Malawi. I am also working with Trevor Neilson and his team at Global Philanthropy Group to shift the strategies that we had in place so that we can accomplish our goals with more efficiency as we continue to consult with our government partners in Malawi. This is a larger challenge than I thought, but I welcome it. We are focused on an approach, which builds schools within communities across the country. We are currently determining the size, location, staffing and curriculum of the schools. I will continue to monitor the process of reaching these goals here and through my ongoing visits to Malawi.

Neilson, whose company Global Philanthropy Group advises some of the world's leading philanthropists, was positive about the shift in strategy. "Raising Malawi's new community-based approach will provide the opportunity for many more girls to receive a quality education. We are focused on ensuring the most efficient implementation of this new strategy in collaboration with Raising Malawi's partners on the ground." Neilson also noted the many achievements of Raising Malawi including the construction of a model orphan care center in partnership with Malawi's largest community-based organization as well as assistance to thousands of HIV+ children and caregivers through life saving medical treatments and daily nutritious meals and nutrition supplements. Additional programming has also provided thousands of children and caregivers in the south of the country with access to clean water through the implementation of piped safe water and the construction of new boreholes.