U.S. pop singer Madonna was in Malawi Tuesday to launch a state-of-the art pediatric center built by her Raising Malawi charity.
The Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care at the Queen Central Hospital in Malawi’s second-largest city of Blantyre is the first facility of its kind built in the country.
The facility is named after Mercy James, one Madonna’s adopted daughters, according to Reuters.
At the hospital’s official opening, Madonna said, “The Mercy James Center remains not only a world-class intensive care hospital, but also a superior learning environment to train the next generation of Malawian healthcare workers. This is as much about healing as it is about empowerment.”
Madonna has four adopted children from Malawi. The youngest of them, twins Esther and Stella Mwale, were adopted earlier this year while the eldest of them, David Banda, was adopted in 2006.
The adoption of Mercy James in 2009 was, however, marked with legal controversy amid protests in some quarters that the singer had flouted local laws banning non-residents from adopting.
“It was not an easy battle. The judge refused me because I was recently divorced. We hired lawyers, went to the Supreme Court, but I never gave up, I never backed down.
“I fought for Mercy and won. We fought for this hospital and won. Love conquers all,” Madonna, 58, said as she recalled the legal battle to adopt her daughter.
Speaking at the occasion, Mercy James described her mother as “the bomb,” saying, “It is a great honor to know this hospital is named after me.
“But what’s more important is that we may help many kids and save many lives,” the 11-year-old added.
Also in attendance at the hospital’s launch was Malawian First Lady Gertrude Mutharika who described Madonna as “a symbol of a motherly spirit.”
According to Raising Malawi, the charity was established in 2006 by Madonna to provide access to health and education, particularly for girls. So far, the charity has built about 10 schools in Malawi.