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Madonna may have been better off sponsoring

18 October 2006

Madonna may have been better off sponsoring a child

The New Zealand arm of international aid agency ChildFund says Madonna could do more for the on-going health and well being of children by committing to child sponsorship.

Madonna and her husband have recently taken a 13 month old boy from Malawi to the United Kingdom for adoption, in what some believe are controversial circumstances.

Madonna has responded to criticism through an open letter where she defends her actions by saying that when she learned there were more than a million orphans in Malawi it was her wish to open up her home to help one child escape an extreme life of hardship, poverty and in many cases death, as well as to extend her and her husband's family.

The National Director of ChildFund New Zealand, Paul Brown, says, "Madonna is at least doing something about the problem and her actions are well intentioned, however she has also caused a young boy to be removed from his family, culture, community and heritage - the long term impact of this needs to be taken into consideration."

Mr Brown says, "Madonna has helped a single child but there are still millions more children in Malawi in need of food, clothing, shelter and education. Madonna's $3 million donation through the Raising Malawi charity goes part way to starting this process however her donation is also allegedly tied to the teaching of Kabbalah, a religion not practiced in Malawi. This is of major concern to ChildFund New Zealand. Most Malawians are Christian, and it's our preference that no aid and development donations ever be tied to the teaching of religion."

"Madonna through ChildFund would be joining tens of thousands of New Zealanders who commit to sponsoring children regardless of their creed, race of gender. Through a small monthly donation, less than the cost of a cup of coffee each day, her money would be making a big difference to children in need on an on-going basis, while at the same time enabling them to remain within their own communities and culture."

"It's not too late. We invite Madonna to visit our website at www.childfund.org.nz to learn more about the real benefits that child sponsorship brings to children in need and their wider communities, and to sponsor a child today."

ChildFund New Zealand's view on Madonna's Donation and Adoption:

1. We commend Madonna's donation of $3 million to help the children of Malawi through the Raising Malawi charity.

2. ChildFund New Zealand however is very concerned that the money is tied to the teaching of religion (Kabbalah is not a religion normally celebrated by the people of Malawi. Malawi is 80% Christian and 12.8% Muslim).

3. ChildFund believes it is far healthier for children to grow up in their own culture, with their own family/extended family, history, cultural identity and language. Adoption of children by celebrities means that they are removed from this environment and the long term impact of this situation needs to be considered.

4. By sponsoring a child, Madonna and other celebrities could ensure that a child receives all the benefits of adoption but also remains within their own community. A sponsored child receives healthcare, education, food and water, and a promising future.

5. 1.1 billion people live in extreme poverty. It is a well known fact that where there is poverty it is often children who suffer the most. Poverty leaves children vulnerable to hunger, malnutrition, exploitation, and preventable diseases that most New Zealanders would not consider life threatening (such as diarrhea and respiratory infections). Every single day 30,000 children die because there were born into poverty; that is 10 million children a year, one child every three seconds - this is a critical problem. With the support of child sponsors ChildFund is working hard to change this terrible statistic, making a lifesaving difference to millions of children. ChildFund implores Madonna to instead sponsor a child.

About ChildFund New Zealand

ChildFund New Zealand is an international child development organisation which works in 54 countries, assisting 11.4 million children and family members regardless of race, creed or gender. ChildFund ahs worked in international aid and development for over 68 years.

ChildFund New Zealand, a member of ChildFund International, works for the well-being of children by supporting locally-led initiatives that strengthen families and communities, helping them overcome poverty and protect the rights of their children.

ChildFund's comprehensive programs incorporate health, education, nutrition and livelihood interventions that sustainably protect, nurture and develop children. ChildFund works in any environment where poverty, conflict and disaster threaten the well-being of children.

ENDS

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