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Madonna visits another orphanage in Malawi amid rumors about adoption



Associated Press

Madonna visited another orphanage in Malawi on Saturday amid persistent rumors that she plans to adopt a boy who lost his parents to AIDS.

It was the pop star's third visit to an orphanage in as many days. She arrived in the impoverished country Wednesday and Malawian government officials have said repeatedly she was planning to adopt a boy there. But Madonna's spokeswoman has denied the rumors.

Madonna and her husband, film director Guy Ritchie, traveled Friday to the small village of Mchinji near the Zambian border where she distributed copies of her book "The English Roses" and listened to children sing.

Alick, a boy of about 12, said it was the second time Madonna had visited the Home of Hope orphanage. Several residents said they heard she was going to adopt a boy named Davie and had been in discussions with the boy's guardians to take him to the U.S. But there was no confirmation of that.

Officials at the church-run home refused to speak to journalists, who were kept away from the brick building by bodyguards. Madonna was whisked away in a convoy of sport utility vehicles after the visit.

Malawi government officials have said they have been informed Madonna plans to adopt a boy in the country. But they say she has not yet filed any papers yet.

Madonna's spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg, has denied the rumors, saying the visit to Malawi is motivated by humanitarian aims to set up orphanages.

Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world, with rampant disease and hunger, aggravated by periodic droughts and crop failure. Just over 14 percent of the 12 million population are infected with HIV, and an estimated 1 million children have been orphaned. In many villages, grandparents or older siblings struggle to feed orphans.

Madonna's visit has been shrouded in secrecy and she failed to show up for a scheduled meeting Friday with a top government minister, apparently because she was tied up visiting another orphanage.

Security officials indicated she was planning on staying for a while.

"We are not leaving soon," said Madonna's chief bodyguard, who gave his name only as Steve. "We are here for a while."

Madonna and her entourage have taken over a posh guesthouse called Kumbali Lodge, situated on a cattle and horse ranch in a well-to-do part of the capital, Lilongwe. It is near the presidential palace -- and not far away from poor settlements of mud huts, which are home to the vast majority of Malawi's population.

Madonna was seen jogging around the lodge early Saturday before traveling to meet representatives of a local charity that is working with Madonna's own organization, Raising Malawi.

The project aims to set up an orphan care center to provide food, education and shelter for up to 4,000 children. It will have projects based on Kabbalah, Judaism's mystical sect, which counts the 48-year-old singer among its devotees.

Madonna and Ritchie have a son, Rocco, 5, and the singer also has a daughter, Lourdes, 9.

2006 Oct 7