The Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care at the Queen Central Hospital was funded by Madonna's charity, Raising Malawi

By Lindsay Kimble
July 11, 2017 04:15 PM
Credit: Thoko Chikondi/AP

Madonna and her children helped opened Malawi’s first-ever pediatric surgery and intensive care center in the African country on Tuesday, a long labor of love for the charitable singer.

The Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care at the Queen Central Hospital was funded by Madonna’s charity, Raising Malawi, which she founded in 2006 – the same year she adopted son David Banda, now 11, from the country.

Madonna, 58, was joined for the celebratory opening by David, as well as son Rocco, 16, daughter Mercy James, 11 – whom the center is named for – and twins Stella and Esther, 4½. Four of Madonna’s six children that were present were adopted from the country: David Banda and Mercy James in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and the twins just earlier this year. During the ceremony, David Banda performed with dancers from the Jacaranda School for Orphans, while Mercy James gave a speech, calling her mom “the bomb” — and then dabbed at the end.

From left: Madonna, son David and daughter Stella
| Credit: Thoko Chikondi/AP
From left: Madonna with her daughter Esther, son David and daughter Mercy
| Credit: Thoko Chikondi/AP

“There are so many things I never imagined I will do. I never imagined one day I will build this kind of a hospital,” Madonna said on Tuesday. She added, “Never give up on your dreams.”

Construction began on the center – which will also serve as a training site for local doctors – in 2015. It includes three operating rooms for children’s surgery, as well as a day clinic and a ward with 45 beds. Madonna said the center has been up and running since the end of June, and the first surgery was completed last week.

From left: Madonna, daughter Esther and son David Banda
| Credit: Thoko Chikondi/AP

In a statement ahead of the opening, Madonna said, “When you look into the eyes of children in need, wherever they may be, a human being wants to do anything and everything they can to help, and on my first visit to Malawi, I made a commitment that I would do just that.”

“As we approach the opening of the Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, I’d like to thank everyone who has joined me on this unbelievable journey,” she continued. “What started out as a dream for Malawi and her children has become a reality, and we couldn’t have done it without your support.”

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She added that it remains “important” for her to ensure her children “maintain a strong connection to their birth nation.”

“And equally important to show them that together, humans have the power to change the world for the better,” she concluded.

Madonna has been documenting much of the day and festivities on social media, calling the opening “a family affair” – although her oldest child, daughter Lourdes, 20, was not present.

Through Raising Malawi, Madonna has opened schools and classrooms and worked to fight against poverty amongst the nation’s orphaned children for more than a decade.