New information has emerged about how Madonna’s handlers covered-up how the Kabbalah International Center used poor Malawian children as a fundraising tool, mismanaged their funds and shifted blame on the managers of the failed school project
Phillippe Van Den Bossche was Executive Director of Raising Malawi, Madonna’s charity and Dr Anjimile Oponyo was the head of the planned Academy for Girls. They both wereaccused of malfeasance in a report done by Trevor Neilson’s Global Philanthropy Group
But as I find out, it was all lies perpetrated by Neilson’s report to shift blame to helpless Malawians and distance Madonna and the Kabbalah Centre from the Malawi blow-up.
Neilson is a powerful PR consultant who has worked with political leaders like President Bill Clinton and billionaires namely; Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson among others. He has extensive experience in addressing global and domestic challenges ranging from disease to poverty in Africa.
This is the reason Madonna hired him to use his enormous experience and do a Public Relations facelift after she failed to build the $15 million girls’ academy she had promised Malawian girls, who want better free schools that successive corrupt governments have failed to offer.
Chimwemwe Lusungu was one of the first beneficiaries of Malawi’s much-touted economic miracle, a large-scale national programme which subsidises agriculture inputs, mainly fertilisers and seed for maize production.
Within five years, her maize yields doubled and her life changed: she had enough to feed her six children and surplus to sell. But now the 45-year-old widow from Lilongwe has neither maize to feed her family nor cash to buy food or pay other vital expenses such as school fees.
“I was struck out from the list of beneficiaries because I was told that government didn’t buy enough fertiliser to distribute to everyone as per usual,” she said when asked why she could not get fertiliser last year.
Lusungu blames her situation on “Cashgate”—a corruption scandal in which senior public officers, bankers and businessmen allegedly siphoned an estimated 6.1 billion kwacha ($15.5m) from government coffers, according to Baker Tilly, the British audit firm hired by former President Joyce Banda to investigate the stealing of public funds.
Madonna’s decision to entrust the California based Kabbalah International Center with funds to build the $15 million girls’ academy in Malawi, may have been the reason why the school project flopped in the southern African nation.
The Kabbalah Centre has been controlled by the Berg family for more than 40 years and has grown into an international organization that has attracted celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Gwyneth Paltrow and may have assets of $260 million, say US media
In April 2011, a Newsweek investigation exposed the lavish lifestyles of the Berg family and linked the Kabbalah International Center to schemes that defrauded people and businesses out of great sums of monies.