All Madonna wanted was her own private school for impoverished African girls, just like Oprah has (minus the molesty stuff). What she got is a PR nightmare. Her mismanaged charitable foundation, Raising Malawi, is on the verge of collapse, and $3.8 million designated for the school have all but vanished into thin air.
The problem, it seems, lies in the two people she entrusted with the task. According to a report compiled by the Global Philanthropy Group for her fundraising partners at the Kabbalah Centre (yeah, she's still into Yiddish Scientology), executive director Philippe van den Bossche's "level of mismanagement and lack of oversight was extreme," and school head Anjimile Oponyo's "lack of substantive knowledge of the practical application of educational development" both contributed directly to the project's collapse. (It bears mentioning that Tracy Anderson—Madonna's celebrity trainer and financial kryptonite in her own right—is van den Bossche's live-in girlfriend.)
So what happened to the $3.8 million, much of which was donated at swanky Hollywood fundraisers by the likes of Tom Cruise and Gwyneth Paltrow?
Apparently much of it went to architect and design fees—you think Madonna would put her name on a Malawian girls' school that looked less than Richard Meier fierce? Then there were the staff salaries—gotta get the staff paid whether or not children are actually, you know, learning—plus expenditures for Oponyo's golf club membership, car and driver.
Both cited strict confidentiality agreements when approached by the New York Times for comment. But Madonna, who adopted two children from Malawi, released this statement:
There's a real education crisis in Malawi. Sixty-seven percent of girls don't go to secondary school, and this is simply unacceptable. Our team is going to work hard to address this in every way we can...While I'm proud of these accomplishments, I'm frustrated that our education work has not moved forward in a faster way.
Fine, Madonna. You're richer than god. You got four minutes to save the school.