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In Focus: Madonna’s Plan to Build 10 Schools in Malawi Leaves Officials Skeptical

Madonna with her adopted Malawian child Mercy James during a visit to Malawi in April 2010.

 This post is written by GWR Editorial writer MaryBeth Bognar.

Pop Icon Madonna plans to build 10 Schools with the help of buildOn and her charity, Raising Malawi. She is mother of two children adopted from Malawi. However, because she abandoned a plan to build a school for girls before, her newest idea is leaving the government of Malawi skeptical and angry. Malawi’s National Secretary for Education, Science and Technology, John Bisika, was quoted in The Guardian on the subject:

 ”We have had no written or verbal communication. We just read about it in the papers. I don’t understand how she can work like that. For someone to go to the papers and say, ‘I’m building schools’, without telling the government, I find it a strange way of working.”

He added: “When will she build these schools? How will we know where these schools are needed? We need to do this in a co-ordinated manner. I wouldn’t just go to the UK and start building schools.

“We need to be approached and work out where the schools are needed, based on school mapping. If she doesn’t come through us, it will not happen. We can’t just see people building schools. Let’s do it properly.”

The concern of Bisika and other Malawi officials was confronted by a spokesperson of Madonna saying:

 ”It is with great pleasure that I write to you today to inform you of Madonna’s ongoing commitment to the children of Malawi and Raising Malawi’s plans to partner with the organisation buildOn to construct 10 new schools in the district of Kasungu.”

It adds: “As we pursue this community-based approach to school construction, Raising Malawi would like to graciously return the land in Chinkhota granted to us by the government for the original Raising Malawi Academy for Girls project.”

Due to the broken trust from the last school being abandoned, activists remain suspicious. The land that was cleared for her last school plan remains vacant today. The fact that an explanation was never given for why Madonna did not follow through on the first school makes it hard for Malawi to believe in another one. 

Photo Credit:  Mike Hutchings/Reuters from The Guardian


Twitterverse Thursday: New York Fashion Week & #SMWNY Edition

Good thing NYC is the city that never sleeps! This past week was a busy one as New York Fashion Week and Social Media Week were kicked into high-gear. Here’s our round up of tweets from NYFW & SMWNY events all over the city:

‘Social Butterfly’ Kate Spade gives Thanks

During Fashion Week, the Fashion 2.0 Awards honored the most digitally savvy fashion brands. We were happy to see some of our favorite social media loving brands, like Kate Spade and DKNY, were recognized for their creative use of technology in the fashion world!

 DJ Kalkutta Spins Tunes For Betsey Johnson

DJ Kalkutta (who spun tunes for GWR2010, and She’s the First’s 1st and 2nd birthday events) rocked the runway and backstage party for Betsey Johnson. Kalkutta sure knows how to spin those beats, we hope Betsey had her dancing shoes on.

DKNY PR Girl Had The Best Of Both Worlds

Aliza Licht, SVP, Global Communications went from runway shows to Social Media Week’s Arts & Culture Hub at Hearst Magazine for The New Ghostwriter, where she discussed representing the Donna Karan brand on social media as the DKNY PR GIRL. She offered invaluable insights for social media users, most important of all, she left the audience with this crucial takeaway: “every person should think of themselves as their own brand.”

The 54th GRAMMYs = A Social Media Success!

Beverly Jackson, Director of Marketing/Social Media for The GRAMMYs, arrived in NYC, fresh from the biggest night in music, for Reflecting on the 54th GRAMMY Awards, a panel hosted by SoundCtrl. She discussed the Recording Academy’s use of social outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, GetGlue, Spotify and among others. On Twitter, the broadcast resulted in over 3.9 million explicit mentions of The GRAMMYs and peaked at an estimated 65,000+ tweets per second during the airing.

She’s the First Created #SMWMagic

Our non-profit partner She’s the First had the honors of hosting The New Face of Social Good, a panel moderated by Mashable’s Emily Banks. During the event Tammy Tibbetts, She’s the First Founder and President; Adam Braun, Pencils of Promise Founder and Executive Director; Mike Radparvar, Co-Founder of HOLSTEE, and Susan McPherson of Fenton Communications all discussed how social media allowed them to make a difference.

Thanks to The Think Cloud LLC, who donated a dollar for each use of the hashtag #SMWMagic, Ellie’s last year of school at The Kisa Project was sponsored, and taught participants the true power of social media! In adddition, Kudos are in order for She’s the First, out of the 1,000 SMW events going on around the world, this panel was selected as one of Nokia‘s top ten!

If see any tweets that catch your eye about girls education, music, and tech, tweet your interesting twit bits to @girlswhorock and you may see them next week on GWR Twitterverse Thursday!

Our First Twitterverse Thursday: Grammys Edition

GIRLS WHO ROCK is happy to announce the addition of a new weekly column for our blog: Twitterverse Thursday. Each Thursday, our intrepid Digital Engagement Officer Shelley Tibbetts will be covering all of the movers and shakers, fans, and tweeps talking all things music, tech, and girls’ education on twitter. Here is her first piece for the blog! (more…)