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Stephen Lewis knocks Madonna's foreign policy

Madonna quietens adopted Malawian child Mercy James during a visit to Gumulira village, about 80 km from the Malawian capital of Lilongwe, during an April 2010 visit to the country.

Reuters

The philanthropist/humanitarian Stephen Lewis blasted Madonna Thursday, saying the pop star and other celebrities should stay out of development work because "they don't know enough about it."

The former United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa made the comment during a radio interview in response to recent controversy over Madonna's cancelled plans to build a $15-million all-girls school in Malawi.

"I think fundamentally that celebrities should stay out of development," he said. "They don't know how it works. They should leave it to the organizations who have some knowledge of both working with government and with communities on the ground."

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Lewis conceded the singer likely "did [the project]with good faith initially" but added he was "uncomfortable about the way they turned the so-called academy into the hands of people who are obviously incompetent or greedy or untrustworthy."

Madonna bailed on the school project after the Global Philanthropy Group pointed out $3.8-million (US) had been spent on "outlandish expenses" while no ground had yet been broken in Lilongwe.

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