Madonna Visits Malawi With David, Visits Village With Lourdes

Madonna flew to Malawi on a silver jet Monday to continue her charity work in the impoverished southern African country, bringing along the Malawian boy she is in the process of adopting.

The 48-year-old pop star, wearing a baseball cap, carried a small boy down the steps of the jet, and a child's seat was fixed into a waiting sport utility vehicle. Her three-vehicle motorcade then drove off at top speed to a luxury lodge, followed by journalists.

Madonna visited Malawi last fall to pick up 1-year-old David Banda, who was in an orphanage after the death of his mother. That visit set off a controversy over concerns that regulations were being swept aside to benefit a pop star who has been generous to the country.

Madonna and her 38-year-old filmmaker-husband, Guy Ritchie, were granted an interim court order Oct. 12 allowing them to take initial custody of David. Under Malawi regulations, prospective parents must undergo an 18- to 24-month assessment period, but Madonna was allowed to take the boy to her London home soon after the court order.

Malawian child welfare officials are expected to file a report on the suitability of the couple as adoptive parents after two trips to their London residence in May and December. Madonna says she has followed the law.

After a rest in Lilongwe, Madonna toured U.N.-backed development projects in the small village of Mtanga, where farmers are being helped to grow maize and start fish farming.

The singer, dressed in combat trousers, khaki T-shirt and black boots, was greeted by singing women and children as she inspected the maize crop and storage facilities and stood by the fish pond.

Her 9-year-old daughter, Lourdes, accompanied Madonna on her trip to Mtanga.

Madonna's New York-based publicist Liz Rosenberg said the singer was visiting to continue her work with her Raising Malawi organization and denied speculation of another adoption.

"She is overseeing the building of a children's health care center. She is absolutely not adopting another baby," Rosenberg said in a statement.

There has also been much activity at the Home of Hope orphanage where David was cared for. The road to the village of Mchinji have been graded, new flowers planted and the children have received new uniforms. Three local police officers have been posted at the orphanage.

David's father, Yohane Banda, surrendered his son to the orphanage after his wife died of childbirth complications. The couple's two other sons died in infancy from malaria.

The road to Banda's village on the Zambian border has also been cleared, but it was unclear whether Madonna would visit him.