International popstar Madonna opened Malawi’s first-ever pediatric surgery and intensive care center in the African country on Tuesday. The Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre was funded by Madonna’s charity, Raising Malawi.
In celebration of the opening of the center, the singer was joined by her son Rocco and her children adopted from Malawi, son David, daughter Mercy James – whom the center is named after – and twins Stella and Esther.
In her speech Madonna said the construction of the children’s unit is a reflection of the motherly love she was longing for when she was a child.
“I grew up without a mother, and I spent my childhood longing for one. So, of all my achievements, the opportunity to be a good mother not only to my own children, is the thing that makes me more proud,” she said.
Madonna reminded people to never give up on their dreams.
“There are so many things I never imagined that I will do in my life. I never imagined I would be building a pediatric hospital. I never imagined that I will have six children, four of them Malawians,” said Madonna.
Construction began on the center – which will also serve as a training site for local doctors – in 2015. It includes three operating rooms for children’s surgery, as well as a day clinic and a ward with 45 beds. Madonna said the center has been up and running since the end of June, and the first surgery was completed last week.
Malawi President Peter Mutharika thanked the 58-year-old singer.
“Today she had offered more like a mother to the rest of children. She has given us a center that will provide care for the rest of our children. To Madonna, I say you began adopting four of our children, and I am offering to adopt you as a daughter of this land,” said Mutharika.
Madonna documented much of the day and festivities on social media, calling the opening “a family affair.”