Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Saturday, 15 November 2008

Madonna backs Malawi school drive

Madonna and family
Madonna brought David Banda to the UK in 2006

Pop star Madonna is urging her fans to dig deep to raise money to build a girls' school in Malawi, the home country of her adopted son David.

The singer posted a message on her website saying the project was "very near and dear to my heart".

She said she felt it was her mission to help "impoverished girls to reach their full potential".

Madonna and her estranged husband, Guy Ritchie, adopted three-year-old David in 2006.

The adoption was made official in May 2008, just months before Madonna and Ritchie announced the end of their marriage after nearly eight years.

Speaking of the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls appeal, Madonna said: "There are very few girls in Africa in general who are encouraged or allowed to go to secondary school.

"So after spending a lot of time there I realised that one of the ways I could help was to build a girls' school."

She added: "Every donation counts towards helping impoverished girls to reach their full potential."

More than half of the population of Malawi lives below the poverty line, and extreme weather - from drought to floods - puts its food supplies under constant threat.

There is also a high rate of HIV and Aids infection among the 13.9 million-strong population.

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