Pop star Madonna, whose plans to adopt Malawian toddler David Banda last autumn sparked an international controversy, was expected to fly back to the African country today.
The orphanages and care centres she is involved with have been freshly painted and spruced up, while security around the exclusive lodge where the star stayed last year has been tightened.
Her New York-based publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said the star was going to Africa to continue her work with the Raising Malawi organisation, which supports the country’s many Aids orphans.
Sources at Kumbali Lodge in Lilongwe, where Madonna and her entourage stayed in October, said her security team have arrived.
Madonna, 48, and her British filmmaker husband Guy Ritchie were granted an interim court order on October 12 allowing them to take initial custody of then 14-month-old David.
Malawian child welfare officials are expected to file a report on the suitability of the Ritchies as adoptive parents after two trips to their London residence in May and December.
Rumours that Madonna was to adopt another child have been strongly denied.
“She is overseeing the building of a children’s healthcare centre. She is absolutely not adopting another baby,” said Rosenberg in a statement.
Yacinta Chapomba, a director of local aid group Consol Homes, which has been involved with Madonna’s organisation in the building of a children’s care centre, said an official opening ceremony would be held there today.
She could not confirm whether the star would attend.
The centre in the impoverished village of Mphandula, 30 miles outside the capital Lilongwe, will initially house 400 children who lost their parents to Aids.
Madonna’s last visit was shrouded in secrecy, and the star made no comment to reporters but was seen singing and dancing with children at orphanages.