Madonna orphanage: Kondanani accused of shielding a man facing child rape charges


Kondanani Children’s Village is said to have shielded Ryan Lill, a white man accused of raping children at the orphanage. Kondani is an orphanage located at Bvumbwe where Madonna adopted her second child from Malawi, Chifundo Mercy James.

The Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) has detailed how Ryan Lill (spelt Ryan Lilli in court documents) sexually abused girls at the orphanage.

Two girls who spoke to PIJ say the pastor abused coerced and threatened them. The girls who were infants and below the age of consent when they arrived at the orphanage, were groomed by the pastor to be his sexual pets.

One of the girls revealed that the Christian pastor infected her with sexually transmitted diseases after he had repeatedly raped and defiled her.

The victim said when the sexual abuse was revealed, the founder of the orphanage Annie Chikhwaza sided with the white person.

As their defiler had threatened them, the victims who the orphanage should have protected were expelled from Kondanani without being heard.

“I felt betrayed by how she [Kondanani founder and director Annie Chikhwaza] treated me. She chose to protect the rapist over her own daughter. I felt worthless, like a vessel that the orphanage just used to bring in money”, one victim told the publisher.

Kondanani’s founder and director, Annie Chikwaza, is a white person and a pastor, like the Lilli who used his position to manipulate the children for his sexual gratification.

In addition to shielding the rapist, Kondanani is said to have expelled the victims to help the white pastor’s wife.

“She only cares about the money that we [the orphans] bring other orphanage. I went to Kondanani as a child and found a mother. However, that person I regarded as a mother threw me to the wolves. She betrayed me. She was more interested in Ryan’s wife’s healing, so they had to send me away. She expelled me without even hearing my side of the story. She just shut me out,” she said.

Two other boys aged between 20 and 22 also alleged that they suffered discrimination at Kondanani before they left.

The orphanage has also been accused of racism.

“Some incidents that involved us black orphans and the white missionaries, we would see that this is not actually right and then if we tried to raise our concerns, you ended up being penalised. So, we ended up being silent. They treat us like that because we are black, and they are white,” one of them narrated.

The orphanage has hit back at PIJ for what orphanage claims to be inaccurate information.

In one statement, it has been observed that the organisation makes an attempt to highlight that the victims are now women aged 22 and 23 respectively while disregarding the fact that the alleged abuse happened when they were just children.

“It has come to my attention that one of our volunteer leaders at Kondanani has been accused of indecent assault. This person was arrested on Thursday 4th November 2021 and is on bail pending a court case. The charges relate to inappropriate behaviour with two women aged (22, 23) who have grown up at the orphanage”, said Annie Chikhwaza, Founder and Executive Director of Kondanani.

A children’s rights activist says the statement is an attempt to claim that the women are above the of age consent. Yet, court documents indicate that the defilement occurred when these young women were children and below the age of consent. Any sexual encounter, penetrative or not, that the two young women were subjected when they were underage non-consensual and must therefore count as an abuse as the Malawi law clearly stipulate”.

On its statement, Kondanani further claims that organisation had “fully investigated what happened and where our safe-guarding policy was broken to ensure this doesn’t happen again”. However, the orphanage has not made public how and where such safeguarding policies were broken.

Social commentators have also queried how Kondanani concluded that there is no racism at its institution or how its conduct does not count as covering up how children at the orphanage were defiled by its pastor when it attacked Platform for Investigative Journalism Malawi of publishing “incorrect information”.

“Did you conduct an external culture review or is this a self assessment? This is a very problematic assertion that you’re not causing harm because you’re following Christian values” tweeted one person.

Kondanani is known as the Madonna Orphanage as it is where he adopted her second Malawian second child, Chifundo Mercy James. She was just 4 when she was adopted.

Kondanani has offices in the UK, Netherlands and Germany. The orphanage where the organisation has received various forms of donations, monetary and in kind. Unlike Malawi, the three countries have stronger anti-child abuse laws and [white] paedophiles tend to target children in countries like Malawi with a weaker child protection system.

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