Celebrities including Madonna and Angelina Jolie are "ripping the heart out of Africa" by adopting its children, according to Mozambique supermodel Tasha da Vasconcelo.

“There is something inside me that cries every day for not being in the place where I was born,” the 46-year-old told the Independent.

Wealthy foreigners are "throwing money" at Africa when they do not understand the situation on the ground and do not work with the systems already in place there, she said.

angelina jolie

US actor Angelina Jolie holds daughter Zahara

"You have to become close to the people on the ground: the ministers, the chief of the village, the people who are running the projects on the ground, and that means being hands-on. It is not enough just to send cheques."

Her comments came as da Vasconcelo prepared to a new eye clinic she built in Malawi with her charitable foundation, Amor.

As a refugee she said she had experienced the heartache of being torn away from cousins, family members, grandparents and the land she loved.

tasha

Model Tasha de Vasconcelos has criticised celebrity adoptions of African children

"That's how I truly know that you don't take a child out of Africa. If you want to help them, you help them inside their country.

“This is why I do not advocate adoption out of Africa to a Hollywood lifestyle, as Madonna and Angelina Jolie have done.

"They [celebrity parents] don't know how it is to be an African. In a tribe there's a chief, he's got a community. You have to respect the chief first, then meet with the elders.

Quick Poll

Should wealthy foreigners adopt babies from Africa?

VOTE

"I can't say how important it is that you don't take the children out. You help them there because you cannot imagine how much it is to lose your country."

madonna

Madonna holds her Malawian adopted daughter Mercy James, flanked by her biological daughter Lourdes

The supermodel was made honorary consul for the G8 to “bridge” the gap between Europe and Africa.

A spokeswoman for Madonna said the comments were "reckless". She added: "Her children are thriving and well cared-for and are certainly being educated about their culture and where they came from."

Joyce Banda, Malawi’s President, criticised Madonna last year for the adoptions and for “changing her mind” over plans to build schools in the country.

“I have a problem with a lot of things around the adoption of the children and the changing of the mind and then coming back to build community schools,” Ms Banda said.

Rich foreigners have been adopting children from poorer nations for decades. Mia Farrow, now the mother of 14, began adopting children from Asia in 1973, with an orphan from the Vietnam War.

In addition to her daughter Zahara, Jolie adopted her sons Maddox and Pax from Cambodia and Vietnam.

Malawi, with a population of 12 million, is among the poorest countries in the world, with rampant disease and hunger, aggravated by periodic droughts and crop failure.

The UN says 1 million Malawian children have lost one or both parents, about half of them to AIDS.