After almost losing her life in poverty-stricken African country Malawi, British expat Sarah Brook knew must return and save its orphans.
Sarah, now 25, was travelling through the country aged 18 when she was left fighting for her life with a deadly bowel condition.
She was saved by a doctor in a Malawi hospital and, she believes, the kindness of the Malawi people, 40 per cent of whom live below the poverty line.
“He came to visit me in hospital and told me there were 300 Malawians waiting in the queue at the hospital and they all said they wanted me to treated first as they wanted my life to be saved,” she said.
“I knew I owed the country my life and I knew I wanted to help. When I got home I did marathons, I did bike rides and I raised AED 250,000.
“Now I have 150 kids between zero and five that call me mum. ”
In 2010 Sarah set up UK-registered charity Sparkle Malawi and in 2012 returned to the country to build the Sparkle Malawi Orphan Centre, which is now home to more than 100 children.
She then took on eight members of staff and every month sent AED 9,000 from her salary to support the orphanage in the village of Skinner, near Zomba.
But after a return trip in November 2014 she realised she was needed there more than ever. The country had been hit with starvation and the number of orphans had doubled. So Sarah quit her job working for Total Communications in Business Bay and rallied a multi-national team of supporters who all share her goals, including a Syrian, Egyptian and an Emirati.
She is also calling on people in the UAE to get involved, as the price of lunch here could save an child’s life in a country where they are classed as orphans if they lose one parent.
“It costs AED 60 a month to put a child through Sparkle and for that they get two meals a day and two vaccinations, as well as the care and education they deserve,” she explains.
“One in 14 children don’t make it to age five, so that AED 60 is really saving a child’s life. 65 of the kids have HIV. There is medication at the nearest hospital, but it is a three-hour walk and the medication needs to kept in a fridge. If we can buy an industrial fridge for the orphanage, we can supply about 10,000 people with medication.”
Sarah will be in Malawi from 5th October. Check back here for more updates.
Supporters are invited to an event in the Storey Rooftop Lounge, in Dubai Media City, from 7pm-11pm on 11th September. See here for details and to find out more about Sarah’s mission.