If someone asked me when I left School, where did I see myself in 10 years’ time, I would never have predicted the future that has unfolded. I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity. The highs and the lows I have faced over the years, have each taught me a valuable lesson. Whenever you think it can’t get any worse, it does.
When I thought I was taking my last breath a year ago, I was content with the life I had lived and knew that I had given everything I could, to making the most of my 28 years. But it wasn’t meant to be. This wasn’t my time to go. The last year of my life has been an internal battle to get back to full health, but I never let that light at the end of the tunnel disappear from my sight.
Returning to Malawi for the first time in May, almost a year after my head injury, was the most significant moment in my life to date. It was the longest time I had spent away from my second home. I was scared that my little sparkles wouldn’t remember me, that I would be too traumatized to return to my house and I just wouldn’t feel the same about the project.
Although I was welcomed back with open arms, my intuition was right, it was different. I felt like a stranger. I didn’t know everything that was going on and I certainly wasn’t needed. I was shocked by the number of new children who had joined and the severe medical cases we were now treating. By the fifth day I decided to take a bike ride to Zomba Plateau to get some space, something I longed to do every time I came to Malawi during the week, but I just never found the time. When I reached the top, I was able to look down over the city and reflect.
It was this moment when the realisation hit me. My dream when I set up Sparkle at 21 was to make a difference and for the project in Malawi to be able to run without me and it was now finally happening. For the first time I was on the outside looking in. It was unfamiliar, it was scary, but it was real. We had done it. We were making the difference.
The children who I had opened my heart to when this first began were now speaking and writing English and preparing for primary school. The staff, who had joined us without any experience and lacked basic skills, were now thinking on their own feet and taking action. Sparkle was Sparkling and I couldn’t have been prouder.
Of course, there is still a long road ahead, but we are going in the right direction. I am grateful to every single person who has helped me on the journey and extremely excited to see where the next ten years take me.