Sarah Brook, CEO and founder of The Sparkle Foundation, made a promise to Malawi age 18 that she would one day return to the country that saved her and make a difference. It was on her gap year in 2008 where she was volunteering at an orphanage whilst living with a local girl, that she became desperately unwell and was rushed to Zomba Central Hospital. On arrival, the patients who had travelled for miles and awaited a very long queue insisted she was seen to first which resulted in some of the children losing their own lives. After consulting the doctor and needing surgery immediately, Sarah’s friend made the decision to take her to a private hospital over an hour and a half away. Despite a risk of her dying on route, this would save her life.
After recovering from the operation in the UK, Sarah frequently visited Malawi and built a nursery school after fundraising $30,000. There were many difficulties along the way, such as the school being closed due to toys being stolen. But Sarah persevered, continued to fundraise and send funds over and eventually managed to leave her job in a PR agency and become a full-time volunteer for Sparkle in2016.
In 2017, Sarah suffered a brain injury and was flown back to the UK in a coma where she miraculously recovered. After bringing in international directors to help train Sparkle staff locally, The Sparkle Foundation became an international registered NGO. Sparkle now runs with the help of its managers in Malawi and Sarah as CEO of the charity, supporting 17 villages with the hope to expand internationally.