A woman is swapping her swish 38th-floor Downtown Dubai flat next week for a mud hut in Malawi with no running water, beds or toilet facilities.
Sarah Brook, who moved to Dubai last year, set up an orphanage in 2012 after earlier visiting the poverty-stricken African nation and being “shocked” by the conditions there.
The 24-year-old from England then raised Dhs220,000 for ‘Sparkle Malawi’.
The money helped build God’s Will Orphanage in the village of Skinnerer.
Her life could have taken a very different turn, though, had it not been for a decision made in Malawi when she was 18.
Brook, volunteering at an orphanage with a school friend, became seriously ill with stomach complications and fell unconscious.
The pal, who had rushed her to hospital, was told Brook would need an emergency operation.
But it was at a hospital with a high rate of HIV, Brook said. Instead, her friend decided to wait for a nearby villager who had a car to drive two hours to a private hospital – but it risked Brook “dying en route”.
Brook said: “He made the decision that I would rather have died than catch HIV and have a colostomy bag for the rest of my life. It was a decision that saved my life and one my dad thanked him for at my 21st birthday.”
Determined to give something back, Brook relies on donations to provide aid for the 190 children aged up to nine years old at the orphanage – 65 per cent of whom have HIV.
On previous visits she has “stayed in a relatively simple house with running water and a bed”.
But this time, local friends she’s staying with “have managed to get a message to me to say my mat is waiting for me – and they can’t wait to see me”.
Brook is visiting the orphanage ahead of a new fundraising drive.
For more information, see the SparkleMalawi2014 Facebook page.