DUBAI // A charity founder has been honoured for her humanitarian work with children in Africa as part of International Women’s Day.
Sarah Brook, 27, was thanked by Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development, and named humanitarian of the year at the World of Women Film Fair awards.
Female role models in the Middle East were honoured in eight categories at the ceremony. The event came at a time that the country is promoting the Year of Giving.
Ms Brook, a British expat who lives in Dubai and works in PR and corporate social responsibility, has vowed to sell her Dh10,000 pearl necklace prize, offered to all winners of eight categories of the awards, to help fund the international NGO she established in Zomba, Malawi five years ago.
Sparkle Malawi ensures that orphaned children are clothed, fed and sent to school.
“The necklace is an amazing prize, but its value in cash is far more important as to what it can offer the children,” she said.
“I’m trying to find someone who will buy it now so I can use the money to help the children with vaccinations and their education.”
Ms Brook splits her time between Dubai, to generate a salary, and regular trips to Malawi to manage the foundation.
She also gives inspirational talks to women, businesses and students across the Middle East about how every individual can make a difference.
She hopes the award will help raise the profile of Sparkle Malawi and encourage the support of one of the registered UAE charities, so she can legally raise funds in Dubai and hopefully one day replicate the model in the Middle East.
“Sparkle has developed from an international NGO to a global social enterprise encouraging young people to get involved, whatever their skill set,” she said.
“The most valuable thing people can give here in the UAE is time. Money is secondary for me, as pro-bono work is the best way to help.”
Sparkle’s costs run at around Dh100 a month per child, and totals about Dh15,500 each month, to fund the operation that feeds, clothes and schools hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children.
All proceeds from the awards event, raised through a raffle and silent auction of sporting memorabilia and art, is being donated to the Al Jalila Foundation, a global philanthropic organisation, established by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. It aims to position Dubai at the forefront of medical innovation.
A six-day fair is also currently showcasing 31 films created predominantly by female filmmakers, producers and screenwriters from 24 countries across five continents, at VOX Cinemas to educate on key issues facing women around the world.
Other winners included Dolores Al Shelleh, awarded sports leader of the year as the first Jordanian to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, designer Jelena Bin Drai made business leader of the year and rising talent Sarah Al Hashimi, director of documentary Lemonade about a young man with autism.
Ms Brook hopes her charity will gain support in the UAE as it ties in with the key messages launched in the national strategy for the Year of Giving.
One of these initiatives seeks to develop and implement four policies focused on social responsibility, volunteerism, endowment, and serving the nation respectively.