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"So the plane landed and I knew immediately where I was, Africa. The vibrancy, life and soul hits you immediately. To be precise I was visiting Malawi to see friends and whilst there I visited a project called Fountain of Life to hear about their work and donate some books, children's toys and toiletries. Malwai is one of the poorest countries in the world but one with a strong identity. But Malawi, like the UK is battling the issue of rape and sexual abuse. Fountain of Life was set up to support victims (female, male and children) of rape and sexual abuse in the country to recover. They co-ordinate a number of projects including counselling for victims in a range of locations in the country, offering comfort packs for victims distributed at hospitals and police stations as well as delivering training to organisations and those in the community.

Their mission is clear 'Fountain of Life restores self-esteem, returns smiles and revitalizes a vision for the future in the lives of innocent children, women and men who have been victims of rape. These young women and girls need to be CARED for. To heal. To make sure this horrible act does not destroy or define the rest of their lives'.

I met Natalia in their head office in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. I was met with a huge smile and was instantly struck by her warmth and passion for the charity and their work. Unfortunately due to my short time in Lilongwe I was unable to meet the volunteers who are mainly based in the city hospital and another other large city (about 4 hours south of Lilongwe). I wasn't surprised to hear that women in Malawi aren't aware of what rape is and don't see experiences in marriage as rape. However I was shocked to know the statistic that 50% of women in Malawi are raped, that's 1 in 2. The average age of victims in Malawi is 12 years old. Like the UK most rape and sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone known to the victim. In Malawi, most victims are aged under 16 and hence Fountain of Life are planning a school education programme to raise awareness. The parallels with the UK are apparent and I was impacted by how this organisation strongly mirrors the ethos of DRCS - this was really positive to see, like we are united! I as humbled by this passionate organisation which with little resources is reaching out to those affected by rape and sexual abuse. Zikomo (thank you in Chichewa, the language of Malawi) Fountain of Life! A few days after visiting this inspiring project I received an email expressing gratitude for my visit and the donations I delivered. I felt touched by this simple act of thanks. The project has so much to offer not least of all a warm heart much like Malawi itself which is known as the 'warm heart of Africa'. I feel very privileged to have visited this inspirational project and hope to go back and see more of what they do in future visits to the country."

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