Thursday, February 28, 2008


Hi! my name is Bader al Ayoubi , I am a Kuwaiti volunteer who came from Dubai, I have arrived on Feb 25 , since the very first step i reached to the Dhaka airport, maria was in the airport expecting us, as soon as we reached the to the guest house which maria kindly accepted us to live in .. we were out in the streets and slums. we have seen the entire history how the Dhaka project started from two small rooms and into something exceptional. Back from going out into the streets and slums maria had taken us to places that you can never think of. Poor people living in the streets and slums having nothing to live in except a towel and hardly anything to eat. maria had showed us how people used to live before they were adopted by the Dhaka project,.. it's like a before and after image but in real life (which is scary and really touches your heart). There are no words to describe how maria had changed and influenced so many homeless children and even older people .. there is so many parts of the project i don't know where to start ... from cleaning the streets ... teaching people to take care of themselves .. proper clothing... to the very simplest hygiene cleaning like brushing there teeth ... away from cleaning.. children are being thought manners to be respectful to others ... and to become something important in their lives and to have dreams and goals ... being thought in school to learn English giving the students the ability to become something important in their lives. what i have experienced in one day can not be written down .. their is no words that describes it.. you have to come and live that to know what am talking about ... the love that maria and the Dhaka project given to people and care and the way people are being changed ...its amazing ... and i am defiantly coming back again .. and again and again ... this is only my first day in the dakha project can you imagine that... i will be writting shortly about my second day ..

Monday, February 25, 2008


The Emirates Arline Foundation School we have been talking about for a while is welcoming 450 children who were in the local schools sponsored by Emirates Foundation. After one year of constant chasing and struggling to have those schools to provide a minimum of proper education, discipline and values to the children, we gave up and deciding to build our proper school and at the same time to make them follow top notch education.

The children as we have mentioned previously just started couple of days ago their new education program in the brand new Emirates Arline Foundation School College.
But those 450 kids have families who need our help right now. As per the recent post you can see their extreme poverty they live in.
Since our aim is to break the cycle of poverty, not only of the children but also their families and the entire community. There is no point to teach them about hygiene, grooming, good manners and discipline if when they go back home, they are back to square 1!
We found out that the kids themselves are a great asset in this mission as they are messengers at home with what they learn at achool. Teaching them to eat in a clean canteen is encouraging them to push the family to do the same at home. We provide them tooth brushes and tooth paste and we realise now that the entire family is being following the student new good habits ;-).

So our job and our mission is to encourage this behavior but how do you want it to happen in non human basic conditions as describe previously.
We need your help to provide them THE DECENT MINIMUM meaning 4 walls, one cement floor and a roof! THAT's ALL!

What we want to do it to give them a brick house with cement floor and proper roof. The house is only one room but it's ok as soon as it's strong and safe as it prevents diseases such as scabies .

With 3000 Dirhams (833 $ - 600 Euros - ) you provide for a full family a human and decent house!

  • - Brick walls

  • - Cement floor

  • - Proper roof

  • - Basic furniture and accessories as beds, mosquito net, matress, bed sheets, blankets, pillows, electric rechargeable lamp, kitchen shelve, fan, cooking dishes and crockery

That's what we need, That's what they need!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


If we follow the same topic of safety for example to avoid ladies or men to get burnt as Chika, we need to talk about the families living conditions.

I am not even talking about the adults but the full family including our children. It seems that there is more and more cases of scabies in the village but you see where they live and how they live, you are not surprised. One family and especially the baby gets every 2 months scabies even after treatment. OF COURSE! If the hygiene rules are not followed, if the full house is not desinfected and the full family treated, scabies comes back.
Yesterday, we have decided to take action regarding this family with the sick baby. Before starting, we sent the team buying new beds, matress and mosquito nets. Then, 5 of us went there as a commando with gloves, water drums and bleach. We took all the furniture out of the house.... put all the dishes and everything that could be washed in big drums full of water and bleach. All the rest has been burnt! No other choice.
Just removing the furniture and all the dirt awaked hundreds of huuuuge cockroaches and red ants... Yeurkkk!


Yesterday evening, the hospital called us saying that Chika's condition was really bad and that they did not want to take responsability to treat her. By the way that's the same people who told us the same morning that she was not in pain because she had no facial expression!!!!
Maria started to call different doctors and nurses volunteers in order to get advice. She needed to be transfered to a special unit. Finally we found one with a great website telling us it was the ultra modern burnt unit of Dhaka. I was so happy as I could imagine her beeing treated in the best conditions... (western twist of mind!)
We managed to get an ambulance and we went there with Maria and the boys, always with us as a fantastic support.

When we arrived at the hospital, I went through the normal hospital before get to the special unit. I thought I will collapse looking through the doors in the rooms. Common rooms with maybe 12 beds + patients on the floor. Family eating in the middle, dirty cloth and other things I don't want to discribe. I started to be nauseus.

Finally we reached the unit. Oh my god, old curtains dirty covering the windows to hide plastic covered beds with patients waiting in pain. So many people get burnt. In a period of time of 3 hours we saw 5 people burnt and all of them because of domestic accidents. Cooking with wood, mosquito coil set on fire a mosquito net (the 25 years old boy was totally burnt even his face - no more left ear).

Chika like many other ladies, one was just there next to her, are cooking bended down in front of a small fire place feeded with wood on the floor. He cloth got on fire but by the time she realised it, it was too late. She could not control or stop it.
We spent 3 hours there facing first the bureaucracy giving us lectures, going particularly slowly and telling us no beds were available. We have to admit that this hospital has 50 beds available for 250 patients. Maria decided to go to check by herself the space available. We went up and honnestly I had to stop after the 2nd floor as I was getting sick. I don't know how she can do it, I guess I need more "Maria's training".....
People and kids in corridors, on the floor, no matress, don't even talk about hygiene.... Maria found a bed and we went back downstairs to check Chiqa. Couple discussions later she was admitted in the treatment room.

That's the best unit of the country but it's a self service hospital meaning that the doctor gives you prescription even for the saline transfusion and the gloves and you need to go yourself to the pharmacy which is an ugly shop outside of the hospital in a dark and dirty alley.....
With all our medic, we came back and then they started to treat her. I had to come out of the room but Maria stayed there and appeared couple of minutes later with an empty pot of cream and gloves on telling me she needed more..... Maria had to show them how to put the cream as they were really hurting her.
You have to imagine that they use cotton to clean to remove the dead skin so it was getting stuck. But they have nothing else. Finally she got ready and then we heard that the bed we thought available was on the children's ward so we could not get it. We had to go to buy floor mat for her and her sister then blanckets and pillows. Maria found a small corner in a corridor and set up a "bed" for Chika...
One of the boy in the patient room dowstairs was really in pain but if you don't have money, you don't have medication.... So we bought pain killers for him and then full treatment as it is just not human to see someone suffering so much!!!

We left after midnight with a strange feeling. It's honnestly a horrible environnment if we think in our "spoiled developped medical way" but the doctors really do miracles with what they have.
This morning Massud went there. Chiqa was sleeping wich is a very good news meaning that she is not in pain. Her parents will come to visit her today. No news of the husband. It seems he does not really care and is sitting at home pissed off because she cannot bring income for a while... Her 6 weeks baby with scabies is being treated now and recovering slowly!


A tradition here is to have couple of times a week some kids staying with us in the guest house. They watch a cartoon, play games, put some music.
2 days ago the kids just discovered the luxury of hot shower!
A fantastic opportunity to enjoy a fun moment but also to have them cleaned and hair washed with anti lice shampoo ;-)


These 2 and a half years have been really hard to find sponsors TO HELP the adults. Most common answer is that they don't need help, they schould help themselves , they are lazy, only children deserve support!Here is what we found at our door this morning....
What would you do if you were confronted to this situation?

For 3 days this 20 year old lady been turned down by the local hospitals as she could not afford treatment. Her one month and half baby has got scabies and has been declined, deprived of treatment ....
She is 2nd degree burnt from chest to feet because of oil. Only because of her appaling living conditions.....
We spent 3 hours in a private hospital begging for the doctors to react and provide medical care ..They claimed there was no need to rush into treating her that she was not in pain because she had NO FACIAL EXPRESSION OF PAIN........ We had to threaten to call the police if they wouldnt react ...How many people in her condition are daily been turned down and they don't know about our existence........


Flo & Maria

Saturday, February 23, 2008


The day following our visitors ceremony, we decided to have a staff party and award ceremony for the TDP staff. they asked the students to do the show again.
We prepared special certificates for each memeber of the team and Trophies.
One by one, maria called the team members saying a spcial and personal comments of each one.
Very intense moment for all of us!

Mister Azad could not contain his emotion

Jewel and Nayan won respectively the Heart Giving award and the Long lasting award... ;-)

A global award for the teachers...

Munna, our office manager receiving the Honnesty Award ;-))


We have hired a welfare manager who is in charge of meeting all the families and check their status, their income, their living conditions and urgent needs.

Arif came the next morning with a full report showing 20 families urgently in need. We went through each case to see what we could do and what they could do themselves in order to improve their lives. It’s really difficult sometimes as they all want to work for the project. But it’s a no way. We cannot and don’t want to be the source of employment as it’s not going to develop the sustainability. Arif called all the ladies in need for a meeting. They were asking us to admit their babies in the nursery. We said ok as soon as they could prove they have found a job. We have a lot of garments factories in our area so they can work there. But they don’t want because it’s hard work. Maria decided to go to the garments with the ladies ready to work but when we arrived there only 2 out of 10 followed us.

Our vocation is not to make them dependant on us. It’s not helping them at all. We help the most needed ones, the ones who have health problems, the widows, the single mothers with many kids. But those in good health have to go to work out of the project. Our mission is to put the structure in place to help them to do it. The nursery for example. We can even extend the hours of the nursery with special shifts for those who work late but they need to understand the value of working.

We had in the group a very difficult case of this lady who has a physically and mentaly handicaped son about 10 years old. Because of his condition the mother cannot work as she needs to stay with him all the time. She is exhausted and in bad shape. Her sister is the only source of income for the family.

We have decided to help her in the sense to provide her the rent of her house and also a proper bed, mattress and mosquito net. We are also looking for a wheel chair for her son as she is exhausting herself carrying him all the time.
They spent some time with us in the office and we took him in a classroom with boys of his age and he started playing with them. We believe the best way for him to grow his mental status and social abilities is to be with other kids. So we have decided to try something. He will spend three times a week a full morning in the kindergarten. It will be very good for him but also for the other kids to develop support and compassion. The mother will then be able to rest a little bit but also to develop her skills in cooking as she is a very good one. Maria said that she could even prepare some food and sell it outside the school or even to the teachers ;-). Let see how it goes!


We were expecting the visit of big potential sponsors at least 48 hours after the opening of the school. But after our “cleaning session”, Maria receieved a message announcing that they will come next morning at 10am. Oh my god! But no panick! We will do it. The biggest challenge will be the keep the school clean while welcoming the 450 kids quiet with a proper behavior but also get the special show prepared for them ready!
Next morning, everyone thrilled by an amazing amount of adrenaline took care of his part of the job. Everybody was ready when the visitor told us there were a misunderstanding and they will come only in the afternoon! WHAT A CHALLENGE!

We had to send the kids back home and call them back at 3pm. But keeping them in the school with proper behavior has been the biggest challenge. We don’t even talk about cleaning the bathroom 30 times as they don’t even know how to use them properly!

And the weather started to be really bad with heavy rain and wind. Anyway, nothing can stop us so ;-)))
5pm they arrived and Maria started the visit of the project by the 2 rooms were the project started, then the nursery and pre school.

We took their car as it was raining like mad and trying to get in the small path where the new school is, the car got stuck in a drain. Big adventure for those guys but they are used to it as both of them have been working in the humanitarian industry for years.

We ended to the school by walk. Maria introduced them to the team, then showed them the classroom with the new kids. Finally we reached the roof top where the show was taking place.
This show has been prepared by volunteers students from the best school in Banglade
sh. They have trained the kids, done the costumes etc…

Difficult to describe as beyond the beauty of the songs, dance, make up, acting, there were this beauty of the pride of the kids. You could see in their eyes joy and happiness! The show started with the traditional prayer then dancing acts mixing tradition on contemporary music from well know Bangladesh singers.

They prepared a very modern act showing that any one dream can go through if you believe in it,

very intense moment followed by a choral singing “Imagine all the people” and a famous Bangla song.

All the assembly was standing up even our guest screaming their enthusiasm.

The last act was a fashion show showing different aspect of Bangladesh and their costumes from the rural people to the young students, the religious one and the established couple! Just EXTATIC !!!

We left the school while the kids and team were partying to have a meeting with our visitors in their hotel in order to discuss the next step. We reached the Westin with our feet full of mud and totally rinsed by the heavy rain but it did not matter.
2 hours of interesting and animated discussions in order to see how we could collaborate together keeping the spirit of the Dhaka Project but putting together some “institutionalization” to be able to duplicate our way of doing things in other parts of the country and why not abroad!
We came back home totally exhausted but the heart full of joy and pride for the team and the children. Proud also that big organizations are looking at us as “diamonds” as they said! Ok they add that we will need to polish the diamond and we agree, we are still a diamond ;-)

Friday, February 22, 2008


So many days without writing, we know it’s a shame for you who are following us but we have been caught by so many things.
The major one has been the opening of the new school. It happened 2 days ago. 450 new kids to admit, put them by class with a new teacher. It seems easy in any organized environment but here, it is not. Some of them come from the local schools and some of them have never been to school at all. We have decided to follow the Cambridge curriculum but in order to do it, we need to level the children first. So, for the next 4 months, all the kids will follow a fast track learning process in order to be ready in July to join the normal school calendar. Fast Track means they will have special classes where the teachers will be able to evaluate their individual abilities, they will also learn English. Then, per age and level, they will be assigned to the class accordingly.
If you could see the difference between the kids who are already in our project and the new ones, it will amaze you. The new ones are not groomed, are wild without any discipline or proper behavior.

We know it’s a hard time for the new teachers but when we tell them that the TDP students who are so polished now were even worse than those ones, they keep faith.

We have an amazing team of dedicated people. The majority of them come from very good schools. It’s a challenge for them to come and teach in this part of the city. That’s why also it’s so hard to find people.
Bangladeshi people. Our objective is to raise the people from the slums to show them to way to get a better life. But they have always been treated as untouchables and given the most difficult and less rewarded jobs, when they get one. Inside our own organization we are training the ladies more educated to treat properly the ladies from the slums. It’s hard sometimes because in their culture, as soon as they can, they get a servant who is doing tGetting good people is not the only objective as it is not enough to work with us. They need to understand the mission and the vision of the Project and sometimes it’s even harder forhe dirty work. We had a big time in the nursery as the educated ladies did not want to change the diapers of the babies and were asking the slum ones to do it. But I think the team has found the best way to change it. Firoz and Shimul, both very educated men went there to talk to them and finally took the babies and changed the diapers themselves. What a shock for the ladies. A man doing that?
This example reinforces the fact that doing things with them will help to change the mentality. Maria and I are always treated like if we should not do any dirty job. No way! That’s not how we have been raised and that’s definitely not the spirit of the project.

The biggest example was 2 days ago when we needed to have the new school ready for opening and also the visit of potential sponsors. They announced their visit 24 hours earlier so we needed to put and emergency plan together ;-). Maria is really excellent in that. She called all the team members from the teachers to the nursery staff including the administration team to the new school.

Then she divided the team per floor and with loud dancing music everybody started to swipe, wash, clean the windows, put the chairs and teacher desk per class etc. How amazing! I think we have learned about the team members in 3 hours more than in 3 weeks. No need here to send people to motivational seminars and team building. We have done it, all in one!

Some ladies after 1 hour were sitting telling me that the broom was hurting their hands. Some were swiping the floor like if it was the most disgusting thing they have been doing in their lives. Some others started to dance together while washing the floors or laughing to watch the men doing it. Amazing time. Really!
A little apple pause before going back to the hard work ;-)


Bangladesh is a flat country except couple of mountains in the north. Because of the lack of mountains, the construction companies cannot extract rocks to make the cement. So they make bricks with mud, dry them, then break them is small pieces. Next to our new school this afternoon I could hear the sound of couple of hammers breaking those bricks.

But that's women and children who are most of the time doing this hard job. That's what we are fighting at TDP. To give a childhood to those kids, to give them the right to go to school and play with their friends.
Yes TDP is doing a great job but there is still so much to do and we cannot fight the cycle of poverty without you!

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Thank you so much to THE MORE CAFE IN DUBAI for your donation and please accept this gift from some of the children of TDP ;-)

Also a bigggggg thank you at Turiya (and Emirates Airlines volunteers) to have bravely run her first 10 kms during the Dubai Marathon and collected some donation for us.