Saturday, May 31, 2008

Maria's Birthday

Friends of The Dhaka Project are always asking us what Maria is like to work with. Although only knowing her for the last 6 months and working with her for the last 2, one thing has become clear to me – she would give up anything for her kids here at The Dhaka Project.

This week was no different; it has been over 2 years since Maria has spent an important holiday like her birthday or Christmas with her family. Over this time she has instead given so much to our family – and this year was no difference. So we really wanted to go to such effort that would show her how grateful we, The Dhaka Project family, are to her for all she has done.

Unfortunately, a person like Maria is never an easy person to give a present to. She has given up everything for us – any presents that we would get her would just be given up like all of her previous possessions to ensure that these kids can reach their dreams.

So our challenge was set. Give her the best present possible to show our gratitude, but without getting her a present at all!

Early morning presents from the Gawair community

Step 1) Wake up from her children Maria is not a morning person, but being sung happy birthday by 40 of her favourite children would be a great start to the day – well at least that was the plan. Little did we expect to see half of the school turn out, especially given that it was the weekend!

Early morning Happy Birthday

Not only did we see the kids turn up at the guesthouse, but we had parents and members of the community turning up to give her little presents and well-wishes.

Step 2) Take her to the see her babies When Maria wants to refresh herself whilst she is in Gawair; she will take herself to the nursery or pre-school and see the little babies that she so much adores. So we thought who better to give a present to than her little babies – and what better of a gift than a nutritional breakfast of mixed fruits. This of course was followed by the games and laughs that she so much adores these kids for.

Greeting from the Nursery and Preschool kids

Step 3) Picnic with the staff and teachers Just a few kilometers East of Galwair, Dhaka craziness turns into village quietness. With each of the staff members bringing a dish Maria had a beautiful picnic with the teachers.

Step 4) Let her children touch their dreams Here at The Dhaka Project we encourage our children to dream, and anything that we can do to help them reach these dreams we will do. With a doctor, 2 pilots and a flight attendant joining Maria for her birthday we also arranged for an ex-Bangladesh cricket captain, Aminul Bul Bul Islam, to join us and run dream classes for all of the kids that dreamt of being a pilot, doctor, flight attendant and cricketer.

Aminul Bul Bul Islam speaks with attentive potential cricketers

First Officer Paul Brodie speaks with future pilots

Step 5) Put on a show! We put on a show that exhibited the growth and development of the children’s lives that Maria has helped shape and change so much for the better. A show that Maria says “it still amazes me what these kids have done in such a short time – imagine what they will do in 6 years time!”

Step 6) Dance Party All kids, volunteers, teachers, staff and of course Maria got up and got into the dancing and partying; only for the monsoon heat to exhaust all. Fortunately there were 2 cakes kindly donated by Rahminafrooz to re-energize all.

Maria dances with the kids and teachers

Cakes to share with the whole Dhaka Project Family

All in all, Gawair showed Maria the thanks that she really, really deserves.

So again, Happy Birthday Maria, and thank you for everything you have done here for our kids.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


From by Paul McLennan

It has been one year since 7DAYS last visited The Dhaka Project in Bangladesh - so we returned to the poverty-stricken capital to see how your money has helped improve the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. The Dhaka Project was founded by Dubai-based flight attendant Maria Conceicao and is funded by people living in the UAE, with 7DAYS readers donating clothes, money, books, medical supplies and, most importantly, their time.

Since our last trip to Bangladesh, the charity has grown into a thriving community under the guidance of Maria, 31, and her dedicated team of volunteers. It was formed in 2005 in a small hut that was used as a school for 39 children from the slums. Now, three years later, there are more than 750 children who have access to two nurseries, a playschool, primary school, mixed school, canteen, prayer room and first aid centre. There is even a beauty-training centre for women.

“I would like to say thank you to everyone in Dubai, including 7DAYS readers, for giving so much,” Maria said. “They have had so much faith in us right from the start and it’s great they are still supporting us. But we can’t do this all on our own - people in Dubai can continue to contribute regardless of their skills or background.”

Maria says the biggest challenge is rising food prices and keeping the children in school because their parents are often so poor that they force their offspring to work to help feed the family.


So, it's the end of my third week and things are going really well.

I'm now teaching 5 hours a day, 3 with the kids at EK and 2 with the staff (cleaners, cooks and rickshaw pullers). The kids seem to enjoy my teaching; Standard IV are learning the rooms of a house and the 'where' question, Standard V are enjoying describing and comparing lions, giraffes and turtles with their teacher (apparently I'm not too tall or dangerous!), and Standard VI have just been introduced to the internet and Youtube. You may think this last lesson's not too important but the kids are really motivated to access the internet and (surprise, surprise) they've got to do that in English (and navigate Windows, which isn't that easy!)

The staff are going great and had their first oral test on Thursday. I may have been a little biased seeing as they're my students, but all passed with a couple of A's thrown in for good measure - they're dying for the results which they'll get on Saturday. If you're keeping score - we've covered days of the week, telling the time, the 'where' and 'what' questions and now we're making good progress with verbs. If you put that all together you've got a great base. They'll be in our office in no time...

The EK school teachers had a training day today run by Elizabeth from BRAC University - it was extremely good! I am looking forward to helping them implement the creative and very effective teaching methods they were taught - it's an opportunity for everyone to progress and push themselves. I also got plenty of ideas for my own classes.

Last weekend I helped network the computer room, getting 7 instead of just one computer online - we are still trying to find a cheap method of getting EK online. The Dhaka Project's library is finally open as well! We've got a lot of books and hopefully the kids will start sitting down in there to have a little read.

Again, the weather is rather interesting here - amazing electrical storms and the occasional flash flood! I feel rather sorry for the kids when their mud cricket pitch becomes a pond for the ducks!

Is this the start of Micro-lending at TDP?

Micro-credit has been seen to be an extremely strong tool in improving the living conditions of the poor throughout the world. With Bangladesh being the home of micro-credit it seems only appropriate that we here at The Dhaka Project try to see if we can help our families make a difference through these micro-credit loans.

Whilst it has been an idea of mine for a while to establish such a process, it took a student of ours, Rubel Rahman in Std 6, to come to me yesterday and ask if it was possible for us to give his father a loan to help him establish a tea shop near their house.

So Rubel and his father approached us for 10,000 taka, we agreed that we will first give half to him (5000tk) and once he has paid back the majority of that principle we will offer him another loan if he requires one.

We will not be handing out this cash, rather we will be charging interest of 1% per month (close to the current Bangladesh cost of 13% per year). Encouraging our future borrowers to pay back these loans as soon as they can.

May this be the first of many life changing loans for The Dhaka Project Family.
Rubel's Father, Rubel and Richard allocate what hopes to be the first of many life changing micro-credit loans to parents of The Dhaka Project.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another Dog Attack

Another day, another dog attack.

Every week we will have a child come to school after being attacked by a dog, not only is it a distressing time for the child and family but it is a costly process to have each child seek medical attention for rabies shots and antibiotics after the bite.

We at The Dhaka Project are trying to implement solutions for the community of Gawair to stop this common problem, however it still continues to affect our children's learning.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Sarmin is attending school in STD-VI at Emirates Airline Foundation College at The Dhaka Project.

She is a brilliant student. Her father is dead and her mother lives away from Dhaka in a village. She was living with her elder brother in Dhaka but he left her a few days ago.

She is now living with her younger brother who is only 7 years old!

She and her younger brother are in a terrible situation.

Sarmin wants to study, but she decided to work in the garments industry for survival.

The Dhaka Project assumed all responsibility for her and her little brother; she now needs a sponsor very urgently to continue her studies and survive.

SPONSORED !!! By Erin Law and her dad Peter Law as in further post!
Thank you!


There was one more vaccination day, today 27th May, as schedulled.

This was the turn to apply third dose against Hepatitis-B to 230 students from EK School (EAFS); the 1st dose in March and the 2nd dose in April.

And looking at the picture, we can see a brave and smiling girl, vaccinated against Hepatitis and against pain; vaccines are already a peace of cake to her! :)

Thanks to EK Foundation who kindly sponsored this event to keep our students safer!!!


My first week as a volunteer at the Dhaka Project passed by so quickly, at the same time it feels like I have been in Dhaka so much longer than one week. I came from Berlin, Germany to see applied what I have studied for so many years in theory, reading smart people's books and articles and sitting in fancy UN meetings: the role of education in the context of peace and development work. However, it is quite different to meet the "beneficiaries", the children of the Dhaka Project, in person.

During my first week, they have taught me so many things that will never be in books. I know now that smiling is the best of all international languages, I know now that space and quiet can be luxurious goods, you can make their day with 5 minutes of your undivided attention, sharing a song, holding their hand, and still feel you haven' t given nearly enough.

4 weeks in the Dhaka Project are only long enough to take a good first look. I have made a personal to-do-list and will adjust it to what comes along: I will help classes 5 and 6 with replies to letters from German students that I brought with me, I will teach a girls' class, an art class and give English lessons to teachers. Moreover, we will implement the idea of a parent-child-contract, where children and parents will have an opportunity to express their needs and, in turn, accept each others rights as well. Last but not least, the biggest item on my list is to help organize a teacher' s day, a day where teachers have time to reflect on their work and will learn about and develop ideas in small working groups.

I will surely write more in the forthcoming weeks, and I know already that my stay here will easily be worth as much as all smart books and meetings I have read and attended so far.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”

Anais Nin. Katja Hummel.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Samar Jodha has had a lot of outstanding involvement with The Dhaka Project along the years.
He has recently been at the field work in Dhaka, teaching the students how to do photography, produced a fantastic work , see here, produced a video about the work done with the kids... and that's not all!

He participated in a talkshow in Dubai Eye Radio 103.8 that has done so much awareness ...

He offered to pay for fixing a laptop and has been taking part in garage sales at Sheikh Zayed Road... announced here and with two friends they raised 1455 Dirhams on garage sale for Maria's birthday, i.e., to The Dhaka Project, at the same time Maria and people at the Project were celebrating in Dhaka ! A different way of a remote celebration !!!

And finally he has just collected a donation from Dana,... yes, Dana Rahman, the representative from Delta Partners who visited the Project a few months ago. She's donated 1700 Dirhams , handed in Samar's hands, towards the Project.

Thank you to Samar Jodha for all the dedication, art and hard work to help the children he has been with in the action field.
And thank you to Dana Rahman for her kind donation, a very precious gift that, as she knows very well, it will go a long way in our fight against poverty.


Dear Abdul Naim Zaidi,

I wish to thank you for volunteering your time and knowledge here at The Dhaka Project. We are sincerely grateful for the commitment that you have already given us here and have so nicely offered us into the future.

Our accounting processes and systems were in such trouble that the changes that you have made to our system and processes will forever leave us in debt to you for this wonderful gift.

I hope that yours and your wife’s volunteering relationship with us will see the The Dhaka Project grow to change the world.

We wish to thank you so much - not only the great work you have done here, but the wonderful friendship you have provided us and the kids.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Fleming

Project Director


Antonio (our brilliant web manager based in Lisbon) has put together a great little slideshow of photos from the project. They're recent and complete with captions! Click here for a look!

Sunday, May 25, 2008


This is my fifth trip to The Dhaka Project and what amazing progress has been achieved since my first trip in 2005!

The founded school is filled with the same infectious laughing and smiling faces of the children and staff I took away with me on my last trip; the nursery down the road has new cribs and beds for the infants to sleep in after lunch and the new school that recently opened is a triumph for the amount of donated money it cost to build. It's run by a 25 year old Economics Teacher who one day hopes to be Prime Minister of Bangladesh and when I sat in his company you couldn't help but believe him! AND! The overwhelming response of volunteers means they have had to open 2 new guest houses.

You can do nothing less than sit back and admire Maria for her courage, determination and perseverance for what has been achieved.

It is nothing short of remarkable!

I just hope that the Bangladesh Government take notice and do what is right.


Until now we have given special vaccination focus to the children.
But also the adults working for The Dhaka Project have to be carefully given care; they are near the children and the higyene standards tell us that not only a part of a population should be prevented against diseases, but all members in a community, in this case, The Dhaka Project Community!
And to confirm this, we had a case, a Typhoid Fever case in a member of our staff !
This made us decide to follow the standards referred above !

Regarding this, we just had a vaccination day, today, where 96 members of our staff have been vaccinated against Typhoid Fever and 92 against Hepatitis-B .

This goes towards a healthier community benefitting not only the staff but also the children under our care, the children rescued from the slums!

Thanks to all who have made this dream come true over the years !!!

We love Bangladesh Customs!

Big thank you to Bangladesh Customs and their wonderful rules and procedures!

We have just received a delivery from a friend of Richard's with some donated books and balls in it. The 4.5kg package arrived with a 880tk (~$15USD) customs charge on it. After looking at the contents of the package we figured that we could buy all the donations for less than 880tk. The customs officer then asked if we will pay, we offered a small fee. Rejecting this fee, he then said we either have to pay or the package will be returned to sender. So back the package goes to Australia!

We do thank Jo Elms for the wonderful donations that her and her family made, however out of point we have sent it back to Australia - to hopefully return by plane with one of Richard's volunteer friends in the coming months!

Just another insight to the crazy rules and procedures that we face here at TDP daily!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


There has been good news concerning donations in the last few months!

A donation of huge impact has recently become available and let us speechless and thrilled for its dimension; more than 35,000 US Dollars, towards our ''Food for Thought'' programme!

This donation will make a great difference against the lately frightening costs, to the kids and their learning, making them safer from being taken out of school and married off at an early age or put to work in garment factories, and is a huge boost to all of us team and staff who are working to break the cycle of poverty at The Dhaka Project. Feeling that there are no words enough to do it, we express our grateful thanks to Dan Weisser and Cashfya Cazi at Abraaj for this incredible amount donated, on behalf of the team, staff, students and their families at the Project.

And related with this, we must say a big thank you to Samar Jodha too, for the awareness he has done... he was who announced the work we do at The Dhaka Project to the world, after having been working here with the children in the field of photography (you can see the photos on the sidebar to the right). He also took part in a talk show on Dubai Eye Radio 103.8FM where he informed the listeners about us. Thank you Dubai Eye Radio 103.8FM for broadcasting the helpful talkshow with Samar!

So, an announcer, Samar Jodha, who exposed it with his heart, a station, Radio 103.8, and a listener, Dan Weisser, who studied, presented and embraced the Project, being himself heartily touched by our mission.

Thank you very much ! This will change many things for a whole year !


Kay Smith, though has left Dubai, is still on the move on behalf of The Dhaka Project, motivating people around, specially family and friends.
This time she brought us a donation of 2200 Dirhams. It was the result from a fundraising her Mum has run thousands miles away.
This is a kind of fuel to us telling us we can't stop in our efforts and determination in chasing our goals.
Thanks to Kay's mum too, and to all around her who keep the flame on, on behalf of the poorest rescued by The Dhaka Project.


Roma and Smriti Akter are both students of The Dhaka Project. They are 12 and studying in STD III at our college. Unfortunately a few days ago their father decided to take them out of the project and get them married (obviously against their will). We immediately we went to their house and tried convincing their father not to get them married as it is both not legal and not right for them. Finally after our pleading, their parents agreed to stop the wedding and promised to send them back to TDP to continue their studies.

This is just another example of a cultural issue which not only hinders us in our work but hinders these children from developing themselves.

We are proud to protect these kids' futures.


In February 2008 I came to know through the internet that The Dhaka Project (TDP) is looking for a volunteer Accounting Coordinator. I, being a retired staff of United Nations with more than 25 years experience, contacted Maria (the founder of TDP) to offer my services. She asked me to meet her. During the course of this meeting in Dubai, she handed over to me all the accounting records of TDP and asked me to take charge of the responsibility to maintain the accounts. Based on the documents received from Maria, I started working...

In my next meeting with Maria, I suggested to her that it would be good for myself as well as for the TDP staff in Dhaka to meet so that we have a better understanding of what is the present situation and what needed to be done to maintain the accounts in a professional way. She accepted the idea and asked when my wife (who is a dentist and would also help the project) and I could travel to Dhaka. After some initial hick-ups, it was agreed that we could travel to Dhaka on 14 May, 2008.

On arrival at Dhaka Ziaur Rehman International Airport, we were received by Mr Jewel (Volunteer Manager of TDP) with a imressive playcard saying "Naim & Sabrina - Welcome to Dhaka!" It was dinner time and we were taken straight away to a restaurant to enjoy local food; from there we went to the TDP volunteer guest house. Our flat (out of the project's three) has two bathrooms, air conditioning and a TV. The apartment given to us is named "Khushi green" - and it's exactly that! Although the guest house is located in the slums, it has been kept very tidy. A few minutes after our arrival Mr. Richard Fleming (TDP Project Director) came to see us to make sure if everything was fine and whether we were comfortable. The next day at 9 o'clock in the morning, Mr. Jewel came to the guest house to take us to TDP office. The Dhaka Project Office is in a building named Bahar Manjil and is a few minutes walk away from the Guest House. At TDP office we were greeted whole heartedly by the office staff. Mr. Noorul Islam would be taking care of our breakfasts to be had there.

Afterwards Mr. Jewel took us on a tour of the project. First we went to the Sewing and Embroidery training centre and TDP school in the same building as our office. As it was Thursday, The Dhaka Project schools were closed. At the Sewing and Embroidery Centre we met the instructors as well as the trainees. Next Mr. Jewel took us in the TDP owned rickshaws to the Kindergarten school and then the daycare centre run by TDP. The daycare centre has been set up for those mothers who are getting training at the Sewing and Embroidery Centre - this means when women are away from their babies for training their babies can get proper care. At the Kindergarten school we were greeted with loud shouts of "Good Morning!" by the cute children. Later, the kids entertained us with a dance performance. Our next stop was the Emirates College run by TDP with funds donated by the EK Foundation. Again, being Thursday, the school was closed but we met with the principal Mr. Suhail and some other teachers. The cleaning staff were busy cleaning the school and we were very impressed with it's cleanliness and the quality of furniture provided for the students. In the afternoon Mr. Fleming took me out of Dhaka to see a piece of land which the owner would like, not to be given away, but to be used by any good organisation like TDP for its forthcoming projects.

On Friday afternoon we were invited by Mr. Jewel to attend his sister's wedding. There we had a chance to meet some other TDP staff and enjoy some nice local food. From Saturday 17 May onward we've had several meetings with both the Project and Education Directors and other staff at TDP to discuss ways and means to introduce new systems to streamline functions. We've also visited the grocery shop, donated clothes to the TDP shop and made several suggestions to maintain proper stock records there. On 21 May, Maria also arrived Dhaka. We had several meetings with her to give my views on accounting matters in particular and others in general. I went along with the Project Director and Munna to meet official of the Rural Services Foundation (RSF), Dhaka who are providing lots of administrative and technical support to TDP.
May 23rd was Maria's birthday! To celebrate the day, the teaching and office staff as well as the school kids organized a very colourful programme. The day started with the kindergarten children visiting the guest house to wish her a happy birthday. In the afternoon, the EK College children gave an excellent performance to entertain Maria and other guests - soon the teachers and volunteers were having a dance themselves!

We've spent eleven days in Dhaka. This time helped us acquire essential knowledge of the working conditions at TDP and what needs to be done to improve. We will be leaving on 25 May with very pleasant memories. During our stay in Dhaka we got the maximum cooperation from the Executive and other staff at TDP.

We would like to thank every one for their cooperation and hospitality.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


A great big Thank You has to go to Matt Patton for his donation of a great big piano!!

The kids were overjoyed when it was unpacked and they've already had a little tinkle on the ivories. With a little bit of practice we may have the next Nokib Khan in the project! (He's a famous Bangladeshi musician by the way) Donations like this are incredible - it's so different from a maths textbook - and it's something which will be with the project for years to come. Thank You!


8 women who have been trained at the Dhaka Project sewing school all now have their very own sewing machine - donated by ourselves.

Not only does this mean they can make clothes for their own family - they can also earn a wage while looking after their house.

AND - their kids are at the project themselves - double-whammy!!

Sergio's Feedback

This is not the school of Harry Potter, but I can say that The Dhaka Project's children know magic!

If you are thinking about volunteering, I strongly recommend TDP as the best volunteer opportunity you can find. I’m impressed with the work of TDP staff and I feel inspired by Maria’s job. I can not believe how much she and her team have achieved in only 3 years.

If you want to be part of one foundation for a short or long period of time, you should choose one that makes children happier. You should be part of an organization that knows how to awaken and highlight the magic on children. TDP’s children have the charisma, confidence, education and teachers that can help them increase their enormous potential.

I declare myself hypnotized by their eyes, by their smiles and their self confidence. Definitely, we are helping them to improve their opportunities in life, but they also have a lot to teach to us… I still remember the great satisfaction I felt every afternoon when going back home and feeling so grateful that I could spend with them this part of my life. I declare myself under their power; an enduring power that will last forever. I feel happy because I can see that my experience was not unique in TDP. My feeling is the same feeling you find in every review given by other volunteers. When reading their comments is easy to figure out that, as me, all of them are under the strong influence of children’s magic. Good magic that make me strongly believe that those children will acquire the knowledge and already developed the attitude necessary to open any closed door. I assume that at this point you can realize that this experience filled up all my expectations and gave me more motivation to continue volunteering once and once again.

Sergio Rodriguez - Colombia

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


We are running a grand garage sale at Xerox Builing, Mezzanine floor, Sheikh Zayed Road, same side as Crown Plaza, next to Rotana Hotel.

In this sale you can get a variety of second hand items like clothes, shoes, books, school items, kitchen items, electrical items, toys, furniture, sports items, etc.

The prices start at one Dirham up to 10 Dirhams.

Please click the picture below for directions:
Brought to you by THE DHAKA PROJECT !

Being transferred to another place not yet known !


I am now at aircraft to take off (from Dubai) to Dhaka and we are boarding in half an hour.
One looking at us me and Luiz a Emirates Pilot wouldn't even believe the crazy running chicken days we had !!
A couple of days ago Luiz Ogg and Marcelo Taborda came to help me clearing the storage room and packed 5 huge suitcases !! We had no electricity in the mezzanine floor so you can imagine ! It toke us 3 hours !
Marcelo helped me distributing also leaflets around Sheikh Zayed Road to recruit new customers for the garage sale !!
Luiz thought it was such easy task but he's got frightened and petrified when I opened the storage room and specially because was so full he didn't know where to start !
Later on he drove again all way across the city to drop these suitcases in the briefing to pilots to carry on our behalf to Dhaka !!!
We scheduled to have Marcelo to pick me up from my house today with 100 kgs !! 50 over weight !
We had this huge massive piano dismantled, donated by Matt Patton , a brand new computer donated by Louis Webb and clothing donated by Raihana, toiletries and tennis balls donated by Marcelo Taborda and toys, shoes and clothes donated by Dubai residents !
Was not easy task have all these huge boxes to fit two trolleys to go through scanning machines...
Forgot to mention Marcelo was pulled out for a Karachi flight last night and didn't get home untill 5 AM and yet he drove to airport at 10 AM and helped all way untill check-in even wrapping the fragile boxes we had and kindly payed for it 30 dhs !
Check in nightmare we had 50 extra kilos , Luiz had to rush to the embassy to collect his visa and passport and to the Emirates Office to pick up Manikan Laptop !!
Marcelo had to convince and talk to ground staff to get excess bagage waved , staff resisted off course as they got policies to follow !
Marcelo spoke with Supervisor Airport Manager culminating talking with Senior Vice-President !!
Meanwhile Luiz arrived with 58 kgs ... 28 extra ...
Most amazing thing happened Senior Vice President granted us to take the 78 extra kilos. Marcello patient and persuasive skills had payed off almost 45 minutes later !!
I was speechless , ground staff left us speechless by such generosity waved ! They mentioned this has never happened before ...
Marcelo had to rush as he had 23 minutes to get to Aviation Medication Center to get a vaccination boost !
And we had to use some abilities with cabin bags in the aircrafts , full of toiletries so you can imagine the weigh ;
This has been an insight behind the scenes of The Dhaka Project ..has been with good will gestures of priceless volunteers like Marcelo that The Dhaka Project is where it is .
Que coracao de oiro este rapaz tem ! ( What a golden heart this guy has ! )
Me and Luiz look forward to reach Dhaka but not to the work it will take to get this nearly 200 kgs out !
Luis and Marcelo were really beyhond any thanks words !!!



In regards to the transfer of funds -
can you please make sure that you do not include the terms,
"donation" or "charity"
in the description or anywhere similar.

With the current state of emergency and crackdown on corruption, there is greater scrutiny on "donations" from external countries coming into Bangladesh and we are having problems accessing these transfers.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions:
Richard Fleming -


There has been a long and continuous delay to confirm the donations from our kind donours.
And the Project has received precious donations not referred yet in this blog...
PSt. Piran's School from London donated us 1000 Sterling Pounds in February;
From Emirates Golf Clube - Dubai - we have been given a donation of 38,889,61 Taka in April;
Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Resort transferred a donation of 791.11 USD in April;
Vincent William donated us 700 USD in the beginning of May.
These donations go a long way as you all know spite of the higher and higher costs that are always scaring us for the future of our children rescued from the slums in abject poverty.
Only with your help our work will go far creating a new generation of citizens in a continuous fight against poverty.
A tremendous thank you to all the Companies above and to Vincent William for their kindness, for their wish to become this world a better place to live on behalf of our children and families at The Dhaka Project.


Touched, we feel it is our duty to announce the final numbers related with the results from the cookbook collection sale and not only, recently managed by The Pilot and his wife .
Fortunately The Pilot got some extra payments far beyond the price he asked for the books, and he felt really rewarded for his dedication to this cause, what made them happy for being much helpful!
Here you can find a list of who kindly have taken part in this cookbook collection sale on behalf of our students and their families, not forgetting how the team can feel boosted too!

Adrial & Noriko Lum ----500.00 Al Cooke ---------------50.00 Bart de Witt ------------50.00
Grayden Thompson ------50.00 Carlos ------------------50.00 Caroline le Cann ----500.00
Chris Jones ------------------50.00 Craig Mitchell -------50.00 Ben Rich ----------------100.00
Greg Becker -----------------50.00 Tim Nicoli -------------50.00 Jason McDicken -------50.00
Jim Reside ---------------------50.00 Keith Thompson ---50.00 Ken Pascoe -------------50.00
Marcelo Peixoto ----------100.00 Mike Moore ----------50.00 Mike Tilney -----------100.00
Murray Anderson ---------50.00 Omar Helmy ---------200.00 Ricardo Baisch -------50.00
Richard Markey ------------50.00 Rod Buchanan ------50.00 Roger Neale ------------50.00
Shirish Pai --------------------50.00 Spinner O'Shea --100.00 Stefan Thusis ---------50.00
Ian Brakewell Kennally -50.00 Tony Shapiro -.-----50.00

The Pilot and his wife handed to our long time volunteer Manuel de Sousa a bank check of 2500 Dirhams, from fundraising, and more 2000 Dirhams in cash, 1000 Dirhams from their own pocket, money that goes dedicated to a special purpose in the Project, and 1000 from 2 cookbook buyers, Adrial and Noriko Lum, and Caroline le Cann, who opted for paying 500 Dirhams instead of 50 for a cookbook!

But this is not all !!!

Also we wish to mention that Manuel de Sousa had to go a long way crossing the city to collect this donation handing us 100 Dirhams from an anonymous and 500 Dirhams to sponsorship a child, from his family, De Sousa Family!
Thank you to all who wished to buy a book, to The Pilot, the donator and runner of this event, to The Pilot's wife highly involved in all actions and to Manuel for his hard work, this and other times along the time.

All funds are going directly to making a difference in the lives of the children and the community at The Dhaka Project.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


A successful Garage Sales has been run last Friday which has brought the precious sum of 830 Dirhams to help our children, one more added to the large number of events like this in these three years .

This event counted with the precious help of Samar and Maria herself was present in this fundraising work.

Thank you to Samar! He has been involved in many actions on behalf of the Project giving us a tremendous boost.


It was really hard to be able to officially confirm this very, very thrilling donation, that left us unable to pronounce a word, because it seemed so unbelievable to us!!

This will go a long, long way, making a huge difference in the lives of these poor children from the slums of Dhaka, under the care of The Dhaka Project!

Please click the picture to Zoom it!
There are not enough words to express the enormous happiness we feel for having a donation as big as this.

A tremendous thank you to TimeOut Dubai Magazine on behalf of the children, students, families and team at The Dhaka Project !

Monday, May 19, 2008


So far in my experience of working in development, I have found that development work can deliver you to the extreme highs but also to the burying lows. Within the last 24 hours I have reached both extremes.

Whilst I can go on about the great highs that we continually reach here at The Dhaka Project – which is often the case for the information we put on this blog. In today’s journal I just want to give all our readers an idea of the struggles that the team and I deal with everyday; in particular the last 24 hours that has just gone past.

This has to be one of the most frustrating problems here at TDP HO and it climaxed yesterday with only 3 hours of current between 8am and 5pm! So much so that I wrote a blog entry (Electricity Problem) out of discontent before my battery ran out on my laptop! Whilst this slows HO’s operation, it has greater effect on the schools and the kids learning.

Unfortunately our previous medicine sponsor has decided to rotate the focus of their CSR campaign, leaving us to fill the gap of providing us free and highly discounted medicine for our kids. In the heat of summer the kids have unfortunately had an outbreak of scabies and other annoyingly easily treatable diseases, but without access to medicine we cannot do much.

Child Electrocuted
Kids will be kids wherever in the world they are! Unfortunately one of our kids was intrigued about some wires in his house and was quite severely electrocuted last night. Fortunately, it was not life endangering.

Staff Shortage
Whilst here at Galwair we have had the celebration of a wedding - where 2 brothers in our staff having their sister married on the weekend; it has unfortunately meant that we at TDP HO have been running 2 man short for a few days this last week whilst they were on leave. Unfortunately this is a problem because we operate here on as little overhead as possible, ensuring as much of the funds can go directly through to benefit The Dhaka Project families.

Bangladesh Government is full of incompetence, corruption and bureaucracy (I feel comfortable to make that statement after working for 12 months heading up an IT department in a Govt Agency here) and one of the worst departments is the Telegraph Board – the providers of internet to Bangladesh. They continually seem to be able to break the only cable/connection to the greater world – of course it again happened today!

Visa Bureaucracy
When you think of travel destinations, Bangladesh probably sits quite low on many westerners list (however it shouldn’t – it is truly amazing, intriguing and untouched). However you would think that friend of The Dhaka Project should find it easy to get a Tourist Visa here, but we are forever having problems like Rufus had the other day (The Odyssey of Acquiring a Visa)

And even as all these problems that come with running an NGO can get us down, we have great offers of generosity – and the last 24 hours have been no different. I have had 4 different people approach me with gifts that I have to pinch myself to believe! Such kindness that it makes you feel so proud to be a member of the human race!

Unfortunately I can’t announce any of the great acts of kindness yet… but they will no doubt be on the blog over the coming days and weeks.


I’ve now been at ‘The Dhaka Project’ for 12 days and I’ve taken about 10 English lessons. Unfortunately, at the end of my ‘Standard VI’ English class today I felt rather annoyed.

Why’s that? Was it because the kids weren’t listening to me? (No) Was it because the kids weren’t enjoying the lesson? (No) Was it because a power cut had meant a boiling hot classroom? (A little)

In fact, the real reason was because the kids were so good at English!!

I had prepared myself to teach them verbs, adjectives and nouns - things I hoped would push their knowledge a little. In reality, they already knew these words, what they meant and how to use them! Crikey! They even started to confuse me with talk of pronouns!

So, I’m now thinking hard about what (and how) I can teach them. I know it’s useful for them to talk to a fluent English speaker and I’m definite there’s a lot I can help them with. The kids could actually take a few of their classes just in English – so maybe instead of teaching English I’ll teach a different subject in English – they’ll learn two things at once! I wonder if they’ll be interested in my favourite subject, American politics..... :)

My adult teaching class is going very well. Not only have we conquered 1-100 in the last couple of days, we’re now moving on to the important question words – What, Where, When and How. I’m very surprised how quick they’re picking it all up and I’ve got great expectations for their progress.

Apart from that, Gawair (the district where the project is), is fine. We’ve been experiencing a few power cuts (not very nice when your room’s at 33 degrees) and a few dramatic rain storms, although I don’t think this’ll compare to the monsoon....


Though the climate in Bangladesh is most of the time a warm climate, to keep our 700 children warm in colder days as well as many of their families who don't have nothing it's very good if we can provide them some clothing items, so avoiding them to get sick due to cold nights... and all consequences due to sickness.
Thinking about this Iani Capon has just offered us some clothes with some items for babies included.
There will be a season when our kids will feel very happy and comfortable by wearing this clothes.
Thanks to Iani for this donation on behalf of the kids and their families at The Dhaka Project!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Everyday we deal with electricity outages in Dhaka, but today seems to be a special day - 5 min on, 10 min off. I would approximate that we have only had 3 hours of supply since 8am, and now it is 3pm! Meanwhile the temperature at this time of year continues to sit above 35degs til about 9pm at night!

Whilst we cannot change anything to do with the current power problem throughout all Bangladesh, we know that within our schools we are creating leaders of tomorrow's generation that will not allow such problems to exist.

Meanwhile, we just go about our business without electricity, fans or lights!


Mariam Arms is a volunteer who has been in Dhaka with her husband Anas a couple of months ago. Both worked hardly in several tasks transmitting lots of encouragement to our children for a few days as it can be seen in their feedbacks in our website volunteers' page.
But Mariam didn't rest after going back to Dubai!
She has sold the video she produced at The Dhaka Project and that is embedded at your right side bar to her friends and family and fundraised the 'beautiful' amount of 1805 Dirhams on behalf of the Project!
Thank you to Mariam Arms for this work on behalf of our 700 children; she distributed first school uniforms and shoes to most of them when the school year began this year!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Our team and staff at The Dhaka Project live a continuous stressful life due to hours and hours of power cuts, not being able to properly running classes, not being able to use communication resources, always under the pressure of very low or run out laptop batteries indication when needing to do some computer work, no fans under terribly warm weather and... no lights !!!

To help minimize a little part of these troubles, Rahimafrooz, a very important Bangladeshi Company, that had already donated an IPS, has just offered two more IPSs to the Project, permitting a few lamps to be lit and a few fans to be working during warmer hours.

And of course the team and staff are extremely grateful to Rahimafrooz, for their kindness towards the Project. This will represent a huge difference, soon helping the staff get much needed better working conditions to be able to do their best, going the results once again to be reflected in the children's future.
Thank you Rahimafrooz!!!


15 foreign volunteers from Australia and France came and visited us on Saturday, 10th May.

They throughly enjoyed their visit especially having lunch with the kids in the canteen and seeing the Korail slums. Positive feedback all round; already some of them have asked when they can come back and help out. And we've got a real boost because one of these volunteers wishes to help us set up the medical centre for the slums - an old dream of ours and very much needed.

The Dhaka Project volunteer who is deeply involved in the Project and the team in Dhaka felt more than happy for having had this group of volunteers visiting us. At the same time this was a test for future possible tours run by us to help the project get more income towards self sustainability as well as raising awareness.

Thank you to these visitors for sharing their time with us and our kids and for the positive feeling their visit caused on us all.


After being with us for some time, Grace Dass, who works for Salon Aruna's in Dubai, can't stop talking about The Dhaka Project.

She's the volunteer who left her luxury zone in Dubai to come over and teach western beauty skills to our beauty center students at The Dhaka Project action field (you can read about it here). She was accompanied by her boss who couldn't resist the impulse of taking part in this task!!!

Grace has been buying clothes over two years on a weekly basis from our garage sales and not only that - she also takes her friends there to do some shopping to help us !!! Grace has just informed us that she's collected a donation of 150 AED towards the Project!

We wish to express our grateful thanks to Grace for her kindness in being a big supporter in small steps - her little gestures will go a long way to help the lives of our children.

Thank You to the donor who handed this donation to Grace!


A donour has offered us 'more' toiletry.
And we say 'more' because it has kindly been offered by an usual donour, who used to regularly donate her toiletry to us through Jenny Gibson, a volunteer who worked for Emirates.
So, this kind donator, Linda Tedd, has got in touch with us to go herself at the drop-off point and leave her donation, one of the many she has indirectly done these years.
This precious and continuous yelding of toiletry on our behalf, believe or not, help us make a huge difference, meeting our needs to keeping our children clean and heathy.
Thank you to Linda Tedd for her kindness on behalf of our kids and their families at The Dhaka Project.


We've got one more king gesture, a donation of 4 big bags and 2 sports bags full of clothes for boys and 2 big bags of woman's clothing kindly donated thinking in the families and their needs.
The donour is Carol Geldenhuys who has written to us some days ago about her donation.
Thank you very much to Carol for her symphatectic gesture that endeavours making slum families happy by keeping them warm in colder days, in the name of our families under the care of The Dhaka Project.

Friday, May 16, 2008


The IT struture of The Dhaka Project has had a lot of imperative changes last few months.
Thanks to Richard Fleming, there has been a precious set of skills taught to our team at The Dhaka Project.
After one class on the basics of writing emails they are now trained e-mailers, and in the next few weeks they will be employing everything they have learnt improving their email skills day by day.
Also in the next few weeks we are planning a follow up lesson.
For now they have been taught about the ''Structure and the list of 10 email musts'' each time an email is written.
All this is being done with one thing in mind, seeking a single goal; breaking the cycle of poverty!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Last month we have been donated some monetary help from Shelley Goodfellow to help on facing the rising rice prices.
More recently F. V. Dick (Ferre) has made a donation to help us with equipment for our First Aid Center.
Also Fernando Casimiro has made a monetary donation, 25 Eur, enough to provide food for a child during one month.
To Shelley, Ferre and Fernando our grateful thanks on behalf of our children and families at The Dhaka Project for the difference they have made through their donations.


We have kindly been offered 2 second hand Laptops, one offered by Greg Steiner and another offered by Matt Patton from Triton Lines.

And Matt Patton also donated us a piano, (a precious gift to the artistic development of the kids) and yet a monetary donation of 500 USD! This monetary donation is intended towards buying food as he did a few years back... when he was in Dhaka during 24 hours; he filled a van with food for The Dhaka Project children!

These valuable gifts will help providing more computer skills to more of our students, by having more computers to training so that they can widen their range of knowledge in modern technologies.

Thank you to Greg Steiner and Matt Patton who kindly provided us with these important gifts to help our students at The Dhaka Project and so helping us to make a difference, a great difference!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Mia Jang, a flight attendent from Emirates Airlines dropped through on her layover to donate some clothes from Dubai and give the children a visit. She abolutely loved her visit so much that she said "never have my cheeks hurt so much from smiling, the visit made me so happy."

Thanks Mia for your visit.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Richard's Journal - Life Decisions

The majority of us that end up in development work have a defining moment where we suddenly realise that we feel that we are wasting away in our rich corporate spiritless lives. Mine was building a house in a small remote village of Fiji when I was 20, where I realised this community, who had very little, had more happiness than any community I had been part of in Australia; even if their life expectancy was 25 years less than mine.

There is one friend of mine, Tom, whose defining moment has stuck in my mind ever since I heard his story. It was whilst he was sitting in a philosophy lecture – the lecturer posed the following question to the class
If you were walking past a lake and saw a baby gasping its last breath as it went under the water would you jump into that lake to save that baby, knowing that you destroy your new pair of $200 shoes?”

With all the class saying “Yes, of course”, the lecturer then posed the question of why people don’t give a fractional amount of the cost of those shoes to ensure that people in Africa have access to life saving immunisations and medication.

Since I have been at The Dhaka Project , Tom’s defining moment has come to me quite often – not in the form of medication to save someone’s life but rather for education to give someone life. I am often asking myself the question would I give $200 a year to ensure that a child lives a life free from poverty.

In an interesting happenstance, last week Tom’s defining moment came full circle for me, I was walking back from visiting the preschool and I got a phone call from the office – “Rich we need you to make a decision.”


“You remember the pregnant nursery assistant, Bilkis, who fell off the rickshaw last month? Well she needs emergency caesarean surgery, she is having complications”

“What are the details?”

“(The Dhaka Project) Doctor has told me that the Hospital doctors say that she needs emergency caesarean surgery or she and the baby may die.”

“So what decision do you need from me?”

“The surgery is going to cost her 18,000tk (~$250USD), and she doesn’t have that money.’

Straight up I thought – But I am only the Director of Adult Development… and hey I have only been here 2 and a half weeks. Knowing that the decision had to be made it was down to me – Maria was flying right at that moment and our project manager was sick with chicken pox.

So there and then I had to make that decision that Tom’s lecturer posed his class a few years back - $250 for the surgery or the possibility of Bilkis and her unborn baby dying. Not even knowing where I was going to get the money from, I knew that there was only one decision I could make.

Today, I am extremely happy to say that The Dhaka Project Family now has a healthy addition - A boy, Shakibul Islam, weighing in at 3.75kg and measuring 23 inches.

We are extremely happy to welcome Shakibul Islam into our family and look forward to have Bilkis and Shakibul Islam return back to Gawair soon.

On a personal note: The challenges of working here at The Dhaka Project still continue to amaze me, I sit here writing this blog entry at 10pm at night in 35 degree heat dripping with sweat, I am down to the last little bit of my laptop battery as the electricity has been out since 8 – apparently it’s just the usual day at The Dhaka Project! From the loss of electricity for 6 hrs a day to the need for more staff/volunteers to help complete my A4 page to-do list, I can’t help but keep tirelessly working as the smiles I get from the kids everyday reminds me of how the work I am doing is giving them life.


A big 'Thank You!' to the Dhaka Sheraton, Radisson & Westin Hotels!

These hotels (the best in Dhaka) have decided to donate the soaps and
shampoos guestsleave behind. Not only does this mean 750 clean (and
nice smelling!) kids - it also means we can re-allocate resources
within the school to textbooks or other teaching aids.

- a piece of soap is a tiny thing, but combined we know
this'll make a massive difference - thank you!

Monday, May 12, 2008


So, after 6 months travelling overground from London I finally arrived to do my promised bit of volunteering (that's why I came to the Indian sub-continent, honest!).

Apart from the useless embassy officials in Kolkata and having to endure the 100th time I've been stuck on a bus with screaming kids, I arrived with no problems and was picked up near the airport by Jewel – the 'volunteer coordinator'.

After being shown to my new abode – which includes the most comfortable bed I've slept in so far! – I went to both the high-school and primary school to try and get a feel for the project. I was stunned! The buildings, the facilities, the teachers and especially the kids, were amazing! I'm so impressed by the work that has been done here in less than 3 years. I'll say it again......amazing!

Needless to say the kids were very nice to me and I haven't ever shaken so many hands in one day! Although conversation was rather limited to 'What's your name?' and 'Where are you from?' I could see by the test results pinned on the wall that their English was a lot more advanced than that. At some point I will hopefully begin teaching the kids, but at the moment I've just begun teaching the project's employees English.

My first lesson yesterday went well even though many of the employees (cooks, rickshaw drivers and cleaners) had never said a single English word except 'hello'. By the end of the lesson everyone could conduct a simple conversation (with a little help).

What is your name?
My name is -----------.
Where do you live?
I live in ---------------.
How are you?
I'm fine / happy / sad.

I've never taught before and only have a weekend TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course to my name. However, with an hour lesson every day, I think we should be able to make great progress.........

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Last week we were fortunate to have Mikey from come and visit us at Gawair. is leading the way in helping establish an effective and sustainable tourism industry within Bangladesh. They have placed a great deal of emphasis on responsible travel in their reviews and their forthcoming Bangladesh guidebook.

We were honoured to show around the project and show them everything we do here, and were even more honoured by Mikey's kind words about The Dhaka Project within his article on, (The Dhaka Project Seeks Volunteers Funding Resources). The article also includes a youtube clip taken by Mikey of one of our current volunteers talking about the project-

Joybangla is also doing a photo exhibition and selling postcards of the photos.

They love what they are doing so much that they have decided to give 10% of every sale that they make to The Dhaka Project!!!!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Surely many of you still remember about Shikha, the young lady of 24, who got horribly burnt from her chest to her legs in 'kitchen' flames, and was taken to The Dhaka Project , seeking for help...
Yesterday, (7th May), our Maintenance Manager, Nayan, has spent the day in Dhaka Medical College Burn Unit, taking care of her after she had her second graffing operation.
It was a successful operation though she has been very sick along the day (normally expected after a surgery).
Our team is dedicating their time as much as possible to keep her up as well as her baby who is under our care at The Dhaka Project premises, and we hope that in a few days, after one more operation (likely held in 5 days) she will be near a progressive recovery.

Thanks again to all who sponsor or have sponsored her and the Project! We never forget that this wouldn't have been possible without all the kind gestures you have had!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


One more wonderful donation of school uniforms is being processed from JESS Schools to The Dhaka Project.

As you could have read in this blog in a text from a few months ago, the uniforms then locally bought, not only were badly sewn as they weren't anyhow the best quality ones as the traders used all kinds of expertise to deliver cheap fabrics instead of the better quality fabrics chosen by our team at their shops...

So, this donation, a truck load of school uniforms,

kindly offered by Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS)

is an amazing and wonderful gift to The Dhaka Project that will appear reflected in the lives of the children !!!

Thank you soooo much to JESS Schools for this kind gesture on behalf of our schools' kids !!!

Monday, May 5, 2008


In order to confront the frightening high prices in Bangladesh, and therefore in Dhaka, our rickshaw drivers are adding themselves a new task to generate more income to The Dhaka Project, showing us that our team is not sitting back waiting for the end of the resources to react against one more grievance that the usual state of Bangladesh threatens to push them to.

So, our rickshaw drivers, everyday load their rickshaws with used clothes, kindly donated by people abroad, and costly shipped from Dubai and go 'sell' them at distances not coverable on foot by customers who can't afford any means of transportation to go where clothes are cheaper; The Dhaka Project's Clothes Shop!.

This activity generates some income that helps both the drivers and the Project to get some income so becoming life not so hard, struggling one more disaster that is hitting this poor country; the huge inflation not followed by the wages as usual in all countries when prices go high, causing the poorest to suffer most immediate consequences.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Let's remind you about Laura !

She is the girl you might have read about in our Newsletter from May/June 2007 or in a briefer reference in our Newsletter July/August 2007.
By that time she had given all her birthday presents on behalf of the children of The Dhaka Project.

Laura comes from a family in which all members have been our continuous supporters along the years. Her father, Captain Konrad Warner has carried lots of huge suitcases full of clothes, toys, etc. to our children in Dhaka.

And this year, she repeated her beautiful and kind gesture, offering the results of the fundraising she organized on her birthday, 3rd May, to her friends at the Project; all gifts have been converted in money on behalf of our kids: 1300 AED !!!

Laura : with her friends in Dubai
We gratefully say a thank you sooooooo much to Laura Warner for keeping concerned about the kids who need our care at The Dhaka Project, giving away the pleasure of unwrapping her anniversary presents once again.

Click to zoom in another window
And Laura's friends from Dhaka also express her a huge and warm thank you in their own name !!!



An important donation has been done very recently to The Dhaka Project.

In fact, after reading our appeal in 7DAYS , this already usual donour* has transferred a considerable amount to Project's bank account, what is a very precious boost to the Project, especially in this period, months after all kind of disasters around in Bangladesh with the respective bad effects and due to global higher prices, we are in real trouble.

These precious 5,442 US Dollars (near 20,000 AED or 3,525 EUR ) will highly be a wonderful relief to our stress caused by the continuous struggle to take care of the 700 children who we provide with daily food, education, health care, dental care, home for many of them, and help to their families in many ways, etc.

A great thank you to this DONOUR from the bottom of our hearts on behalf of our kids, families and staff at The Dhaka Project.

means sponsoring us since January 2007 on regular basics!

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Sponsors don't forget the kids who they help!
The messages exchanged with Virginia are a true example of that.

Virginia La Torre Jeker has emailed us to remember us that their sponsorship period was coming to an end and therefore they wished to renew it.
But as we took a few days to reply, due to the endless things to do added to day to day work for a living, she didn't give up and half a month later she insisted, (well done!), writing us again to know how to do it.
And quickly she transferred the amount to continue sponsoring "their" two children for a full year of education... 300 US Dollars!!!

On behalf of the children at The Dhaka Project, we gratefully say a thank you so much to Virginia for not permitting us to forget and above all for this precious and continuous help!