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.

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