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.

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