Saturday, September 20, 2008


Period: 21st Jul - 4th Aug, 2008


There are kids from 6 months to 4/5 years old in the nursery. There is a menu elaborated by a nutritionist on the nursery's board indicating a varied kind of food along the week. But the reality is that the kids everyday eat the same kind of food at a given hour. Soon in the morning they are given milk and bread, in the middle of the morning bread and banana, at lunch time white rice cooked with vegetables, and a snack around 16:00 of bread, banana and milk.
I had the care to turn up there everyday at a different time and realised that they didn't follow the menu on the board, the same menu published in the Dhaka Project Webpage in which it says that 3 different daily meals are served accordingly with the nutritionist advice.
Once I used to pass by there at different days and hours I always saw the provided snacks of bread, banana and milk and at lunch rice and vegetables, and when I asked Tamana, the Nursery Manager, why they didn't follow the menu on the board and published in the Project's Webpage, she said to me that Nayan, the Shopping Manager, never used to get all the items ordered by the nursery. All months, there were missing items from nappies to milk, so I asked to see the list and to go shopping with Nayan but didn't show him the proposed list I had taken with me. And I confirmed that the list I had with me had many more items than those we really bought. I questioned him about it and showed him the list with all the items requested from food, nappies, little towels, shampoo, soap, cleaning products, machine washing power, all necessary items to keep the nursery running nicely. Then Nayan assured that there was no money and that the Staff in the Office just gave him a very limited amount for all what Tamana had ordered, and that it wasn't possible to buy all the products.
But as a volunteer for The Dhaka Project, I just began to question everybody because in my first day in the nursery I realised that the kids' cloths had a bad smell and were dirty, then I talked with Tamana and said that I wanted the kids clean, there was no sense having the kids not well cared once there was lots of donated cloths and a washing machine. She said that she would take care of it, but on the next day everything remained in the same state, then I asked what were they doing there if the kids not even got clean and at that point she said that they hadn't had washing powder from a few days then. I asked to see the store and all the products in stock. And I felt surprised because the nursery was in worst condition relatively to the previous year, when there was no lack of food, though they didn't even had a menu, but the food was varied from day to day and there wasn't lack of anything, even with a very small budget. Tamana showed and I saw it, that there were no nappies for longer than 2 more days, powder milk for only 4 days, few detergents, lack of shampoo from several days then, no toilet soap equally from some days then, she ordered some soap from the Office and they sent her around 20 units, prety dry and dark due to the storage, she told me (and she was right because I saw them) that she wouldn't wash the kids with that. In the middle of the talk she let out that in July, the month before my staying in the project, there had been no milk for 2 days and when she asked for some from the Office, a volunteer named Kate said that she could feed the kids with water with sugar from time to time,... I felt with no words.
When I asked Tamana how the community was reacting to the lack of milk, she replied that the parents left their kids there to get them fed, and if there would be no milk they would stop leaving them in the nursery. Whenever I asked her how many kids were in the nursery she used to give each time a different number, never the correct number, what I couldn't understand because if the Dhaka Project takes care of the community's children, provides them with free food, why were the kids missing? They didn't know how to answer, giving the usual excuse to this type of questions, "they have gone to the village to spend some days with their relatives and some won't get back".
And I ask to myself, if I had no food or no job, would I move to another place?
Would I stay in the city where it is easier to find a job and where my children could have education and food for free, or would I move to the village, to the fields with no job and no food??
I, who am not Bangladeshi but have been there twice, think I would prefer to stay where I was.
As I couldn't get to know how many kids were there, I said to Tamana that I would take pictures from them one by one and I would like to have them ready on the following day, at what they replied: "No problem because we have special cloths to visitors...."
I said I didn't understand and if she could show me what cloths she was talking about and she showed me a few closed bags containing beautiful and almost new cloths, to dress the kids when they know that there will be volunteers visiting the project... And so, they were dressed in their new cloths on the following day, to the ''party'', and one day later everything got back to the normal state, I don't understand.
But why have Cristiana and Pedro seen all these problems and the other volunteers show us a wonderful and pink scenery ? The time along these 3 weeks in Dhaka became it very easy to answer to this question; in the streets of Dhaka near the Project there is an extreme poverty state, you can see kids almost nude, starving, hanging around in the streets doing nothing, alone,... and then you get in the nursery, even if they are eating bread with banana and milk, in tidy rooms with plenty of donated toys, any common citizen concludes that the project is a wonder and everything runs fine. And if the volunteers inform previously they are going to visit the Dhaka Project, with the volunteer manager, Jewel, the kids will be carefully dressed in their "visitors' cloths" for the 'party' days, and you will see a magnificent scenery. Then the volunteers get in the nursery, somebody inserts a CD in the CD player, Jasmine, the most alive girl, starts dancing and incentivates the little colleagues and all seems paradisiac in the Dhaka reality.
And why don't volunteers realise about all the rest not working such as it is carefully shown in the website ? From what I've learned, most of them if not all, make a visit to the project as visitors and then begin teaching in the EK School at their own option and little is the number of who return to the nursery or some other places of the Dhaka Project.

Another problem I saw there was a weak level in educators' skills in the schools. There are dozens of books in the nursery to help learning English, stories and several books dedicated to children at these ages, that are never used.
Not even using the books to make drawings in them, for which it's not needed great skills to develop such activities. There are also activities' plans defining hours for everything, eating, sleeping, playing, painting, watching TV, watching movies, learning English and games, and once again they don't implement it and during 3 weeks I didn't see anybody from the Office controlling this. If the Nursey Manager, who was paid for that, didn't do it, if the Office didn't control it, and if there are managers for all and everything else why wasn't the nursery running in good condition ?

Is it Maria's fault?
Is she,... who goes there from time to time and sees that all what she has imagined is not being run accordingly, and that she tries to reimplant each time she goes to Dhaka but that only works with her pressing all and everybody, and as soon as she turns her back on, everything stops working correctly... who is the faulty person to be blamed?


  1. Tamana and Nayan have been fired.

  2. Maria is known for being like a 'German Matron' and totally zero tolerance when kids get neglected. Although staff moan and cry on volunteers' shoulders and sometimes volunteers feel sorry for staff, the kids come always first.

EK School

Here, Pedro and me, had a short meeting with one of the school directors and she told us that the school had 22 teachers paid by The Dhaka Project, 4 teachers not paid who had asked to give classes there and the volunteers. Along the 3 weeks I have been in Dhaka, at least 3 volunteers were doing full time teaching in the college. The director also said that there were 6 cleaning staff for the inner space of the building being there while the school was open, 3 doormen, and 3 street cleaners.

Relatively to the staff, any one even without knowing Dhaka, soon realises that all is always dirty, and concludes that 6 cleaning staff, 3 doormen and 3 street sweepers is truly an excess. But after all these huge staff numbers, one would feel rewarded by seeing a clean school, but it's not the case, you could see banana skin on the classrooms' floor, the corridors are dirty,... how is it possible that Maria, or any other human being, in a non governmental organization that has as the main target to take children from the streets of Dhaka and provide them education and food, to pay to 12 cleaning staff and not even getting to see a clean school?
Once again, I don't understand.

Also here in EK School the number of students provided to us by the director doesn't match with the reality, because Pedro and me have been in all classrooms, took notes about all students and teachers, and questioned about the missing students, if anyone knew where they were, why they were missing, if they could be ill, if the families had took them out from school, or simply tried to know or understand the reason that caused them to be missing.

There was a total of 374 students attending school and the director had said that there were around 427, this means that 53 students had disappeared, or nobody knew nothing about them.

This table shows the numbers we got in EK School

After having taken the pictures we concluded that there are 15 classes to 22 teachers, plus the 4 teachers who are teaching for free, and not taking in accounting the volunteers who almost all prefer teaching, what almost all the kids love and learn far more from them, because they feel much more motivated and the fact of willing to learn English represents a lot in this motivation.

We took pictures of 374 students, separated them by their respective classes, with the number of the classroom and the number of students for each class. On the first day when requesting authorization to take pictures of all students, we have been asked to wait because they wanted to give notice to the teachers. All would appear normal if there hadn't been teachers and attendance books up an down... I found it strange the attendance books not being with the teachers in the classrooms. And then they called us and we started from the top floor, knocked the door, introduced, and Pedro who felt keener on speaking English, explained what we were going to to, then he asked the teacher how many students were there. Here we began to get that things were really bad, from the teacher saying that the class had 32 students, normal, then when questioned about the number of presences, most of them didn't know how many were there at the moment, or if they answered, and we started counting them "one by one", once again the number wouldn't match with the number of students in the room.
Pedro and me looked at each other, stopped, maybe frightened, feeling fool about all we were witnessing without understanding how that was being possible, teachers not knowing why their students were missing, we found it bad but not concerning, but not even knowing their students' first names... we found it really concerning.
While walking from room to room, with Pedro talking with the teachers, asking them about the number of students in a class, how many were in the room, how many were missing, we saw and heard to the most absurd and weird things that we could imagine coming from a teacher in a classroom.
With no exception, all classes attendance books had always more than 30 students in them, numbered in a page, where the presences were noted in the same page by month, and in the next month they had written the name of the students in the same book, the number of the students had changed and the way how they wrote the names were different from the previous month.
It happened that in a classroom the teacher said that the presences were 24 and there were 9 missing students, I said that 9 students missing in one room were too many and with more than a half of our task done in that room I asked her how could it be if with 9 kids missing we found only 4 empty chairs, and she replied that some of them had been moved to another rooms...
When Maria has turned up in Dhaka we went to EK School and entering in the teachers' room we found lots of stationary and toys packed in a cabinet that should be in the nursery, and found a hidden box containing ID cards of kids who were no longer in the school. What they were doing was replacing students who left school, without nobody being able to explain why they left, by new students to fill the gaps.
This appeared confirmed when we took pictures and asking why some of them didn't have an uniform and an ID Card and the students answered they had been there from one month or two weeks then and they hadn't been given an uniform or ID Card yet, and when we did the same question to teachers they replied that those students had lost their uniforms or ID Cards.

When talking with the kids in the classes 5 or 6, some of them speaking good English, they confirmed that they didn't have computer classes or any other kind of activities in the school after having finished their holidays in June, the teachers and the directors once again said the opposite, saying that the kids were being taught all the classes. But the true is that they weren't attending extra activity classes because the timetable showed the working period to be from 9 to a half past 3 and Pedro and I went to check at that hour, witnessing the kids hanging around in the streets or in the school without any kind of support, classes or teachers to help them.

Also here, what has been described in The Dhaka Project Website doesn't match the reality, where it is claimed to be providing 3 meals a day to the students, it's not true, the school not even has a kitchen or a canteen, and there is nobody providing lunch to the kids. This is the lunch provided to the kids in EK School.
They just eat bread and banana in the morning,the students who were in the TDP School and are now in EK School go have lunch at TDP School and in the afternoon around 3 PM eat bread and banana again.

The students in EK School don't eat any kind of meal, some don't go home for being too far from school and don't have lunch, how can these children learn while starving?

The only extra curricular activity given to some of the children is provided thanks to a group of rich teenagers from Dhaka, The LEO Club, who go at TDP to teach dramatic art, dance and representation for free, which I saw twice in parties organized by this group in the school.
In one of these parties were all the volunteers present, the Office staff, the teachers and many students, but not all from the school. The second party organized by LEO Club was to celebrate the Educational Director's birthday, but this time and strangely, you could only see some 30 students in the assistance, not more, the Office staff, all the teachers, the group of students played their role, all have performed very well, the kids who are part of the group, like it and get deeply involved in these activities. When their play finished, the ''Happy Birthday to You" was sung to Firoz, the birthday cake was shared with all, and then the teachers sent the kids out, remaining only the volunteers, the Office staff and the teachers in the room and "when the zone got rid of students" they took the food, but at this point as I didn't like this, I went out, I didn't understand why only 30 students had been there and not all, not equally appreciating them sending the kids out after the cake so that they wouldn't eat, and got out with them.

While talking with the kids, one of them introduced himself as school director's nephew, as being there 3 months then and who used to have lunch at TDP School everyday such as the kids who were in the project before EK School has opened.
This wasn't the only case because some of the teachers also have their children studying in TDP, when we introduce the project as an organization that rescues kids from the slums of Dhaka, yet once again I can't figure out why the nephew (above) and the teachers' children are in EK School...

After having left Dhaka I met one of the kids in the internet and of course I felt glad, finally the kids are having computer classes and looking at the hour in Dhaka it should be around 5 PM and so they might be having extra activities, but he answered that he was at home... And I asked ''if he had computer in his house?"... and he answered "yes and I have internet...?" All I can do is feeling happy for him, the kid has a computer and internet at home, but isn't The Dhaka Project supposed to only help the street kids?

Sewing and Karchupi

In comparison to the last year the sewing centre has been moved to another place, before it was in the building where are the TDP School, the dentist and the doctor, now it is in the same building as the nursery. It has been asked from Pedro to work on Sewing Centre matters by making calculations of all costs and perspectives of sales for the following years. The first thing to do was to make an inventory of all materials in stock and the total expenses with staff and shopping.

In the list given to us we could read the following:
Furniture:............................................... 10.000 Taka
5 Sewing Machine......... 3.500 Taka = 17.500 Taka
3 Embroidery Machine... 3.000 Taka = 9.000 Taka
2 Cotting Machine.......... 2.500 Taka = 5.000 Taka
22 Frames Karchupi.......... 400 Taka = 8.800 Taka

Expenses with premises:
Rent....................................................... 4.000 Taka
Electricity Bill - not known - same
bill for sewing centre, nursery
and building's owner
Gas Bill...................................................... 400 Taka
Designer.................................................. 6.000 Taka
Karchupi instructor................................. 6.500 Taka
Sewing instructor.................................... 5.500 Taka
5 sewing trainees.......... 2.000 Taka = 10.000 Taka
10 Karchupi trainees..... 2.000 Taka = 20.000 Taka

These are the costs that if one read about in the blog would find fantastic, the kids in the nursery, their mothers in the school getting skills to go get work, having a wage during training period, but the reality is slightly different. I have visited the sewing centre with Pedro and alone on different days and there were some details not definitely matching the shown above; the real number of the karchupi ladies having train was 5; this is the average number of ladies checked by me at random occasions, the number of ladies who are being trained there.

If I am asked if I think that ladies should be paid while being trained, in my country one has to pay to have formation, but in Dhaka yes I agree, it's some more income to the house for the kids. Then I can't get why the accountability refers to 10 ladies learning karchupi when in reality we can find only half of them in place,... I prefer not to think more about this.

Last year there were 3 times more sewing machines in the sewing centre, I asked the sewing manager for the rest of the machines... the sewing machines from the bag factory that has been closed, and the immediate and sincerely tiring answer was, "Maria GAVE them".

When Maria arrived in Dhaka I asked her what had happened to the factory bag sewing machines... she said that she had given some of them to the mothers of her children so that they could work at home not having to come to the factory because some of them lived far... and that the contracts had been kept, the customers who ordered bags from the Dhaka Project would order the bags from them. These mothers received formation, Maria gave them the machines, the customer would supplied the bags and the yarn, and they would sew the bags... I asked if it had worked...
Maria, disappointed, replied that nothing had worked... When they decided to close the factory bag and to propose this deal to the mothers only half of them accepted, the others didn't want any machine, it was too much work for them and they were tired with working, preferring to be at home.

She gave the machines to these ladies work at home, after some time went there to know how the business was going on and see if everything was alright, not even one of them was working, they cancelled the contract with the customer and didn't want to work. All the profit got with the bags would go to them, the Dhaka Project yielded the machines and not even this way things work. All these words to say that if there were around 15 machines in the project, 5 are still there, and Maria gave 5 to these women, what about the other 5 ????
Maria has given 5 and she knows who they were given to, we asked the staff about anything that didn't work, the answer is, "it was Maria", "it's Maria's fault" or still "Maria took it to Dubai".... This is simply ridiculous, what interest does the project's Founder have in hiding things from herself, from her own project?? There may be many volunteers going to Dhaka, many staff members invited to work or staying there, but nobody cares and understands how things work in Dhaka better than Maria.

Whenever Pedro talked with the karchupi manager, Babul, and asked him about the sales from the beginning of this year, his answer used to be "that he had been working in the project only since July, he couldn't answer about what had been done before, he didn't know nothing about it". And Pedro asked who could inform him about it, and talked with all in the office and there were no results provided, nobody knew, some said that they were organizing all, but nobody showed results. And Pedro asked how could we put future sales in perspective if they didn't even knew nothing of the sales in the current year? And we could read from their faces that we were enquiring too much, or suggested us to do anything else. And finally Babul presented an A4 sheet with these written:

Sales since 1st July
1.800 Taka

Pedro and I started laughing and realized perfectly that it was a number to get our mouth shut. And we asked for receipts, if they didn't write the proof of what they sold... answer "NO, because we only sell cloths, bags and other items to flight attendants who visit the project and we raise the prices to make some money."
I saw the cash receipt book last year, when I bought many cloths in the sewing centre to be sold in Portugal and they gave me a receipt and I accounted that income of money with Munna in the sewing centre, so I couldn't accept that one year later someone told me that there was not and never had been a cash receipt book in this centre.

I wanted to do something then I had an idea and pretending to be a customer went to the sewing centre to buy anything. When I arrived there I saw that some products had the labels with the respective price, but most of the products didn't have any label and some were stored in cabinets.

I asked why they didn't have all the products out of the cabinets and properly price labeled so that visitors could easily get to know the prices and buy the products. I saw all the products and said what I wanted to buy, Ratna the shop manager who knew perfectly that I had been there last year, (I had been there many times to remember him to choose different models and colours when ordering those products), began saying that he couldn't sell, that he didn't know if he could sell, used his mobile and phoned to somebody and at the end of the call soon he said yes he could sell. Who has he phoned? And from when is it necessary to phone somebody to know if he can sell the products exhibited, some of them having their prices labelled? I thought it would be a good idea to keep playing this farce and chose two different not labelled products, a karchupi bag and a tunic, the prices were 1.000 and 2.000 Taka respectively. After having listened to the prices (after the phone call) I understood the call...

But as I wanted to extend this farce to its end I bought them and he said the total price and handing him the money I asked "so what about the receipt?" "You're going to sell these two items and then what are you going to write, where to write, how do you report to the office you sold two items at this price?" This caused a total mess, he didn't understand me, everybody grouped around us, and the karchupi instructor talked with him, opened a drawer and took a cash receipt book out. Then I thought "you have the cash receipt book there, don't deliver receipts to anybody, because if we needed all this fight only to remind you about what a cash receipt book is I don't even want to imagine the end of this joke". So they had a cash receipt book and the joke went on, and Ratna said to me "you write" and handed the book to me... I couldn't keep serious for longer and started laughing and said, "but it's you who are the seller, you are the one who ought to write, not me, the most I can do is signing it so that you can prove the sale to the office, done in this day having received this amount in cash, identifying who you have sold it to" and he reacting with a long face and speaking Bangla to the others began filling the receipt always asking for help from the karchupi trainer and I signed, said thank you, and left.

A few days later I asked in the office how were the sewing centre sales, if they were selling or not, and the office staff said "no, they aren't selling anything and didn't deliver nothing here".
By those days Maria arrived in Dhaka and when she visited the sewing centre she asked if they were selling anything, if everything was working fine, to what they answered "yes Maria, everything is running well and as for sales we haven't sold nothing, there haven't been flight attendants coming here..."
Really, I am not a flight attendant, but I left 3.000 Taka there.

And I think that the best thing to do is to close this "parasites' centre" who don't mind if the organization is aiming to help street children, all they are able to look at is their own navel, they don't mind about the kids, for them, the sewing centre is a job as any other else and if they realize you have money they will try to get all they can from you...

Hostel for Girls

The Hostel for Girls has been set up by The Dhaka Project to provide shelter to girls aged 12 years and above, when they begin to be forced to marry by their families.
The girls go to school during the day and return at the end of the afternoon to the hostel, where there are 2 ladies from their family, whose functions are cleaning the house, taking care of the cloths and cooking.

I had been told in the Office that these ladies who worked there were paid by The Dhaka Project, and that they cleaned the house and then cooked for the girls.

I went only twice to visit the Hostel for Girls, the first time with Pedro and Nurul who showed us the rooms, the kitchen... all the house... Each room has 2 beds where 2 girls sleep, I thought they had too little room for them, 4 girls accommodated in a room!... The house itself was dirty, with rubbish on the floor, cloths everywhere, and also the kitchen was dirty.
At the time there were 28 girls living in the house, I found it strange the door to be closed with a lock; we had been told that the house had a doorman, but Nurul had to previous go have the key lock, to show us the house, so if there is a doorman paid by the project, he wasn't there!

Also during the afternoon, when we went to visit it we didn't see any lady cleaning anything, simply, there was nobody in home. We only saw a dirty house with nobody inside.

The second time was when I got back there, with Maria and 2 journalists from Dubai and Jewel, the volunteer manager at The Dhaka Project, and we felt surprised by seeing a nearly 7 year old girl in the house.
Maria and I looked at each other, and we started talking with the little girl. Maria knew her very well, she is in the project since the beginning, a journalist got closer to her and asked what was her name, if she liked to be living there, the girl said her name and that she liked very much to live there. And then the journalist asked the little girl "have your parents forced you to marry so at that little age?" The girl laughed at her and replied "marry?" "I am only 7 years old, I'm not old enough to be married", Maria was astonished, but she asked the journalist to go on and ask the girls everything she had in mind because Maria was feeling interested to know what was going on.
Then, the journalist and Maria began to make questions to the older girls, those who should be there for having been forced to marry, and asked a group of them for their names and ages and if they liked to live there, all answered that they liked very much to live there. And the journalist asked the girls if they knew why they were living there and not in their houses with their families, and all them answered, "our houses were in very poor condition", and that they lived poorly there, and that their parents didn't have money... All of us felt with no words,... open mouths!

As Jewel was there we asked him why the 7 year girl was living in the hostel and he said that she was a special case because her mother worked and was never at home. And we replied that it was no solution, the most kids at the project doesn't have their parents living together and many live with either with their uncle/aunt or their grandparents. And I asked who had chosen the girls to live there and according to what criteria; Jewel said that it might have been the teachers, but he wasn't sure.

Both the two ladies were in the kitchen, cooking, and Maria asked them if they felt happy for working there, if they liked to work for the project, and also asked why was the house so dirty and why there was nobody in there in the afternoon, and they answered that they had to go out to work...!? We returned ''how out to work ? If the project pays you to taking care of the house and there is nobody here during all the day, you ladies go out to work !?" And half frightened half shocked they replied "no, no, we are not being paid to work here; we go out to work for the day and at its end we clean and cook for the girls here... !"
Again we inquired Jewel, he started to talk in Bangla with them, and simply answered us that he didn't know...
(When they start talking in Bangla it seems they are always having a quarrel, and we keep ignoring if they are telling the truth).
The girls also told us that they didn't like much to be there because at night it was usual boys and men to show up there to harass them and that they didn't feel comfortable with that, but Maria asked the police check it during the night.

In the internet it's said that the Hostel For Girls has been set up to give shelter to girls in their 12-14 years, when they are to be married in Bangladesh, and also because the parents, not having resources, force their daughters to marry very early. After being forced to marry they go to the houses of their "parents-in-law", where they are authentic slaves in those houses, they have to wash, they have to cook, they have to do all the housekeeping, for all who live there.
By reading the website and being aware of this reality, I think it's fantastic the project providing them accommodation, but there, in Dhaka, the girls and all, say that they are there because their homes don't have a good living condition and their parents don't have money; and now the boys also wish to have a Hostel For Boys...
What's going on in there? Who is wrong at this point? Maria, who is working in Dubai and is always searching for new sponsors to finance the project? It doesn't seem so!

When I was taking pictures, the kids at EK School, the most advanced class, in which Mosharof is included, and the class who best speak English as well, all the boys have joined together to ask Maria and me to also set up a hostel for the boys because they lived without any condition at all in their homes and some even have said "if my sister is there why can't we, boys, have a Hostel for Boys?" And then I asked them if their parents also forced them to get married at early age... and all answered they didn't...
Once again I don't understand what's up there, all I could realise that they didn't get the correct concept of the Hostel for Girls and I don't understand who passed the wrong concept to the boys, because it wasn't Maria for sure, but somebody has built it up; they wouldn't all wake one day after having the dream telling them that the Hostel for Girls is for those who don't have a good living condition at home!


The staff in the office began working at 9 AM finishing between 6 and 7 PM. The main difference relatively to the last year was the number of people working there. This year, they were 5 more staff than in the last year.

One lady, who was in charge of answering to sponsors, sending pictures, updating the sponsored kids' files and preparing files of those who are to be sponsored.
Another staff member did his work like this: only answering mails and letters, I think that just one element coud perform both so similar tasks. Other matter that intrigues me is if the project contracted 2 more people only to update the kids' files, to send mails and inform the sponsors of what was going on in Dhaka, why me, Cristiana Fernandes, haven't received at least one mail, one letter, at least one picture of my Tony, who is in the nursery, since last year??

I am with all what is for the good of the project, I am yet more with the best for the kids, but what is failing? I don't know... if they have 2 staff member to take care of this, the funny thing in Dhaka is the whenever they are questioned for any not performed or badly performed task, the is always Maria, Maria said, Maria demanded, while she is in Dubai, not knowing nothing, but carrying all the failures on her shoulders.

Every year a new database is created, containing all the kids of the project, I myself took photos of all the kids last year, another volunteer did the kids' cards, printed photos,... the ID Cards of all students at The Dhaka Project have been done later and we left it all in the Office's computers.

This year, as always happens when there are staff leaving the Office, all had disappeared, and then new databases are needed to be set up and so on. Then I asked directly the staff members who were there last year for the database, nobody saw, heard or knew nothing, until the bright Jewel have said ''Maria took it to Dubai....'' I started laughing in his face, and asked if he was kidding me!!, because I myself had left all the photos with the kids' names, and later I had seen the cards ready saved in the computer; if I hadn't seen the documents in the computer, if I hadn't seen the cards done by the volunteer, if I hadn't taken the photos, what would I have thought about Maria?? I would think what they would like me to think about her, but I can't.

Another big difference from the last year, was the mattress on the office floor, for my first days in Dhaka when I entered in the office and saw the staff reading the newspaper during working hours, initially they used to rapidly get up, but then they got used to my presence and didn't feel they should make that effort, keeping as they were before...

When I questioned the office staff, wishing to know what was the purpose of the mattress on the office floor they answered that it was for the meetings, allowing them all to feel more comfortable.

There wer daily meetings, from 9:00 to 9:30 AM, with all office staff attending, initially when I entered there while a meeting was taking place I didn't know what to do, as they never said anything about or didn't invite me to take part, I waited for the end of the meetings to start working with somebody who was in the meeting. Initially it didn't seem strange that they didn't say nothing about it to me and Pedro, because only the staff and the long time volunteers took part in the meetings. Until the arrival of a volunteer who would be there for three days but that took part in the meetings, then I asked myself why couldn't I know what was going on in those meetings, once I was by there, I didn't get why we couldn't take part in these meetings. Once again I didn't know why we couldn't take part in these meetings, why didn't the two Portuguese volunteers have the right to be in these morning meetings, as all the volunteers? I thought I shouldn't ask to take part, as all took part but us, I only wanted to help the project, I kept doing my job, what I thought to be necessary.

Talking about the project directors, if we could give them that name, Korvi and Richard, were just Office directors, rarely or never got out from there. I saw them twice, in the EK School party, and in Firoz's birthday party, out of the office during the woriking hours. Also I saw Richard visiting the project with a volunteer who was his friend. Either one or the other ingenuously believe in all the reports from staff, blindly; in my understanding they shouldn't, because the things are not working, as the scenery they are drawing in the site.

I would believe in their good faith if the things were as they are, if they hadn't published all those auto praisal in the site of the project, from the number of the students in the project, the meals, the classes, the qualified teachers; the computer classes and extra-curricular classes don't work, but these gentlemen believe blindly in what they do, and published these lies. They didn't see, just listened to what the staff told them.

Yes, it is easier to blame others,... others not,... just blaming Maria!
One day after Maria's arrival in Dhaka, she visited all the project with two journalists from Dubai and started making questions to Korvi, to Richard and all the office staff and while this was taking place a staff member was writing mails to sponsors, writing that the project had 650 students, that they were providing 3 meals a day and extra-curricular classes...

I don't think this is good faith, I didn't see them willing to work out the problem; only because Maria yelled at them, once nobody was able to find an answer to what was happening, so they think they are doing it well, that their work is perfect and they think that Maria is mad...

On one day, Maria was desperate, all what she had built and in what she had believed, once again was very close to be destroyed, and just said this: "is it so difficult to provide 3 meals a day to my children? Is it so difficult to provide them classes from 9 to 5 and check if they are having extra-curricular classes?" I can assure that nobody, just nobody gave an answer, I didn't know about her feelings, but I myself would feel good by breaking them all.

So, in that same morning she asked the staff to find a small catering company to distribute 3 meals a day to the kids, that only properly fed they could learn, and told them that if until de end of the day they didn't contract that service, they would be fired. And surprise of surprises, nobody moved, nobody took her words seriously, Jewel went to check the mail, then Maria held his arms, shook him and said "get food to my children". So, now based on this small scene, compared with all what was going on in Dhaka, they say that Maria yelled out, that Maria physically hit her fellow founder, Jewel,... this one I confess to have been a good try, once I was present and all I saw was a shake.

I felt very disappointed about all what was happening in Dhaka, and I phoned Maria and said that the project was pretty different from the previous year and she came, and witnessed the same as me, things aren't working at all. But in the site the scenery is being presented in a perfect form.

I don't agree with this at all, with the way the staff is handling the situation, I think that no one of those who work there is worried about the kids, they see the project as any other job, they don't care if the kids are eating or not, if they are having the promised classes, what the Bangladeshis know is that Maria is their gold mine, they also know that she does everything and pays what is needed for the kids. So, whenever she goes to Dhaka, they try to draw as much money as possible from her, and as time goes by, she sends more and more money to Dhaka and the kids' quality of life is worse and worse. Can anybody understand this? I can't, and I can't understand the Bangladeshis' mentality, but as for the volunteers and some who work there , who are not Bangladeshi, how can they let into in this style of life so fast?

The staff members say that Richard has done an excellent job, Richard believed ingenuously in the staff, if all is so good in Dhaka, why do they say that Maria is mad, why do they beg Maria to send them funds and at the same time they suggest that she only should go there no more than twice a year to visit the project ? If I were in staff's shoes, and once they think their job is excellently done, I would ask the sponsors, or even the Emirates Foundation to visit the project? This should have been done as soon as they began to be questioned by me and Maria.
And what have these gentlemen done? They used Maria's contacts to start libelling her by writing pure lies, declaring that Maria is mad!

Is Maria mad only because she sends lots of money for her own NGO and demands the best from her staff to the kids?

But we aren't even talking about their best, at this moment we are talking about the basics, 3 meals a day and classes with qualified teachers.
Do they think it's too much? For me this is the basic, The Dhaka Project has been set up to rescue kids from the streets of Dhaka, to feed them and to educate them.

What happened was that the founder has gone to see her own project, and demanded the most basic objectives related with the target of the project from her staff, the staff composed by dozens and dozens of people who she pays their wages, and whose tasks were supposed to be done efficiently... so, is Maria mad for having done this?

I apologize to all staff, but all them without exception, don't like to do whatever it be, they want to draw the most money they can from Maria, and don't want her to upset them much, better, do not want her to upset them at all, demanding she to go few times to Dhaka and to keep sending them plenty of funds.

If these weren't true, I repeat, the staff would provide at least the basics, 3 meals a day, classes with minimal quality, this would be the minimum accepted, but is it asking too much? So it seems at The Dhaka Project!

Medical Centre

Here, relatively what is presented in the site, it's a total lie!
They claim to have a medical center, to provide assistance to all community and so on. They just moved the dentist chair and all the items related to the dentist, and the medical equipments that were already in the project a year ago in the TDP building, from two separated rooms to one larger room,... if there is something different, it's only for the medicine chest, and they consider there to be a new medical centre set up for the community!!! The project received 30,000.00 USD to build a medical centre, they changed the dentist and the doctor to another room, contracted a new doctor and a new medical center is set up???
Absolutely, it's not like that, and my skills are all but medical related, but I saw the same equipment a year ago, in TDP in another place.

When Maria got to see what they had done with the medical centre, not achieving nothing of what they had promised, she said that she would have to back the funds to the medical centre's sponsor. And we were already in Dubai when she asked for a meeting with the sponsor, I was present too, she told him what had happened, I told what I had witnessed, and she simply gave him the 30,000.00 USD back, he said that she was too much honest and that in the charity world nobody is like her, and said that he would keep the funds to when she got back to Dhaka, or needed it for any other ONG that she might want to set up, wherever it could be, in any place of the world, saying that he would always be with her, that he believed in her work and that when she had news, he would get her new sponsors.
And I still keep questioning... is Maria mad?
Only because she wants to help, feed and educate the street children of Dhaka, is she mad?


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