Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I am Solange Barros Piñeiro, living with my husband and my 13 years old son in Dubai, and I have an older son who lives with his wife and my grandson in Brazil.
I'm beginning this first feedback, to report my experience along these few months while working as a volunteer with The Dhaka Project directly from Dubai.

Now a days I dedicate all my spare time to The Dhaka Project taking care of the store contents, getting it tidy, sorting items, cleaning the store, preparing the products to be sold out with Brazilian friends, etc...

We are managing to expand the donations to another countries, Brazil included. Now we have a donation to the Cancer Hospital in Rio de Janeiro-Brazil that will be administrated by Luciana Takagi, who lives in Brazil and who is wife of another captain with Emirates.

I've been dedicated to doing awareness to earn to another places in Brazil that is a very large country and where there are many people in need of help.

I used to help my friends by yielding my garage so that they could sell personal things without their profit, because my garage is very well located in front of poor dwellers' houses what brings excellent results.

Luiz Ogui who got to know about the need of making money with the donations of The Dhaka Project asked me to take some items with Maria on the day before a personal sale. And also asked me to look for all products in big suitcases and organize them the best way. And I found a huge amount of suitcases in the main avenue in Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road and not having an idea on where to start the work I began it with a good sense, good will and good heart. Luckily, Fernanda Laço, also wife of a pilot with Emirates like me, helped me from the beginning to to end as well as her mother Maria Helena who had come from Brazil to visit her daughter during her holidays.

The result of this work was better than the expected and the amount has already been reported. Just to remind I repeat that we reached the amount of 20,000 Dirhams in only two weekends, what means a rate of four thousand items sold because we set each item to be worth 5 Dirhams and considering that each customer bought an average of 5 items we have attended around 800 customers. All was set up in my house; I inspired several Brazilian expats who, due the extremely hot weather were frequently needing a shower and changing their cloths, I yielded my personal rooms and also my cloths so that they could bear along the working day as least tired as possible and best motivated, offering them juices, water, lunch, cake, coffee, etc. We felt very happy about the results and I thought that we would have this level of sales every month, but the government sent three representatives at my house who informed that the sales were forbidden unless we had a license emitted by the Emirate.

I became thoughtful and I've been trying to find a way to raise funds from the received items.

What most has impressed me in these two weekends was when some of who live in the worst condition handed 5 Dirhams from their pocket and donated it to the project without taking nothing with him. I proposed him to choose a shirt and he said 'thank you' but that it was charity and that he didn't want nothing against the money donated. I had never witnessed such a noble behaviour from who has so little but was able to help from his heart so causing tears flooding my eyes and from this new experience on I realised that I could have helped much more than him with my resources of knowledge and I had needed half a century of life to see that most people don't help those who have nothing because they have never had an opportunity similar to this I am having now, in their way; one needs to live literally a heart touching example.

Another example came from a construction worker who handed me 100 Dirhams asking to donate 24 Dirhams, I gave him the change and he didn't take any item with him. I think this amount is perhaps a percentage of the salary, already in set by any religion because we are surrounded by muslims, hindus, etc. religions from all over the world.

At the time we have three stock spaces occupied beyond the allowed space to be used that consequently uses three extra spaces. (The room of Emirates captain Marcelo Taborda's servants, the old CBC that has 40 full suitcases, and the bathroom of the building where Maria lives that kindly I asked the doorman to yield it to us and he heartedly agreed but we don't know until when he can do it); in gratitude I have given him some donated items so that he doesn't feel used once he is a low salary employee with a hard life in Dubai.

On each new day I have a new experience from the behaviour of those who buy, who help, who try to create holes in the way because they don't trust in volunteers' dignity nor in the sincere objective of this project or they haven't been touched yet in their hearts so not knowing how they could help with a simple gesture of not creating barriers not needing even to do nothing to be summed to our fundraising; not demotivating us will be considered as a great help.

Contrasting with the construction worker who donated his sweated little money I have to stand up with Philippines' women most of them trying to steal items and taking advantage when we were doing the sales at our store.
All this is enhancing my knowledge of the behaviour originated from each country's culture. And the Philippines' women are on top of this negative rank so far.

Maria has offered me autonomy at work as the results have appeared along these three months and has acted with much maturity due to her three years of acquired experience in this project. I checked and confirm at each of her procedures that she is prepared and skilled to acknowledge negative people, those who turn up only to take advantage. She has to act very fast and always feeling a huge overload on her shoulders, what prevents her to always be available for the most significant contacts of the moment, that would take her to get funds donations, because the items donations need to be sold in an act that is almost a magic trick because we aren't legalized in Dubai.

I know that Maria needs to be available to get donations because when I arrived in Dubai and having seen notes in newspapers I tried to find her and I couldn't; a volunteer has gone at my house to collect 500 Dirhams as a sponsorship to a child whose file we have, however we don't know nothing about this kid and it has been promised that we would receive a report about his/her life in the project; due to this lack of info I kept trying to find Maria to believe that it was all true but she never met me or answered to my mail. So not knowing how to deliver the money we stopped to sponsor that child!
Because I lived this experience, now I know that most of who look for Maria and can't have a personal attendance end up stopping their donations.

Together, we need Maria can keep acting, by directly meeting people and making awareness of the project, but I still don't know how to make her aware of that once she doesn't like to expose herself to people who make many questions and demand concrete and repetitive proof of the results what is tiring under Maria's perspective.

I am waiting for an opportunity to visit Dhaka.
I am getting ready to know the project in its place as well as the result of our work.


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