Monday, March 31, 2008

AN INTERNATIONAL PLEA FOR HELP

Dear Volunteer-of-the-World,
This appeal for help comes from Dhaka, capital city of Bangladesh.

The Dhaka Project is a humanitarian community service founded by an Emirates Airline cabin assistant, of Portuguese nationality , two and a half years ago. We

now have 700 children from nursery school to Class 6 levels under our care and attention.

We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to build a full and rewarding life. At The Dhaka Project, we maximise human potential. We try to bring hope to the children of Dhaka, Bangladesh, by providing sustainable skills and dignity needed to
better their lives.

We envision lifetime transformation.

Our mission is to create a safe and nurturing environment so that poor, underprivileged children in Dhaka can be developed to become the best that they can be, and rescued from the miserable depths of abject poverty.

Apart from donations that come from the world over, and especially from the financial generosity of the Emirates Airline Foundation, we also need help from professionally qualified individuals with a range of experience and skills that can change the lives of these marginalised kids.

We need people who have experience and skills in the following areas of specialty:

  1. English Language teaching for elementary learners .
  2. Computer teaching geared towards children IT education.
  3. Extra curricular activities eg. drama, music. sports, dance, any kind of performing art.
  4. Teaching another language besides English like French, Spanish, German etc.
  5. Help in putting in place administrative work processes & procedures for the schools.
  6. Working on improving existing school curriculum.
  7. Counselling programme for families of children under our care as well as child counselling.
  8. Health, dental, eye care support from doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists, paediatricians
  9. Teaching children about the World and Global culture.
  10. Instilling confidence and a sense of security through child psychology and personality development.
  11. Environmental awareness program to inculcate into the young a love and caring for the environment in which they live in.
However, any other specialty experience and skills not listed above will still be considered in the context of the developmental needs of the children.

For more background information on The Dhaka Project's activities, as well as insights into what our volunteers say, do visit this website :
www.thedhakaproject.org

Volunteers-of-the-World, come and share your experience and your life with the children of The Dhaka Project. They await you with open hearts and excited anticipation.

Maria Conceicao
Founder,The Dhaka Project

Thursday, March 27, 2008

THE DHAKA PROJECT - THANKS TO RAHIMAFROOZ

Dear Rahimafrooz

The evening that you had organised for us, to reward outstanding staff members of The Dhaka Project, was
received with so much joy and heartfelt appreciation by us all.

Everyone of my team member present that night, not only was moved emotionally by the unprecedented
recognition ceremony [ this has not happened before on the scale and prestige of your event that night] , but
in their own words and right from their hearts, you heard how grateful they were for being so fortunate in
being a part of The Dhaka Project.

Through hard work and sheer tenacity of spirit and undiminished resolve, The Dhaka Project got to where
it is to-day, a relatively short two and a half years, through a strong backing hand from you personally, as
well as from members of your Organisation.

I can say with absolute certainty, that Rahimafrooz was that special X-factor that made all the difference
between 700 poor and marginalised children remaining that way for life, or, now living out life with hope,
dignity and a purposeful future ahead.

I thank you profoundly Murad and Munawar for your benevolence and human empathy that have made a world
of difference to so many children rescued from the slums and streets of Dhaka.

The accomplishments of The Dhaka Project did not come easy.

There was really hard work put in and , at times, aggressive determination to get the impossible out of
the way. There were moments too that we have, in our earnestness and love for the children, upset your
people; there were times too that we appeared unreasonable but our determined efforts to get things
done had just one goal in mind --- that the 700 kids in our care have access to consistent health care,
education, food, shelter and clothing and that they must never fell insecure because of shortage of
funding or resolute support from benefactors like you and your wonderful team of people at Rahimafrooz.

Thank you Murad and Munawar for being there for us all the way, right from the beginning. I am indebted to
you and ask that you accept my grateful and eternal thanks. It is my hope and dream that someday into the
future, some of the kids at The Dhaka Project could repay your kindness by working for you and a splendid
Company such as Rahimafrooz.

Maria Conceicao
Founder,The Dhaka Project

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

NEW VACCINATION ON SITE

The Dhaka Project, in a continuous health care concern with the kids, had one more day
dedicated to vaccination.
In this session, 472 children have been vaccinated with Priorix (against measles, mumps and rubella).

This event took place on 20th March and was entirely fundraised by Emirates Airline Foundation.

Volunteer Jeremy and his students, who have been in the field for a few days, organized a Cultural Program
to keep children entertained while waiting for their turn to be vaccinated.

Thank you Emirates Foundation, Jeremy and his students!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

THANK YOU ZAYED FOUNDATION !


The Zayed Foundation has visited the Dhaka Project earlier this month.
You can find their feedback about The Dhaka Project in the link below:

ZAYED FOUNDATION FEEDBACK.



Tuesday, March 18, 2008

WITH HEARTFELT THANKS

Dear Jimmy and Emirates Foundation

From the very beginning when Emirates Foundation started to financially support my efforts in The Dhaka Project, you were instrumental in making sure that the charity work I do for the poor children in Dhaka is never short of money.

There were moments when I feared not having money to feed the children, clothe them, educate them and sustaining their health and their hope for a dignified life. Each time I find myself in such dire situation, you have been there to help me. Money was made available as quickly as you could process it for me, and I can feel your hand behind the scene to not let organisational bureaucracy cause me worry and anxiety.

Recently, you organised two large cheques for The Dhaka Project that were of immense help. With this money, me and my Bangladeshi staff and every child under our care in Dhaka, were assured of no disruption to our day-to-day lives. This helped our peace of mind enormously.

I do realise that in a large organisation like Emirates, administrative procedures can slow down and even delay the release of money to external parties like The Dhaka Project, but you have been looking out for us all this while. For this, I am really grateful to you.

Thank you, Jimmy, for believing in me and in what I do for the underprivileged kids at The Dhaka Project.Thank you for beliving in our team and our hopes and dreams for the dhaka project . I am always grateful and this email message tells you that, busy as I am in my flying job, I do not take things like your precious support for granted.

I value every bit of help you give me each time I needed help. And I cannot thank you enough for going out of your way for me.

Maria Conceicao
Founder, The Dhaka Project.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

LONG RUN SUPPORTER !

Kay Smith an ex Purser for Emirates Airlines has been a big contributer since the beginning of the Dhaka Project.
Sadly she left Dubai 3 months ago to work in another airline in UK.
When we thought (
what a shame!) we had lost a great volunteer and supporter, she sent me a message yesterday saying her mum's neighbour has did a garage sale for the project and raised 250 pounds ;)

Maria

Thursday, March 13, 2008

MARIAM'S FEEDBACK

I'm honestly honored to be part of your amazing project. You guys left a really huge mark in my heart and have influenced my every move now that I am back in Dubai. Although the time spent there was short but what i have learnt would last a lifetime.
- I have learnt the 1 Dirham is equal to 18 Takas which can buy 9 bananas for the children.
- I have learnt that nearly 30 dhs can buy a child a uniform.

- I have learnt that 3,000 dhs can build a family a brick home that would shelter them from monsoon season.
- I have learnt not to sweat the small stuff.
- I have learnt not to wine and be grateful for everything I have.
- I have learnt to be more passionate in what I do because some people never get the chance do what they enjoy or like.
- I have learnt to smile more.
- I have learnt to be part of a team and to work together in sync.

- I have learnt that a simple donation can do such a big difference.
- I have learnt that even something simple such as face paint can brighten up a Childs life.
- I have learnt to give and not expect anything in return
- I have learnt to help people forget about their problems even if its for a
second.
- I have learnt to love people I have never met before.
- I have learnt to give attention and praise the children, students, and peoples abilities and give them more self confidence.
- I have learnt how to say thank you and I love you and Bangla (thank you = Dhonobad , I love you = Balobashi).
Thank you for making me a better me :)
Miss you all so much!
Mariam

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

ANAS' FEEDBACK

Anas came last week from Dubai with Mariam and Bader
Let me to try to recall how all of this started. Well I 1st found-out about the Dhaka Project & Maria through the 7 Days paper in Dubai, then I found her on facebook and that’s how the contact started. Since then I’ve always mentioned my interest in going to Dhaka to my mom and wife, who both are always interested in visiting these places and providing help to those who need it, therefore I was talking to the right people =) !
Recently Mariam (my wife) got an assignment for providing community service in one of her courses and this gave us the right opportunity to visit Dhaka. She mentioned the idea to her teacher, who loved it and there we were preparing & coordinating with Maria to visit her as soon as we can.
Letter of invitation received, visas issued, tickets purchased, got absence of leave in the last minute from work (wasn’t that easy of-course), Maria notifed and off we were.

Day 1 (26/02/08):
We arrive after a delay in mid-air because of bad visibility, therefore that got us behind around 2 hrs. We go through the airport, which wasn’t that difficult and as soon as we were out we find Maria waiting for us with one of her trademark smiles. She takes us to the Dhaka Project Guest House and we loved it. It was more than we expected; cozy, very good space, hot water, AC (this is mandatory for me of-course =P ) and very clean. As soon as our bags were in the apartment, we were off for a tour around the Dhaka Project, while Maria and her team explained to us how it all started from 2 small houses and where they’ve reached now. Now they have 2 schools, one that is divided through different areas (all close-by) and is called the TDP (The Dhaka Project) School and it caters for 150 students. The other, which is one big building, called the Emirates Airlines Foundation School, which caters for 450 students. Not bad huh !

That was Phase 1 of the day. In between we had lunch @ the preschool and then it was Phase 2. In Phase 2, Maria & her team took us around the slums of Dhaka where they had found the kids who are students in their schools now. Honestly you should just see the slums! It was so interesting to see. Very interesting, especially to me. I love visiting these places, absorbing the surroundings and imagining the different lifestyles that are being led in our world today. The conditions that these families and children live in, it’s just crazy and to see where and how Maria & her team have brought-in, not only their children, but their families too, to the project is simply great. They take care of them all and it’s lovely to see and imagine the future of these kids. Giving them education, knowledge and the confidence needed to start their lives and the opportunity & chance to become doctors, engineers, pilots, navy personnel, etc… is just great to see. These people @ the Dhaka, in my opinion, are changing a whole generation, which will change the whole country and “inshala” provide a good change to our world.
By the end of the day we had to visit the Special Burn Unit & Plastic Surgery Hospital. Seeing the poor conditions that the burnt patients were living-in, I don’t want to even know how they perform plastic surgery (and this was supposedly the best hospital around)! We started giving the patients some blankets and some stuffed toys & booklets for the burnt kids. At-least for most of them we could see that we got their minds off their pain for at-least a couple of minutes and that was definitely worth it.
We concluded with……PIZZA HUT ! A tomato & cheese pizza, with extra cheese, ooooohhhh, tasty! And that was all I need =P . After that we headed back to the Guest House and what can I say; it was a long day, we slept like babies =) !

P.S. I have to say this, for all you photography lovers (me being one of them), Dhaka is such a photogenic city, the colors, the place, all very beautiful !


Day 2 (27/02/08):
Maaaaan we were tired. We hadn’t slept well for 2 days. We actually slept around 3 hrs, which was in the plane, other than that, NO. So I wake-up as scheduled @ 7:30 am, see (Florence or Flo as we call her, a very very sweet lady), who came to wake us up. I check-on Mariam and Bader, our friend, who is accompanying us on the trip and well, in-short we asked for an extension of sleep ehaha, we were still exhausted! So we wake @ 10:00 am now, go to the old-school, Mariam starts to face-paint the kids, they loved it! Me & Bader head to the market, which was far, to purchase some paints for some art paintings that Mariam has promised for the old & new schools. After purchasing the paints we come back to the old-school where Mariam is doing more face-paintings. Sooo, we start painting the old-school outer wall, while Mariam is doing her face-paints. We get each student available to paint on the wall and write what they want to be and place one hand-print next to it using the color of their choice. The statement would say “I will be a …….”; we got a lot of pilots surprisingly (I’m guessing the influence came from Maria, who works in Emirates Airlines actually =P ), other than that there were dr.’s, engineers, etc. The idea was Maria’s, who wanted the kids to believe in what they want to be and imprint their goals in their minds from this young age, which I thought is a great idea.
That used-up the whole day. It was a looooong process. Oh & by night-time the place was swarmed by mosquitos. I HATE mosquitos (yes I’m sure everyone does)! And I was wearing shorts, yes that really doesn’t help, but I did so because I was supposed to arrange a football match between the students and the teachers, but that was postponed to Day 3 (and yes I love Football) =) !

Day 3 (28/02/08):
This day we got-up early to watch the kids @ the assembly @ the old-school, which we missed the day before. We reached there while they were in their lines. It was really nice to see how organized they were and the best part is when they sang the last song, which was in Bengali, although I didn’t understand it, it was simply lovely. Then we had a long day ahead of us, we went to the new Emirates school, where we had to organize the new uniforms and shoes for the new students that were attending. It might sound simple, but it wasn’t, let’s just put it that way. We had a BIG number of students coming and we had to have everything organized as quickly as we could. The shoes were all mixed, all kinds of sizes, male & female. That’s what I started with and it took me a good amount of time. I’m sure we had over 200 boxes there. After I finished sorting the sizes, separating them in different piles and placing female & male shoes separately along the team, I went over to help Mariam with the uniforms. Then the students showed up; all with no measurements or sizes that were known to them, so it was our job to find them a suitable one. The kids came, 1st got their uniforms, then shoes, and then they had a small snack of 1 banana and 1 piece of bread. This activity all together took-up most of the day.
When we 1st arrived Maria kept telling me “Did you notice the difference between our new kids and the ones we’ve had for some time now?” Honestly, I didn’t completely realize it the 1st two days, but on this day, WOW, I completely saw the difference! Some of the kids were so scared, didn’t know what they were supposed to do, the way they sat, the way they ate, as if they haven’t had even a small meal for a week, they would eat sooo fast and I was telling them that it’s ok, they can take their time, there is no hurry, some couldn’t even look me in the eye, they looked so afraid and insecure. It was sad to see their state and how they were, but it was also really good to know what The Dhaka Project can do for them, how it can mold them, train them and educate them.
On this day we were mostly with Flo and she was great mashala, so thanks for all the help Flo =).
This was mainly day 3.

Day 4 (29/02/08)
We slept an extra hour or two on this day, just to get some good rest. This was our last day in Dhaka.
On this day you can say, it was our tour day, we went to the school, then lunch, then we headed to a nice big store (a bit far), where we could shop for some souvenirs/clothing.
Then, by the end of the day we headed back to the school, where to our surprise the kids had prepared a show for us. It was very nice, very cute and very very thoughtful. They did some dances and a fashion-show, which were all fantastic =). Then we took a lot of pictures with the kids, who kept telling us to promise that we will be back and so many of them wanted pictures with us. It was all lovely. The way the kids get attached to you, even in a short time, is just heartwarming.
And for dinner we all (the Dhaka Team) went for dinner @ a restaurant; interesting conversations, laughs and all.
The whole experience was simply great. The kids were beautiful. Maria has a great team working with her and that’s what makes the Dhaka Project successful. So THANK-YOU Maria, Flo, Jewel, Nayan and all the team (including our Rickshaw drivers) that made our experience such a wonderful one.
I hope and say that inshala we’ll see you soon =) and I promise to pray and do my best to aid The Dhaka Project in as many ways I can.

Lots of love…

Anas

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

HARD LIFE

Yes the Project is great, yes we are meeting amazing people and spend some unforgettable time with the children but only those ones who come here know what is the price. The life here is really hard. We work like dogs on the field then in the office. We have to follow up the work of the team as it's difficult for them to take initiative or just because they are not used to. Just an instant example. We are surrounded by dogs, really nice but wilde. A volunteer offered to vaccinate them to be sure they won't carry any sickness. We called the Vet who came but does not catch the dogs and our team was scared so for the 4 first dogs we had Maria and myself to run after them, catch them! Grrrr
I did not wake up a morning thinking I will just move to Bangladesh and be happy! It does not happen this way. Sometimes I wake up so tired that I don't know how I will be able to handle my day. Some days I just want to cry because emotionaly what we are facing is so hard, some days I just want to fire all the team because they don't go fast enough and sometimes like last week, I am ready to pack everything because this kind of comitment is not easy to keep. Our materialistic world is developping our ego, pampering him, filling him. Here, you just have to through your ego to the garbage bin and trust me, it does not happen in one day...
Yesterday night for example, we had a bad storm and at 3am I could not sleep anymore. First quite scared as it was violent but then I realised I was confortably in my bed, in a safe and dry place. What about our families in the Bamboo houses, what about the families living next to the ponds ?.....
At 4am Maria knocked to my door as she could not sleep either offering me to go and check if the near by families were ok. We left the building with our electric lamp. When we arrived there everybody was sleeping and no damage. Thanks god!
Three days ago, I received a call from Maria, she told me she was feeling very sick. I took a rickshaw and went to the teacher's house where she was staying. I arrived there and she was laying in the bed with a big feaver and told me she had a big pain in the throat. Honnestly? I panicked for 5 minutes... A european lady sick in a very poor area of Dhaka especially after having spent some time in the local hospital..... After couple of phone calls I came down and the doctor arrived. He gave her what we call in french a "horse treatment" (very strong ;-)). I prepared the magic potion given by my doctor in Dubai, fresh ginger boiled + honey + lemon. After 2 hours she was already a little bit better so I left. She has been very weak and sick for the next 3 days but she is ok today ;-)

UAE AMBASSADOR

Two days ago amazing people gave us the honor to visit the project.

The UAE Ambassador, Emirates Country Manager and Dhaka Airport Manager. After a project visit by Maria, a warm welcome from the children, the visitors came to EK College where a students show was prepared for them.
Just before leaving, the Ambassador announced he was sending today a truck full of food. The Airport Manager bought 170 kg of rice. And Mister Hanif from Emirates? He is a constant support for the project.
Can you imagine he spent his entire "birth day" 2 years ago at the hospital with Maria, saving the life of Shamota...
Shomota came back from abroad where she has been mistreated..... Maria and Anif took care of her helping to give her back a basic sense of dignity!

The same Shamota couple of months later. Now she is happily married and has a baby ;-)
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much for your warm support.

M & F

NEW UNIFORMS

Today was the first day of the morning assembly with the new uniforms sponsored by Emirates Foundation.The children were so happy! They rarely get new clothes....
It has been quite a "marathon" to get everything done properly.
The trousers arrived with single stitches and no elastics so we had to send them back. The size were not appropriate, They were the wrong T-Shirts, wrong sweaters (thanks God Winter is gone!)...It is so hard to get acceptable quality here! We spend a lot of time explaining what is an acceptable quality and what is not! What a waste of energy, what a lesson of patience......

BADER FEEDBACK 3

This is the 3rd day … I guess in this day I was really shocked and okey I know that Maria and Flo said that the kids in the school are in a better shape which I didn’t kinda get it or realized it because we are soo used to kids having more meat in their bodies … but in the 3rd day when we went to the school at 8:30 in the morning to arrange the uniforms for the kids and to arrange the shoes and dresses.. it was soo much work but it was worth it after seeing the smiles on the kids… after arranging everything and the kids started to come to give each kid a uniform and shoes according to their size.. Me , Anis , Miriam and Florence and the staff, were there from the early morning arranging everything.

Then I realized that oh my God! These kids are really skinny and starving (the new comers to school) they were soo skinny and starving and so frightened .. the sizes of the uniforms were 16,18,20,22,24 size 16 is like a a combination of two tissue boxes and to some kids that was to big for them !!! That shocked me … away from that … after given them the uniforms they have to take their meal which was two slices of toast and a banana … at this time what I have seen, I never experienced it In my life and it caught my eyes on tears.. These two girls caught my attention. one girl was eating the two slices of toast and the banana in the same time soo fast that she choked while eating .. and the other girl was hiding in the corner of the room and eating the slices of toast in small portions you can actually feel that she was soo frightened that the toast might go away and finish .. And she will never get it again … it really broke my heart seeing that. After that day I started to notice that the kids of The Dakha Project are much healthier than the kids that live in the street and it is actually making a difference to the lives and community that they live in..

Monday, March 3, 2008

BADER FEEDBACK 2

The 2nd day was sooo long and sooo tiring … we haven’t slept in the previous day … we were supposed to wake up early in the morning at 7:30 to be in school at 8:30 for the school assembly to watch the students and the teacher and to document everything we just couldn’t we have asked for an extension of time to sleep till 10:30 … so when the time came to wake up we as in (me Bader, Miriam and anis) we felt soo refreshed … anyway.. we had headed to the market me and anis .. While Miriam went to the old and new school to see where to is the best wall to draw on … soo we went to the market to buy some paints.. but then we realized that we haven’t exchanged money … so we exchanged and went to the paint shop we bought some paint … but we couldn’t find all the colors, soo we make an order for the next day to be delivered to the new school .. before going to school we were starving , so we went to the nursery school to have lunch over their … the food is amazing .. you cant doubt that and the best thing after lunch you have the tea and milk! I still dream of it !! ehehey :P I went to the school and we all thought of making something that might influence the kids for their future.. What a better idea than all the kids putting their hand as symbol for who they are and imagine every day when going to class they see their hand prints and what they want to be..
But is really funny and I noticed that almost all of the students want to be either doctors or a pilot … I guess that was influenced by Maria … the entire process of taking kids and making them align behind each other and to choose the paint color they which to choose and what they want to become, took the entire day.. but after finishing the walls of the school … it looked really good!! And I was soo proud of it.. every body hand put their hand print on the wall including the staff and students and every body put what they want to be in the future. Seriouly the feeling u get after working with such amazing and talent kids its amazing!!!! hope everybody goes over their and try it.