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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…


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