I felt this pressing need to make a whole post about Maria. I should have done this ages ago but my blogging efficiency is just slightly less embarassing than my high school tardiness attendance.
Maria is a former colleague of mine from Portugal who has frequented the pages of the newspaper for a few years now. Don’t worry, they were all for the right reasons.
During the first time she flew to Dhaka, she was shocked by the gravity of poverty in the area that she began to question her role in life in this world. She flew back to Dhaka again, this time during her vacation leave, and conducted a research on how to reach out to them in a long term. That was how the Dhaka Project was born. I was a witness myself to this Dhaka Project. Maria left messages in all the crews’ mailboxes, asking us to donate any unwanted clothing and extra canned goods to be donated to the needy in Dhaka. For a long time she kept doing this, never ceasing. While the rest of us thought of new bags and clothes when the pay check was out, she spent all of the money she worked hard for to her project. While the rest of us planned of how to enjoy the most our two-week holiday, all of her free days and vacation leave days were spent flying back and forth from Dubai to Dhaka.
As if it was not a struggle enough to single-handedly manage a humanitarian project in a foreign country, the government of Dhaka made it more difficult for her. As Maria managed to allow Emirates Airlines to give her a free lift for the the bundles of donations that she had accumulated from Dubai, the customs at Dhaka International Airport refused to release her cargo unless she would pay for the taxes. The amount to be paid for the taxes was not cheap at all. It could build several classrooms for the children. Maria refused to give in, even marching with all of her “kids” to the airport, and won her battle in the end.
But keeping the donations going, especially the monetary kind, was never easy. Once the Dhaka Project started, Maria became the biggest beggar. While researching about how to make big money fast, Maria tumbled upon a sure-fire but difficult way to do it. Last April of this year, Maria headed to the North Pole for a two-week unsupported expedition in an effort to place six gifted children from Bangladesh to schools in Dubai and support them for the duration of their secondary education.
Her latest gruelling charity quest is the “777 Challenge”, which is a quest to complete seven marathons in seven days across the seven Emirates, will begin on the 26th of November.
Her first baby, the Dhaka Project, started as a one-room school for the children in Dhaka, has now provided free education to over 400 children on a regular basis.
Maria resigned from her job as flight attendant to work full time to her own foundation. For more information, visit her website here (mariachristinafoundation.org).