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11 July 2016 Maria Conceicao announces her next challenge. 

Another wonderful company showing that businesses do support those in need and are very generous. Thank you DriveArabia.com for your $10k (AED 37k) donation. We are grateful! Your donation will cover school fees for three high school students (grade 10, grade 10, grade 11) until the end of high school. Your donation has already changed these 3 lives and made a lasting positive impact on their families. Thank you!

On the barren streets of #Dhaka, the untapped potential of children lie. Interest, passion and intelligence are the pillars to a successful human. Salma Akter, a bright-eyed and keen seventeen-year old, is blessed with all three. Salma grew up watching her #family struggle through the perpetual cycles of poverty. The tea shop her father (45 year old Salek Ghazi) owns is their pride and only stable source of income. Her mother, 35 year old Shuki Begum, is a devoted mother and housewife. The parents, through their strong sense of awareness, knew not to let their unfortunate situation limit their children. They neither complain of their circumstances nor engage in self pity. They actively live their lives, with a spark in their eyes, working and hoping for a better day where their children, Salma and Sayeem (currently in grade 9) can go on to prove their #potential and make a mark in their fields of activity. Salma always aspired to be more and do more and her keen enthusiasm has not wavered since. Through the help of MCF, she is currently studying in the 10th grade and has dreams of pursuing computer engineering: “Computers are not our future. They are our present. I want to study hard and help my country with my computer engineering skills.” Salma and her family are inspirations in their unchanging positivity, even through life’s most difficult endeavours. Their staunch refusal to play the victim in these tough circumstances is founded on a strong base of faith in the world. Make your contribution to help support their faith and nourish the bright futures of children like Salma: http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

When you make a donation to the Maria Cristina Foundation, you are changing lives. The difference you make is illustrated by the photo here. One of our students, Taslim, graduating from high school. This may seem like a normal event in any teenager's life, but for the children we help in Dhaka, this is an incredible achievement and something that nobody in their families has achieved before. We don't have an office, we don't have high administrative costs and we don't retain any donations. Your contribution will go directly to where the need is. Your contribution will make a real, lasting change. http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

A huge THANK YOU to Sport in Life and Samantha Cadwallader for donating 100 pairs of Newton Running shoes to our children in Dhaka. We have distributed 50 pairs so far and the children could not be happier! A good pair of shoes is essential to tread the muddy streets of the slums. These shoes will be treasured by our children for a long time. As most children only have one pair of shoes, these will help their school shoes last much longer. Thank you!

Like many other places in the world, Bangladesh will tomorrow wake up to celebrate Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan. The holy month of Ramadan was a time of reflection, prayer and consideration for others. We are thankful for all donations received during this time. Tomorrow families will gather to attend communal prayers and to distribute food to those in need. People will be dressed in their best attire and children will receive gifts, if their family can afford them. Eid celebrations will be humble for most of our families. Some of them will be the recipients of the distributed food. Most of their children will not receive presents. Nevertheless, they are thankful for what they have and keep working towards a better life. It is not too late to make your lasting contribution to those in need. Every little helps and goes a long way in Dhaka. Please consider making a gift to our children this Eid: http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

Do you, someone you know or your company/school/organisation/club need a motivational speaker? We are available to tell you about the challenges of running a charity in Bangladesh, about the incredible obstacles our children have overcome just to be able to go to school, about sacrifices and efforts made by Maria Conceição to keep a promise made 12 years ago. If you need advice and motivation on how to succeed with all odds being against you, how to reach your own peaks and make your wildest ideas come to reality - we have just the proof for you that all is possible with will power. Get in touch on marketing@mariacristinafoundation.org to find out more and book a time. Please share with your friends and colleagues to help us tell our incredible story. www.mariacristinafoundation.org

A big thank you once again to Stefano and Original Marines for donating some much-needed new clothes for our children. Your continuous help and support mean a lot to us and you have once again made the children very happy! If you, too, are moved by these lovely faces and would like to help them, please make a donation to help us secure their futures: http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

When you sit down for #iftar tonight, spare a thought for those, who are also fasting for #Ramadan, but not able to afford a decadent meal every night. We have seen time and again that once people get out of poverty, they are likely to give back to their community, paying forward the help they received. Your donation will go much further than a single person. It can start a domino of positive changes. Donate now: http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

This is sadly a common sight in Gawair every year during the #monsoon season. All our families can do is hope and pray the water does not rise any higher and that the smallest children do not get caught in the high water. The sad truth is that there are casualties every year and it is the youngest children that suffer most. The whole of #Bangladesh lies so low-lying that flooding is commonplace. In the slums, where disease and dirt are everywhere, the water makes it even worse as it carries dirt right into people's homes. Our families are OK at the moment. They are used to this, but the flooding also serves as an annual reminder of the fragility of their homes, and ultimately, lives. If you would like to help our community, please make a donation: http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

A gulf news journalist recently visited MCF as a volunteer. Here is the account of her experience. Walking through the dusty lanes of Gawair, I mentally brace myself to close my nostrils at the first whiff of the stench of open sewers or look away at the sight of pools of fetid drinking water and the inevitable mounds of rotting garbage. We walk through narrow lanes, every step spewing up dust in all directions. There are people everywhere, going about their daily routine; the ubiquitous rickety rickshaws race along the bumpy gravel as if on a smooth highway road. Cutting through a smaller lane, we come across rows of shack-style dwellings before entering into a courtyard comprising of several concrete homes. “This,” proudly announces 15-year-old Akter who had been guiding us all along, “is the slum where I belong. Welcome home!” Where are the dank and dirty, lopsided corrugated tin structures covered in plastic sheets, I wonder. I look around: there is no sign of garbage anywhere; hardly any litter; and strangely, the air still smells clean. In no way does this befit the description of a slum or bear a remote resemblance to what I had envisaged. Akter is thrilled at the prospect of being home surrounded by her family and loved ones. Seated inside her cramped but well-maintained home, I am struck by the warmth and hospitality extended by her mother and sisters. We step out after a while and are shocked at the sight of the crowd of men, women and children gathered outside, each extending a warm invitation to visit their homes. There is a sense of excitement in the air; a palpable sense of hope, of new beginnings, and a yearning to shut the past out. Amidst this crescendo of high-spirited voices, one word rings clear and loud: Maria, Maria, Maria! It is a name that escapes the lips of every man, woman and child in this slum; a name that finds its way into every sentence they utter; a name that makes their eyes sparkle with hope and bring a smile and even a tear of joy to their faces. Indeed, Portuguese-born Maria Conceicao is the reason why I, along with a group of other volunteers, am at the Gawair slum in Dhaka. Maria’s transformation in 2005 from a happy-go-lucky cabin crew member of an international airline to a person with a single-minded vision to help alleviate the sufferings of the people in the Dhaka slums is now a story familiar to the people of the UAE. In a span of 24 hours, she took a life-changing decision to devote her life to break the cycle of poverty that she witnessed all around in Dhaka armed with just one weapon: education. That marked the beginning of a school comprising of 39 students that soon swelled to an impressive 600. A slew of projects followed benefiting the parents of the kids which included vocational training, employment prospects in a host of industries and the opportunity to study English, amongst others. With the setting up of the Maria Cristina Foundation, her work gained momentum as she continued to extend a helping hand to all the families under her care. A new phase in her work began when she embarked on a challenge to find employment for some of the parents in the UAE whilst going ahead with the dream of educating a select group of children in reputed UAE schools. The physical challenges she undertook including summiting Mount Everest and in the process, becoming the first Portuguese national to do so, are all well documented. The students currently studying in Dubai, including Akter, and the several meaningfully employed men and young adults in the UAE bear testament to the fruits of Maria’s tireless work in Dhaka. What remains unseen or unknown however, are the odds that Maria had to fight against every step of the way since 2005 to streamline her efforts in the right direction. Jewel, a member of her team in Dhaka, remembers the immense groundwork, cajoling and persuasion that was required to approach the people in the slums so that she would not be turned away. “They believed that she was a religious missionary; and that behind the façade of the school lay a scheming plan calling for religious conversion. We even had people from certain organizations coming in to check on the school textbooks to see for themselves what the kids were being taught in English.” Jewel also recollects how Maria had established a daily morning routine wherein she would inspect kids for cleanliness, including checking to see if they had brushed their teeth, had a bath and was well groomed with trimmed nails and in clean uniform (provided by MCF). “Children who ‘failed’ the inspection were sent back home to brush, bathe or clean themselves before returning to school.” While the children were more willing to adopt good habits of cleanliness and personal hygiene, the hardest part was changing the mindset of the families into keeping their surroundings clean, he adds. “The slum dwellers were used to throwing litter everywhere; and they lived amidst open drainages and used communal toilets. Maria therefore ‘appointed’ young children as watchdogs to ensure that families do not litter or throw garbage outside their homes. What you see here today is the result of years of patience, diligence and observance of strict discipline.” Little wonder therefore that Maria is looked upon as a saviour to the hundreds of families in these slums. The manner in which she was received at the airport – couple years since her last visit -was befitting a person of celebrity status. With garlands and welcome placards, the entire families of Gawair had turned up at the Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport in Dhaka to receive her. It was undoubtedly a hero’s welcome; copious tears flowed as both women and grown up men wept unabashedly on seeing her; children clung to her while her ‘Butterflies’ waited on hand and foot to listen to her every word and command. As for the volunteers accompanying Maria, the very fact that we had come with her elevated us in their eyes and the families welcomed us with open arms into their fold. A reception hosted in her honor too had all the makings of a celebrity event as men, women and children flowed in and hovered around her with such incredulous look in their eyes. According to 19-year-old Habibur Rahman Saddam, “Most of the youngsters out here have grown up dreaming of becoming rickshaw pullers like our dads or running a tea stall or working at a garments factory. It was Maria’s arrival and our education in her School that emboldened us to think big; and dream of a future beyond the confines of the slums. “At a time when we saw no way out of our poverty and destituteness; Maria gave us hope; she instilled in us the confidence and belief that we were worth every bit of painstaking effort she had endured for us. As many began to leave the slums and enjoy a better life in the UAE, she proved to us that dreams can and do come true.” To the outside world, Maria Cristina Foundation may be just another charity organization; but to the people of Gawair, it is their last beacon of hope for a better tomorrow and its founder, Maria Conceicao, is someone they believe will eventually help them reach the haven they long for. Making a donation to Maria Cristina Foundation is transparent, quick and we guarantee your funds will go directly to benefit the children. Please, please help by making a donation! https://www.justgiving.com/maria-cristina

Our students are now on #Ramadan and #Eid break from school until 4th of July. The school results were very good this term and they all deserve a little break. Most of them will spend this break either working to earn much-needed money for their families or help their parents with their work. Please consider donating you #zakat to these deserving children, for their futures. Help us break the chains of poverty that will hold them for more and more generations if they do not get a good education. Making a donation to Maria Cristina Foundation is transparent, quick and we guarantee your funds will go directly to benefit the children. Find different ways to donate here: http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

We would like to give a huge THANK YOU to Dubai cares for supporting and helping Maria Cristina Foundation with a grant of $25,000 towards our education project. This couldn't come at a better time as our project is so much in need of financial support to keep it going. We have so much admiration for HH Sheikh Mohammed and his initiatives like the Year of Giving and other charitable acts that help those in need in this difficult and often troubled world that we live in. Thank you for supporting us and believing in the change we are making in Bangladesh.

Tragedies hit us all no matter who we are, where we live, how much money we have on our bank account or if we have a bank account at all. A slum is a place, where every single day is full of difficulties. Survival. Hunger. Disease. This woman lost her husband the day before this photo was taken. He was old. He died without ever having been to the doctor. His life could probably have been saved with medication as simple as Aspirin. But he was anonymous. A slum dweller. Untouchable. Unimportant. For her, he was everything. He was her support system. There will be no government official asking her how she will cope in her old age with no pension, no skills to work and nobody to look after her. She was a proud housewife her whole life. She married young, had children and took care of her family’s simple home. She was happy with her life. She didn’t want more. Her husband was good to her. He did not beat her like so many others. Her daughters grew up, married and moved away from home. They have their own families to take care of now. They probably don’t even know their father has died. A housewife. She could try to find work in a garments factory, but she is too old. The factory owners prefer children - they are cheaper and faster than an old lady. She never went to school. She doesn’t know how to read or write. It was not important then. There was no money for it. There was no time for it. She, too, is anonymous. A slum-dweller. Untouchable. Unimportant. She is one in a million. A woman completely dependent on her husband. A woman, who loved her husband. A woman, who did not know any better. An uneducated woman. A gentle, kind, deserving woman. A woman, who dedicated her life to others. A woman, who does not know how to continue living. She came to us. At a loss. With nobody else to turn to. Her neighbours cannot help. They are busy looking for ways to survive themselves. They feel sorry for her, but what can they do? This woman knows how to cook. She has practiced her whole life. The chillies frying on the dry pan no longer make her cough. Her turmeric-stained fingers are the living proof of the amount of cooking she has done in her life. Her food tastes like grandmother’s. We put her in touch with working mothers. They mostly work in garment factories earning about $30 a month. They work long hours, six days a week. They all have more than two children. Their husbands are hungry. The husbands do not cook. These working women now buy food this woman cooks every day for their families. She has her own informal business. She is making ends meet. She is coping without her husband. She cries every day. She survives. An uneducated woman becomes a tragedy sooner or later. Women are 50% of the population. Women deserve an education. Women must know how to read and write. Women must have choices. Women must not depend on their husbands. The current generation will be different. They demand an education. They are getting an education. They are not dependent. They will not become a tragedy. http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

Maria did 6 full Ironmans on 6 continents in 56 days. It was not enough. So she did another one in Venice to show how SERIOUS we are about helping the 125 kids in Dhaka and how IMPORTANT it is that you donate. Even the smallest amount will make a DIFFERENCE. Please do not let Maria's incredible efforts be in vain. We need your help to change those 125 lives. https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman

Faruk Mia is one of the many students at Maria Cristina Foundation, who missed a couple of terms of #education when the funding really slumped. His #father, a shopkeeper, and his #mother, a housewife, could not afford his schooling. Faruk went to work as a rickshaw puller; cycling tens of kilometres daily for minimal earnings. He is now back at school and dreams of becoming a #pilot one day. Faruk does not have a sponsor to pay for his school fees yet, but the Cambrian School has agreed to admit him anyway, provided that we can secure a sponsor soon. “Pulling rickshaw was very difficult. My legs hurt and people did not treat me nicely. I want to continue at school and get a better job.” If there is anyone out there willing to help this hard-working, ambitious young man onto a better #future, please email us at marketing@mariacristinafoundation.org or make a donation with reference "Faruk Mia": http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

Did you know that the founder of the Maria Cristina Foundation, Maria Conceição, recently completed 6 #Ironman races on 6 continents in 56 days? She did it to raise funds to keep a promise she made 12 years ago to 101 families - to give their children a good, competitive and quality education; to help them break the chains of poverty. She has kept this promise for 12 years and changed hundreds of lives. How far would you go to honour a promise? Show your support and change lives, too: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman

#Iftar is a meal eaten during the holy month of #Ramadan after the sunset. It is a feast for many, but simple sustenance for most of the community in Gawair. Many of our families set up shops selling fried #streetfood during this time to earn additional money. Last night we found Shahanaj selling some fried banana with her mother in Gawair. Make a donation and help these hard-working children: http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

Good news! We are also hiring in Portugal. Send us your CV with a cover letter in English stating why you are the right person for the job. Deadline 21st June. Join us and change lives for a living!

The holy month of #ramadan is a special time for the community we support. Both young and old fast during the day as much as they can and break the fast after sundown with a meal called #iftar. The streets get lined with vendors selling fried sweets, snacks, rice cakes and fruits at night. It is also a time of increased #prayer for everyone and a time of doing #good. Do keep our 101 families in your thoughts and if you can, make a donation during this special time: http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

We're hiring! A part-time position for a Fundraising and Outreach Officer is available in the USA (work from home). Please see the job description in the photo. Deadline for applying: 30June 2017. Only short listed candidates will be contacted. Send your CV and cover letter stating why you are suitable for the job to marketing@mariacristinafoundation.org Please share to help us find the right person!

#Ramadan is a special time for most of our families in #Dhaka. This holy month is a time of reflection, #prayer and giving back. They don't have much to give as there are very few of those who have even less than our families, but they are kind with giving their time and consideration. The community comes together to feed the elderly; older #women share their #wisdom with young #mothers and students help the younger ones with their homework. Spare a prayer for our 101 families this holy month and share your #zakat with these deserving people. https://www.justgiving.com/maria-cristina

A wonderful group of #volunteers has just returned from a visit to #Dhaka. They took over 250kg of #donations, including shampoo and shoes, to the kids. They took the younger #children out to an amusement park and celebrated one of our youngest volunteer's #birthday together. A big THANK YOU to you all for bringing so much #joy into their world <3 Read some volunteer stories here and be #inspired: http://mariacristinafoundation.org/stories-from-the-field-2/

This is it. 6 Ironmans, 6 continents, 56 days. All to help children get an education - something that most children in the developed world have by default, that nobody has to complete marathons, ironmans or climb mountains for. Your donations are already making a difference, keep the momentum going: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman

We would like to relay a very special THANK YOU to everyone, who has donated towards the 6x6 challenge so far: Bruno, David M, Domingos Matos, Mathilde Rottembourg, Hugo Batista, Tala Badri, Taif Delamie, Stephen Lee Sun, Jorge Silva, Ayesha, Chandra, Tina & Rexi, Carinne, JD, Greg Stainer, Chris & Aline Cullen, Susan Macaulay, Lesley Zaal, Chris Bull, Tamas, Andreia Ribeiro, Jorge Fontainhas, B+A, Rebecca, Nidal, Salender, Sophie, Nick, Emilia, Eddie, Joao Sorrilha, Andrew, Patricia, Samantha Shorten, Martin Bond, Alex Gaunt, Graeme & Joy Perry, Debra Dixon, Teresa Cardoso, Andy Glover and all of you who have donated anonymously or are yet to donate. Know that your help is appreciated and that you are making a REAL DIFFERENCE in the lives of our 127 children in #Dhaka. You are all wonderful human beings and we could not help the children if it wasn’t for you. With one more #Ironman to go in #Brazil, Maria is so close to completing this #amazing challenge. Spread the word and help us meet our fundraising target and put 127 children through school to change their lives! justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman

Today is the day when another one of our very first students, Milon, graduates from high school in Dubai. Milon, we are so proud of you for making this opportunity such a great success and cannot wait to see what the future has in store for you. A very big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped Milon along the way, especially the Killeen and Sharples families. Your generosity has helped this young man to this day. Thank you for going above and beyond what was required of you and for making him a part of your families. Congratulations, Milon!

Maria celebrates her 40th #birthday today. She has given her life to a charity that started as s small project 12 years ago. What she wishes for her birthday above all is some help with raising the funds needed to bring the project to a successful end. We need to raise $479,000 this year to make sure all 125 kids remaining will finish high school. With that, Maria will have fulfilled her promise and all the children of 101 families will be educated. They will have a real chance of breaking the chains of poverty. Please convey your wishes and make a gift here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/birthday

It has been quite a weekend for the Maria Cristina Foundation! On Saturday, the 20th May Maria finished her 5th #Ironman in 49 days. The #Lanzarote the worlds toughest ironman and one more remains to be completed on the 28th May. On Sunday, the 21st May one of our very first students graduated from high school in #Dubai. It was also the 4th anniversary of Maria summiting Mt #Everest yesterday. The coming week is promising to be just as eventful! Follow us for updates and news. Most importantly, please make a donation to help us continue our vital work: jushttps://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman

One of our very first students, Shewly, graduates from high school in #Dubai today. What a remarkable journey it has been for this young lady and we are so excited to see what lies ahead for her. She is a wonderful example of how an #education can change a life and how important our work in #Bangladesh is. Congratulations, Shewly! May you always strive higher and higher and never ever give up. We are so proud of you.

Maria is all set for the #Ironman tomorrow. This is her 5th Ironman in 6 weeks ! Maria is doing 6 Ironmans on 6 continents in the shortest time possible to raise funds to educate 127 children in Bangladesh. Please dig deep and give what you can. Every little bit will help and encourage Maria! https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman Thank you!

Maria has now completed 4 out of 6 Ironman challenges. With 2 more to go she is so close to completing this gruelling challenge to raise vital funds to educate children living in the slums of #Dhaka. Maria has proven time and again that these challenges create much needed #momentum and really help raise the funds the Maria Cristina Foundation needs. We have to find a way to help Maria complete this challenge. We now appeal for your help to complete the challenge. Although the expenses for this #challenge are kept as low possible, the costs of logistics for this 6-continent challenge add up. If you know of a business looking for a great CSR cause or an individual willing to help, do let us know. If you or someone you know can donate their sky miles towards Maria's flights it would be an immense help. The next #Ironman will take place on the 20th May in Lanzarote, which is known to be one of the toughest in the world. Please spread the word to help us help the children in #Bangladesh. If you wish to make a donation towards the education of the children in Dhaka follow this link: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman Thank you

Only 8 days left until Maria's next #Ironman! This time in #Lanzarote, #Spain. On race day, the event's two-lap swim course will take place at Playa Grande, Puerto del Carmen, the main tourist resort of the island. The bike course is well known for challenging athletes with strong winds, and leads athletes around the island with over 2551 meters of climbing. Finally, the 3-lap run course leads competitors along the flat sea front of Puerto del Carmen, towards the airport and back. Please please show your support by making a donation here: justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman #europe #marathon #run #running #runner #runninggirl #runningcommunity #loverunning #everymomentcounts #triathlete #athlete #220gram #runitfast #jogging #runhappy #furtherfasterforever #runnerspace #finishline #cardio #exercise #workout #fitness #fitspo #fitnessaddict #ultrarunners #fundraising #charity

Noor Hassan visited our kids in #Dhaka recently and donated vital funds towards school transport. Thank you! Get in touch if you too would like to visit - it is as easy as ABC! You will see where the children study, where they live and meet their families. A big THANK YOU to all our supporters, volunteers and visitors for ensuring these lovely #children have a bright #future ahead.

Maria has completed yet another #Ironman - her 4th in 35 days. What an #AMAZING achievement for someone, who is not an athlete, but does this for children that would otherwise not be able to go to school. You don't need to complete an Ironman to help. Make a donation and give these #children a future and help make Maria's incredible efforts worthwhile. https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman

More than 2700 athletes, their supporters and families have converged on the Hastings for a three-day event which includes a community fun run, Ironkids mini triathlon and main #Ironman race on Sunday. Amongst them will be Maria Conceição. The main race starts with hitting the water at about 7am. The bike transition on Westport Park will be a great vantage point for early morning action as I head out on a gruelling 180km two-lap ride south to the Camden Haven and back before hitting the ground for the 42.2km marathon run. Maria will be competing in tomorrow's Ironman to raise vital funds for our work in Bangladesh to continue. Support us here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman #tri #triathlete #ironmantri #swimbikerun #protriathlete #trilife #athletic #athlete #athletelife #triathlonlife #triathalontraining #triathletesofinsta #iamtriathlete #ironmantraining #swimming #ciclismo #tritraining #iamironman #run #running #bike #swim #cycling #training #fitness

As a charity, we rely on your generosity to continue our work in #Bangladesh. We help #children living in the slums obtain a quality #education to change their lives for the better. Please consider sponsoring a student or donating a small amount. http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

GOOD NEWS! We have started a school bus for the 80 youngest children. They will now get to school safely, on time and at no extra cost to their parents. The bus costs 4000 Bangladeshi Taka (about $50) per day for 80 students. Please support this initiative and help these beautiful children to school safely: mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

When was the last time you completed an #Ironman? What about 3 Ironman in a month!? Our founder, Maria Conceição, has done just that and is about to do another 3 in #May. Support her #amazing efforts and join us in congratulating her relentless willingness to do anything for her 127 #children in #Bangladesh. justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman

With #Ironman no. 3 just around the corner (TOMORROW!) join us in supporting Maria, who is doing 6 Ironman on 6 continents to raise vital funds for us to continue our work in #Bangladesh. Please give as much or as little as you can, it all helps us reach the goal: justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman

In an incredible feat of self-defiance Maria completed #Ironman number 2 in #Houston, #Texas. With the next Ironman just around the corner, we need your #help more than ever before to secure the vital funds to the Maria Cristina Foundation to continue to exist. Help us get closer to the target: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman

#Ironman number 2 in #Houston, #Texas is about to start! Track Maria's progress here: http://eu.ironman.com/triathlon/coverage/athlete-tracker.aspx?rd=20170422&race=texas&bidid=1087&detail=1#axzz4eyPOGibt We will try and relay your wishes to her as often as possible to keep her motivated. The best #motivation to keep her going are donations - after all, this is why she is putting her body to such a gruelling test. Let's get much closer to reaching our fundraising target while Maria runs, swims and cycles for the kids in #Bangladesh! DONATE HERE: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman No amount is too small. Thank you!

Only 2 DAYS to go to Maria's #Ironman number 2. Tune in this Saturday to follow her as she runs, swims and cycles for the children in Bangladesh! Every little donation and word of encouragement will help more than you know! https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maria-cristina/ironman

Alamin (19) is the poet at Maria Cristina Foundation. He writes mostly about his love for Bangladesh and he really loves the works of Kazi Nazrul Islam, who was a much-loved Bengali poet. When Alamin recites one of his poems, his friends gather round and respectfully listen. A thoughtful silence followed by a thundering applause brings a smile that speaks of pride on Alamin’s face. The national curriculum does not yet place much emphasis on being creative, but the works of the most important Bengali and international artists are learned at school. “I learned about Shakespeare in my English class. Sometimes it is difficult to understand his words, but I like what he writes. So much about love.” Alamin shares a room with his father, who is a painter, mother, who works as a maid and a younger brother. His older sister no longer lives with the family. Alamin’s mother squats on the concrete floor chopping vegetables in preparation for dinner while his elderly father can be heard coughing from bed. They live in poverty, like so many others in the community. Yet they do not complain. Alamin’s parents see much hope in his future. Inevitably Alamin feels responsible for looking after his parents. He says he will probably not pursue his poetry further, because that will not make a sufficient living to support his family. He hopes to find a part-time job after high school and go to university to learn a trade. Help us support the dreams of young people: http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

Shining bright amongst the mounds of rubbish and chaotic scenes inherent in the slums, Srity (11, in yellow) has huge #potential. She is an intelligent, socially adept young woman who is very mature for her age. As one of four #daughters, Srity lives in two small rooms with her sisters Sumi (20, in pink head scarf), Rumi (15, in green), Kobita (10, in pink), mother Rabeya (36) and father Arunmia (52). They’ve only lived in their current rooms for the last year. “There were many problems in the previous house; the neighbours didn’t treat the children well so we had to move,” their mother explains. In the bedroom a sewing machine serves as a constant reminder for the majority of uneducated girls their age that work within garment factories. Their father is the sole breadwinner and suffers from a serious heart condition. Rabeya explains: “He really needs to take medication, but we can’t afford it.” As a rickshaw puller, he endures one of the most backbreaking and low paid jobs in #Bangladesh. “If I want to help myself, then I need a proper education.” Contrary to many of her peers in the slum, Srity understands that. This attitude runs across her siblings who have high hopes for their futures. Srity and Kobita #dream to fly in the sky, #travelling the world and help people get from A to B as airline pilots. The eldest sister, Sumi, would like to study in the US and now that she’s finished school is undergoing evening workshops supported by MCF. The #marriage of girls aged as young as 11-12 years is the societal norm in Bangladesh. Srity explains: “Other families consider the girls as a burden so they pass on the burden to another family. Educated girls get married later.” Rabeya drives home a philosophy of #education and subsequent self-reliance. The dream she has for her daughters is for them to be independent and for no one to mess around with them, and she says the only way for this to happen is through proper education and hard work. Through their education, Srity and her sisters have been enlightened as to their own great potential and are empowered to negate the cultural pressures that threaten their development into intelligent and wholly capable young #women. While we need to pay for school fees and other education related costs, the value of education for these girls is priceless and life changing. Help us help them: http://mariacristinafoundation.org/donate-2/

Calling all cabin crew on a Dhaka layover! On your Dhaka layover, if you'd like to meet the Maria Cristina Foundation children and visit the slums, please get in touch with Jewel on jewel.tdp@gmail.com or WhatsApp +8801714215582. Your hotel can arrange a driver for you! Donations that would be appreciated: -School snacks e.g. dry fruits and dry nuts (no sweets please!) -Toiletries such as toothbrushes, tooth paste, hair brushes, soap, shampoo, deodorant & sanitary pads -Rice & dal (the youngest child is 8 years old so they don't need baby food) -Stationery and art material such as colouring books, pencils, pens, paint, brushes We recommend you buy them locally as it's much cheaper and supports the local businesses. For more information please visit: mariacristinafoundation.org Have a safe trip and wonderful layover! Do send us photos of your visit and tag @mcfconnect. #mariacristinafoundation #Dhaka #Bangladesh #cabincrew #crewlife #flightattendant #Fly #layover #flight #donations #Dubai #expats