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Visit Dhaka

You can volunteer throughout the year. Please get in touch with us to schedule your travel plans.

What can you do in Dhaka? 

  • Visit the Cambrian School and College, where our children study
  • Meet the children and their families
  • Visit the Gawair slum and the homes of our families
  • Watch a performance put together by our students
  • Deliver a workshop/course 
  • Organise an event such as community cleaning day, beauty pageant, play, talent show etc
  • Help us gather data and carry out any tasks needed at the time

If you are planning to stay in Dhaka for longer than a month, we can work together on educational/training programs for the children.

Read about the experience of some of our volunteers and visitors in Dhaka.

Costs
We are a very small foundation and we are unfortunately not able to finance volunteers’ travel or accommodation in Dhaka. Below is a rough guide to prices in Dhaka.

  • Visa: 51$ (on arrival, available for certain nationalities)
  • Hotel: starting at 40$ per night 
  • Stay at our guest house: $7 per night
  • Transportation: starting at 3$ per day
  • Food: starting at 5$ per day

FAQ

Who can visit Dhaka?

We welcome anyone, who wants to find out more about us, see where we work or meet the children and families we work with.

It is required by law that minors under the age of 18 be accompanied by an adult responsible for them.

How do I get to Dhaka?

There are direct flights to Dhaka from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
If you are in Europe, there are regular flights from London with a stop in various cities, including Delhi, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Doha, Istanbul and Kuwait City.

Once you arrive at Dhaka International Airport, we can organise a pick up.

How much does it cost to get to Dhaka?

The prices of the flights vary depending on where you start. Flights from London are between £400 and £600, flights from the UAE are between AED 850 and AED 1500 depending on your booking and travel times.

Please check with your airline for the exact prices from your location to Dhaka.

Do I need a visa?

Visa on arrival is available for most European, North American and GCC nationalities, including UAE, Portuguese, UK and USA citizens. Please check with your Ministry of Foreign Affairs if you require a visa in advance.

The cost of visa is $51 and to be paid in cash, before going through passport control.

An invitation letter is required and can be obtained from the Cambrian School and College through the Maria Cristina Foundation.

How much money do I need in Dhaka?

The official currency in Bangladesh is the Taka. 1 USD = ~78 BDT. Prices in Dhaka are very cheap compared to the prices in Europe, North America and the GCC.

The cost of food per day, eating at a local restaurant for lunch and dinner, would be about 250 BDT. A bottle of water is about 15 BDT and a bottle of soft drink about 25 BDT.

A cycle rickshaw ride from our community to the school is about 4 km and costs about 50 BDT.

As a foreigner, you must be prepared to haggle and pay more if you are without someone, who speaks Bengali.

Where can I stay?

Most of our volunteers stay in Hotel Milina, which is conveniently located and about a 15 minute cycle rickshaw ride from the community.

The cost of a single room per night is $40 and the cost of a double room $60. The rooms are cleaned every day and have hot water.

The hotel has a restaurant, which serves local and international cuisine and is very-well priced, clean and always a safe option if the local restaurants are not to your liking.

Please bring basic personal belongings in your hand luggage in case the airline loses your luggage.

We also have a guest house for our volunteers in Gawair, where the families live. This is a very basic space with air conditioning, but no furniture. You are welcome to stay there at $7 per night.

Do I need vaccinations?

You do not need any additional vaccinations or medication if you only stay in Dhaka.

If you want to travel to rural areas, be aware that malaria and dengue fever appear in those places.

The slums are not hygienic and therefore you must take special care in order not to fall ill. Never drink unbottled water or water given to you by people in the slum, even if it is boiled.

Avoid street food unless you see it cooked right in front of your eyes.

What is the food like?

Bangladeshis generally like their food hot. The staple food is rice, which is eaten three times a day and is usually accompanied by a lentil or vegetable curry.

Meat and fish are saved for special occasions. You will most certainly be invited for dinner in a family’s house, who will treat you like royalty. Just bring your own water!

The most loved dish in Bangladesh is biryani, which is a concoction of rice, spices and chicken or mutton.

Cutlery is not used when eating. Rice is used to soak up the sauce and food is always eaten with the right hand. Never use your left hand for eating as it is considered rude.

Bangladeshis also have a sweet tooth and they make delicious and very sweet cakes, rice pudding and other desserts. The national drink is sweet tea, which is boiled in a large kettle and then mixed with condensed milk and more sugar.

What can I do for the Maria Cristina Foundation in Dhaka?

Depending on your length of stay, you will be able to help in various ways.
If you are staying for a few days, we may require your help with distributing donations to needy families or giving a day of training in an area of your expertise. In the past, we have had motivational talks, handicraft workshops, English language classes and one-on-one advice sessions on career choices and university.

If you are staying for longer, we may need your help with checking up on families, gathering data and writing progress reports on students and their families.

You can organise fun activities such as picnics, dance parties and singing competitions for the children and their parents or take a group of children to see the sights of Dhaka. All in all, we are very flexible and open to your ideas and suggestions.

When is the best time to visit Dhaka?

The best time to visit is from October to May. The monsoon season is very rainy and can make your visit very inconvenient.
Please note that Bangladesh is a Muslim country, so they follow all bigger Islamic holidays such as Ramadan and Eid and our school will be closed for these.

Is the school always open?

No, the school week in Bangladesh is from Sunday to Thursday. Friday and Saturday are weekend and school will be closed on these days.
Please note that Bangladesh is a Muslim country, so they follow all bigger Islamic holidays such as Ramadan and Eid and our school will be closed for these.

Can I stay in the community?

You are more than welcome to stay in our tutoring centre, which is located in the middle of the community. It is an unfurnished 2-bedroom apartment on the first floor. The bathroom is ‘traditional’ Bangladeshi style – i.e. squat toilet, but flushable. The tiny kitchen is equipped with a cooker, a few plates, spoons and forks.

The centre can be used by volunteers, who wish to stay in the community. However, its main purpose is to serve as a place for the students to come and discuss their interests. Therefore, a lot of children will be there until you are ready to go to bed.

Due to the location of the centre, we also find ourselves visited by unwanted guests such as lizards, mosquitoes, cockroaches and dust. Dogs howling wake you up in the morning.

Meanwhile, regular visitors are our students, who will wish to stay and sleepover with the volunteers at night.

It gets very hot in the summer. The centre has two ceiling fans – one in each room. Be ready for regular power cuts that can last up to an hour. Internet is available, but not always reliable.

Students and volunteers sleep on the floor, so please bring your sleeping bag, pillows and towels with you.

The legacy that Maria had created in Bangladesh under the banner of the Dhaka project exceeded any expectation in terms of the integration and holistic approach to the meet the social needs not only for the kids but families and the community.

Mitchell Killeen
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