2019 has been a special year for us, but also a stressful one with many challenges.
We continue our main focus of getting students through to graduate high School grade 12, but we also try our best to do more than that for them.
For these students, from very challenged, marginalized backgrounds form a slum area in Dhaka Bangladesh, it is a massive achievement for them to be able to graduate from a reputable high school. Our goal from the very beginning, was to enable these students to compete with students worldwide, they have the potential, we aim to give them the opportunity. However, a high school education generally isn’t enough in this competitive world.
For any students in Bangladesh, let alone our students, it’s extremely difficult to get a University place. With very few places offered for a huge student population, it generally comes down to connections or influence. With our students being the first from their families to go to school it’s even more challenging.
So, we have been looking at alternatives and realizing that our experience with earlier projects, taking students out of Bangladesh to study proved to be life changing and an incredible learning experience, this has been one of our ambitious goals for the last 2 years.
In 2018 we managed to send 10 students to University in Portugal and in early 2019 another 7 students. Although this has resulted in a significant and positive transformation in a short amount of time, with students showing more confidence, better English and even some Portuguese language skills; it has come with financial challenges, we have struggled to gain enough sponsorship or funds to support the costs. Unfortunately, this means that the students now graduating high school will not get the same opportunity.
However, with a shift in strategy, we are trying a new approach, seeking work internships abroad (eg Dubai, UAE) where the students can work, learn and hopefully make some money to go towards their University costs. We have managed to put 12 students, all girls, through such a program since July this year, with some amazing companies in Dubai.
This program still comes with it financial and other challenges and is a longer route to University, but it’s a bit more sustainable and great life experience for these students.
In July we even managed to bring 8 girls between the ages 7 and 13 to Dubai for 1 month, for an incredible cultural experience. Businesses and individuals in Dubai and even visitors from abroad spoilt them rotten with dinners, parties, company visits, and leisure activities. It was fantastic for everybody, especially everybody who hosted these lovely girls – we hope to repeat this activity in 2020 for a new group of girls.
It's hard to believe some of the difficulties that these families face in their home country, we have had several heartbreaking situations this year, where the financial and even emotional support from MCF and our supporters, has literally saved lives.
Even when our students do get a break in life, such as coming to Dubai for work experience or similar, the authorities in Bangladesh try to stop them, giving no other explanation other than not trusting their intentions. This is especially true for the women and girls and it has taken extreme levels of perseverance and even some help from some of our supporters with influential connections to make it happen.
In 2020 we move onwards and upwards, we will continue to find ways to get our students to University or to find good employment opportunities and we hope to have more cultural travel experiences for our younger students.
Thank YOU so much for your support, in any which way or form. You have quite literally made some dreams come true in 2019. We hope you continue to follow our journey for 2020.