This work is exhausting, with every bit of progress there are so many setbacks.
The good news is that our girls in Dubai completed their first year at school with good grades. They have kept busy with extra-curricular activities, and some have even found decent jobs for the summer. They are living a life of opportunities that would never be possible back in Bangladesh.
But we received a saddening shock when they went to re-register for the new school term last week. They were basically told that their scholarship is not recognized and they have to pay. On further investigation we found that management/ownership has changed completely and those we have managed to speak to refuse to acknowledge any scholarship agreement for these poor girls. So much for a full scholarship until they graduate!
The reason we brought these 9 girls and their mothers to Dubai was because of the offer of this scholarship, the difficulties and struggles to settle them in Dubai with all the required residence visa, financial independence etc was immense, and now this huge setback, it really us heartbreaking.
In Dhaka, they struggled, the families have been through a lot of abuse, trauma and discrimination. School was virtually nonexistent all through the Covid period. This was a new beginning in Dubai, it would really be a wasted opportunity to send them back to Bangladesh.
We are trying hard to find a solution, but they will likely have to pay their school fees if they stay in Dubai, or at least part of it, so we are seeking potential sponsors. The ideal opportunity would be for a new school to offer a full scholarship on the grounds that these families have come so far from their difficult backgrounds, the girls are bright with very good potential for success, a good school will help them go far.
For our students still in Bangladesh, things are picking up slowly since covid and they are finally back to school, but they do suffer from a lack of motivation mainly because they know that there are so few opportunities for them once they finish school. It’s for this very reason that we continue our Dubai internship program finding them internships or work with good companies in Dubai with the hope that it will either turn into permanent employment or that they can save some money to finance university.
Of course, the Dubai intern program comes with its own challenges, mainly financial, to bring them to Dubai, initial living costs, transport and of course making sure they are well-dressed and presentable for interviews. So we continue to seek funding for this, but the outcome has been very successful so far, with students placed with extremely good companies with good prospects. Some are saving money for university, or some prefer to fund their family members to bring them to Dubai for the same opportunities.