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Educating the slums

by Maria Cristina Foundation
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Educating the slums
Paperwork, lawyers, more paperwork, attestations, rejections, stress, arguments, accusations (of human trafficking), sweat, tears, perseverance, tolerance; those are just some of the things we had to go through to get the young girls to the UAE for their summer break. The red tape and difficult people and departments in Bangladesh, just to enable them to leave their country, is really unbelievable.
But we did it! and the girls had an amazing time. Thank you to the many people who made it amazing for them. I have honestly never, ever seen them so happy and excited as I did for the month that they were here in the UAE.
The only time they weren't happy is anytime somebody mentioned going home to Dhaka. Then they cried.
So, you can imagine my joy, when they were offered scholarships by Athena school. This was really astonishing news, I was over the moon and so was everybody who had met them. The girls were literally crying with shock and happiness, it was beyond belief for them.
But unfortunately it is not to be. I am heartbroken.
... and I know that the girls and their families are even more heartbroken than me. They feel that their dreams have literally been crushed and it makes me so sad.
We did manage to do this in 2010, with the help from some people in very high up places, we brought seven 12 year old students to the UAE with exceptional case student visas, to study until they were 18. It was something that had never been done before. 
The same people tried their very best to help us again for these girls; but, unfortunately times have changed, formalities, laws and procedures have changed and become much, much tighter and it's just not possible, even at the highest level, despite trying every way. 
People who know me know that I have a never-give-up attitude and I will never give up on these girls. But I trust my superiors and when they tell that its not possible, I know that this door is closed.
But just because one door is closed, it doesn't mean that there aren't other doors out there. They may not be able to study in the UAE this time around, but we will find them the opportunities, in other countries. We have to. There is always to way, especially when it comes to helping those in need.
I know that I am biased, but these girls are special. Anyone who has met them will agree. We have educated them since they were babies, they are outgoing, ambitious and full of potential - they deserve better opportunities, opportunities - and we will find them!

Proud Moments, but Hazards Ahead.
Recent months have been full of very proud moments for MCF. We want you, as our supporters to join us in being proud, because it wouldn’t be possible without YOU.
Our younger students in Bangladesh are showing great promise, studying hard with the goal to one-day travel abroad to study. They are also volunteering to get involved in other charity and community initiatives.
We have a new batch of students starting senior high school at grade 11; they will join Milestone school so it’s a slight change. We also have one of our high school students, Mahin, working very hard to manage admin and operations on the ground, this is a big help as we have no paid employees and very limited outside volunteer help.
A new batch of students has made the transition to Portugal to study for their degree in Braganca in Feb 2019. We now have a total of 18 students in Braganca studying for their degrees – an incredible feat considering that 14 years ago we were told that we were crazy to dream so big for these children.
I’m especially proud that the latest batch managed the process on their own, especially arranging travel to India for the Portugal visa application process, which is very complicated – they only required financial support and a push from us to the immigration authorities to speed up the process. (Standard process they need to wait in India for 42 days!)
We’re even more proud of Sumi, she had so much bad luck and delays in arranging her documents that she had to travel to India on her own, but she managed it perfectly, a very mature young lady. Now she’s working hard to catch up on studies because she started 2 months late.
The original 10 Braganca students are doing well despite the challenges, we are starting to see a real transformation in many of them, maturing and becoming strong individuals.
Our main focus is still in Bangladesh where we still have 83 students between the age of 7 and 17, studying hard. Despite their enthusiasm, we do notice the struggles. If they don’t have enough nutrition they don’t have the energy to focus.
We are trying our best now to raise funds to ensure that the families have sufficient food in the mornings so that the students have the energy to get through the school day.
We are also trying to provide better school transport; we have always struggled with this because it’s surprisingly expensive considering that it’s a developing country. We constantly worry about the hazards of travelling to school, especially with the rainy season approaching, so we hope to obtain funds to support better school transport.

Dear Supporter

I would like to sincerely thank you for your support through GlobalGiving to 'Maria Cristina Foundation' 

We haven't always been the best in updating our supporters or even thanking them, our limited volunteers are generally very busy in the field.

Your contribution has helped us achieve great things, this includes in 2018 giving 10 of our students an opportunity to study at a university in Europe, we hope to send another 30 by the end of 2019.

They are the first generation in their families to complete secondary education and going to university. 

All of this is only possible thanks to our amazing supporters you truly understand and appreciate the strong values that we hold as a charity.

Thank you again for all you have done to help this history in the making project.

With gratitude,




Incredible journey
Incredible journey

It has been a challngeing few months. Our students were transferred to a new school - one that we felt provided a better curriculum and better admin faciitlies, enabling us to monitor the students progress more easily.

As you can imagine this as meant alot of challenges for MCF, with the various paperwork and legal procedures required, but also for the students, to settle in to the new school.

After a few months it was brought to our attention that several of the students were struggling with the new curriculum, maybe due to a more stringent syllabus or some topics that were lacking in the previous school. So we made arrangements for additional tutoring for those students who needed it. It is essential for us that they get through the year with accpetable results.

We have been incredibly busy for the last couple of months with a fantastic project, we were able to agree a special reduced fee at the Institituto Politecnico de Braganca in Portugal, so several of our students who graduated grade 12 this year applied - after extreme diffculties obtaining their visas and travel expenses we now have 10 students studying for their degrees in Portugal - we are so proud of them.

We still have a lot of fundraising to do to secure the funds for educating all the 125 children we have remaining from the 101 families we set out with 13 years ago.

Lastly, we would like to thank each and every one of you, who have been with us since the beginning of this journey, or who just most recently join in. 

We couldn’t do all that we do without your donations, support and belief in the power of education as a tool to create a better world.

June started with another big challenge to raise the funds and the awareness MCF needs .

This time, the challenge was to  climb Mount Denali, in order to raise the projected direct costs for the education fees of USD 120,000 for the remaining 87 children up to Grade 12.

After much patience waiting for the storms to clear, the expedition leaders made the decision to come back down the mountain. They felt we didn't have enough time or supplies to make a summit attempt.

After so much training and preparation, I just feel that I didn't get a proper chance. I

desperately tried to join another team going back up, but it's too late in the season, with few summit expeditions due to the dangers of more crevasses opening on the glaciers etc.

This is the 2nd time that I have been denied a chance to get to the Denali summit by the weather Gods. I guess it just wasn't meant to be this time either.

Thank you for all your love and support. It was amazing reading all the wonderful messages and support that you have shown.

We currently have 20 students who completed their secondary education this year and are now  applying for universities in Sept 2018 and its been really busy. Administration wise we are struggling severely with We lack the manpower and we just been keeping head above water surviving this credit crunch. 

We lack the manpower and we just been keeping head above water surviving this credit crunch. We are on the process to writing a sequel to my biography which will be published later this year.  

Lastly, I would like to thank once again all of you for yours continues support and do believe that you are making the difference in the life of all these children, families and Gawair community.



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Organization Information

Maria Cristina Foundation

Location: St Austell - United Kingdom
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MCFConnect
Project Leader:
Katrin Winter
St Austell, United Kingdom
$15,062 raised of $120,000 goal
184 donations
$104,938 to go
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