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From Darkness to Light

(Pratibha Umashankar) / 5 November 2008

DUBAI - “I was in darkness earlier, but now I’m in Class 6 and want all the children of the world to be educated because only with education can a country progress,” said Mosharof Hussain, a child from the slums of Dhaka who took part in a children’s festival in Germany last week.

Maria Conceicao with Sujon,Mosharof,AnannyaandSabina.—KTphotoFour children — Sujon Esa, Anannya Akhtar, Sabina Yasmin, and Mosharof Hussain — rescued from the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh, under the Dhaka Project, arrived in Dubai Tuesday for a three-day sojourn on their way back home after participating in The International Schools’ Festival in Bonn, Germany.

The Festival, organised by ‘Help’, took place from October 24 to November 3.

The children were selected to represent their school that is run under The Dhaka Project.
Founded by Maria Conceicao, a First Class Flight Attendant with Emirates, in 2005 to help educate slum children of Dhaka.

The project also focuses on community development by imparting vocational training to parents to help them escape the cycle of poverty.
  For the four youngsters, interacting with other children at an international forum was a world away from the sordid slums they come from, where children resort to either begging or working as child labourers for a pittance to support their families or supplement the family income.
  Talking about the experience and exposure they had in Germany, Mosharof, 13, the most eloquent of the group, said in fluent English, “I can’t describe in words what it was going  to Germany. And being in Dubai is another wonderful experience.”
  A fatherless child of a housemaid, who now works for the Dhaka Project as a cleaners’ supervisor, he dreams of becoming a cricketer and bringing the World Cup to Bangladesh.
  Having represented the country and the project, Anannya 12, studying in Class 5 said, “My parents were too poor to send me to school. Then I met Maria and she admitted me in her school two years ago.

“Now I want to become a doctor.”
  Sabina, 13, studies in Class 6 and dreams of becoming a pilot. “My first experience on the plane was great!” she said.
  Sujon, 11, is in Class 5 and his story is no different from others. He too wants to become a doctor, which, given his mental alertness, isn’t an impossible dream.
 “Germany was wonderful. We sang Bangla songs and made a presentation. Dubai is nice too, and we’ll be enjoying water sports, courtesy the Wild Wadi,” he said.
  The four children, all brimming with confidence, participated in five functions and a radio interview with Radio Deutsche Welle. They said the event provided them a forum to talk about their life in Bangladesh.

Having received training in spoken English and etiquette, they did their school and their country proud. They have school presentations and media interviews lined up for them in Dubai. They now dream of becoming goodwill ambassadors of Bangladesh.
  Shafiqur Rahman Jewel, the first volunteer of the Dhaka Project, who accompanied the children to Germany, said that their stopover in Dubai became possible, thanks to Hanif Zakaria, Country Manager of Emirates and the UAE Ambassador to Bangladesh.

The school run by The Dhaka Project started with a handful of children and today has over 600 children and a school building donated by Emirates.

“My favourite subject is History. It teaches us past achievements and mistakes from which we can learn,” said Moshorof. 

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