The world is full of do-gooders, but rarely have I come across a woman who singlehandedly decided to change the fate of a poverty-stricken country that was completely foreign to her.
Portuguese born Maria Conceicao comes from a humble background herself. When she lost her mother to Alzheimer’s, a poor cleaner woman called Cristina took her in as her own. Cristina was an Angolian refugee, and already had 6 children of her own to feed. Her kindness, and her life’s motto “if you can feed 6, you can easily feed 7” had a great role to play on the woman young Maria would grow up to be.
As a flight attendant with Emirates, Maria had her first encounter with the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She was shocked by the dire conditions, and more so by the waste of potential. As she says in the TED Talk video, we all come to the world as equals and it is only the opportunities that are given our way (which we have no control of) that differentiate us.
Among the young faces in the slum, Maria saw future leaders, doctors, scientists and engineers. She took it upon herself to make a difference and unabashedly asked anyone and everyone to pitch into her life’s mission.
In memory of her beloved adopted mother, Maria set up the Maria Cristina Foundation to help the children of Dhaka.
From opening schools to running marathons and even enduring an expedition to the North Pole with 5 of her students, Maria has left no stone unturned to raise funds and create a legacy for her adopted family.
Watch her inspirational video here:
I had the immense pleasure of meeting 7 young Bangladeshi girls who are currently living with Maria. These bright young women have earned scholarships for further studies in Portugal, and are currently doing internship jobs over the summer in Dubai.
A bunch of my friends and I decided to take them on a girlie day out. Watch my video below:
To learn more about the Maria Cristina Foundation, and how you too can help, visit their website by clicking here.
The world needs more superwomen like Maria Conceicao. Remember every little act of kindness helps.