Maria Con­ce­icao, founder of Maria Cristina Foun­da­tion, wear­ing Zena Pres­ley

Friday - - Fashion -

Maria runs a foun­da­tion that pro­vides ed­u­ca­tion schol­ar­ships for chil­dren from slum com­mu­ni­ties in Bangladesh. It cur­rently has over 100 chil­dren on school schol­ar­ships both in Bangladesh and in Dubai, as well as five who have pro­gressed to univer­sity thanks to the help they re­ceived. The foun­da­tion also ed­u­cates par­ents of these fam­i­lies and helps them find gain­ful em­ploy­ment. Maria, from Por­tu­gal, loves to be out­doors, so we took her to the new Dubai Water Canal for a stroll. How do you think be­ing in the UAE has helped you build the foun­da­tion? If it wasn’t for the UAE I would never have started the foun­da­tion. I was work­ing for Emi­rates Air­lines as cabin crew and de­cided to help poor fam­i­lies af­ter a trip to Bangladesh. I got a lot of sup­port from in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses, in­clud­ing Emi­rates, and the foun­da­tion grew and grew. What do you love most about the UAE? I think that the huge achieve­ments of the coun­try and how much it has de­vel­oped en­cour­ages peo­ple to aim high and be­lieve in them­selves. The chil­dren are also in­spired by Dubai, they even want to change their own coun­try to make it more like the UAE. What does the fu­ture hold for you? We are cur­rently look­ing for 21 Emi­ratis to be on our board of di­rec­tors so we can even­tu­ally reg­is­ter the foun­da­tion as a char­ity in the UAE.

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