Doing it for the kids: Maria Conceicao

Maria Conceicao undertakes the Ultramarathon Challenge to raise money for kids in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Photo by Imran Ahmed)
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Although this post is not art related, I had to take the time to tell you about Maria Conceicao. Maria used to be an Emirates airline crew member and was so moved by the plight of the slum children in Dhaka that she set up the Maria Christina Foundation to help them. Over the past nine years she has helped hundreds of kids get through school by opening up schools for them in the slums.

Recently, pushed for new ways to raise funds Maria has taken to pushing her own physical limits. She was the first Portuguese woman and third national to summit Mount Everest and was recently awarded a double Guinness World Record for her conquest of this year’s 777 Ultramarathon Challenge, a seven full-distance 50km ultramarathon that was run on each of the seven continents within seven weeks.

Now, in February next year, she will run the 777 Challenge running seven marathons of 42km in seven days straight. Starting in Australia as its first leg, followed by Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, and finally, Antarctica for the last stop, Maria is doing it all for the kids.

She aims to raise US$1million for her charity, which primarily works on providing children in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh with a good education that would lay the foundation for a rewarding career path, and promote the economic sustainability of their families thereby lifting them out of the poverty trap.

The foundation, apart from sending slum children to school, also leads other social initiatives in Dhaka including adult education and key family welfare packages, such as food assistance, medical and dental care, and housing rent assistance.

“We have a radical approach to address the problem of poverty-stricken children. Our goal is to create sustainable change through education. That is why we can guarantee our donors that every cent they donate has a long-term impact. We do not have overheads, so every penny received goes to the intended beneficiaries.”

Among MCF’s current sponsors are corporate organisations, such as Etihad Airways, Right Bite, NAMA, GEMS Education, Centre for Musical Arts, Full Potential UK, Raahi Group and Option 1 Event Services, UAE, as well as private individuals Dr. Jocelyn Charest, Nabil Dalle, Joe George and Safiya Burnell.

Maria is also looking for people to get involved with the race to run it with her.

* For sponsorship packages and other information about how to get involved, visit or For online donations to the foundation, click here