01 May 2016 10:00
A team of volunteers from Etihad Airways brought joy and happiness to underprivileged children at the Choice To Change Elementary School (C2C) in Dhaka by joining the youngsters for their annual fun day.
With Bangladesh cricket star Mushfiqur Rahim also dropping
by, more than 130 boys and girls at the school – set up by a former member of Etihad
Airways’ cabin crew – enjoyed a great day out with the visitors.
As part of Etihad Airways’ corporate social responsibility
efforts, the airline’s iVolunteer programme engages volunteers from across the
airline to participate in various activities and support charitable causes
around the world.
The visit by eight volunteers from Etihad Airways’ head
office in Abu Dhabi, led by Environment Officer Luzelle Berger, coincided with
the airline’s 10th anniversary year of operations in Bangladesh.
Aside from joining in the fun day of activities and a picnic
at the National Zoo, the volunteers took much-needed items, including blankets,
school supplies and toys, to support the children and their families. They also
visited homes seeing first hand their living conditions in the city’s slums.
As a thank you gesture, the children, as young as four, staged
a talent and cultural show for the visitors.
The Choice To Change Foundation was launched in July 2010
by former cabin crew member Eva Kernova, a Slovakian national living in the
United Arab Emirates, and Sunil Baroi, Executive Director, who Eva met during
her travels to Bangladesh. The non-profit organisation supports poverty-stricken
children in the slums of Dhaka by providing free education, food and basic
Importantly, C2C is one of the first schools in the Dhaka
slums to teach the local curriculum in English. Coupled with low
student-to-teacher ratios and over 1,000 visitors and volunteers since its
formation – a large part being Etihad Airways employees – the C2C school is
giving children a real chance to break the cycle of poverty and improve their
Etihad Airways has supported Choice To Change since 2013 by
providing flight tickets to Foundation staff and to volunteers. The
organisation is also one of the beneficiaries under the airline’s Etihad Guest Miles
Reward Programme where members are able to donate miles that are converted to
cash for the charity.
Hanif Zakaria, Etihad Airways General Manager Bangladesh,
said: “The Choice To Change Foundation has
made a huge difference to the lives of so many young children and their
families in Dhaka. At Etihad Airways, we have been delighted to work with the
charity over the years in helping make a difference, no matter how small, and
touching the lives of so many.”
Luzelle Berger added: “The
visit was inspirational and touched the hearts of the volunteers. Having given
up our time to visit and interact with the youngsters, we left Bangladesh with
great memories – providing these wonderful children with great joy, great laughter
and plenty of smiles.”
Eva Kernova, co-founder and Director of The Choice To
Change Foundation, said: “Providing the
children with better education and making them more confident about their
future, is something that we couldn’t have accomplished without Etihad Airways’
contributions. We are very grateful for this partnership and delighted to have
welcomed the many volunteers from Etihad Airways’ home in Abu Dhabi to support
such a worthy cause.
“The children were excited and
thrilled when Bangladesh national cricketing hero Mushfiqur Rahim arrived and joined
them for the picnic. A special thanks to him for inspiring the children and to
Leah Lane, a teacher living in Abu Dhabi, who kindly sponsored this picnic for
the second time.”