Published:  12:00 AM, 20 July 2016

Swimming in English Channel for Dhaka slum children

Swimming in English Channel for Dhaka slum children Maria Conceicao, a former Emirates Airlines flight staff, with children. Photo: Collected

A Dubai-based humanitarian, Maria Conceicao, aims to swim 32 kilometers in a desperate effort to secure the future of 172 children at slums of Dhaka.

Conceicao is the founder of the Maria Cristina Foundation, which helps underprivileged children in Bangladesh, announced that she was ready to take on her toughest challenge yet, swimming the English Channel on August 27, reports Gulfnews.

With the swim, Conceicao hopes to raise Tk 15 million, which would secure the future of the 172 schoolchildren."The Foundation has been sinking for a while and I am desperate to make sure all the 172 children graduate from high school and have a chance to break the cycle of poverty they were born into," said Conceicao. To complete what is considered one of the hardest swimming challenges in the world, Conceicao has been training in Jersey, the UK for the past two months. The swim will take place in 12-15 degrees Celsius water, without a wetsuit and can take up to 27 hours or more."I am not an athlete. I learnt to swim last year, but as a mother to these children, there is nothing I wouldn't do for them."Risk of hypothermia, jellyfish stings and fighting with the currents are all factors Conceicao will have to deal with during the challenge.

"Getting used to the cold water has been the hardest part. I have lived in Dubai for so long and have never had to stay in such cold water for hours."The swim will test Conceicao's mental and physical limits, and could lead to life-threatening injuries. "My swim is not difficult compared to the hardships my children in Dhaka face daily," she said.

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