When she starts to work with Emirates as a flight attendant, it is on one of those trips, with a stop in Dhaka that she has a direct contact with the reality of extreme poverty in the “slums”. This will be the starting point for the many changes to come. Initially she starts just collecting essential items to take when going to Dhaka, this grows to become a large education project. Its hugely successful for a few years before recession leads to its closure.
Maria decides to leave her job to devote 100 % to the cause and create a new foundation, the Maria Cristina Foundation.
After a period of calm, the financial issues and fundraising becomes a Herculean task. As a solution, Maria starts to participate in sporting challenges, but not your average challenge, Maria only undertakes extreme challenges.
Without any previous mountaineering or athletic experience, she started training hard with a steely determination and focus. She climbed to the top of Everest, ran ultra marathons and prepared for the Ironman. She learned to swim and a year later tried to swim across the English Channel.
Maria partakes in the challenges with a social cause as flag, she hopes to gain more visibility and raise more funds, but the income has never been as good as she hoped. Still, Maria continues to try to accomplish the targets she sets, always with the same goal, to continue to help children (and their families) in Bangladesh.
The book runs through this life-story, focusing on the high, low and very low moments, so real that hurts when reading. If it is to help others, should not be easier?! The work of the Foundation captivated me a long time ago, when I first heard the Maria talk on a radio program hosted by José Candeias. The strength that passed through her testimony did not leave me indifferent. Besides having a social cause as main objective, the physical challenges and the constant improvement, also captivated me.
No doubt, a book that captivated me for being so human, so real and simultaneously with so many great things!