More than three years ago ILAC and the Daughters for Life Foundation (DFL) found common ground in supporting disadvantaged Middle Eastern women, regardless of nationality or religious heritage, through education and leadership training. In 2012, ILAC donated $200,000 to DFL scholarships and awards as a part of its commitment to promoting change through education.
“ILAC was the main and first contributor,” DFL Founder Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish said. “We created this momentum and I am satisfied and proud of our collaboration with ILAC, their leaders: Ilan, Jon and Bernardo and the staff. It’s a good example of partnership. We encourage students to come to us and study at ILAC because education gives you a light, but travel gives you knowledge about others.”
This year’s Annual Gala honoured the achievements of three remarkable women: Dr. Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first female astronaut and neurologist; Aysha Al-Hamili, the first UAE female pilot; and Lisa LaFlamme, Chief Anchor and Senior Editor at CTV National News. These Luminary Awards recipients confirmed that every big community initiative starts with a small personal story.
The DFL was established in memory of Dr. Abuelaish’s three daughters who were killed by Israeli shelling in 2009. Earlier that year he also lost his wife to leukemia. His personal tragedies appear on the pages of his award-winning book I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey, which describes his philosophy of forgiveness. Creating educational opportunities for women through DFL, he has been called the Nelson Mandela of the Middle East and nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I have known Dr. Abuelaish and his family quite well, as well as his vision, which I fully understand as it’s clear that the more educated women are the greater the society is,” ILAC Executive Director Jonathan Kolber said at the 3rd DFL Gala. “I’m here with my wife Geraldine and this year he saved her life. He also mentored me through a very, very challenging time. We are so thankful for you as a human being, for all the hope you’ve given us and we will be forever grateful for all things you’ve done for me and my family.”
This collaborative vision brought two women from Israel, Amany Khater and Nawal Khalily, to study at ILAC. Both received scholarships and financial aid to learn English and pursue their education in Canada.
“We supported these girls and would love to attract more women who would like to be educated future leaders,” Dr. Abuelaish said. “We encourage these women to apply for Daughters for Life scholarships: girls with potential and talent but who lack opportunity. We would like to give them this opportunity, to strengthen and arm them with this education.”