A Note of Thanks: Ten years of the Daughters for Life Foundation

2020 marks a decade since the Daughters for Life Foundation (DFL) was established to support the higher education of women and girls from the Middle East. In these past ten years, over 400 young women at the undergraduate and graduate level have benefitted from DFL’s many programs that offer educational scholarships, financial awards, and fellowships. Partnered with leading universities across North America, United Kingdom and South Asia, the foundation has empowered young women from Palestine, Morocco, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon to realize their full potential and achieve their dreams. On its tenth anniversary, the DFL family is proud to look back at the many success stories it has nurtured, and is grateful to its extensive network of academic partners, donors, and volunteers who have joined us on this journey to bring the gift of education to girls in the Middle East.

The genesis of Daughters for Life Foundation

On January 16, 2009, two days before the end of the Gaza war, the lives of the Abuelaish family changed forever. An Israeli tank shelled the home of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian Gynaecologist, killing his three daughters – 21-year-old Bessan, 15-year-old Mayar, 13-year-old Aya, and his niece, Noor. That evening, Dr. Abuelaish’s grief reverberated across households in the region. His pleas for justice and peace were captured live on television and made him a symbol of the human cost of war.

Emerging from the horrors of that tragedy, Dr. Abuelaish chose the path of healing and peace. He poured his grief into resurrecting the memory of his three deceased daughters. The Daughters for Life Foundation is Dr. Abuelaish’s tribute to Bessan, Mayar, and Aya, to see their ambitions and desires be fulfilled by other girls. The three shared a love of life and learning, and every DFL scholar, fellow or awardee is furthering Bessan, Mayar, and Aya’s hopes and dreams for a better educated world.

DFL’s scholarship program recognizes female high school and university graduates to receive full scholarships in North America, the United Kingdom and South Asia. While the Awards Program assists dedicated female university students in their third year of study in accredited academic programs in the Middle East to aid with their tuition fees.  The Daughters for Life Fellowship Program provides opportunities for exceptional female students from universities in the Middle East to develop their disciplinary horizons in collaboration with institutions around the world. DFL supports young women who have overcome adversity and hardship, demonstrated scholastic achievement and made an outstanding contribution to improving the lives of girls and young women by volunteering or working in their local community. In accordance with the belief that education should be accessed by anyone no matter their background or faith, DFL is a pluralist organization and the program beneficiaries are chosen irrespective of their religion or where they are from in the Middle East. All that matters is that they possess a passion for knowledge and uphold ideals for a better world.

Ten years on, we renew our pledge to the daughters of the Middle East

The values and beliefs that have guided us in the last ten years will continue to shine our path to the next decade. Education is a basic human right that every woman must have access to across the Middle East, regardless of her faith or ethnicity. Education empowers women to exercise their rights, contribute to their community, and lead their societies towards peace and prosperity. Now in our tenth year, DFL is determined more than ever to make higher education accessible to more girls who are suffering violence, prejudice, and injustice in the Middle East.

Awarding scholarship opportunities to deserving young women is one of our key initiatives at DFL. The foundation’s past and current tally of female program recipients totals 58 scholars, 341 awards and 5 fellowships. We are doubling our efforts to expand our capacity to send brilliant young women on scholarships to our academic partners. Expanding into Europe and other cities in the United States is also on our vision board for the near term.

Grateful and Thankful!

We want to extend a heartfelt thanks to our partners, donors and volunteers who have remained committed to our cause. Your support, whether in kind, in tuition or through your time, has given hundreds of young daughters from the Middle East the chance to complete their education without financial constraints or to pursue a degree in medicine, arts, literature or technology. DLF will continue to champion for a bright future of women in the Middle East, and we know that with your support, we will be successful in this mission,

To our academic partners, we thank you from the bottom of our heart. We would like to acknowledge the contributions and support of:

  • York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
  • Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
  • Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • College Boreal, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada (headquarters)
  • University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Brescia University College, London, Ontario, Canada
  • Culture Works English as a Second Language, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
  • International Language Academy of Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Trent University, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY, United States
  • University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, United States
  • New College of Florida, Sarasota, Florida, United States
  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States
  • Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Asian University for Women, Chittagong, Bangladesh

As we brief you of our success in the past ten years, it is vital to reflect our gratitude to our donors who have generously contributed to the DFL’s journey. Over these ten years of constant work to support the education of girls and women in the Middle East, we have been graciously assisted by the donations of over 1800 donors. We thank you for joining us on this journey to provide equal educational rights to our Daughters; their success is yours as well.

Of course, we have not forgotten the efforts of our volunteers who have selflessly donated their time and effort to lend a helping hand to the DFL operations. In fact, we are proud to note that we have been braced by a total of 9,738 hours of volunteer service each year. Each volunteer has brought their expertise to kindly support DFL in helping our Daughters and see our vision of hope achieved. We thank you for continuously working with us towards a better, more educated world.

Having said our thanks to all our supporters, we would like to end this on a hopeful note. 2020 has proven to be a tough year with challenges posed in front every one of us. DFL has chosen this time to come together as a community and tirelessly work to rise above in these troubling times. Inspired by the endless support our partners, donors, and volunteers, we will persevere in our work and continue to work towards providing more scholars with opportunity for education. We ask that you join us in celebrating our ten years of success and move further towards another decade of hope, education, and success. We will rise above these obstacles if we work together to make 2020 the start of a new journey towards even more achievements.