FOUNDATION DAUGHTERS FOR LIFE
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, let me thank you all from the bottom of my heart for you presence and let me wish you a warm welcome to this presentation.
Before we talk about the Foundation, I’d like to invite you to have a look at the picture on the screen.
On the right of the picture, it is Bessan, she was 21. On the left, you have Mayar who was 15 and, in the middle, this is Aya, 13.
Those three young girls with their cousin Noor lost their lives ten years ago on January 16, 2009.
They lost their lives in the bombing of their house during an Israeli military operation, the so called “cast lead” operation.
Bessan, Mayar and Aya are Dr Izzeldin ABUELAISH’s daughters.
They are our daughters.
They are daughters of humanity, innocent victims of violence, victims of a State violence.
After this drama, what did Dr ABUELAISH do ?
He did two things :
First, he wrote a book with a strong message :
“I shall not hate”.
Second, in memory of his three daughters, he created a Foundation in Canada called “Daughters for life”.
Dr ABUELAISH will tell you more about the Foundation in a few minutes. He will explain to you the philosophy, the goals and the realisations of his Canadian Foundation.
And today is a special day for Dr ABUELAISH, the day of the announcement of a new Foundation in Belgium, linked with the mother Foundation in Canada with the same humanitarian aim.
Now, it’s time to introduce to you our guest, the man for whom we came to this room, to this event, Dr Izzeldin ABUELAISH.
To be honest with you, it isn’t that easy to find the right words to describe and define this man who is really exceptionnel !
Let me say once more, dear Izzeldin, that I am impressed by your path from the Jabalia camp, from your small shelter used as a house for your family of eleven to your success as a Doctor, as a gynaecologist, as a fertility specialist and finally your degree in Health Policy from Harvard, in the most prestigious University in the world.
Therefore, let me use one quote of your book : “I wished my mother and father could have risen from their graves to see me, their son, a boy of poverty, accepting my degree. I wanted all Palestinians to share the moment with me (…). The faculty raised the flag of the country of every graduating student in the commencement ceremony. When I saw the flag of Palestine up there with the others, I was proud of who I am and who we are together”.
A second reason why I impressed is your attitude after what I usually call “the tragedy”, the loss of your three daughters.
You didn’t ask for revenge but for justice…
You answered to those who are responsible of their death :
“I shall not hate”
You wrote : “words are stronger than bullets”…
I often heard you saying :
“hatred is a chronic disease”; “hatred is a contagious disease”; it is a disaster…
You repeated that violence and revenge will never bring you your daughters back and won’t solve anything; on the contrary.
Indeed, the conflict that has been going on between the Israeli and the Palestinian people for more than seven decades is the longest conflict of our times. It seems to be endless.
So you decided to hold a message of dialogue, a message of peace. For ten years, I have seen you travelling round the world, using so much energy to sensibilize, to convince, to wake up people’s consciences.
Everywhere, you talk about education.
Education is a central issue in Dr ABUELAISH’s message.
He fully believes Nelson MANDELA was right when he said :
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
Besides, our guest, wants to empower young girls and women in the Middel-East to play a more important role in the region and take the lead.
“A healthy society needs wise and educated women”, he says.
You may be proud of who you are, you may be proud of where you come from;
You may be proud of all what you have done these last ten years.
It gives sense to your life after the tragedy.
And I hope, one day, you’ll make the difference.
Don’t forget Shakespeare :
“However long the night, the dawn will break”.