Honouring his father
Abbas Fawzi doesn’t consider himself extraordinary.
When Fawzi’s father, Nabil, died unexpectedly of a heart attack while settling family affairs in Iraq in 2012, the bereaved uOttawa student travelled to the country he’d never seen to help bury him.
Fawzi was born in Syria after his family left Iraq. He came to Canada at age five when his parents settled in Ottawa, along with his siblings. Going to Iraq after his father’s death, Fawzi witnessed soul-grinding poverty, which strengthened his determination to study and work in international development. Seeing Iraq’s devastation also prompted him to set up a scholarship in his father’s name.
Still a student himself, Fawzi, who hopes to graduate this fall, held car wash fundraisers and solicited donations from family members, friends and local businesses. What he couldn’t raise, he donated himself, while working two part-time jobs.
Although most university donors have graduated and established careers before they give back, making the commitment as a student to contribute enough money for an annual scholarship was the natural outcome of his father’s legacy, Fawzi believes.
His father “was a huge advocate of education and a huge supporter of his community,” says Fawzi. Although the family was not well-to-do, Nabil Fawzi always donated to the Iraqi community in Ottawa and others in need.
Abbas Fawzi simply followed his father’s example. “My community is the University community. So it was important for me to give back to members of my community. I felt like I needed to pass on my dad’s message and help students who are in financial need.”
As a bursary recipient during his first year at school, Fawzi knows how much financial aid can help.
Fawzi does not find the fundraising daunting. “If you really want to accomplish something, you can get it done. There are so many ways to give back to your university.