BGU students awarded by Abuelaish in memory of family

Palestinian physician, who lost three daughters when errant IDF shells hit his Gaza home during "Cast Lead," honors outstanding students.

Abuelaish award winners_311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Abuelaish award winners_311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, the Gaza physician who lost three of his daughters in January 2009 when two IDF tank shells accidentally hit their home near Beit Lahiya during Operation Cast Lead, is giving for the future. From his current residence in Canada, Abuelaish has established the Daughters for Life Foundation in memory of his daughters.
The organization was created by the 57-year-old gynecologist to honor the memory of Bessan, Mayar and Aya. The project’s 35 awards will also include nine other universities in Israel and Arab countries, including the University of Haifa and universities in Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
The first annual ceremony for granting scholarships, aimed at providing young women in the Middle East with education and health opportunities, was held on Thursday at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba. It was part of the university’s main fellowships award event, organized by the office of the dean of students Yaakov Affek and presided over by BGU president Prof. (and physician) Rivka Carmi.
At BGU, the three recipients received cash prizes of $1,000, certificates and plaques. Each year, the recipients’ names will be recorded on a plaque at the the university.
The awards are given to outstanding female students in the fields of medicine, law, education, journalism and business who have shown their “academic excellence, creativity, compassion, a developed sense of humanity, the overcoming of adversity, devotion to improving the circumstances of girls and women and financial hardship.”
Those fields were the ones in which his daughters had expressed interest as girls, Abuelaish said.
He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, taught at BGU’s Medical School for International Health and was involved in the Beduin genetics project run by Dr. Ohad Birk from the Faculty of Health Sciences. He also worked at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. He is currently a professor at the University of Toronto.
“Only someone with the incredible personality of Izzeldin, with his deep commitment to connecting the two peoples, would be able to turn his own personal tragedy into such a positive force,” Carmi said.
This year’s BGU recipients are Safa Abu Hani of the Beduin city of Rahat, Amalya Ze’evi from Holon and Ma’ayan Givoni from Ramat Yishai.
Abu Hani is a sixth-year medical student at BGU’s medical school who volunteers in the Perach project at a children’s clubhouse at the Soroka University Medical Center, where she works with hospitalized children and their families and frequently serves as interpreter, providing both medical information and emotional support. She serves as a role model and mentor for girls and young women in the Beduin community, whom she encourages to pursue their dreams and reach their highest potential.
Ze’evi is a third-year student in the department of politics and government and the education department. She also volunteers in the Perach project, she with a 17-year-old girl from a poor family. Her work reflects her strong convictions that women in politics and in society must be empowered. She encourages the young women to put more effort into her studies, to perform meaningful national service after graduating from high school and to aspire to higher education.
Givoni, from Ramat Yishai, is a third-year student in the departments of management and psychology. She volunteers in the “Young Entrepreneurs” project, working with teenage girls to create a business with innovative products and giving them marketing and business skills.