Setting an example: ‘He lived each day trying to make the world a better place’

Inspired by their father’s random acts of kindness, sisters Sherin and Aya Al-Safadi establish new student support at Concordia in memory of Ruchdi Al-Safadi
January 24, 2022
By Sherin Al-Safadi, MBA 10, PhD 14

Ruchdi Al-Safadi with his two daughters Sherin and Aya Alumna Sherin Al-Safadi and her sister Aya honoured the memory of their father, Ruchdi Al-Safadi, by creating a bursary in his name.

Setting an Example is a first-person story, in the words of a Concordia donor, on the importance of supporting higher education.

The world lost a passionate humanitarian with the biggest heart in the summer of 2021 — a devoted husband with a timeless love story, an incredible father with the deepest affection for his two daughters. Our dearest dad (“baba” in Arabic), Ruchdi Al-Safadi, passed away unexpectedly, yet peacefully, on June 8, in the comfort of his own home. 

Baba was a force majeure of life, radiating with charisma and integrity. When he set his mind on something, there was no stopping him. He lived each day of his life trying to make the world a better place and to teach me and my sister, Aya, how to face life’s ups and downs head-on. His impact was far-reaching — from his own family to his community and beyond.

Philanthropy, to our father, was giving himself to whatever came his way. We grew up watching him embody random acts of kindness every day. He led fundraising efforts to support families across the Middle East in need of critical medical care for their loved ones, especially during times of war.

Ruchdi Al-Safadi An experienced scuba diver, Ruchdi Al-Safadi had a soft spot for animals and sea life, says his daughter Sherin Al-Safadi.

Baba had a soft spot for animals and sea life — when we lived in Saudi Arabia, he would provide water for the pigeons and milk for the street cats to ensure they weren’t dehydrated by the excessive heat. A lover of the sea and an experienced scuba diver, our baba led a Red Sea reef dive project to help clean up the coral.

One of our family pillars was the pursuit of higher education. Baba was a huge advocate of academia to shape our independence and confidence as young women with limitless career aspirations. He believed that education would encourage us to inspire compassion in the world around us. That it would guide us in making a positive impact and engaging in philanthropy. And, most importantly, that it could empower other Arab women to pursue this fundamental right and contribute to a foundation of sustained economic growth.

As the fog of grief started to lift after our father’s passing, we looked for ways to continue his legacy. Both my sister and I pursued higher education in science, and so the Ruchdi Al-Safadi Memorial Bursary in Science at Concordia became our family’s way of marrying our dad’s love for humanity with his championing of education. My sister and I owe much of our personal and professional successes to our academic journeys in science. I know that if our baba were around today, he would have loved to support this bursary with us.

The painter and writer Gibran Khalil Gibran once said, “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” What made our father so magnetic was his honesty, pure kindness and willingness to go above-and-beyond for others. My family’s hope is that this bursary will bring its recipients one step closer to securing future success, while also finding inner peace by thinking kind and being kind — just as our baba was with us and so many others.

Join Sherin Al-Safadi’s support of higher education by making a gift to the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen Now.

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