Fadi Al Qassar BComm'10
Fadi Al Qassar’s life path shifted in 2008, when he and a group of students from Saint Mary’s University travelled to the small village of Tabiro, in the Mpigi district of Uganda. Al Qassar, a Bachelor of Commerce student at the time, was volunteering with Uganda Venture, a charity organization doing development work in Uganda, with the aim to alleviate poverty and improve the standard of living.
Small Acts of Kindness
The group of students helped to construct one of two orphanages in Tabiro, an area of Africa hit hard by the AIDS epidemic, leaving hundreds of children orphaned. “I met the people and the kids there and saw the need for the work we were doing. Small acts of kindness were going a long way.” Al Qassar was so moved by this work that upon graduation he began volunteering with Uganda Venture full time, which eventually lead to a paid position as Managing Director in August 2013.
But that all came later. Back when he was still a student in Amman, Jordan, Al Qassar wasn’t at all sure what his life path would be. He knew he would study abroad and was excited about the prospect of going to university. When he entered SMU’s business school, he quickly became involved in a number of extra-curricular groups, such as the International Society, Peaceful Schools International, the Arabic Society, and the Film Society.
Al Qassar’s desire to be involved and contribute lead him into the arena of student politics as well. In 2008, he took on the role of Vice President Internal Affairs with the Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association where he ran marketing campaigns on campus and represented students on several university and student association committees, as well as overseeing and supporting more than 55 active societies on campus.
All of these valuable experiences helped inform the work he is currently doing for Uganda Venture--managing and developing a variety of innovative initiatives, such as a micro-credit program launched last year. Another recent project is Lights for Light (www.lightsforlight.ca) that aims to raise $30,000 in order to bring electricity to Tabiro Village.
“You can imagine the social and economic benefits of such a project in Uganda,” says Al Qassar. “Electricity is a learning tool, and also a tool for connecting and feeling less isolated in the world. We think electricity will lead to greater infrastructure, greater well-being, and a better economy.” Asking each donor to contribute only $10, Al Qassar said he and other campaign organizers are using the power of networking and social media to spread the word for their campaign.
Illuminating and broadening the world for others is a driving force for this alumnus. Al Qassar credits SMU for amazing opportunities that he took full advantage of. His advice to today’s students? “Always get involved in interesting things. Always choose the school trip rather than a vacation to Cuba with friends. Always get involved in initiatives and projects. University is what you make of it, design the experience for yourself and make it your own.”