AMIDEAST mourns the loss of Dr. Fahim Qubain, who passed away in April at the age of 88. Qubain will be long remembered as the founder of the Hope Fund, an organization that in one decade has made a made a life-changing difference for nearly 70 young Palestinian men and women from refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza.
Qubain’s idea was to use education to make a difference in the lives of deserving Palestinian youth of exceptional promise. Joined by his wife Nancy, he used a mix of determination and charm to convince colleges to provide full scholarships if they could find the qualified students. Having secured the Fund’s first two scholarships from Roanoke College in 2001, they turned next to AMIDEAST to supply the matching students. In the ensuring years, as they coaxed additional scholarship commitments, AMIDEAST’s offices in the West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, and Jordan have served as the Hope Fund’s on-the-ground presence to identify deserving students and assist them through the application process.
Education was central to Qubain’s life. Growing up in Palestine in the 1940s, he attended the Ramallah Friends Boys School. After moving to the United States in 1946, he personally appealed to Guilford College for a scholarship that would enable him to pursue his dream of a higher education. That initial act of generosity paved the way to doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin and a career as an academic and Middle East specialist.
In the late 1990s, as the Qubains had settled into a life of semi-retirement in southern Virginia, his attention was caught by an article by Wall Street Journal correspondent Geraldine Brooks. In it, she described how she had bonded with a Palestinian youth she met during the Intifada and her eventual decision to pay for his college education. The story was an inspiration to Qubain, his success in getting himself a scholarship decades earlier returning as the template for what was to come.
The Hope Fund students have performed well academically. This has helped broaden support for the program, including at highly selective institutions such as Amherst, Bryn Mawr, Carleton, and Swarthmore Colleges and Georgetown University. During the past year, the Hope Fund continued its strong performance, succeeding in matching a record 22 students to scholarships to begin their studies in fall 2012.
“The Hope Fund would not have happened without one man’s vision, will, and selfless service. In the days and years ahead, those of us involved with the Hope Fund will always hear his voice urging us to do even more and to do it better. The fact that the program placed 22 students this year reassures us that his legacy and good works will live on,” AMIDEAST President and CEO Theodore H. Kattouf said.