Success stories of Palestinian achievers from all over the world

Rana Abdulla

Personal Info

  • Country of residence: Canada
  • Gender: Female
  • Born in: 1962
  • Age: 49
  • Curriculum vitae :


A Certified General Accountant, a college teacher "accounting", a mother and a grandmother, Rana was born in Kuwait for Palestinian parents originally from Balaa village North of Tulkarem. Her uncle is Mahmoud Al-Hamshari. Rana assisted over 200 Palestinian refugees and abused women as they faced particular difficulties in accessing personal safety and protection. A prominent volunteer for immigrants and refugees. Rana has touched many lives, both as an educator and a friend. She is a tireless volunteer. She was an accounting instructor at Algonquin College in Ottawa, and during her term there, selflessly focused on helping students realize their potential. She was also a champion of human rights and worked tirelessly for peace and justice and the protection of the refugees. When she arrived in Canada in the 1980's, she wasted little time in pursuing her special interests in voluntarism, despite language and cultural barriers. The list of those she has helped is long and continues to grow. As a distinguished motivator of her people in the Arab-Canadian community and through Private Sponsorship of Refugees, she has created a new refugee assistance model - non-welfare dependent refugees who will be better off in the long run... rapidly adjusting and involved in the Canadian society. In addition to her public service, Rana has taken an activist approach to helping Arab immigrants and refugees. She has helped to raise money for orphans and children of refugees and has also sponsored them to come to Canada, as an expression of deep sympathy with the refugees who are suffering a terrible fate. She is a woman of complex surroundings, beliefs and feelings. Her heart is full of rich offerings; great love, endurance, immense faith and genuine fidelity to her people, a fidelity to all the fathers of refugee generations who have withstood, and continue to withstand, the forces of injustice, hate, greed and brutality with grace and courage, selflessly and yet not weakly. Her father, a Palestinian man, taught her to fight on, to remember and to live with dignity, pride and resistance. He also taught her never to give in but to reach for the highest goals in life, whether those aspirations were personal, spiritual, or moral. His faith in her sustains her still. She has an interest in refugees, history and culture. This busy career woman and mother has dedicated herself to over the years, through a network of people with similar values, to help refugees and abused women affording them the chance to live with dignity, pride and peace. With her first-hand knowledge as a Palestinian of the refugees' suffering, she listens and stays on top of things and works tirelessly. The workaholic in her just can't say no to anything. She has been hurt many times but with hard work and dedication as her sword, she cuts through the walls and government bureaucracies - something else she learned from her parents. Perhaps the most eye-catching of all is a collection of Palestinian heritage items, which she has a collection of Palestinian heritage dresses and items that she arranged in front of floor-to-ceiling windows so that they appear to be almost flying. They are a symbol of freedom, peace and identify confirmation. Perhaps that sums up Rana Abdulla’s life work best. Rana Abdulla is certainly an example of what’s possible for an immigrant if given the opportunity to fully integrate and embrace multicultural Canada, but she adds that immigrants themselves must also take charge. These are all values that Rana has fought for over the years as a volunteer with various organizations and NGOs that are too numerous to list here. The same can be said for her many awards and recognitions, the most recent of which is the esteemed Order of Canada.

Achievements and Awards

She was named "One Woman Army by CTV". This “one woman army” has spent the past 11 years trying to make life better for refugees in Canada who always worked in silence and with dedication. Her work with the refugees is the culmination of a lifetime of giving. Her volunteer activities drew the attention of the media. This is the first time that her work becomes public because of the large number of refugee undertakings and because of the connection to the late Tom Fox. CTV news (on June 20, 2007, World Refugee Day) described Rana as a “One Woman Army”. When asked on CTV about refugees, she said, “What does it feel like to have to run? These are people from all walks of life - middle class, educated, blue collar workers - and no refugee is different from any other in that they are all fleeing persecution, torture, threat of death, and other terrible situations. They are trying to get their families to safety. This is what it feels like to be stateless and to not belong to a state that recognizes you as a citizen and that is capable of intervening to ensure that you have basic human rights. There are ways, only if world leaders are willing to firmly support truly fair and just solutions - solutions which do not ignore Palestinian human and land rights. Israel, as an occupying power in Gaza, has a responsibility to protect the Palestinian civilian population and civilian infrastructure.“ Some of her public quotes: . She also saw Canada as a very compassionate country with lots of potential, believing that as Canadians, we are fortunate to have a mini-UN right here. We have the opportunity to live and work together and learn from each other while appreciating each other’s history and culture, and figure out a way to live together and contribute. We must commit to help immigrants integrate and show others what strengths we bring with diversity as a real uniting force in Canada. We need to get rid of the subtle and not-so-subtle barriers. We have it made, if we want to look at it this way. Again.. An extraordinarily dedicated volunteer, Rana has unselfishly donated an average of 15 hours a week to help others from a diverse range of language and cultural backgrounds. For eleven years she has spent more than 10,000 hours volunteering and caring for others. She has acted as an interpreter, helping immigrants to deal with medical staff, schools, social services departments and the tax department, as well as using her numerous contacts to help immigrants to find jobs. It is not uncommon to find her providing toys and clothing for poor families, raising money for the refugees, and to generously open her house and use her own money to sponsor immigrants and refugees. Rana is strongly committed to ensuring that new immigrants overcome their cultural shock and have rapid adjustment and involvement in the Canadian society. She helps them to adapt and learn the Canadian culture. As a distinguished motivator of her people, particularly in the Arab-Canadian community, she has a long and extensive background in serving the social needs of the immigrant community and is well known for her overwhelming generosity to cultural, humanitarian and charitable causes. Her volunteer efforts have contributed significantly to the Arab immigrants community and to a safer and more understanding society. Her latest accomplishment centred on the arrival of 15 refugees from Al-Hol Refugee Camp in Syria (also known as Tom Fox’s people). After 24 months of hard work and government processing, they began to arrive in Ottawa between June and December 2007. Peace Activists and representatives from UNHCR came enmasse to greet our new brothers and sisters at the Ottawa International Airport. The refugees had endured very difficult living conditions in scorpion-infested camps in the desert between Syria and Iraq. The refugees were all Ex-Iraq’s Palestinians. She demanded justice and the world listened. This was a wonderful time when people came to show humanity, and raised our profile in the community and the media. The group of ex-Iraq Palestinians who were sponsored by Rana are unique cases. They were never allowed to own property and were forced to live in ghettoized communities. When that ended, they became targets, and there was an enormous amount of publicity surrounding their cases as Tom Fox, a Christian Peace Maker, died because of them. Rana has helped so many to settle in Canada. Today they are all Canadian citizens, and many of them are wonderful, faithful friends that she can rely on. Rana is a collector of Palestinian Costumes. She is attempting to preserve the heritage and the culture. She was one of the key founders of the "Arab Cultural House", which was established in Montreal to improve Canadians understanding of the Arab world and its people. Its purpose is to introduce the richness of Arab history and culture, as well as the influence of Arab and Islamic civilization on the Western world, and Islam’s shared heritage with Judaism and Christianity. It also tries to promote cooperation and understanding between Canadians and the people of the Middle East and North Africa through education, information and development assistance programs. Rana’s volunteer efforts have contributed significantly to the Arab community and to a safer and more understanding society. She continues to give to those who are less fortunate, by raising funds to help immigrants and refugees and by finding work for newcomers according to their background. Her hard work has helped our confidence and positive attitudes. She is tireless in her efforts to give to those who are less fortunate. As a result of this she has received rewards and recognition certificates for her humanitarian work from many Canadian charitable organizations. When we ask Rana why she does it, she replies “Just the reward of knowing that I have made a difference in the life of a child or a mother, or a newcomer to Canada is enough.” Rana finds her rewards in knowing that what she experiences will forever change the lives of the refugees, and the poor and needy people that she continually assists. The feelings of self-fulfillment, patience, wisdom and humility are perhaps the qualities that separate the fictional heroes from the real-life heroes like Rana Abdulla. Rana has made a difference in our lives, and will always be remembered for what she has done for us. She volunteered for various refugee settlement agencies to help immigrants and refugees adapt to life in their new communities. Her volunteer activities and advocacy attracted regional and national media attention and have been acknowledged in various news channels. She assisted in planning initiatives aimed at increasing the capacity of refugee intake to Canada and helped many new Canadians become part of Canadian society by promoting literacy, working to eliminate discrimination and racism, by educating the public about their rights and responsibilities as Canadian citizens, encouraging voluntary action and by advocating human rights. She became a close friend and mentor to a number of families and participated in various settlement conferences and workshops by invitation from Citizenship & Immigration Canada.

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