Born in Silat El Daher, Palestine |
Abdel Raouf was born to parents who had lead difficult lives. His father sold gasoline and his mother picked fruits and vegetables. When the occupation was at its height he decided to leave Palestine. Although he was only fifteen, he wanted to pursue an education with the hope of eventually finding a job that could support his parents and ten siblings. Initially he moved to Egypt, completed his degree in Civil Engineering, and then went on to Kuwait where he began his professional career as an engineer. It was there that he met his wife and started a family of his own. Once again it was conflict that triggered his next move. While his family was visiting Turkey, he heard that the Gulf War had broken out in Kuwait and he needed to make a quick decision; either return to Kuwait or take his family to a safer place. He decided on the latter. After living for a short while with his brothers in Spain, he and his family [a wife and five daughters] were accepted into Canada. Abdel Raouf feels that it is Toronto’s open nature that makes it special.
“This is a place where one can cultivate a family while keeping one’s religion and culture.”
Toronto as Home
When they first moved to Toronto Abdel often took his five daughters and wife to the Eaton Centre. He explains how it was always a grand experience for the girls to walk around such an enormous structure and see the hanging sculpture of Canadian geese in flight. At that time they were all fairly young, so there was little damage to the wallet! Today, with his wife and five daughters in that huge mall, that likely wouldn’t be the case.
Connection with the Past
Abdel Raouf is holding a picture of his father. Though many years have passed since his death, he still becomes emotional when he thinks of him. Standing in the Eaton Centre holding his dad’s picture makes him realize how far their family has come – from a small village in Silat El Daher to the downtown core of Toronto. Abdel Raouf describes his father as a modest man, both humble and gentle. Hardworking and honest he always wanted the best for his family. These are qualities that Abdel Raouf’s daughters would use to describe their own father, and they are as proud him as he is of their grandfather.