Khaled Al-Qazzaz and Sarah Attia met at the University of Toronto while studying to become engineers. Their shared dedication to serving the community brought them together. After they got married in 2004, Khaled and Sarah decided to move to Egypt to pursue another area of passion, education in the private school sector. With the rise of the Arab Spring in 2011, they both marched with the people in Tahrir Square, dreaming that one day Egypt would enjoy the democracy and freedom they loved in Canada.
After the first democratic election in the history of Egypt, Khaled took a position with the Morsi Presidency, as a civil servant. In this role, Khaled formed the first Human Rights committee in the Presidency as well as a Women Empowerment Committee which worked with women organizations to address the conditions of women in Egypt. On July 3, 2013, the day of the coup, Khaled was illegally detained for one year and a half, and suffered severe human rights violations. Sarah returned to Canada and spearheaded an international advocacy campaign to free Khaled Al-Qazzaz. She became a well known face to the media, human rights organizations, and even testified in front of the UNHRC, calling for her husband’s release. The large base support built by the campaign pressured the Canadian government to intervene, which lead to the miracle of Khaled’s return home to Canada.
This ordeal impacted the whole family, including Khaled and Sarah’s young children, who were only 7, 5, 3, and 1 at the time. However, Khaled has always been a person who takes difficult life circumstances and channels them into positive social change. This is the spirit Khaled models to his children, supporters and colleagues.
Khaled and Sarah’s passion for democracy, human rights, and social justice, combined with their professional experience in education and development, led to the birth of Al-Qazzaz Foundation for Education and Development. The foundation’s vision is to fosters equity of access and outcome through innovative education and development projects, rooted in the values of human rights, democracy and social justice. The organization has quickly grown to include among its founders and advisors a group of prominent and well respected members of the community. In a short few months, the foundation has already launched several important programs and exciting partnerships.