Seham Abdelwahab Elasmar was born in Yebna, Palestine in 1943. At age 5, she and her family fled the Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing of their hometown by Zionist forces and eventually settled in Rafah’s refugee camps. Encouraged and supported by her parents who had no formal education, Seham focused on her studies and successfully earned her high school diploma. Seham then married Mahmoud Abdelmageed, a young man from her hometown, and moved to Qatar where she taught generations of elementary school girls the fundamentals of the Arabic language.
Seham and Mahmoud raised all 5 of their children (Wafaa, Sanaa, Mohamed, Adel, Ahmed) in Doha, Qatar. Although Qatar was where all their children were born and raised, as a Palestinian with an Egypt-issued refugee travel document Qatar was always a host that provided residence but never a home. Seham and Mahmoud focused their energies on ensuring that every one of their children had a brighter future through higher education. They understood that a college degree opened doors for stable employment, and better yet, the opportunity to settle elsewhere and gain citizenship.
In 1997, Seham and her husband were granted a landed immigrant status in Canada for themselves and their two youngest children. She officially became a Canadian citizen in 2000. In 2004, the youngest of Seham’s children graduated college, cementing the realization of her lifelong goal, her two daughters and three sons were all college graduates. More importantly, they all settled in new places of residence with full citizenship status, no longer needing to carry refugee status.
Seham spent the last few years of her life in Detroit, Michigan as an American citizen near three of her children. Although Alzheimer’s robbed her of a lot of things in her last few years, it can never take away the indelible mark she left on her children, her students and whomever was blessed to have had the pleasure of knowing her in their life. Seham passed away on Monday June 20th, 2022.
Seham is survived by her five children, and 15 grandchildren. Her succeeding generations are fortunate to live in far more privileged circumstances thanks to her unwavering determination to never let the occupation that took away her land, take away her children’s future.
This memorial fund is in honor of Seham’s legacy and is meant to extend her humble impact in support of those who seek a bright, educated future no matter the circumstance. May every benefit gained from this scholarship weigh heavy on her scale in perpetuity.
Seham Abdelwahab Elasmar