The pages of this website are most often filled with joyous news about the positive effects that BRIDGE has on participants and facilitators alike. It is one of the many reasons why, over more than 10 years, my energy for the program has remained undiminished. However, on a few occasions in those 10 years, we have had to confront the sad news of the loss of members of the BRIDGE family – none sadder than the sudden recent death of one of the leading BRIDGE facilitators worldwide, Wael Al-Faraj.
It is with a breaking heart that I write this tribute to my dear, dear friend, Wael. I loved him like a brother and all who knew him will no doubt agree with me that it was our privilege to have Wael in our lives.
I first met Wael when he attended a TTF in Melbourne in 2005. My earliest memory of him is of his smiling face as he entered the room, wheeling a bicycle he had borrowed to make the trip to the training venue. It said so much about him. He had only been in Melbourne for a day, he was faced with cycling on the opposite side of the road to what he was used to and in peak hour traffic! But he faced the challenge with a smile and with confidence and reached his destination on time. This is the way he lived his life.
Immediately, Wael became a valued member of the group. He was kind and caring and intelligent and patient and everyone quickly grew to love him. It was also at this time that Wael formed a close relationship with the Arabic speakers in the group, particularly Emad Yousef, with whom he was to work to make BRIDGE a truly Arab program. Later, they were to form a close bond with Ossama Kamel from Egypt and together the three of them became the heart of BRIDGE in the Middle East and North Africa. I know how much Ossama and Emad loved Wael and I send special condolences to you my dear friends.
In no time, Wael finished his accreditation and was a key figure in BRIDGE courses in Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan and Sudan. Everywhere he went he brought with him enthusiasm, energy and love. He was a gifted facilitator who worked hard to provide the best possible service to participants of BRIDGE. He very quickly became an Expert facilitator – a title he richly deserved. He also played an important role in the piloting of DG BRIDGE.
I have many personal memories of Wael that I will cherish always – our ‘huge’ dinner together in an Iraqi restaurant in Amman and his visits to my home in Melbourne. But I think the memory that most sums up Wael’s humanity for me involved a dinner we had once in a street café in Sana’a. There were no empty tables so we were invited by an old man to join him. It was obvious that the old man was by no means wealthy, but while we waited for our food, he insisted that we share his. Our food finally came, but the old man said he had to go. We had a wonderful time, and when we went to pay we were told that an old man had already paid our bill. We were all very touched, but when I turned to Wael, he had tears in his eyes. He was so moved by the old man’s act of kindness. This was typical of Wael. His compassion and his ability to empathise with everyone around him, made him very special indeed.
I will miss your sweetness and your humour, habibi. I feel very lucky to have known you. It is sad to think I will never hear your voice again. Rest peacefully my dear brother.
Wael passed away suddenly on 10 February, 2011. He is survived by his wife Israa and his children Menna and Abdul. Everyone in the BRIDGE offices sends their thoughts and prayers to you in this difficult time.
In order to allow all of you who knew Wael to make comment about the kind of person he was, we are setting up this page as a tribute page. We would particularly like people to make a small video presentation that can be uploaded to the site. However, we are also very interested in written tributes and photographs and any video footage you may have of Wael. We hope to be able to collect all of these and to edit them onto a DVD so that Wael’s family (particularly his children) can see how much he was loved and how talented he was.
You can contribute by either commenting at the bottom of this article or load photos by clicking here. Thanks in advance for you contributions.