An Honourable Sir: Inspirational philanthropist receives honorary doctorate

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TACKLING POVERTY: Sir Fazle Hasan Abed received an honorary doctorate of Education from the University of Bradford this past week

TACKLING POVERTY: Sir Fazle Hasan Abed received an honorary doctorate of Education from the University of Bradford this past week

A Bangladeshi-born humanitarian, who has spent most of his working life fighting against poverty, has been awarded with an honorary doctorate from the University of Bradford.

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed may now be in his 80’s, yet his dedication to helping others knows no ends.

From reducing poverty levels in his home country to repeating this success in more than 10 others, his work has spanned more than four decades and continues to change lives around the world.

After founding the world's largest non-governmental organization, BRAC (formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), back in 1972, he now chairs the organisation and oversees its 120,000 employees.

Dedicated to alleviating poverty by empowering the poor, his project runs across a dozen countries in total.

Sir Fazle was awarded with a knighthood in the 2010 New Year’s Honour’s in recognition of his services to reducing poverty and in 2014 was named in Fortune Magazine’s List of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

On receiving his doctorate of Education from the University of Bradford, the inspirational figure remained humble and thanked the institution for the accolade.

“It is wonderful to come to Bradford,” he said. “I’ve never been here before and I know that this is a University that has been here for the last 50 years. I know that the university provides education in science and is also famous for its peace studies.

“So it is wonderful to be here to receive this degree from the University.”

Sir Fazle’s life hasn’t always been dedicated to helping others. In 1971, the then 35-year-old was working at Shell Oil when he says the 1971 Liberation War changed his life.

He left his job, moved to London and devoted himself to Bangladesh’s War of Independence.

Returning to Bangladesh, he established BRAC to rehabilitate refugees, helping develop their capacity to manage their lives.

He later helped establish the BRAC University, which equips students with the knowledge and skills to address contemporary and future challenges, based on the conviction that education and training are forces for positive change.

Sir Fazle was joined in Bradford this week for the graduation ceremonies alongside fellow international figures: Kevin Gaskell, Paul Donovan, Dame Stephanie Shirley, Professor Robin Wilson, Cecilia Anim and Francesca Martinez.

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