With a gift of $250,000 through his maternal health foundation, Square Roots, Morad Fareed has supported research for maternal and child health and created a named financial aid fund at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The endowed Dr. Nabiel and Wesam Fareed Family Financial Aid Fund, named in honor of his parents, is intended to support students from or descended from residents of the West Bank or Gaza who are pursuing studies in women’s health.
“Palestinian society has a great tradition of empowering women,” says Fareed. “Culturally maternal health is of paramount importance. I can’t think of a more vital area to support.”
As a co-founder of Delos, a wellness real estate and technology company, Fareed had focused on creating healthy indoor environments in buildings. After creating the Well Living Lab at the Mayo Clinic to focus exclusively on how environments influence human physiology, he then turned to what he calls the next logical question: “If we agree that people’s physical and social environments are a great determinant of health, then at what period in life is it most important to have a healthy environment? I would argue that it’s when you’re in the womb. This is when much of your health is being determined for life.”
This realization completely changed his perspective. “I used to think of it as an episode called pregnancy,” he says. “You get pregnant and give birth. It’s done. The focus is on the survival of mom and baby. But obviously the reality is much more complex. What about the well-being of mom and baby during pregnancy—and throughout the rest of their lives?” The mother’s living, working, and social conditions and access to human support systems are examples of issues that need to be addressed, he says.
Fareed’s decision to support financial aid at the Harvard Chan School was influenced by his sister, Cynthia Hazar Fareed. “The School takes a multidisciplinary approach,” he notes, “which aligns perfectly with our desire to focus holistically on maternal health. My sister had the insight that because the School looks at all the dimensions of life, including people’s physical and social environments, Harvard Chan students will be ideally positioned to carry out the kind of work we hope to encourage.”
Fareed believes that there is a great need for prospective Palestinian students to know that they should apply to the Harvard Chan School—and that some assistance will be available from this newly created fund should they come. “They should know that their dreams will be valued here,” he says. “We want to uplift and empower people and give them new opportunities. Receiving financial aid can change perspectives. It can change individuals. And it can change lives.”