21. Djavad Mowafaghian
November 17, 2015
Age: 88 | 2012: #49
Raised in Iran by a widowed mother who taught him and his siblings about selflessness and community, Djavad Mowafaghian made his fortune in construction. There he also built schools in the country’s poorest neighbourhoods, understanding that health and education are the keys to a child’s—and a nation’s—future.
After the Iranian revolution of 1979 he moved to Switzerland and then, in 1987, to Vancouver. He has since used his resources to further health and social development in Africa, India, Haiti, Switzerland, England, and here in his adopted city. His extraordinary generosity has enriched everything from the Children’s Hospital to SFU, Lions Gate Hospital, and the Centre for Child Development in Surrey. His $15-million contribution to the Centre for Brain Health allowed UBC to leverage government funding and create one of the top brain research and treatment facilities on the continent.
Slowed by a stroke in 2010 and now partially disabled, Mowafaghian, 88, puts life in refreshing perspective. “How much money do you need?” he asks. “You need money for eating and to sleep—a place for a bed. If you have a billion dollars, you cannot spend it. I love to help other people—my heart becomes happy.” That sunny outlook makes a lot of other people happy, too.
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